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Plano ISD hosts press conference amid abuse, racial bullying allegations



PLANO, TX – Amid nationwide uproar stemming from a 13-year-old Haggard Middle School student’s alleged abuse and racial bullying by classmates, Plano ISD hosted a press conference Tuesday afternoon, where superintendent Sara Bonser spoke and took questions from reporters alongside Plano Mayor Harry LaRosiliere and Plano Chief of Police Ed Drain.

“First and foremost, I’d like to start today’s briefing by saying that Plano is a welcoming, diverse and inclusive community, and there’s no place for bullying, hate or intolerance in our community, period,” LaRosiliere said during his opening remarks. “When issues like what occurred at Haggard Middle School arise, it presents an opportunity – an opportunity for constructive dialogue within our city to insist on accountability for those involved.”

He then went on to describe the alleged acts – which include filming the student as he was forced to drink another student’s urine – as “sad,” “inexcusable” and “abhorrent behavior.”

“On March 2, the mother of a Haggard Middle School student approached our school resource officer and talked about events that happened on Feb. 12, 13 and possibly the 14,” said Drain, who spoke immediately after LaRosiliere. “The school resource officer determined there could be potentially criminal offenses that had occurred at that event, so we had … launched a preliminary investigation into those events.”

Drain said that a juvenile detective was assigned to the investigation on March 4, and that the victim and his mother were both taken to the Children’s Advocacy Center of Collin County for a forensic interview. He mentioned further that the victim’s family is wanting authorities to investigate the allegations as a hate crime, for which he reportedly met with the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s civil rights division.

Despite this, he said that FBI investigations into juvenile cases pose legal challenges, but that while Texas does not specifically label any offenses as “hate crimes,” criminal penalties can be bolstered if the crime is proven to have been motivated by race, sexual orientation or gender.

When asked in private about people’s assertions that the allegations constitute hate crimes, Bonser replied, “The police will determine whether it’s a hate crime or not. We are bound by the policies and laws and our investigative procedures. And so we will work with the police on the level of the offense based on the criminal investigation.”