(WSVN) - From miserable to unbearable. One South Florida student says she was bullied so badly, she had to switch schools. The teen’s torment started with a disturbing, racially charged picture. 7’s Brian Entin has our special assignment report– Cruelty in Class.
This 13-year-old has everything going for her.
She’s smart and athletic — a star on the volleyball court. Her parents enrolled her in Somerset Academy Silver Palms, a charter school in Homestead.
Mother: “They’re an ‘A’ school, and we have a feeder pattern to ‘D’ schools, ‘C’ schools, and I would prefer my daughter has the best if it’s available.”
But the best turned into the worst.
Teen: “I didn’t know what to feel. I was very angry at one point and I was very sad.”
We’re not showing the eighth-grader’s face because of what she has been through. Intense racial bullying, she says, started with this picture.
Teen: “During lunch, a girl came up to me and showed me a picture on Instagram. It was my head on a monkey’s body.”
She says the image was posted on social media and sent to classmates’ phones throughout the entire school.
That was just the beginning.
Father: “She walks into the class. As she walks in, a group of kids, a group of boys started making monkey noises. Vomiting noises. And screaming terms ‘monkey’ and ‘gorilla.'”
Mother: “The first thing we did is turn to the school. The first thing we did is we took it to the administration, we turned to the school. We explained to them what happened. We got a lot of promises, but not really results.”
Brian Entin: “The 13-year-old says the bullying persisted. She says it got so bad that she couldn’t take it anymore and her parents pulled her out of Somerset Academy.”
A spokeswoman for the school says the student responsible for the picture did get in trouble.
Lynn Norman-Teck, Florida Charter School Alliance: “That is an awful photo. And the principal took immediate action and addressed that student and that student had consequences.”
The family says the student was suspended and still goes to the school. But they say this is about more than just one incident.
Mother: “I think the school needs to implement sensitivity training for the children. She’s a minority. An extreme minority in this school.”
School records show out of 803 students at Somerset Academy Silver Palms, 69 are African-American.
The teen says she had classes where she was the only black student.
Lynn Norman-Teck: “A charter school is a school of choice. So no one is assigned to a charter school. You serve who walks in the door.”
The school won’t say whether they’ll consider sensitivity training.
Mother: “It just tears me up inside that they’re robbing my daughter of her innocence.”
This family — hoping they can try and ease the pain the picture caused by sharing their story.
Teen: “And I’m glad I’m talking about this now because other things have happened to people like this at the school and they’ve never said anything. So, I’m a voice for them. I’m very glad that I left the school and that I have a new start. And I will hold my head up high.”
Brian Entin, 7News.
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