You would think middle school student council would be a place for students to make friends and influence school activities. But for a student at Joseph Arthur Middle School in O'Fallon, Illinois, it's where she was called a "slave" by a trusted teacher, as her parents allege in a lawsuit.
Stephanie and Theo Afogho told KSDK
that their 12-year-old daughter reported that the teacher, who was also a student council advisor, called her and another student "slaves" during a student council meeting last year. Now, the families are filing a lawsuit against the school district, as well as teachers who are accused of retaliating when the students spoke up.
"Our daughter was called ‘slave number one,’" Theo Afogho recalled in an interview with KSDK
He and his wife went to numerous school board meetings to demand an apology, but they were met with a backlash, according to the news station
. The couple says teachers began failing to enter their daughter's grades on time, taking her from straight As to Cs and Ds.
When some coaches noticed what was happening and spoke up about it, they were met with consequences as well, basketball coach Marcus Gregory told KSDK
. Gregory — who, like Theo Afogho is black — believes it's why he was not allowed to return to the school as a coach.
"It's one of those things where unfortunately in 2018, you wish didn't exist, but it does," Gregory said in an interview with KSDK
When contacted by KSDK
, the district superintendent was unable to comment on the pending litigation. The superintendent did, however, give the following statement:
“Central School District 104 received a copy of the lawsuit that was filed. We value the rights of all of our students, faculty and staff.”