A predominantly white private school in Texas is facing a $3 million lawsuit from the family of a black sixth grader alleging that the 12-year-old girl was severely injured when white classmates "violently" wrapped a rope around her neck. The suit accuses of Live Oak Classical School in Waco of gross negligence, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress, the Daily Beast reported. School officials, however, have argued that the violent encounter was an accident.
The suit alleges that the student, named in the suit as "K.P." to protect her identity, had been the victim of repeated instances of bullying by classmates for months and that the school failed to properly respond to the mother's concerns. During a campout at a ranch in Blanco County, K.P. was using a tree swing with classmates when she "felt the rope come around her neck," at which point three white students allegedly pulled the rope. The suit, filed Monday, also names the owner of Germer Ranch, where the end-of-the-year camping trip took place.
"I asked for $3 million, and there are a lot of reasons for it," attorney Levi McCathern told the Waco Tribune-Herald. "I think part of it is to compensate the victim, part of it is trying to send a message that we have to protect these defenseless kids up at school, and I think part of it is to punish the school for not taking care of the kids and following through with responsibilities to notify parents when they have a student that is seriously injured."
McCathern says K.P.'s mother wasn't even notified of the injuries, discovering them on her own when she picked up her daughter after the trip. Following an emergency room visit, the Blanco County Sheriff's Office got involved. That investigation remains open as of Tuesday, according to the Tribune-Herald. Blanco County officials did not immediately respond to Complex's request for comment.
In a statement to Complex, Live Oak's attorney David Deaconson said the injuries sustained during the camping trip were the result of an accident:
Anyone can allege anything they want to in a lawsuit no matter how inaccurate those allegations may be. The internal investigation conducted by the school’s attorney includes interviews with students, teachers and chaperones, and the results of these interviews and an inspection of the swing indicate the injuries suffered by the student were solely the result of an accident. Live Oak Classical School has cooperated with law enforcement from the beginning and continues to cooperate with the independent investigation being conducted by Blanco County Sheriff’s Office. Live Oak looks forward to receiving the results of that investigation, as it believes the investigation will confirm Live Oak’s position that the injuries were solely the result of an unfortunate accident. The school will wait on the results of the investigation by Blanco County SO. Live Oak Classical School continues to stand behind the facts of this case and will not participate in the spreading of untruths and misinformation about its students or the school. The student remains in the thoughts and prayers of the Live Oak community.