Latoika and R.J. King held a press conference last week to object to Conroe ISD's lack of action.
Latoika and R.J. King held a press conference last week to object to Conroe ISD's lack of action.
Photo by Meagan Flynn

No Further Punishment for The Woodlands Student Who Sent Racist Snapchat

After a student at The Woodlands High School told a fellow classmate, an African-American girl, that all black people should have been lynched a long time ago, it turns out the boy who sent the message won't face any legitimate discipline after all, an attorney representing the girl's parents said Tuesday.

Her parents, R.J. and Latoika King, said last week they were aghast at the school's lack of action against the boy who sent the racist message to their daughter on Snapchat. In fact, even more troublesome to the Kings was that the school principal said one option was that their daughter — not the boy — could transfer if she felt unsafe.

But despite their objections, on October 16, the family says they met with Conroe ISD Superintendent Dr. Don Stockton and administrators, and the administration had still decided against suspending, expelling or transferring the student who sent the racist message. Kallinen said the boy was present at the meeting, and apologized to the Kings. But that was all.

"Those are pretty harsh words to say without anything happening to you," Kallinen said. "It doesn't seem to be very discouraging to other people who would want to do the same thing."

In September, in response to Snapchat posts their daughter had made in support of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, the white male said, "yall always gotta be starting shit [sic]. we should have hung all u n****** while we had the chance and trust me it would make the world better."

R.J. and Latoika King said they immediately alerted Principal Jill Houser, who promised the Kings that action would be taken. They also filed a report with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office, Kallinen said Tuesday.

A couple days later, Houser followed up in an email (which the Houston Press reviewed) and told them what exactly was being done at school: They were offering the girl crisis counseling, moving around the boy's schedule so the two wouldn't come in contact — and, if she still didn't feel safe, they could talk about transferring her to another school in the district.

"This was a serious threat, so we thought we were going to get a serious response," R.J. King said last week. "We thought the only way to ensure that that situation was handled was that he be removed from that school, because he may put her at risk and also other students of African-American descent at risk."

In response to questions about why Conroe ISD chose to pursue no further action, Conroe ISD said the boy's words just didn't amount to bullying under Texas law (which, we should add, does include provisions against cyberbullying occurring off-campus; it also includes "single significant acts" of bullying. Conroe ISD didn't go into detail about why it doesn't think this amounts to bullying). Here's the district's statement:

Upon notification, campus administration immediately began investigating the female student’s report that she had received a racist Snapchat over a weekend. The campus investigated the incident, and it did not meet the criteria of bullying as outlined by law. Because the comment was made on Sunday while the students were at their homes, Conroe ISD Police reviewed the matter and determined they did not have jurisdiction. The family was advised to make a report to the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office. The District has been in contact with the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office and has been advised it has been assigned a case number. The District, within the bounds of state and federal law, has done everything it can to address the concerns raised by the female student’s family. No employee of Conroe ISD has condoned racism in any form or acted in any manner that could be characterized as supporting it.

Civil rights activists, including those from the Greater Houston Coalition For Justice, joined the Kings and their supporters in protesting Conroe ISD's lack of further discipline outside the Conroe ISD administration building Tuesday, just ahead of the school board meeting.

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