Heuvelton parents file civil rights complaint against school district
CANTON, New York (WWNY) -Two parents and their children plan to file a civil rights complaint against Heuvelton Central School District.
It will be on behalf of Amy Chisholm, her husband, and their two daughters. The Chisholms say they have asked the school to take action in the past.
“It was time. We begged the school to do some different things and nothing was implemented,” said Chisholm.
Chisholm and her lawyers announced Thursday they will be filing the complaint with the State Education Department within 10 days.
They say racial bullying has gone on for years at the school – and efforts to stop it have been silenced.
They say students spelling out the N-word on the gym floor is just the most recent example.
“We’re here because we want everyone to know that there’s been more incidents in this school than just one,” said Andrea Marotta, lawyer for Heuvelton parents.
The school says it has taken several actions since that incident, including suspending the five students involved.
Late last week, a picture hit social media showing Heuvelton basketball coaches and players on senior night posing with two jerseys. They’re the jerseys of two of the five students suspended for the gym stunt.
“The coach should have been sanctioned,” said Marotta. “He’s still coaching.”
In response to a 7 News inquiry, basketball coach Joshua Mcallister said the school administration approved all senior night activities.
District Superintendent Jesse Coburn issued a statement Thursday, saying the school’s primary goal is to pull the district together. He said the school is hiring two consultants on helping communities heal.
Parents and students at a school board meeting last week told much the same story as Chisholm and her lawyers. Some said they plan to keep showing up.
Chisolm’s lawyers said there are possible hate crimes involved. State police have been investigating at the school since the incident with the ‘N-word’ in the gym.
“Myself and the state police will certainly have a discussion regarding what comes of it, and whether or not any criminal charges are appropriate,” said Gary Pasqua, St. Lawrence County district attorney.
Marotta says they’re welcoming other parents and students to join their complaint.
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