YERINGTON, Nev. (AP) — School officials in a small Nevada town said they have addressed complaints of racial bullying after two black high school freshmen and their parents reported that their pleas for action had been ignored.
The Lyon County School District said it took actions at Yerington High School in rural Nevada in line with state law and district policies, the Reno Gazette-Journal reported Monday. School officials said they could not disclose student records, including details of discipline and investigations.
Stepsisters Taylissa Marriott and Jayla Tolliver, both 14, and their parents, Nancy Marriott-Tolliver and Charles Tolliver, told the newspaper last week that the girls were targets of racial bullying since the school year started.
The girls, who are among the few black students at the high school of nearly 400 people 90 minutes southeast of Reno, cited name-calling at school and a menacing post on social media.
A district statement said no incidents had been reported since Oct. 26, and that staff members continue to implement safety plans.
The district said administrators, staff and students receive training each school year on policies and laws about a safe and respectful learning environment and that “appropriate actions and consequences are provided” for student behavior violations.
“In addition, law enforcement is notified when criminal behavior is suspected,” the statement said.
The social media post the girls reported showed the son of a Lyon County sheriff’s deputy holding a gun and wearing a belt with knives and included threats against black people, using a racial slur.
It was unclear whether the deputy’s son or someone else wrote the comments on his photo.
Lyon County Sheriff Al McNeil confirmed the boy pictured was the son of a deputy and said it was up to Yerington police to investigate.
But Yerington Police Chief Darren Wagner told the Gazette-Journal that he didn’t investigate because the post represented free speech. Wagner also said his office destroyed police statements from family members.
Christina McGill of the state education department’s Office for a Safe and Respectful Learning Environment said she has reached out to the family and the school, hoping to start a discussion about racial tolerance.
U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto and U.S. Rep. Ruben Kihuen, both Democrats, also said they contacted the family, the newspaper reported.
Lonnie Feemster, vice president of the NAACP in Nevada, Utah and Idaho, said he recognized how difficult it was for Taylissa Marriott and Jayla Tolliver to return to school after the Gazette-Journal report was published.
Information from: Reno Gazette-Journal, http://www.rgj.com