Education

Folsom Cordova school district opens third investigation in alleged racially motivated bullying incident

Black and Native American students suspended more than whites in California

Statistics show that Black and Native American students are suspended more than whites in school districts in California.
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Statistics show that Black and Native American students are suspended more than whites in school districts in California.

Folsom Cordova Unified School District is opening a third investigation into an incident in which a student allegedly assaulted a classmate by shoving him into a metal pole, causing a serious brain injury.

Folsom Middle School student Titus White, 12, was attending a school field trip Nov. 2 at Sacramento State University. According to an NAACP statement, a classmate allegedly made racist comments toward him, grabbed and pushed him, causing his head to slam into a metal pole.

White’s family and the Sacramento NAACP said the incident was racially motivated. White is African–American, and the student who hit him is white, they said.

White was taken to a hospital, where doctors diagnosed him with a subdural hematoma (bleeding in his brain), and transported him to the UC Davis Trauma Center. He spent three days in the hospital, according to the NAACP.

The school district has already investigated the incident, interviewed witnesses, and removed the student from White’s classes, according to a statement on the district’s Facebook page.

Betty Williams, president of the Sacramento chapter of the NAACP, said that separating the students on campus was not enough.

“This incident didn’t happen in a class setting, so to have that suggestion boggles my mind,” Williams said. “They dismissed his fear of this bully, and the bullying was dismissed.”

The NAACP is calling for the student’s removal from the school, and said the incident is a hate crime. The student called White the N-word and mocked his hair, according to Williams.

Williams met with district officials Monday to discuss future steps.

“Based on new information received, the District does not believe it asked enough questions in its review of this matter,” Folsom Cordova Unified said in a statement released Monday. “We are ordering an outside, independent investigation into this incident so that we can ensure we’re doing everything possible to support our students’ needs.”

Williams said she is wary of an independent investigation that does not include community input. On Tuesday, the NAACP requested to be a part of finding an independent investigating team.

“My concern is how will this be investigated when your track record is so bad? Are they putting the same people that are responsible for the environment of that school to find someone to conduct an independent investigation? I am not trusting it,” Williams said.

Williams said the NAACP has received several complaints from black families about alleged unfair treatment at Folsom Cordova Unified schools.

Folsom Cordova Unified’s suspension rate of black males is at 20 percent, one of the highest in Sacramento County.

Kindra Miller, White’s mother, hired an attorney and is considering legal action against the other boy’s family, the NAACP said.

Miller did not respond directly to a request for comment, but gave permission through an intermediary for her son’s name to be used by The Bee.

This is not the first time the school district received scrutiny over bullying. In December of 2014, 12-year-old Ronin Shimizu died by suicide, after his parents reported incidences of bullying to the district. Shimizu attended sixth grade at Folsom Middle School before transferring to Folsom Cordova Community Charter School.

This article was updated Dec. 4 to provide additional information.

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