‘We will not quit:’ Parents, NAACP demand Lubbock-Cooper school board address claims of racism

Published: Dec. 12, 2022 at 11:15 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 13, 2022 at 6:43 AM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Lubbock-Cooper parents and community activists say the district has not done anything to address claims of racism or promote change since April, when parents claimed their children at Laura Bush Middle School were victims of racial slurs and mistreatment. Parents and representatives for the Lubbock chapter of the NAACP addressed the school board during the public comment section of Monday night’s meeting.

Phyllis Gant, the local NAACP legal redress chair, says in August a group of civil rights attorneys out of Dallas sent the district a formal complaint about the claims of racism. She says the school district’s attorney made a commitment to mediate the alleged patterns of racism, but within 60 days, the mediation request was withdrawn.

“On April 21, 2022, we came out with parents, students, and a portion of your community to address some horrible issues - issues of racism, hate crimes, assault and bullying. You guys listened attentively, but you held 5 school board meetings and our topic never hit your agenda,” Gant said.

After the concerns came out, the district released a statement that it denies racist rhetoric has been permitted or swept under the rug. It also states the district had scheduled professional development trainings for staff and was researching speakers to address the student body. Gant says none of that has happened.

“We spoke to them last April and not one time has the complaints been put on the agenda to at least be addressed. So, how can you tell us you’re working to fix it, you’re working to change it, when you won’t even acknowledge it?” Gant said.

Parent Tracy Kemp expressed frustration with the district’s response to a social medial account containing photos of black students, including one of her own children, that compared them to monkeys.

“I was never contacted by anybody in this district. Nobody has told us sorry, nobody has said Ms. Kemp, we are sorry that this happened. This was beyond our control, this is what we are going to do to make it better,” Kemp said.

Three families addressed the board at the meeting, sharing examples of when they say their children experienced racism or bullying. A sixth grader who was a student at Laura Bush last year stood before the board.

“My teacher was a health teacher. He told me that my mom, my parents didn’t raise me right. The kids said the ‘n-word’ a lot of times and I told the principal but they didn’t get in trouble,” she said.

“A teacher said to a kid it’s just a word, ignore them. That is not the truth. People like me hung because of the word, right? So, it’s not just a word, it’s a hate crime. And the teacher, the administrator, whoever is in charge of that class needs to stop it,” Gant said.

The Lubbock NAACP filed a complaint with the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights. Kemp says she’s talked to police and called the FBI hotline regarding her concerns.

“I hope moving forward that we can come to the table and talk because that’s the most important thing. Hearing our side, hearing our perception, hearing from the students, so they can go back and work together to try and put in preventative measures to help. It’s not going to stop it, but mitigate it,” Kemp said.

The school board did not address the concerns at the meeting, as it stated before the public comments, it can’t deliberate or make a decision on an item that’s not on the agenda.