Fort Osage student says slurs hurled at three Muslim classmates went beyond bullying

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INDEPENDENCE, Mo. -- Students at one metro high school are in an uproar.

Families at Fort Osage High School are concerned over accusations of bullying against Muslim teenagers. One student says nothing's being done about it.

One student tells FOX 4 News she personally witnessed racial slurs being hurled at three Muslim students. The names the three Middle Eastern teenagers were allegedly called were mean-spirited and racially-based.

"It's more than bullying. I'd call it a hate crime," Anna Goetz, a junior at Fort Osage High School, said.

Goetz says it was last Thursday morning, just as she opened the door to the high school. Goetz says she was stunned to hear two male students using racial slurs toward the Muslim girls, all of whom were dressed in traditional Muslim garments.

"I overheard racial slurs toward the three Muslim students we have. The three girls," Goetz told FOX 4 News. "They were picking fun, and saying they were terrorists and making terrorist remarks toward them."

Goetz says she reported it to a principal. Fort Osage School District leaders say they take a strong stance against bullying. District guidelines include a zero-tolerance policy toward bullying-related incidents.

"I was just a little disappointed because the boys I reported have been walking around the halls and they've still been in class," Goetz said.

Fort Osage School District spokesperson Stephanie Smith confirms three Muslim students, transfers from an Independence high school, recently enrolled at the school. Smith says the three female students were enrolled there only a short time before transferring out. Smith confirms the three students wore traditional Muslim attire.

"(Anna) felt nothing is being done about it," Jessica Cochran, Goetz's sister, said. Cochran says her younger sister has been so upset, she's called begging to come home from school.

"It's not just for the Muslims. It's for everybody. Black, white, Latino, everyone. This is America. If you are a citizen here, you should be treated so. Bullying is not OK. It's not acceptable," Cochran said.

"Our school motto is, 'We do things a little better here.' But when stuff like that happens, it kind of makes me rethink it and second guess what our school is about," Goetz said.

Goetz's account of the incident is one of several complaints FOX 4 News received on Thursday. A Fort Osage district administrator denies the incident took place. A statement from the district says all student bullying complaints are taken seriously.

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