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The family of a Black girl who claimed her white classmates violently put a rope around her neck has been awarded $68,000 by a jury in Austin.
The jury ordered the private school where she attended to pay damages for their failure to properly and immediately address the bullying the girl had experienced during her time at the school. In 2016, her family filed a lawsuit against Live Oak Classical School in Waco after their daughter suffered rope burns on her neck during their end-of-year school trip to Johnson City, Texas when the girl was 12.
Her mother, Sandy Roughly, saw her daughter’s injury and learned it was caused by a rope. She said in a 2016 interview, “That just tore me into pieces. It looked like somebody ripped my daughter’s neck off and stitched it back together.”
Per the lawsuit, the incident took place when the girl was standing near a swing that was hanging from a tree which has a separate rope used to pull it higher. The girl claimed three of her classmates, who often bullied her, used the separate rope to pull around her neck and violently jerk her to the ground.
The school’s lawyer, David N. Deaconson, recognized that it was the school’s mistake not to call the girl’s mother but denied that there was a motive of racism. He also stated that the girl’s injury has resulted from an accident where several children who were pulling on the rope to raise the swing had let go of it and the rope accidentally whipped past the girl and hit her in the neck.
The money breaks down as follows: the school has to pay $55,000 for the girl’s physical pain and mental anguish, $10,000 for disfigurement sustained and $3,000 for medical expenses. The family’s lawyer originally asked for $5.3 million in punitive damages as a symbolic rejection of bullying but seemed satisfied with the verdict.
The girl is now currently being home schooled.
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