Girl’s rope burn was the result of racist bullying, parents say

Photos of the rope burns to the 12-year-old girl’s neck were included in the lawsuit filed against Live Oak Classical Academy in Waco.
Photos of the rope burns to the 12-year-old girl’s neck were included in the lawsuit filed against Live Oak Classical Academy in Waco.

The parents of a 12-year-old girl who suffered a severe rope burn around her neck during an overnight field trip are suing the Waco private school that supervised the trip.

Sandy Rougely and Kevin Parker are seeking $3 million in damages from Live Oak Classical School because they believe their daughter’s injuries are the result of racially motivated bullying the school failed to address, according to the Huffington Post.

The girl, referred to in the lawsuit only as K.P., is black. The three boys allegedly involved are white.

Levi G. McCathern, the family’s Dallas-based attorney, said the incident occurred on April 28 when the children were playing on a rope swing at the Germer Ranch in Blanco County. The lawsuit, filed this week in Travis County, alleges three white boys, one of whom the girl’s parents say had been bullying her for months, were involved in inflicting the rope burn on the girl’s neck.

In a statement, the school said it takes allegations of racism seriously, and after interviewing eyewitnesses it couldn’t find any evidence racism played a role. David Deaconson, the school’s lawyer, contends the girl’s injuries were an accident, not the result of bullying.

McCathern describes the incident in the lawsuit: “During a class visit to the ranch April 28, the children came across a rope swing hanging from a tree. A second, longer rope was tied to the seat so the children could pull the rope, lift the swing into the air and help the occupant swing. Three of K.P.’s classmates used this rope to hurt her.

“Behind her in this group, within an arms length, were three boys, one of whom was the same boy Sandy had alerted Live Oak was bullying K.P. During one swing, K.P. watched as some of the other kids pulled the pull-rope back, ready to swing another child. She watched the kids let the rope go, thinking this was just like every other turn. However, she did not see what the boys behind her were doing, and the next thing K.P. knew, she felt the rope wrap around her neck and she was violently jerked to the ground with the pull-rope wrapped around her neck.”

Sandy Rougely told The Dallas Morning News last month, “It looked like somebody had ripped her neck apart and stitched it back together.”

The lawsuit says the parents are suing for $3 million “to not only compensate the victims in this case, but to deter this type of egregious conduct from others in the future, and to serve as an example to all educational institutions that this type of behavior is unacceptable.”