HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - The parents of a Hialeah student are speaking out after a racist recording was captured on their son’s cellphone.
A couple of afterschool selfies appear harmless, but a video of the moment on Tuesday afternoon proved otherwise.
As Jaylen Leeks reached for his phone behind a metal gate, a student holding the phone refused to give it back.
The girl holding his phone could be heard calling him the n-word, saying “Look at this [expletive].”
“She said, ‘Look at this [expletive], you see this [expletive]?’ twice,” said Jaylen’s mother, Shonerika Leeks.
Leeks said it is her son at the receiving end of the racial slurs at iMater Middle/High Charter School in Hialeah.
“It hurts. It’s saddening, it’s sick, it’s disgusting, it’s frustrating, you know?” she said.
Frustrating to know Jaylen, her soft-spoken 14-year-old, was treated this way at school.
“I think everybody should be kind to each other because we’re both human beings, and we should all respect each other,” said Jaylen. “It’s just ridiculous because this really needs to stop.”
His parents posted the video on social media and then went to school, demanding action.
“They kept saying that this has never happened before, and it’s like, well, already your information is wrong,” said Jaylen’s father, Agostino Polimeni.
They said Jaylen was called the n-word by another student earlier this year.
The offender then was suspended and forced to apologize.
Jaylen’s parents want the school to make sure students know this behavior is not OK.
“How do you deliver the message? You expel them. You have a meeting with all the kids together, you put them all together, and you tell them: ‘Listen, this is not acceptable, this is not tolerated,'” said Polimeni.
iMater Middle/High Charter School officials released a statement that reads in part, “We are outraged by the actions of the individuals in the video. We stand in solidarity with the victim and his family and pledge our commitment to ensure this does not happen again. We have zero-tolerance for racism and bullying.”
Jaylen’s parents are questioning that commitment and said they aren’t sure their child will return to the school.
“I don’t think my son deserves that. I don’t think anybody deserves that,” said Polimeni.
“It just hurts my heart because I send my son to school to get an education and to feel safe and to be safe and they violated that,” said Leeks.
School officials said the student caught speaking in the video has been disciplined, but Jaylen’s mother believes all of the students there who saw what was happening and did nothing should be punished.
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