A six million dollar lawsuit was filed last week against the Saranac Lake Central School District in upstate New York. Amy and Hiram Oliveras claim that their daughter, who is of Caribbean descent and is now 12 years old, was bullied, harassed and assaulted in school as a result of her race and that the school district failed to protect her from these acts.
The alleged incidents happened from 2008 to 2010. In one attack her belongings were damaged and deodorant was used to write a racial slur on the sidewalk. The school did not wash away the writing for eight days, opening the district to an onslaught of criticism.
A.J. Bosman is representing the Oliveras. Mr. Bosman is the director of the Children’s Rights Initiative, which provides legal services to low income children at no cost. He states that the girl was clearly a victim of bullying based on her race and that the school district did not do their part to address the problems.
School Superintendent Gerald Goldman, one of the defendants named in the lawsuit said on Friday that he hadn’t received a summons and otherwise declined to comment. He referred additional questions to the lawyer representing the school district in the case.
School officials claim they have spent the past year working to “change the culture” of the district. The school board implemented a new harassment, bullying and hazing policy. An outside group provided diversity training for administrators, school board members and teachers. Superintendent Goldman claims the district has tried to respond to what happened to the girl in all possible ways.