CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. – A Long Island family has filed a $5 million civil rights lawsuit against their son's high school, claiming it did nothing to stop students from text-messaging racial slurs and scrawling an offensive word on his locker.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Central Islip on Monday, says administrators at the nationally ranked Miller Place High School failed to stop the mistreatment of ninth grader Brian Orr — one of five black students in a school population of 950.
The complaint says the incidents began last April with the text messages and graffiti. His locker also was spat at and Orr was hit after football practices, the complaint says.
"Scarring Brian Orr's locker with racist filth underlines the fear of and barely repressed resentment of minorities in the district," said the Orrs' attorney, John Ray.
In one incident, he said, Orr was provoked into a hallway fight by a student who led the bullying. Both were suspended for three days, but the district failed to acknowledge that racial abuse was at the root of the fight and found that equal punishment was in order, Ray said.
Grace Brindley, the interim superintendent who is named as a defendant with other administrators, responded: "There is no merit to this lawsuit. Regrettably, the school district cannot respond to these frivolous accusations because of the laws governing confidentiality regarding student behavior."
Miller Place High School was ranked No. 73 on Newsweek's top 100 list.