Back to school was terribly troubling for a 10-year-old Black girl in upstate New York. Just days into the academic year, a racist attack on a school bus has left her with visible scars and a terrifying memory she likely won’t soon forget. The local police are treating the incident as a hate crime.
Her assailants, 10 and 11, are white and have both been charged with second-degree harassment according to CBS-affiliate WWNY. The 11-year-old involved has also been charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime.
“It is probably the most professionally devastating event since I started working at Gouverneur in 1984,” school superintendent Lauren French told WWNY in an interview this week.
The young girl assaulted walked away from the attack with a black eye after being punched, hair loss from it being pulled, and a bruised knee. Throughout the incident, she was taunted with racial slurs. The girl’s mother filed a formal complaint with local police on September 10. After a two-week investigation, her attackers were charged.
Also charged was bus aide Tiffany N. Spicer, who is white, and watched the incident play out without intervening. WWNY reports that she faces three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.
“I firmly believe that we are better than this,” Superintendent French told reporters. “And we have to take a stand that models what we believe and puts our belief at the forefront and sets the expectation where it should be that all people are treated with human dignity.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo weighed in on the case via a statement obtained by The New York Times. “That this was allegedly perpetrated by her own classmates, on a school bus with an adult monitor present, makes this incident even more shocking and troubling,” Cuomo said.
The Governor has directed the Division of Human Rights to open an investigation into the attack that lasted 20 minutes. The Hate Crimes Task Force has also been asked to assist local authorities.