KEARNEY, Mo. — A former Kearney High School student sued Kearney’s school district, claiming years of racial harassment and bullying. And he said he’s not the only one in his family to experience it.

In a lawsuit filed in Clay County earlier this month, a Black student claims he was targeted by fellow students attending Kearney High School during the 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 school years.

The lawsuit claims his sister experienced similar harassment and bullying when she attended the district prior to 2019.

The plaintiff, identified only as K.W. in the lawsuit, reported he began experiencing harassment and bullying when he was a freshman and a member Kearney High School’s swim team.

According to the lawsuit, K.W.’s white teammates told him he needed to shave his hair short and dye it blonde. K.W. also claims his teammates bullied him during a swim competition when they chanted “swim, n*****, swim.”

Court documents show K.W. said a white student took his picture and super-imposed a racial slur over it. Then things escalated, according to both K.W. and the lawsuit.

The lawsuit shows two white Kearney High School students began sending K.W. pictures of themselves with a confederate flag during school hours. K.W. said the photos came with messages like “My ni***? You dig me” and “Heritage but mostly hate brotha.”

K.W.’s mother said the incidents were reported to the Kearney High School counselor, principal and administrators.

The racial harassment also happened on Instagram, according to the court filing. When the student reported it, a teacher allegedly told K.W. to ignore the posts.

The lawsuit claims the harassment escalated to threats of bodily harm from other students.

K.W. said a white student circulated a video in which she and another white student chanted racial slurs. K.W. believed the video was aimed at him, according to the lawsuit. The document shows K.W. told his parents he believed the white students were trying to incite violence against him and he couldn’t take it anymore.

The day after K.W. saw the video, several white students got into a physical fight with one of his Black friends at school.

The plaintiff then began receiving messages threatening him and his family, according to the lawsuit.

At that point, K.W.s parents removed him from the high school.

K.W.’s mother said the Kearney School District was aware of racial issues in the district because their older daughter experienced similar harassment and bullying when she attended the school, according to the legal filing.

K.W.’s mother said the family reported K.W.’s older sister had been called a racial slur in class prior to 2019. When it was reported, high school administrators told her it would be dealt with in the future because the student in question had a football game, according to court documents.

The plaintiff’s sister also claimed that when she was in junior high school several high school students yelled racial slurs when she walked across a stage to accept an award during a school assembly. The lawsuit claims school administrators witnessed the incident.

The lawsuit asks for compensatory and punitive damages for costs associated with moving the student to another school, attorneys’ fees, and other relief.

Ray Weikal, a spokesman for the Kearney School District sent the following statement about the lawsuit:

“Kearney School District does not comment publicly on active or pending legal cases. The district will respond as appropriate within the court system. KSD is committed fully to ensuring that every student can learn in an environment free of discrimination in any form.”

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