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Plano ISD to offer African American, Mexican American culture classes amid backlash over racist bullying



PLANO, TX— African American and Mexican American studies — will be offered during the 2021-22 school year to Plano ISD high school juniors and seniors.

Attorney Lee Merritt spoke on behalf of Marvin David Scott III’s family.

Moments after the Collin County Sheriff’s press conference on Friday, March 19, 2021. Attorney Lee…

The African American Studies class will introduce students to the history and culture of African Americans “in a way that helps students make connections to contemporary and current issues that impact the world around them,” according to the district. The Mexican American Studies course will teach students about the history and cultural contributions of Mexican Americans.

Both courses will cover history, culture, the arts and social movements while drawing on film, literature and art to enrich the courses. The classes are each one credit and will be offered over two semesters as a social studies elective for high school juniors and seniors.

The courses, which were developed by the State Board of Education and approved by the Plano ISD board in November, arrive as the district has been in the national spotlight over allegations that a 13-year-old, who is Black, was bullied and abused by Haggard Middle School students. The teen’s mother, Summer Smith, reported to the school that her son was called racial slurs, beaten and made to drink his white classmates’ urine during a sleepover in February. The students recorded their actions and posted videos to social media, later sharing the clips during school.

Smith said she tried to get help from the district and when that failed, she posted the footage to Facebook with a plea for action, sparking horror in the school community and across the country.

The district also announced Tuesday that it will work with a diversity advisory committee to develop a “comprehensive plan to address diversity, equity and inclusion.”

The school district recently concluded its investigation but did not release any findings due to student privacy issues. In a letter to the family, “allegations of bullying and cyberbullying were sustained,” said Smith’s attorney, Kim T. Cole.

Plano police and an outside firm hired by the district are conducting separate investigations of the incident. The boy’s family wants it to be considered a hate crime.

The school district has said it will host community meetings to gather feedback on diversity, bullying and harassment issues.