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West Texas school district under federal investigation for punishing Black student

By Jayme Lozano Carver, The Texas Tribune

West Texas school district under federal investigation for punishing Black student” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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LUBBOCK — The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights is investigating a Lubbock-area school district for racial discrimination against a former student.

The Roosevelt Independent School District, 10 miles east of Lubbock, is accused of racial discrimination by Kristen Arnold, whose daughter was being bullied by a white classmate at Roosevelt High School. Arnold said her daughter, who is Black, was the only student punished after an altercation at school. Arnold also alleges that the school district’s officials further harassed and targeted her daughter, resulting in the student’s removal from the cheer squad.

A letter from the federal civil rights office said it will investigate the punishment and behavior by officials that Arnold alleged in her filing. It is not investigating claims that her daughter and another Black student were the only two cheerleaders selected for drug testing, the fact that the school did not hold a meeting for her daughter’s attention deficit disorder, or her daughter’s suspension for vaping which Arnold alleges the district did not provide proof of.

[West Texas parents are suing their schools over racism as others demand action over antisemitic bullying]

“I couldn’t believe it. It’s so encouraging that they are taking it seriously,” said Arnold, who received the news on her birthday. “I’m just relieved they’re going to look into it.”

Roosevelt ISD did not respond to emails asking for comment.

The incidents that Arnold and her daughter faced were among many that surfaced in Lubbock County last fall. Lubbock-Cooper and Lubbock ISD also had troubling incidents based on gender and religious identities that parents accused the schools of handling poorly.

Parents of bullied Lubbock students were hoping the Texas Legislature would resolve the issue of identity-based bullying with House Bill 4625. Democratic state Rep. Ron Reynolds of Missouri City filed the bill to put in place a strategy to prevent bullying on the basis of “the victim’s actual or perceived race, ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, gender, religion, disability status.”

The bill failed to receive the votes needed to reach the House floor. There are 49 open federal civil rights investigations into schools for racial harassment and 25 for retaliation.

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