Updated Wednesday, Oct. 7, 6 p.m. EDT: Dan Andriacco, spokesman for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, issued a statement about the incident, noting that the girl is Asian, not white, as was reported by various media. The archdiocese also indicated that in addition to the African-American boy, a white boy was also suspended in the incident.
“It is highly regrettable that some have sought to introduce a racial element into a situation where none existed,” the statement read. “The female student involved has been described in some accounts as white. She is, in fact, Asian, a point which the mother of the student who filed the lawsuit learned in November of last year. The other male student (who also received a one-day suspension) is white.”
A 12-year-old Ohio boy was suspended last year for staring at another student while playing the “staring game,” and recently a court upheld the suspension.
According to Fox 19, the incident happened in September 2014 at the St. Gabriel Consolidated School in Glendale, Ohio. According to the boy’s parents, who didn’t want him interviewed on camera, the two students were engaged in a “staring game” when, the parents say, their son was disciplined.
“The perception is he intimidated her,” Candice Tolbert, the boy’s mother, told the news station.
“My son stared at a girl who was engaged in a staring game,” she said. “She giggled the entire time.”
The boy’s parents filed a lawsuit in an attempt to get the suspension removed from their son’s record, noting that the school didn’t give their son due process. The Tolberts told the news station that the incident happened on a Monday. The girl’s parents contacted the school about the incident on the Tuesday, and on that same day, their son was suspended and apparently wrote an apology letter without their knowledge. They say they were not made aware of the suspension until Wednesday.
According to court documents viewed by the news station, the girl claimed she “felt fearful.” In the apology letter written by the 12-year-old, he stated, “I never knew she was scared because she was laughing.”
It also read, “I understand I done the wrong thing that will never happen again. I will start to think before I do so I am not in this situation.”
A statement issued by the school indicated that “Judge Patrick Dinkelacker listened to the plaintiff’s arguments yesterday, rejected them and dismissed the complaint against the school. We aren’t going to comment any further on particular issues concerning our students.”
The Tolberts aren’t ready to call the matter an issue of race but told the news station that they are concerned about the way their son was treated in comparison with the treatment in a separate incident involving the same girl.
“The same girl that accused my son of this act of perception of intimidation aggressively poured milk on someone else’s lunch,” Candice Tolbert told the news station. “When she did that, there was no penalties for that. She received nothing for that.”
According to the school’s handbook, viewed by the news station, the principal has the final say when issuing punishments. The parents are still debating whether to appeal the judge’s decision.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the girl involved was white. She is Asian.
Read more at Fox 19.