Montgomery County family wants answers after racial incidents at high school

Posted at 6:11 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 18:21:46-04

MOUNT STERLING, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Mount Sterling family is looking for justice for their daughter after several racial incidents at Montgomery County High School, one even involving a teacher.

A Montgomery County High School sophomore's mom got a text this week that she couldn't believe.

"My daughter had sent me a message saying, 'if somebody says something, is it racist if somebody says bless your cotton-picking hands?' well, absolutely,” says Tara Thomas.

A few minutes later she got a call, "I was like, 'what student said that?' she was like, 'Mom, it is not a student, it was a teacher.'"

The student, who preferred not to be named or on-camera, went to the principal's office. Her Mom spoke with the principal and superintendent -both parents were not satisfied with the response.

The student's dad, Eddie Campbell, says, "It just gives me the impression that it's not high on the priority list...parents shouldn't have to feel that way dealing with any type of situation."

This family estimates that Montgomery County High School's minority population is less than 10% -- and that's why making it clear that incidents like this one are not okay, are all the more important.

Campbell says, "This is something that, you know, is very serious. It's something that goes on more often than anybody really knows about, and when these situations do arise, I feel like the public, especially the African American community, needs to know that they are 100% vested in these types of situations and taking action."

This student has faced two more racial incidents like this one - one even involving law enforcement. The student's parents both grew up in Mount Sterling. Unfortunately, they see their daughters’ experiences with racism mirror their own. This week, the family celebrated their other daughter finishing 8th grade. Given her older sister's experiences, they fear that she could experience the same.

"Because she's gonna be subjected to the exact same things and I’m not going to tolerate it anymore,” says Thomas.

In a statement, the Montgomery County Schools superintendent said, “Student and staff safety is our top priority. The alleged comments and behaviors have no place in our school system and are not tolerated. When we are made aware of concerns we investigate them fully and deal with them accordingly based upon our code of conduct, policies, procedures, and professional code of ethics."

Thomas says, "I need the school system and the teacher to be aware that it's not okay. It has affected me, my family, my daughter, and I’m sure other families will be affected by this too."

This family has reached out to an attorney about this incident. That representative tells LEX 18 that this is a reminder that even in 2022 more needs to be done to foster diversity and inclusivity. They are exploring all legal remedies available to this family.