"Pick up my book, slave": Students Face Racial Abuse At Ohio School District, 72 Incidents Reported In One Year

"Pick up my book, slave": Students Face Racial Abuse At Ohio School District, 72 Incidents Reported In One Year

The racism at Lebanon Junior High School has prompted a federal investigation, as black students have been subjected to a hostile environment since 2015.

Since 2012, three consecutive years have seen racist messages written by students surface in Lebanon Junior High School in Lebanon, Ohio. According to USA Today, it was first reported in 2012 when an eighth-grade student's notebook had a racist KKK drawing and words written: “We kill n------ here. KKK”. 



 

Such incidents have been following - with more messages in the southwest Ohio school district’s bathrooms, according to a review of discipline records.

It is 2019 now. And although the school district’s superintendent said addressing racism is a priority, a parent said officials went years without telling the community what they were actually doing about it. 



 

There were swastikas and notes that said, “go home n------ and Jews.” One student took a picture of a message carved into the bathroom wall. School officials appeared to paint over it but the N-word was still visible. 



 

In spring 2015, high school teachers were asked to check bathrooms before the beginning and end of each class.
Records document a federal investigation into racial discrimination claims at Lebanon schools. It took more than a year for school officials to comply with a public records request for them, producing a slew of documents on April 16, 2019.



 

Despite there being a federal investigation, the findings have never fully been reported, says USA Today. 

In 2015, multiple families filed complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights alleging racial discrimination.

Youtube Screenshot

The families settled in 2017, with the school district agreeing to revise its policies, provide employee training and form committees to tackle harassment and discrimination. The district also paid $150,000 to the three families and their attorney to split.

But a review of discipline records found 72 reported racial incidents in the district during the 2014-15 school year. That was more than the previous two years combined. 

The incidents included:
- A first grader telling his mom that another student said he couldn’t be someone’s boyfriend because of his skin color.
- A fifth-grade student singing “duck, duck, (N-word)” during math and science class.
- A seventh-grade student who was called the N-word at football practice telling officials that happens a lot.
- An eighth-grade student asking a teaching assistant to “please pick up my book, slave.”
- More than half of the incidents involved the N-word. 

Federal officials said the district didn’t do enough to address racism and called discipline inconsistent and, in some cases, “wholly insufficient” to prevent future harassment.  

Recommended for you