Group protesting Effingham school district staff for bullying, harassment, racism

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EFFINGHAM, Ill. (WCIA) — Kesney Estrada organized a protest outside of the Effingham school building, after she claims a teacher within the district drove her son Quincy Riley to attempt suicide.

Riley, who lives with Autism, was a performing student taking classes with neurotypical students. However, Estrada said he felt pressured into suicide after a teacher threatened to send him to school with kids who have special needs.

Other students have accused the faculty of creating an environment that allows bullying, singling out, harassment and racism to go relatively unchecked. Often, students say, teachers and even administrators would take part in the bullying.

“I hate going to school. I hate it. I hate it so much I dread getting up and going every morning,” one student, Keilee Montgomery said. “I just dread going.”

Montgomery also accused the lunch ladies for calling her and her friends poor, and she claims faculty would accuse her of having drugs and search her, or follow her in the bathroom.

“They called my friend a psychopath because she was cutting herself,” Montgomery said. “When the whole time, she was doing it because they were bullying her.”

Jaden Sipes is a sophomore and teen mother. She said dealing with other students was hard enough, but when the school got involved, she said they tried to get her transferred to another school so she couldn’t be a distraction. She claims other students were pressured to distance themselves from her, and would be targeted themselves if they didn’t. She said it even led to racist insults being hurled at her friend.

“One of my best friends is black, and she would deal with students calling her the n word,” Sipes said. “And the school did nothing about it.”

Another black student, Abigail Middendorf, said her mother had to pull her out of school, because she would routinely be accused of things she wouldn’t do, and get reprimanded for trying to defend herself from comments.

“Everytime something goes on, like drama or something, I feel like it always comes back to me, even if I’m not involved or anything,” Middendorf said. “Thanks to all the teachers who’ve been nice to us, but I think there needs to be change.”

WCIA has reached out to the school superintendent, Mark Doan. So far, he has not yet responded for comment.

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