AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Two Austin parents are suing Austin ISD claiming their daughter endured years of bullying and discrimination based on her race at James Bowie High School. And, this often happened in the presence of teachers.
They say they complained to school staff on numerous occasions. And, the school district knew about several incidents involving a noose, calling the child racial slurs, and injuring her animals.
Pamela J. Parks and Charles E. Sneed are the parents of a rising senior named C.S. She's been attending James Bowie High School since she was a freshman in 2016.
"As a parent you think wow this is horrible my child lives through this day to day and this is the norm. But on any given day being the only black child in class you would hear earshot over her, ‘hey you n word or I'm going to shoot me an n today or you effing n.' And she would look at the teacher, and the teacher would say, ‘you guys cut it out.' But there was not a you're not allowed to do this. That step was never taken," Parks says.
Wednesday afternoon the child's parents emotionally detailed numerous encounters where they say their daughter suffered from bullying, discrimination, harassment and retaliation because of her race.
"There were things like the "Sass-quatch award", there was a time where they went onto the farm and vandalized her equipment. They took a knife and carved a picture of a private male part erect and put something in her feed for her pigs, something oily."
Parks says the students also stuffed an object and hung it with a noose in her designated FFA area. In this 27 page long lawsuit Parks and Sneed say after years of reaching out to the principal and district office they realized not only were they not receiving answers, but their daughter's confidentiality was being compromised.
"One of the problems we had, 9 times out of 10 my daughter said, ‘I don't like going to give reports because they tell the people I did it.' So she walks back into the classroom, and they say, ‘I hate you, you effin snitch you n'. Because they tell them she came in the office and said this that or the other. And I'm like where's the confidentiality for her but you're keeping it for the kids that are doing it against her. That I'm not understanding."
Parks says she has 3 years' worth text messages, emails, phone calls, photos because she's been trying to get something done for years. "We're not happy to be here. We wish there was no lawsuit. We wish the school district would have responded to the family's complaints appropriately a long time ago," says the family's attorney Martin Cirkiel.
Parks adds, "I hope this lawsuit shows them this wasn't just a hysterical mom dramatic mom, I worked in this school system. I support the school system."
C.S. says she's already completed the hard part and just wants to graduate and walk away.
Parks says this past school year she came back from the Travis County show and she asked was C.S. still studying and she burst into tears. "I said what is wrong? And she said, ‘I don't think I can do it. I don't want to let you guys down and I don't want to give up but I've never felt disliked to this magnitude. They pretend to like you and the next minute they're calling you a racial slur or vandalizing your equipment or they're saying they hate your mom and your dad. I have another year and I don't know if I'll make it mom.'" Parks says as she begins crying.
"With my medical condition at the time my fear and I told the band director my fear is that I won't see my daughter walk across the stage. So every day I try and devote my life to making sure she's okay. For as long as I can. It was killing me that I couldn't protect that, I couldn't make it stop. I couldn't make the district do the right thing. I kept trusting the wrong people. I kept telling her it was going to be okay," Parks says tearfully.
"If you are in a position for childhood learning it takes very special people to do that and if you don't want to do that, quit and go get your job in a pie factory because those are our kids. Anybody in here anybody that sees this footage, I would do anything to help their kids so if you're in the school district and you're not in there for the same reason, why? Move on," Sneed says.
Parks says this has been happening for years because she was promised answered and believed the wrong people.
FOX 7 Austin asked if Sneed and Parks fear anything will happen to C.S. her senior year, and if this will hinder anything she'd like to do post-graduation.
"Of course we're scared. It's been happening for so long, but she wants to finish. We had a family meeting last night our whole family, and we just want a solution. I will say despite it all C.S. does amazing in school. She never makes anything less than a B. She spends hours studying," Parks adds.
"She kept persevering, she became an officer in the FFA program, she made junior superintendent for Travis County she was the only African American child. Anything outside of her campus, she excels. People vote for her they say, "she's wonderful, you're going to be a great vet one day, she volunteers for rescuing dogs, she's already enrolled in an agricultural program through Texas A&M, she has her CVA, but when she gets on the campus we hate you we don't want you to succeed." Parks says.