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Austin Schools Failed to Stop Bullying of Trump-Supporting Student, Suit Alleges

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Boys Riding in the Back of a Truck at a Protest | Austin Schools Failed to Stop Bullying of Trump-Supporting Student, Suit Alleges | Featured

A student is suing the Austin school district after he says they didn’t intervene while he was bullied, assaulted and targeted for being a supporter of President Donald Trump, a federal lawsuit says.

The suit was filed July 13 in the U.S. Western District Court of Texas by the parents of a student referred to as “Jon Doe” because he is a minor. It seeks $1 million in damages and compensation for court costs and attorney fees from the school district and accuses the district of negligence.

Requests for comment from the Austin Independent School District and the student’s Austin-based attorney, Terry Gorman, were not immediately returned.

The suit claims his civil rights were violated. According to the complaint, the school district denied the student his First Amendment rights to express himself and assemble, and violated his 14 Amendment rights to equal protection and due process.

The document also says the student was denied full educational opportunities because of bullying, assaults, targeting, retaliation and death threats.

Jon Doe was threatened on March 12 by another student who said they were going to kill all Trump supporters saying, “I want to kill them all,” the lawsuit alleges.

The threat, along with other incidents, including assault, were reported to teachers and administrators, but nothing was done to keep the student safe, the lawsuit says.

“Ironically, the lockdown from the COVID-19 pandemic has done more to protect Jon from harm than anyone at (the Austin school district) ever did,” the lawsuit says.

The student attended O’Henry Middle School and then Austin High School and has been called homophobic, xenophobic, racist, Islamophobic, a Klansman, deplorable and a Nazi. The lawsuit says the student is none of those things.

For the school district to allow the student to be called a Nazi and a Klansman by his peers is “unfathomable,” the lawsuit says, citing the student’s great-grandfather who died in a Polish concentration camp. It also says the student is named after a Black man, whose grandmother was born a slave.

The lawsuit says Jon Doe has a “heart as large as the blue sky above him, has never been involved with drugs or alcohol and has never threatened or denigrated anyone.”

The lawsuit also claims teachers verbally abused and bullied the student, including one “screaming at the top of her lungs” at him during class because she thought he held certain views. The views are not described in the lawsuit, but it says the teacher and the student were actually in agreement with each other.

“If a gay, Black, brown, Asian, immigrant or liberal employee of (the Austin school district) was treated the way (Jon Doe) has been treated, the perpetrators would have been harshly dealt with by (the Austin school district),” the lawsuit says.

According to the lawsuit, “no place for hate” statements are posted throughout the district.

The student’s parents complained to the district, but nothing was done, the lawsuit claims. The student and his parents spoke at an Austin school board meeting, where the student read a statement quoting the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The statement said “diversity of thought” is the most important type of diversity. The suit says the statement “drew the wrath” of the school board.

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(c)2020 Austin American-Statesman, Texas

Visit Austin American-Statesman, Texas at www.statesman.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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