In September 2014, a 12-year-old black boy was suspended from a private Catholic school for “staring” at a white girl. The boy claimed that the two were engaged in a “staring contest,” and his parents took the dispute to court, hoping to have the suspension removed. Today an Ohio court ordered that it would instead be upheld.

According to court documents, the girl claimed that she “felt fearful,” which propelled St. Gabriel Consolidated “to suspend the boy despite the fact that he wrote an apology saying he meant no harm.” RawStory provides an excerpt from the letter:

“I never knew she was scared because she was laughing...I understand I done the wrong thing that will never happen again. I will start to think before I do so I am not in this situation.”

St. Gabriel’s school handbook states, “The principal is the final recourse in all disciplinary matters and may waive any and all rules at his/her discretion for just cause.”

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And indeed, an interview with the boy’s parents sounds reveals that the school may be inconsistent in its disciplinary measures. His mother, Candice Tolbert, told Fox19 that the same girl who was purportedly “intimidated” by her son has engaged in much more aggressive behavior, and without repercussion: “The same girl that accused my son of this act of...intimidation aggressively poured milk on someone else’s lunch. When she did that there was no penalties for that. She received nothing for that.”

Fox19 asked the Tolberts if they believed their son’s suspension to be race-related. Although they note the disparity in the ways he and his female classmate were disciplined (or not disciplined, as it were), “they are not ready to pull out the race card.”

However, the boy’s family does plan to “file an appeal” with the hope of reversing the court’s decision.


Contact the author at rachel.vorona.cote@jezebel.com.

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