A family suing the Austin Independent School District claims their daughter was bullied in school and district officials did nothing to stop it.
“My fear is that I might not even see my daughter walk across the stage," said Pamela Parks, the mother of the 17-year-old student.
Parks and victim's father, Charles Sneed, spoke with the media on Wednesday regarding the pending lawsuit. They said their daughter experienced over three years of racist bullying at James Bowie High School. Their daughter will be entering her senior year at the school this fall.
"It was almost immediately," said Parks, "In 2016 when we arrived there. It was very different from any atmosphere we experienced in the past.”
Parks and Sneed say their daughter, an aspiring veterinarian, was quickly targeted by classmates in clubs like band, and Future Farmers of America (FFA) for being African-American.
“They were using very foul language, the N word," said Parks. "They were saying that they were very frustrated. 'Today’s the kind of day that they can actually kill and N.'”
She added, "In some of those particular classes, she was often if not the only African-American child, maybe one of two or three. “
“Services have to be provided to the child in such a way that race, racism and discrimination doesn’t become something that impedes their right to a public education," said Martin J. Cirkiel, the family's attorney.
The family claims nothing was done to prevent future incidents no matter how many times they, and their daughter, reached out to the district and notified staff of the bullying.
“It was killing me that I couldn’t protect that," said Parks. "That I couldn’t make that stop.”
The suit alleges the girl was called racial slurs, her FFA equipment was vandalized, animals hurt, and she found a stuffed object hanging from a noose.
Austin ISD declined to speak on camera, but Communications Specialist Eddie Villa sent CBS Austin a statement:
"Austin ISD has a policy that prohibits any kind of harassment. If a student believes that they have experienced prohibited behavior, they should immediately report the alleged act to a district employee. Austin ISD encourages students, parents, and employees to work together to prevent acts of harassment of any kind by fostering a climate of mutual respect for others."
Parks and Sneed said the district officials failed to investigate their concerns and failed to train staff on how to address complaints based on racial discrimination.
“And if you are not going to go the extra mile to do your job, quit, go get your job in a pie factory," said Sneed.
Parks hopes this lawsuit will hold leaders in the district accountable for how their family has been affected mentally and emotionally.
“[For them] to say, we dropped the ball on this because this should not have happened in this manner," she said. "Not just to my child, to any child.”