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Federal civil rights complaint alleging racism filed against Lubbock-Cooper ISD

Tracy Kemp and her family spoke before the Lubbock-Cooper ISD School Board of Trustees on Dec. 12, 2022.
Sarah Self-Walbrick
Texas Tech Public Media
Tracy Kemp and her family spoke before the Lubbock-Cooper ISD School Board of Trustees on Dec. 12, 2022.

A civil rights complaint against Lubbock Cooper ISD alleging racist discrimination has been filed with the U.S. Department of Education.

Community advocates announced the move at the school district’s board of trustees meeting Monday night. Multiple speakers said the district has not properly addressed the allegations of rampant racism in its schools.

The complaint comes months after Black students at Laura Bush Middle School reported they experience almost daily racist bullying. The harassment has included racial slurs that have, at times, led to physical fights. Black students also faced online bullying last school year, when an Instagram account featured pictures of students with racist captions. The complaint alleges Black students also face harsher punishments.

Tracy Kemp is a Black mother with three kids in the Lubbock-Cooper school district. She said administrators have not done enough to address the concerns she has repeatedly brought to them.

“They have failed lots and lots of black and brown children because of their ignorance and negligence,” Kemp said Monday.

Paige Duggins-Clay, a lawyer with the Intercultural Development Research Association, explained that the Office of Civil Rights will next decide if the complaint has merit. If it’s decided that it does, they will open an investigation.

“And through that investigation,” Duggins-Clay said, “we’re really, really hopeful that there will be an opportunity to identify the problems and actually have some meaningful action to fix them.”

Superintendent Keith Bryant told “NBC Nightly News” that Lubbock-Cooper has new diversity training for students and teachers. He said there is no place for racism in the district.

The latest demographic data available shows Lubbock-Cooper’s student body is 3% Black, 39% Hispanic and 54% white. Demographics are similar at the campus level.

First reported by NBC News, a similar complaint was also filed Monday against Slaton ISD. It alleges a Black student who retaliated against a White student for repeatedly calling her racist slurs faced unfair punishment that affected her mental health.

Texas Tech Public Media is working to have more on these stories soon.

Sarah Self-Walbrick is the news director at Texas Tech Public Media, where she leads the news team and focuses on underreported stories in Lubbock. Sarah is a Lubbock native and a three-time graduate of Texas Tech University. She started her career at the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.
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