South Stanly parent alleges racist verbal abuse against child

Published 3:18 pm Wednesday, February 8, 2023

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Allegations of years of racist verbal abuse from one student to another, including the use of the n-word, were brought to light by a concerned parent during the public comments section of Tuesday night’s Stanly County Board of Education meeting.

Kendra Furlow, who is Black, told the board that for the past six years, her son, a South Stanly High School student, has repeatedly been called “every single racial slur you can possibly think of by one student.”

Furlow said she and her husband have repeatedly been in contact with school officials about the behavior exhibited toward their son and were always told it would be handled in-house.

When asked for specifics, Furlow said the school told them they “had a discussion” or her son just had to “stay away from” the other student.

After many years of verbal abuse, a physical altercation allegedly occurred between her son and the other student last week, Furlow told the board. The incident occurred as Furlow’s son and several other boys were lifting weights and decided to make each other mad enough so they would each “max out,” or pushing the limits of what a person can lift.

Insults included “you are weak” and “my little sister can lift better than you,” Furlow said, but she said her son was again called the n-word and other slurs.

When she called the school, Furlow learned the assistant principal told her son that agreeing to be made mad was an invitation for the other student to act as he did. She said the assistant principal confirmed what she told her son when she spoke with Furlow.

After learning of the altercation, Furlow asked for copies of documentation of the multiple times she and her husband “called, emailed and stopped by for conferences.” She said she was told because disciplinary action was never necessary for previous incidents, “it didn’t need to be documented, the other student just needed to be talked to.”

She noted other allegations of school officials and teachers making discriminatory remarks at her son, including telling him at one point “it’s no use in learning how to pronounce your name because you’ll just be a number later.”

Furlow asked for the school system to “take these incidents seriously” and document concerns raised by parents. She also wanted a plan of action in place for students who engage in this type of harassment.

She told the board the comments from the school staff to her son were “completely unacceptable” and she has already taken steps to file grievances.

“Time after time, it was proven that my son was in fact harassed, so why for six years was it swept under the rug?” Furlow said, noting while she does not condone violence, she understands that “in a 16-year-old’s mind, enough is enough when he felt like nothing was being done.”

Her son is not a troublemaker, Furlow said, and had never been involved in any prior physical altercation. He also comes from a household that has raised him to be a “productive citizen and a kind human being,” she added.

“Some say the n-word is our culture, but it’s not. We don’t use it and our children don’t use it,” she said. “It’s not in my culture.”

Her call to action is for the school system to “listen, investigate, document and take action.”

After Furlow finished speaking, board chairperson Glenda Gibson told her that what the other student called her son is not “common culture” and that the board will “certainly ask and give directive that it be investigated further.”

Requests for comment were left for South Stanly High School’s principal and Stanly County Schools.

“The Board Chair responded during the public records request during the meeting,” said Hope Miller-Drye, administrative and school board assistant for Stanly County Schools. “Due to this being a student matter, we will not be able to discuss any additional details.”

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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