Black Student Called Racial Slur, Denied Communion At Catholic School

Student praying

Photo: FatCamera / iStock / Getty Images

The family of a Black eighth-grader is suing the church that operates her school following accusations of racial discrimination. According to filings obtained by WCPO, the unidentified girl was bullied because of her race and learning disability at St. Joseph Catholic Church Middle School in Cold Spring, Kentucky.

The lawsuit, which was filed in federal court on Monday (October 30), claims a classmate who called the girl a racial slur was never disciplined for their actions. School officials assured the girl's mother they were investigating the incident, but they neither looked into it nor punished the student, the filing states.

The following month, another incident happened where an English teacher repeatedly used the N-word during a lesson, according to the suit. Documents allege the teacher said her parents used the slur all the time and even remarked, "Be careful who you say [N-word] around because you will be ex'ed out of society."

Several classmates reportedly spoke up during class, and the girl reported it to school administrators, but again, the school didn't take action, per court documents. On top of that, the English teacher allegedly tried to intimidate the girl into dropping the issue and even denied her communion at a school-supported Mass.

Not only was the girl the only Black student at St. Joseph, but she also had a learning disability making it harder for her to communicate, according to filings. Since the slew of alleged incidents, both the middle schooler and her mother sought counseling.

The lawsuit also names the English teacher, a school administrator, and the Dioceses of Covington as defendants. The student's family is seeking both statutory and punitive damages.

"(The girl) is scarred for the rest of her life because of these incidents," the lawsuit states. "This is the story of a brave, Black girl standing her ground against the biggest bully at her school, her teacher."

Bishop John Iffert, leader of the Diocese of Covington, didn't comment on the pending litigation but condemned racism in a Monday statement.

"The teaching of the Catholic Church is clear: Racism is a moral evil," he said. "The Catholic Church and the Diocese of Covington work to oppose and root out racism wherever we encounter this radical evil, especially in our Christian minds and hearts."

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