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BABCOCK RANCH | Family talks of alleged racial harassment, school response

Alleged racial mistreatment at Babcock Neighborhood School: family speaks out
Posted at 11:17 PM, Sep 25, 2023

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. — A Charlotte County family is speaking out, for help in filing a complaint with the US Department of Justice.

The family says they have seen a shift in their daughter's self-esteem since the alleged racial attacks started happening at school.

"I just kinda went to the corner, I put my hands up and I just sat there and took it," Clay said, referring to a time when her volleyball teammates were on video allegedly saying she didn't pick her cotton today and hit her with pillows.

The Clay family says when they reached out to Amanda Sanford, Principal of Babcock High School, Sanford said in an email, that the video was "Determined to not be racially discriminatory."

Fox 4 reached out to the school and received this response from Shannon Treece, Executive Director of Babcock Schools:

"Babcock Neighborhood School does not condone any type of discrimination or harassment. We take all allegations and instances of bullying, harassment, and discrimination very seriously. Due to student policy laws, we cannot comment on the specifics of this case. However, we are reviewing the matter and will take any appropriate action necessary."
Shannon Treece, Executive Director of Babcock Schools.

The girls in the video were kept from playing one volleyball game as punishment, according to the Clays.

The family says the consequences are not enough and are now leaning on the Lee County NAACP.

James Muwakkil, President of Lee County NAACP, says he feels those not advocating for Grace are part of the issue.

"This is racism, in practice," said Muwakkil.

Alleged racial mistreatment at Babcock Neighborhood School: family speaks out
Alleged racial mistreatment at Babcock Neighborhood School: family speaks out

Grace Clay also saw this photo for the first time in August.

The photos were posted to some of her classmates' Snapchat accounts on her birthday.

"I was so embarrassed," said Clay. "On your birthday you think your friends would post something like, 'Happy birthday,' or pictures that aren't that. It took me by surprise. It's one of the first things I saw when I opened up my phone in the morning."

Clay's parents say they are working to make a difference for their 16-year-old daughter and filing a complaint with the US Department of Justice.

"I hate the fact that my daughter comes home and tells me she feels she's not enough," Stephen Clay, Grace's father said.

Fox 4 checked into whether the school's policy can provide any guidance regarding such allegations. The Babcock Neighborhood Schools Student and Parent Handbook guide states:

"Any student who engaged in prohibited harassment, discrimination, or bullying of another student, or anyone from BNS, may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion."
Babcock Neighborhood Schools Student and Parent Handbook Guide, page 18.

Fox 4 will keep you informed as this develops.