“To call it bullying minimizes the gravity and the horror of this attack,” said Kim T. Cole, the attorney representing Summer Smith and her son SeMarion Humphrey, an eighth-grader at Haggard Middle School.
A fellow student befriended SeMarion and invited him to a sleepover that took place on the weekend of February 12, Cole and Smith told CNN. Smith says SeMarion didn’t know beforehand that some boys who had harassed him at school would also be at the sleepover.
SeMarion was called slurs, made to drink what appeared to be urine and shot at with BB guns in a sleepover that was “pre-calculated” and “racially motivated,” Cole said.
SeMarion had been harassed while he was on the football team, Smith said, which led him to quit the team during the 2019-2020 season.
According to Smith, SeMarion reported the alleged harassment to the coach and a school counselor, but she said she felt school officials brushed it off as “boys will be boys.”
SeMarion is still classmates with the members of the football team who harassed him even though he’s not on the team anymore, both Smith and Cole said.
Video circulates of the alleged bullying
At the sleepover, Cole said SeMarion was taunted, was called the N-word, and was called homophobic slurs as well.
Some of the boys shot SeMarion with BB guns, Cole said. A cellphone video that was shared by Cole shows SeMarion was made to drink what appears to be urine in a cup. Laughs and giggles can be heard in the video.
Another video shows SeMarion being slapped once while asleep, Cole claimed.
SeMarion did not initially tell anyone about what allegedly transpired at the sleepover because the boys threatened him, Cole said. He didn’t go back to school until the week of February 22 because of the snowstorm the week before, the attorney said.
Back at school, he was asked by a classmate if he really drank the urine. Cole told CNN SeMarion didn’t initially remember the alleged urine incident because that night he took sleep aid medication for his anxiety. The classmate then showed him the video that was being shared around the school, the attorney added.
SeMarion didn’t tell the principal of what happened at the sleepover until last week when school officials were made aware of the videos, according to Cole. The school then informed his mother, Cole added.
The district launches an investigation
“Incidents like this affect our whole community. I want to let our community know that Plano ISD does not and will not tolerate bullying or harassment and believes every student must be treated with dignity and respect,” Bonser said.
In a statement to CNN, the school district said Haggard Middle School leaders and counselors “immediately began working closely and carefully with all involved students and their parents.”
“Since Plano ISD employs members of local law enforcement as school resource officers, the Plano Police Department was immediately involved,” the school district said.
Plano Police Department Public Information Officer David Tilley told CNN the department is “aggressively investigating this case.”
Tilley said Chief Ed Drain had met with SeMarion’s family and described the meeting as “very productive.”
SeMarion wore a shift reading ‘Justice for Me’
Smith told CNN she felt “devastated” when she was made aware of what happened at the sleepover, adding she “cried for a long time.”
“I was just angry, I was sad, I was confused because he was at his friend’s house,” Smith told CNN.
Cole said she will push for the school district to make changes to how they handle bullying and harassment.
“Right now, what Plano ISD is doing is not working,” Cole said. “I’m not certain if the failure is in the policies. I’m not certain if the failure is in the implementation of the policies. I don’t know where the failure is, but I plan to get down to the bottom of it and assure that Plano ISD has the appropriate policies and procedures in place to assure our children’s safety.”
SeMarion felt “empowered” during a protest that took place last week, Cole said. The attorney said SeMarion “was just ecstatic” after seeing people show up to support him, adding he wore a shirt and made a sign that read “Justice for Me.”
Source: CNN – US News