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100 Black Men of West Texas condemns racial bullying of Lubbock-Cooper ISD students, school admins respond

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 10:12 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 26, 2022 at 10:13 PM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The 100 Black Men of West Texas has released a statement in response to reported racial bullying of students in the Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District, after a page circulated Instagram with posted pictures labelling local Black students as animals.

The mentoring organization, known as “The 100,″ claims the release is to condemn the recent acts of racial bullying, and also what they refer to as a failure by LCISD staff to address “many years” of persistent bigotry within the district.

Organization President Reggie Dial has offered the full cooperation of the 100 Black Men of West Texas to help address these issues. Dial says he has already scheduled a meeting with LCISD superintendent Keith Bryant and he looks forward to developing an action plan to transform the culture at Lubbock-Cooper.

KCBD reached out to administrators of Lubbock-Cooper ISD, who “refutes the assertion” that incidents of racial bullying have been minimized by staff. An investigation by campus administrators is currently underway, and staff say it will remain open until it is resolved and “the person(s) responsible are made to face the consequences of their appalling actions.”

LCISD staff state the Instagram account was reported to administrators the morning of Wednesday, April 13, and action was taken “within 15 minutes” to report the account and remove it from Instagram.

Read the full statement from The 100 Black Men of West Texas, below:

The 100 Black Men of West Texas, Inc. (the 100) is a multi-faceted, multi-cultural, nondiscriminatory mentoring organization and a member of the 100 Black Men of America, Inc. The members of the 100 officially condemns the deplorable actions that have been allowed to persist for many years in the Lubbock-Cooper Independent School District (L-CISD). The most recent action, wherein an alleged L-CISD middle school student posted pictures of the African American students on social media outlets and labeled them monkeys, is indicative of the apparent culture of racial intolerance, ignorance, racial bullying, and bigotry that the school administration seems to tacitly allow and ignore. Within the past two years, a group of students at Lubbock Cooper High School posted a picture in the school parking lot of a Black man being lynched and mocked it with a Black Lives Matter moniker. There was no known backlash, deterrent, or condemnation of this action by LCISD school officials. Current and former African American students report being called the “N word” on a regular basis by their white counterparts as teachers and coaches stand idly by and ignore this growing incendiary behavior. The benign failure of the school administration and trustees to confront these issues and take a strong stand against bigotry and racial bullying has gone on for too long. While it is understood that the discipline of a student is a private matter, the climate and policies of a school district are public matters and should be well publicized and open for review.

Several of the 100 members are homeowners in the Lubbock Cooper School District and some members have children who are students in L-CISD schools. It is disconcerting to all the members of the 100, the Lubbock African American Community, and others, that L-CISD has seemingly swept these matters under the proverbial rug. It is also curious that L-CISD does not seem to classify these hurtful and harmful acts of racial intimidation as bullying. This is evident by the prior lack of action from L-CISD administration together with their current minimalization of the larger issue. Specifically, by limiting the remedy to a suspension of the student who posted the racially derogatory Instagram post, assuming he or she is caught, is simply not enough. The fact that the posting brandished the LCISD logo is quite alarming. Most significantly there have been no known administrative actions aimed at deterring racial bullying. Moreover, there have been no known practices or programs aimed at educating students, faculty, staff, and parents of the social and moral harmfulness of the racially insensitive and hateful behaviors displayed by a significant number of its students and some teachers.

Parents of African American children in L-CISD report that their children are made to feel unwelcomed in the school district. They further report that as they encourage their children to achieve excellence academically and socially, the racial bullying and overt bigotry has created emotional scars and serious psychological barriers upon some of their children which has required some parents to seek psychological therapeutic counseling for their precious and beloved young ones.

The 100 cares about all children and all people. We have mentored children of all races and backgrounds, and we are proud of the fact that we have issued thousands of college scholarship dollars to hundreds of Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian high school and college students. Some of these young people have been L-CISD students. Consequently, we have a vested interest in the safety, self-esteem, success, and future of L-CISD students as well as the preservation of the social and civil rights issues involved in these incidents.

The Vice President of the 100, Bishop William H. Watson III, serves honorably and respectfully as the Bishop of the Texas Northwest Jurisdiction of the Church of God in Christ and he states: “We are fortunate to live in this strong faith-based community of Lubbock, Texas. As a heavily majority Christian community we are charged with following biblical principles including following the greatest commandment given by Jesus Christ which is to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is our hope, desire, and prayer that the trustees, administration, and parents within Lubbock-Cooper ISD remind themselves of the teachings of Jesus Christ and display concern and love by implementing a plan of action to address and correct the culture which seems devoid of love for “all” {emphasis added} of its students.”

Several of the 100 members are trained professionals in race relations, diversity and inclusion, and anti-racism. Some of these men are professors and staff at Texas Tech University, local health systems, government, and other entities. The 100 extends its’ resources to L-CISD to help develop strategies, policies, and programs aimed at addressing and correcting the aforementioned problematic issues at L-CISD. The 100 recently reached out to L-CISD Superintendent, Keith Bryant to set up a meeting and we are encouraged that Superintendent Bryant expressed his willingness to meet with the 100 at our earliest mutual convenience. It is the 100s position that it is vitally imperative that a transparent corrective action plan be developed and implement with the committed intent and goal of creating a swift transformative cultural change within L-CISD.

The following was issued by Lubbock-Cooper ISD Administrators Tuesday night:

Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrators have a great deal of respect for the 100 Black Men of West Texas, Inc. organization. Members of the 100 are community leaders and many have close ties with and provide significant support to Lubbock-Cooper ISD. Their work to provide input and solutions to issues that arise within our school community are invaluable in helping our community be respectful and supportive of one another.

While the district respects the opinions expressed in the press release provided by the 100, and is in full agreement that the racist behaviors referenced, and all racist behaviors, statements, and actions, are deplorable and have no place in our schools, the district categorically denies the assertion that racist rhetoric has been permitted or swept under the rug by Lubbock-Cooper ISD at any time, presently or in the known past.

At no point has any Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrator attempted to hide, cover up, or overlook any racist actions or remarks. We acknowledge that at times, it may appear that administrators are not taking swift or appropriate action to address this behavior. In some cases, despite exhaustive investigation, allegations cannot be substantiated or perpetrators cannot be identified. This occurs on occasion in all disciplinary investigations and is not limited to the investigation of racist behavior. Furthermore, when an investigation results in validation of the accusation, the district is prohibited from disclosing the disciplinary action.

The district refutes the assertion that the racist Instagram account and additional racially-motivated incidents which were brought to the attention of the superintendent and Trustees on the evening of Thursday, April 21, 2022, have been minimized in any way. On the contrary, the district has taken immediate action to investigate and address not only the creation of the racist Instagram account, but reported racist behaviors exhibited by multiple students at Laura Bush Middle School.

The Instagram account mentioned was brought to the attention of campus and district administrators on the morning of Wednesday, April 13, 2022. Within 15 minutes, administrators took immediate action to report the account and have it removed from Instagram. The account was reported by district representatives for a number of Instagram guideline violations, including hate speech, bullying and harassment, and impersonation of an organization (through the use of the district’s logo and a Lubbock-Cooper ISD campus name). District representatives also retained screenshots of the posts on the account, the handles of Instagram users who interacted with the account, and the handles of Instagram users who followed or were followed by the account to assist in the investigative process. Campus administrators have spent countless hours over the past two weeks interviewing students with any known association with the account itself or a history of harassing or bullying behavior. Campus administrators have also made campus-wide announcements seeking information regarding the account from the student body. It should be noted that Instagram is blocked by district internet safeguards and is inaccessible on district-issued devices, indicating that the account was likely created on a personal device using a personal data plan, and possibly outside of the school day and off campus. While this hampers the investigation, it is ongoing and will remain open until it has been resolved and the person(s) responsible are made to face the consequences of their appalling actions.

At no time has the district indicated that disciplinary action taken against the creator of the account would be limited to suspension. In fact, the district plans to pursue far more severe discipline than suspension if the creator of the account is indeed a Lubbock-Cooper ISD student.

On Friday, April 22, 2022 one day following statements of racist allegations made to the Board of Trustees, the district sent an email to all Laura Bush Middle School families denouncing and condemning any racist behavior, hate speech, or harassment, and asking parents for their partnership in eliminating these completely unacceptable actions. The message is displayed in its entirety below:

Lubbock-Cooper ISD administrators have been made aware of racially-motivated statements and actions by students at Laura Bush Middle School. The district is in the process of investigating these incidents. We are also evaluating the protocols and procedures in place to maintain a safe and secure learning environment for all students.

There is no place for racism, hatred, or harassment at Laura Bush Middle School or in the Lubbock-Cooper community as a whole. This behavior is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

As a district, it is our responsibility to ensure that all students feel welcome, safe, and loved while at school. We are asking you, as parents, to help us. We would like for you to open a dialogue with your child about the damaging nature of racist behavior. We would also like for you to encourage your child to report this type of behavior to trusted adults when they see or hear it. Please know that Lubbock-Cooper ISD intends to pursue full disciplinary action against any student who is found to have used racial slurs or participated in racially-motivated harassment at school.

Student safety and well-being is the top priority of Lubbock-Cooper ISD. No child should feel unsupported or unsafe at school. Family is the basis of the Lubbock-Cooper culture, and, as a family, we must work together to resolve this issue.

Further, the district dispatched additional administrative staff to Laura Bush Middle School beginning Friday, April 22, 2022, for the express purpose of monitoring student behavior, identifying any students exhibiting racist or bullying behavior, and providing disciplinary assistance. We are conducting a review of the administrative protocols in place to mitigate this behavior and identify any shortcomings. Furthermore, we have scheduled professional development trainings for Laura Bush Middle School staff members and are in the process of researching speakers to address the Laura Bush Middle School student body regarding matters of racial discrimination.

As explicitly stated in the message sent to Laura Bush Middle School parents last week, there is absolutely no place for racism, hatred, or harassment at Laura Bush Middle School or in the Lubbock-Cooper community, and there never has been. All Lubbock-Cooper ISD students deserve to feel safe, supported, and loved at school. We look forward to partnering with community leaders, including members of the 100, to further ensure that racism, hateful behavior, and any actions that disrupt the safe and orderly learning environment that is owed to our students come to a complete halt.

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