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A white student who attended a predominantly black and Hispanic high school in a New York City suburb is now seeking restitution, claiming that he was routinely beaten and bullied because of his race and that administrators did nothing to protect him, the New York Post reports

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Giovanni Micheli, now 23, says he was punched, hit with a chair, and repeatedly called “cracker” and “white boy” throughout his time at Brentwood High School in Suffolk County. Lawyers for Micheli are saying that their client was singled out as a “minority” at the school. When Micheli complained to school officials, most of whom were white, he was allegedly told to “project more self-confidence” in order to stop the alleged abuse or else leave the school.

Micheli sued the Brentwood School District in 2010. The trial opened Monday in federal court in New York City’s Brooklyn borough, the Post notes. 

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“Giovanni was a minority because he was Caucasian,” attorney Wayne Schaefer said in his opening statement, accoridng to the Post. “This case is about discrimination against a minority student. … Our claim is that there was deliberate indifference because he was a Caucasian student complaining in a district where Caucasians are a minority.”

After Micheli’s parents complained, Micheli was removed from campus in favor of home tutoring, Schaefer said. School officials reportedly later denied the family’s request to have Micheli, who was increasingly depressed and withdrawn, moved to another district. 

“If we do that for him, we would have to do that for all the white children,” the parents were reportedly told, according to Schaefer.

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A lawyer for the school district said that Micheli was never able to give school officials enough information about his alleged attackers. Micheli reportedly described the bullies in one attack as “slender and black.”

“Had the district rounded up all African-American students who were thin, we’d be here for another reason,” defense attorney Jack Shields told jurors.

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Shields said that the school did everything it could to help Micheli fit into his environment, including putting him in clubs. However, these efforts had little result, and Micheli subsequently used a racial slur during one confrontation with black students, Shields claimed. Eventually Micheli was ordered to leave campus as a safety precaution.

Micheli and his parents now want reimbursement for his parochial school tuition, the Post notes.

Read more at the New York Post