Lawsuit: Girls faced racial discrimination

Bellevue Schools sued in district court.
Alissa Widman Neese
Dec 3, 2013

 

For a pair of sisters, walking the hallways at school in Bellevue was a daily battle against relentless racial discrimination.

That’s the allegation in a lawsuit the mother of the two sisters, ages 15 and 17, filed this month in U.S. Northern District Court in Toledo.

One teacher awarded a girl fewer points on projects and wrongfully accused her of concealing drugs, according to the suit, while other teachers let one girl’s classmates hurl racial slurs during lessons, with no consequences.

The girls were regularly the target of students’ derogatory remarks and bullying, according to the suit.

Sabrina Reel, the mother of the girls, alleges Bellevue Schools failed to provide the girls an educational environment free of racial discrimination, harassment and intimidation.

Reel is suing district administrators, alleging they treated her two biracial daughters differently than white students when the girls attended middle school and high school from 2011-13.

After two years of debilitating emotional distress, the family relocated to Sandusky earlier this year, the suit states. Reel filed her lawsuit Nov. 22. She’s seeking compensation and punitive damages from Bellevue Schools, as well as court costs and attorney fees.    

The suit says her daughters suffered severe emotional damage.

Her daughters are “of African-American and Caucasian descent” and “were amongst the few minority students” in the district, according to the suit.

Defendants listed in the suit are school board president Ted Clark, middle school principal John Bollinger, and high school assistant principal Molly Porter.

In one situation, Bollinger allegedly singled out the 15-year-old girl at a school assembly, ordering her to put up her hair because it was a “distraction” to the school, despite being in its “natural manner” the lawsuit states.

In a routine drug search at Bellevue High School, the same girl was escorted to Porter’s office and forced to remove her socks because a teacher suspected she had been concealing drugs, the suit states.

Students often made derogatory comments during class, calling the girls the N-word and, in one instance, hitting the 15-year-old girl with a pen, according to the lawsuit.

Other racially motivated insults, according to the suit, included “that’s why your grandpa picked cotton for my grandpa” and “take (your) black (expletive) back to Africa”

When Bellevue Schools suspended one student in May 2013 for making the latter remark, several students retaliated against the girls with harassing text messages, the lawsuit stated. If the girls tried to defend themselves in other situations, they were often punished.

Reel tried to work with district officials to handle the situation, but each time they learned of the humiliating and derogatory treatment, they didn’t take it seriously, according to the lawsuit.

The district’s top officials, however, said scenarios detailed in Reel’s lawsuit are unlikely.

Bellevue Schools has policies in place to prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination, said Kim Schubert, the district’s superintendent since 2009.

Schubert said she is confident administrators followed these policies.

“We value and respect each and every student we serve,” Schubert said. “We take our policies very seriously and work hard to ensure that all of our students are protected”

Reel’s primary attorney, David Forrest, of Cleveland, was not available for comment Monday. Robert Zelvy, of Sandusky, her other attorney, said he had no comments beyond what the lawsuit states.

Reel did not answer the front door at her Sandusky home when a reporter visited there Monday.

Read the school’s policies on harassment as well as the lawsuit filed against district in the files attached below

Comments

deertracker

Surprise! Surprise!

mimi's word

Not that it is right what happened by any means but why would you as a mother put your child thru that if you could move them? And then sue or fight. My first priority would be my children...

ladydye_5

I would move them, but sue also. It is called making sure they KNOW what they did was wrong. Also make sure they STOP that behavior and never do it again. If this is happening, wouldn't you want it stopped? Would you want some other child to be treated that way? What is it with schools and hair???? I just read this exact same thing at another school district, "big hair" being distracting. Did these people not live thru the 80's? LOL. With so many other things to worry about in this day and age, they want to pick on a child for her HAIR??? Be it green, big, shaved, blue, blonde, or wavy? Toledo had a child with a BB gun hold a school "hostage" yesterday, and Bellevue wants to worry about a child's hair and how big/unruly it is?? Pick your battles.

mimi's word

I believe she should seek some sort of legal justice however it just seems like she put her daughters thru some unneeded hell. I just think the daughters should have come 1st.

BlackWidow

I highly doubt the girl was picked on by a teacher in front of everyone and told to put her hair up. Noone cares about her hair. There are dress code rules and maybe she was violating them. People move to certain areas and school districts so they dont have to deal with crap like this.

Krissy3

She did move. It says she relocated to Sandusky earlier this year!

mimi's word

I understand that but I would not have waited 2 years of putting my daughters thru hell to prove a point.

bluedot

The question is, why should she have to move? Bigotry is a choice and ignorance is not an excuse to treat others like they don't have the right to live in a place peacefully because of their heritage, gender, or religion. SMH!

mimi's word

I wish we lived in a world that she would not have experienced this at all. but it isn't. That said it just seems like 2 years is a long time to put the girls thru that.

Simple Enough II

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

ladydye_5

And if she adopted children? OR was a foster parent. Your comment is completely inappropriate and shows your stupidity.

santown419

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Remarks that discriminate based on age, race, religion, disability, etc..

deertracker

Agreed!

BlackWidow

I completely agree.

red white and blue

^5 ladydye

oheaglefl

I think momma decided to see if she could get some money. Those same girls harassed and bullied my granddaughter when they went to Sandusky schools. Don't think they are the saints momma is making them out to be. Since bullying is such a big thing now, how many more lawsuits are gonna be filed. NO, I don't condone bullying, but there is a limit to what is done. My grandson was bullied in Bellevue and as soon as it was reported the school took charge and it stopped. Probably momma saw the lawsuit from Sandusky and decided to try it to.

starryeyes83

ON the same note, I've seen school kids bully and harass older people, in the neighborhood, when they walk through their property and try to enter their vehicles or a group of kids are fighting in someone's yard. And they call the home owner everything nasty name in the book.

Kids really need to think about what they say to people or they can get sued , too. And so can mommy and daddy.

Yeah, I think it's a bogus lawsuit. Nothing is more irritating than sitting in front of someone who's fro is three feet wide and you can't see the blackboard ( oops, old school term .

Just sayin'....

santown419

Nothing is more irritating prejudice racist. You would think it is false after all racsim is dead right.

starryeyes83

Only when people keep stirring it. YOU just called someone a s.w...right? What's that translation again ? ...Oh wait, I can't say it now can I 'cause I'm a "cracker".

Racists come in all colors.

deertracker

The kids stirred this up star. Some of you think that minorities are just supposed to take it. Racism is a learned behavior and I hope both schools have to pay!

mimi's word

Hey deertracker why can't we just MYOB and hope the problem just goes away like ever other problem?

starryeyes83

Well, deer, do you think when the kids do the same to older people, that they are just o suppose to take it?

BabyMomma

Sue sue sue. America

mcbmom

This article is a joke! If anyone is racist it is these two teenagers! Over the summer, I know for certain that your girls made the comment... "We don't talk to white people"
The same "white people" that were their friends when they lived in Bellevue!

deertracker

These bi-racial girls are racist against who? The Black kids at school or the white ones?

2cents's picture
2cents

Read the comment. "We don't talk to white people"

grandmasgirl

I am wondering if there are many bi-racial students in Bellevue. If so, how are they treated? It seems to me that if students would harrass two girls BECAUSE of their race, they would harrass all students that are bi-racial.

unknown730

There are several and none are treated like that.

deertracker

You know this how?

BabyMomma

Always a d-bag

Manowar

Zero tolerance for bullying starting in elementary school. Mcbmoms statement is probably correct...but...regardless of how you interpret it they were bullied. Its the schools responsibilty to stop it no matter how minor or petty the bullying is if they are aware of it. Mrs Schubert defending her staff again with canned statements like that is getting old. Its her job to stand up for the kids first..not her staff. Zero tolerence IMO.

unknown730

As a graduate of Bellevue with 4 kids of my own in that school system I find that law suit to be complete and total BS. What high school girls ARENT nasty?? And before judging that these poor girls were just randomly picked out because they were bi-racial and harassed is just plain stupid. This isn't the 50's anymore. Obviously there is more to this story and I'm sure her two daughters aren't exactly upstanding students. I went to that school with many of the same teachers, they don't just pick on the same kids cuz they feel like it. I highly doubt even half of the allegations are true and if these girls were so nasty to the two sisters, why did they give them their cell numbers so they were able to send nasty texts? If this is all because of racial harassment, then what about the dozen other black/mixed kids in the school system NOT being bullied?

deertracker

Your entire comment is STUPID!

2cents's picture
2cents

I see these blogs share one common "thread", it appears that there is more than one side to this story and if they were not anonymous like the SR is leaning toward, they may not have been said! racism will never change until the Federal Government stops promoting it!

Just saying!

underthebridge

unknown - why do you presume the girls weren't upstanding students?

Also, we do not know who gave the other girls their cell phone numbers. It could've been another student.

Some of this has to do with unprofessionalism by adults directed to students that would not be tolerated in any other setting than a school.

oheaglefl

OMG, do you honest to god think that they stood this girl up in front of entire school and told her to do something with her hair, come on get real. I don't think teachers, no matter where they teach are going to stand by and let the students call others names without stopping it. Maybe their was some name calling, maybe not within the hearing of the teacher. As far as the drug thing goes, why would they search her if their wasn't a suspected reason. Again, these girls are not the innocents that everyone thinks they are.

BlackWidow

This entire lawsuit sounds like a way to try and get some money. Bullying has been around for years but is handled completely different especially in this district. I have asked my kids numerous times about have any kids made fun of them, been mean to them or warned them that older kids in middle school or high school may pick on them. Each time they have stressed to me that Bellevue is not like that and the teachers do not tolerate any type of bullying. There are bi-racial children and African American children in the district so why are they not joining this bandwagon?? Probably because its not true. My opinion is these girls were probably singled out for their own behavior. They were probably the ones bullying. As for the daughter who was "singled out" over possibly having drugs its because she was telling other students she sold drugs and her mom knew and didn't care. I hope they pull her record to prove what an upstanding citizen she is and her children's past school records to show what upstanding students they have been. The truth will come out. AND Always a race issue. I never see any lawsuits for singled out white kids. They were treated differently than the white students? Why not treated differently than the black students? I mean they are half white and half black so why is it only because their half black is she claiming is the problem. So sick of hearing this crap.

norcalbuckeye

Sounds about right. Bunch a redneck, hick , biggot azzhole scum. Just cost their town $ . What did these girls do wrong ,but be born their color. Nice job redneck rat sh"t.