When an Indiana sixth-grader received racist threats in class, her school did nothing. When her parents complained, administrators banned them from the school.
NyZeria Neely is the only black student in her high-ability class at Concord Intermediate School, in a school where just 10% of students and 2% of school staff are black. She felt lost and alone when she found herself the target of racist threats.
First, she was called a “n*gger” by a girl in her class. When the family reported the incident, the school took no action.
Three weeks later, she opened her locker to find a threatening letter. According to the Elkhart Truth, the letter warned NyZeria “Watch your back.”
Days later, she received a second note, which read:
“N****rs don’t belong!!!”
NyZeria wasn’t sure whether to report the incident or crumple up the note. She worried the school would ignore her concerns like they had three weeks before. But she decided the offense was too great to ignore, took a photo of the note and showed it to school principal Chad Stamm. She hoped he would respond differently this time. But once again, her concerns were dismissed.
“He told me not to worry because it’s just words,” NyZeria said. “But it’s more than words. I felt that it was offensive — very offensive.”
The initial response of the school’s Superintendent Wayne Stubbs was more promising. He disagreed with the principal, saying the letter unacceptable and promised it would be treated as a serious security threat.
But the only action taken by the school district in response was to issue an automated alert to parents that harassment would not be tolerated.
Needless to say, NyZeria’s parents were not satisfied.
“They have taken it lightly,” said her mother, Gina Neely. “It’s too severe of a case to ignore something like this. They don’t want to hear me.”
Carrying a handmade poster reading “STOP BULLYING OUR CHILDREN”, the parents arrived at the school to confront administrators. Instead of addressing their concerns, school administrators called in the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department to issue a no-trespass order against the parents.
While racist bullies in the school have faced no consequences for their threatening behavior, the school has taken draconian actions against the concerned parents of their target.
The Neely family have now pulled NyZeria and her three siblings from class as they have no faith their children will be safe while the school shirks its duty of care. The family are calling for a public apology from school officials and are considering filing an independent report with the sheriff’s office.