BABCOCK RANCH, Fla. — In the wake of allegations of racial bullying at Babcock Schools, we’re hearing from the school for the first time since the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) initially considered filing a civil rights complaint but ultimately decided against it. Despite this, Babcock Neigborhood Schools is implementing new preventative programs to tackle the challenges head-on.
Shannon Treece, the Executive Director of Babcock Schools, shared insights into the immediate actions taken following the allegations. “Some of the work that we did immediately within the school was engaging with our students and having some really in-depth conversations about how we move forward,” Treece stated.
In September, Fox 4 was first to report on a video that showed the school's volleyball team allegedly harassing a teammate with racial comments and photos. Treece acknowledged the impact this news had on the school and the community, with parents describing it as “absolutely heartbreaking” and “gut-wrenching.”
The Lee County Chapter of the NAACP brought the allegations to light and said it would file a civil rights complaint. Over the next few months, several parents filed lawsuits. But this week, the organization said the threat of a civil rights complaint was inadvertent. After talking with the school, it believed the situation was moving in a positive direction. That includes the school’s new ‘Student Civility Task Force Team’ - it’s a group of students from diverse backgrounds who focus on positive reinforcement.
“Those students have now met three times. They have a mission, a vision. They have worked through their 'SWOT' process and will be drafting their goals in the follow-up session in December,” Treece explained.
Furthermore, Treece emphasized the importance of involving parents, stating, "I'm in the process of working with our administrators on identifying some of our parents who would be willing to be at the table with us to really look critically at what we need to do."
Treece believes this type of bullying happens at a lot of schools, so she wants to use the spotlight to learn and grow. "Our schools can become an example of how to hear hard information, process hard information, and take that information to make the environment, the climate, the community better than it was before," she said.
Parents expressed faith in the school's commitment to solving the issue, with one stating, "Sometimes these opportunities are what they need more than academics." Another stated, “The situation’s horrible, but I had faith that the school was addressing it, and is addressing it, and will continue to address it.”