Alleged attack on RPS special needs student: bullying or racism?

Alleged attack on RPS special needs student: bullying or racism?

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - An alleged attack on a special needs student has his mom questioning if it is a case of bullying, or if her son was a target because of the color of his skin.
The mom claims the problems began at the start of the school year and she started documenting the incidents involving her 12-year-old son. She produced a journal full of detailed claims of how her son was harmed at school, and took pictures of his recent injuries.

She gave her son a cellphone as a way to make him feel more comfortable, and said four days out of five, her son would call her crying throughout the school day.

She said she had called the school and met with administrators, but explained the bullying began to escalate. "[On Wednesday] he came out crying. He had been thrown up against the locker, by four or five other students. I can't use the language they used on camera, it was racially....they said they were doing it because he was white," the student's mom said.

She said she had to bring her son to the hospital following the incident, and showed a note from the doctor saying her son suffered from a concussion.

According to a spokesperson for Richmond Public Schools, those injuries were never reported to the school. That spokesperson also said the administration launched an investigation, but did not see reason to believe it was racially-motivated.

Richmond Public schools released a statement saying:

Upon initial review, school administration has appropriately responded to this matter and has found no evidence of racially charged behavior. The parent was contacted by the school for a meeting and all students involved were referred to the Bullying Prevention Counselor in accordance with Level 1 of the district's Student Code of Responsible Ethics (SCORE). Richmond Public Schools has a zero tolerance against bullying and has set the expectation that disciplinary action will be taken whenever deemed necessary. The safety of our students is a top priority and our goal is to provide an all-inclusive learning environment for the entire district. We encourage all of our families to have a conversation with their children about responsible behavior with their peers and to report incidents of bullying to the school as they occur.

School officials referred to a section in the SCORE handbook, saying bullying and other acts of intimidation are prohibited.

All students have the right to be educated in an atmosphere that is free from fear, intimidation and harassment. Bullying, teasing, hazing, or other acts of intimidation can have long-term negative effects on the emotional and educational well-being of students and are, therefore, prohibited. Section § 22.1-276.01 of the Code defines bullying as any aggressive and unwanted behavior that is intended to 24 harm, intimidate, or humiliate the victim; involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the aggressor or aggressors and victim; and is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma. This includes cyberbullying. It does not include ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer conflict. School boards are expected to include bullying as a prohibited behavior in their student codes of conduct.

For the student's mother, the latest incident was the last straw. She has pulled her son from school with plans to homeschool him, saying it wasn't worth risking his safety.

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