Black Student at Vermont School Allegedly Called Racial Slurs, Given Nazi Salute: ACLU

The ACLU of Vermont has filed a complaint against a school alleging that the school did not do enough to help a student who reportedly suffered through racially motivated abuse at the school.

Twin Valley Middle High School in Whitingham, Vermont is the subject of the ACLU's complaint, which was filed on behalf of the unnamed student, who was the only Black student in the school's 10th grade.

The complaint claimed that the school did nothing to protect the student against several alleged instances of racist bullying from 2020 to 2021. The incidents cited in the complaint included a student allegedly calling the student a slur in front of their teacher in December 2020 and a group of students allegedly directing the Nazi salute toward her while yelling the same slur in February 2021.

As a result of the alleged harassment, the student dropped out of school sports and developed depression, the complaint said. According to the complaint, she eventually transferred to another school.

"Our client was driven from her school after the people she turned to for help did nothing to support her and further emboldened her abusers," said ACLU of Vermont Executive Director James Lyall in a statement. "Racist harassment and bullying remain a common experience for students of color in Vermont, and the state has a responsibility to do much more to prevent incidents like these from recurring day after day and year after year."

The student's identity has not been made public due to the fact that she is still a minor.

BLM Vermont
A Vermont school has been accused by the ACLU of failing to protect a Black student from racially motivated harassment, bullying and threats. In this Saturday, February 20, 2021 photo, a Black Lives Matter flag flies outside of town offices in Bennington, Vermont. AP Photo/Jessica Hill

Superintendent Barbara Anne Komons-Montroll disputed the allegations against the school administration. She said by email Tuesday that the district maintains strict policies against harassment and is "committed to eliminating racism from our schools."

When the administration was made aware of the allegations it notified families, investigated and, where the harassment was substantiated, it took appropriate disciplinary action, she said.

"The disciplinary actions taken by us were effective. No student repeated the race-based misconduct," she said.

In March a Snapchat video allegedly captured a group of male students yelling the slur and "Burn, Burn, Burn!" and that they hope the student "burns in hell," the complaint stated.

The school initiated an investigation and found a "substantiation of a violation of the school's policy" but did not provide a tangible plan to protect the student, the complaint alleges.

Komons-Montroll said the school district disputes the suggestion that it failed to follow the law and will prevail in any litigation on the matter.

"We will zealously defend our actions before the Human Rights Commission, and in any subsequent litigation," she said by email.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.