A central Minnesota parent is suing the Rocori School District, accusing it of doing nothing to stop the years of racist bullying and harassment her Black children endured at school.
Andrea Robinson, of Cold Spring, filed a lawsuit in federal court on Jan. 21 against the Rocori School District, It accuses the district of violating her children's civil rights when it showed "deliberate indifference" and "failed to respond" to multiple incidents of racial harassment and discrimination directed toward her kids by students and staff.
The lawsuit cites Title VI and Title IX of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, saying Robinson's children were subjected to a hostile education environment for years, which deprived them of full access to educational opportunities and benefits that are required by law.
Robinson's family is seeking unspecified compensation for Robinson's two kids for economic, physical and emotional losses, as well as attorney fees and court costs.
Bring Me The News has reached out to the Rocori School District for comment.
Robinson previously shared details of her family's struggle with racial harassment and the district's lack of response in a Facebook video on May 1, 2021, which went viral. Later that month, Robinson spoke at a Rocori School Board meeting about her family's journey with racial bullying in the district.
This spurred more harassment against the family, which came to a head when a man purposely crashed a stolen SUV into their home in Cold Spring by placing a piece of granite on the accelerator. In the SUV, there was a toy teddy bear hanging from a noose, charges allege.
The man, Benton Beyer, was charged in Stearns County with 11 crimes in connection to the July 2021 incident. The Robinson family received an outpouring of support after the incident.
Years of bullying
According to the lawsuit, Robinson and her two children informed school administrators of racial bullying and harassment on school grounds on multiple occasions since the 2015-16 school year, but the district "failed to take any meaningful action."
The lawsuit details some of the harassment and discrimination Robinson's kids endured. Among the alleged incidents:
- Students called them racial slurs and made threats about lynching
- Students stole food from her son's lunch tray and threw it at him
- Students poured baby powder in her son's hair on the bus
- Students bullied her daughter for her sexual orientation
- Students spread rumors about her being pregnant and called her a "slut"
Teachers and staff were aware of what was going on but did not intervene, or they unfairly targeted Robinson's kids for discipline but didn't discipline the students who were doing the bullying, the lawsuit alleges. Staff also made an effort to protect other students from potential bullying but did nothing to help Robinson's kids despite multiple requests from the family for help.
The harassment and bullying directed toward Robinson's children in middle school and high school disrupted their learning and academic progress in school, and forced both children to leave the school district, the lawsuit says. It also impacted their mental health, noting Robinson's daughter attempted suicide after the harassment and bullying worsened.