A Galveston woman has filed a lawsuit against Trinity Episcopal School, claiming its leaders failed to stop her child from being bullied and subjected to racist insults.
Meanwhile, her attorney says other parents have come forward with similar claims about the private school attended by children of some of the island’s most prominent families.
The woman is named in the lawsuit, but The Daily News has withheld that information to protect the identity of her minor son. The woman is an employee of The Daily News.
The lawsuit was filed May 5 in 405th District Court against the school, headmaster the Rev. David Dearman and the parents of three students. Neither the parents nor the accused children are named in the petition filed last week.
The lawsuit seeks $1 million in damages.
“Trinity Episcopal School Galveston is saddened by the lawsuit that has been filed by the mother of a former seventh-grade student against the school, its head, and three of her son’s former classmates,” Dearman said in a written statement.
The plaintiff’s son, who is African American, attended Trinity Episcopal School from 2014 to 2016, when his mother withdrew him because of bullying and harassment, the lawsuit asserts.
The lawsuit asserts that three white students made and handed the boy “KKK origami” resembling the hoods worn by KKK members and verbally abused him with “KKK beats.” The lawsuit doesn’t explain what exactly “beats” are.
The three are accused of stating that their fathers were “dragon masters of the KKK” and generally bullying, harassing and racially discriminating against the boy to the point that he no longer felt safe and comfortable to attend Trinity, the lawsuit asserts.
The mother met with Dearman on April 14, 2016, to discuss the bullying, the lawsuit asserts.
Dearman later told the mother the three students had admitted to the bullying, the lawsuit asserts.
The students were required to write an apology letter to the boy and one was suspended from school for a day, the lawsuit asserts.
“This evidence’s a deliberate indifference to peer harassment of a student,” the lawsuit asserts.
The boy’s mother took him out of Trinity on April 19, the lawsuit asserts.
As a result of the bullying, the boy struggled academically and has suffered emotional distress, the lawsuit asserts.
The boy has received counseling, but has been unable to attend any of four schools he had been enrolled in since leaving Trinity, the lawsuit asserts.
“The school has policy that prohibits any form of bullying or discrimination,” Dearman said in the statement. “As soon as the school was informed of an issue over a year ago, it addressed it immediately, consistent with its policy.
“The mother withdrew her child from the school four days later. Trinity Episcopal School values diversity and is committed to upholding standards that reflect our mission in Christ.”
Because the lawsuit involves children, the school would have no further comment, Dearman said.
Levi G. McCathern II, the attorney representing the plaintiff, disagreed with Dearman’s characterization.
“Prior to filing this lawsuit, we tried to resolve the matter with Trinity and David C. Dearman — the headmaster of Trinity,” McCathern said. “We gave them every opportunity to meet with us to try to resolve the case without costly litigation.
“Trinity’s leadership, however, had no interest in speaking with us despite the perpetrators of the bullying and racial discrimination admitting their actions to Mr. Dearman and the school being well aware of the ongoing problems.”
McCathern is a Dallas-based attorney who has also filed a lawsuit in the case of a 12-year-old girl at a Waco private school who suffered rope burns around her neck in what her family says was a racially motivated attack.
“Since the public became aware of this case, my office has been inundated with calls from families with similar stories of Trinity and their lack of corrective action,” McCathern said. “These are families who have also had to remove their children from Trinity due to relentless bullying that went unaddressed. Our only recourse was to bring this lawsuit.”
Ron Johnson, the attorney representing Trinity Episcopal School, did not return a phone call requesting comment.