Metro East family says school failed to stop racial slurs & bull -

Metro East family says school failed to stop racial slurs & bullying

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By Elizabeth Eisele By Elizabeth Eisele

( -- Parents of a Metro East 8th grader said their son dreads going to school because he’s been the victim of repeated racial bullying which his school has failed to stop.

Dwayne Acoff II attends Wolf Branch Middle School in Swansea.

His father, Dwayne Acoff, told News 4 “The racial slurs started over a year and a half ago, they’ve called him N****r.” He said, “It escalated into a physical altercation, at one point a child bit him on the back.

The 13-year old said he reported the incidents to his principal, “I really expected the school to stop it from happening and do something about it but they didn’t.” There are days he doesn’t want to go to school, “I don’t really like going that much anymore, it’s not fun anymore.”

Wolf Branch Superintendent Scott Harres said, “We do not tolerate this kind of action.”

Harres said privacy rules prohibit him from saying what action the school district took against the students but he said all claims of harassment are investigated and if the claims are proven true, students will be punished according to the district’s written policy.

But parents, Dwayne and Premissa Acoff said the punishment wasn’t effective because the racial slurs continued. They said one of the students laughed about being back to school the next day and continued the harassment by sending taunts and racial slurs to their son, in text messages.

Wolf Branch Principal Jeff Burkett sent home a letter on Friday outlining the district’s zero-tolerance stance on racial harassment and asked parents to talk to their children about diversity and respecting others’ differences.

Burkett said that he’s met with the director of the Center for Racial Harmony in Belleville and formed a Cultural Diversity Roundtable to gather ideas about how to prevent future incidents.

The Acoffs said the district responded slowly to their concerns and have not been able to stop the bullying because the punishment they’ve handed out hasn’t been harsh enough to be a deterrent.

Since speaking out about their son’s racial bullying, they said they’ve been contacted by parents of other African American students who told them of racial problems they experienced in the district. So, to raise awareness about racial concerns, the Acoffs are planning to picket outside the Wolf Branch Middle School Monday morning.

Stay with News 4 and for further details.


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