Black girl whose white classmates ‘wrapped rope around her neck’ awarded $68,000 in damages

Devastated mother claimed 12 year-old's neck looked like someone "ripped my daughter’s neck off and stitched it back together."

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A jury in Travis County has ordered a private school in Texas to pay $68,000 in damages to the family of a Black student who said white classmates wrapped a rope around her neck and pulled her to the ground, according to The New York Times.

In a 2016, the student’s family sued Live Oak Classical School in Waco after the girl, who was 12 at the time and identified only as K.P. in court documents, returned home from a sixth-grade field trip with rope burns around her neck. Her mother, Sandy Rougely, saw her daughter’s injury and learned it was caused while the child was standing near a swing that was hanging from a tree and three white classmates, who frequently bullied her, used a separate rope that was designed to pull the swing higher as a weapon that they put around K.P.’s neck and violently jerked her to the ground. School officials, however, maintain that her injury was an accident.

“That just tore me into pieces,” Ms. Rougely said in a 2016 interview. “It looked like somebody ripped my daughter’s neck off and stitched it back together.”

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The family’s lawyer, Levi G. McCathern II, believes race definitely played a role in the school’s failure to notify the girl’s parents after the disturbing incident.

“If it had been a little white girl they would have been on the phone with her mother within the hour,” he said on Thursday.

David N. Deaconson, the lawyer for the school, rejected the racism accusation and said the child was injured as several children were pulling on the rope to raise the swing and when they let go, the rope whipped past the girl and hit her in the neck.

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The lawyer for the family asked for $5.3m in damages but on Wednesday, the jury ordered the school to pay $55,000 for the girl’s physical pain and mental anguish, $10,000 for disfigurement sustained and $3,000 for medical expenses.

“We were asking them to award symbolic damages to demonstrate the fact that the people of the state of Texas aren’t going to put up with that,” Mr. McCathern said.