ST.PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Stacey Hughes says her son was very happy when he went to Admiral Farragut Academy in St. Petersburg and he excelled in school and on the athletic field.
“In August when he started school he was immediately made an ambassador. He stood out because of his uniform and his pride he took in his uniform,” said Hughes.
Her son dreams of going to the United States Air Force Academy or the U.S. Naval Academy and Admiral Farragut seemed like the perfect place to prepare him for that future.
Then Hughes noticed her son’s behavior was changing.
“We noticed that he, appetite was going down, didn’t want to sleep, he no longer take the pride that he initially took,” said Hughes.
She and her husband say they eventually learned their son was being bullied at school. They say it wasn’t easy for their son to tell them what was going on.
“Because he had been threatened that if you say anything we will kill you,” said Hughes.
The other students followed him into a locker room and physically and verbally attacked him.
“He was told that, why don’t you go back to playing football and the “N” word don’t play lacrosse and you’re not going to come out here and outshine us and if you plan on staying out here, then you are going to be our “N” word,” said Hughes.
Hughes says the other students used lacrosse sticks to attack her son.
“He was in eighth grade, these are older kids that were participating. There were kids that watched and didn’t say anything,” said Hughes.
The headmaster of the school released a statement denying the allegations.
“While we have not seen the complaint, this matter involves a student who was dismissed from Admiral Farragut Academy two years ago for violating our school’s code of conduct. Four months later, the student’s family contacted the St. Petersburg Police Department to allege that he had been bullied and hazed while he was a student here – allegations we had not been made aware of. We fully cooperated with the police investigation that followed. Officers from the department conducted interviews with several individuals here at the school but were unable to find any evidence supporting the student’s claims. Allegations of bullying and hazing are serious matters. Any claims that are brought to our attention are rigorously investigated. We set high standards for student behavior and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action when we have evidence that those standards have been violated.”Robert J. Fine, Jr., Headmaster/President Admiral Farragut Academy.
The Hughes family has now filed a lawsuit against the school. Michele Rayner-Goolsby is representing the family. She says the bullying is part of a pattern at the school.
“It’s overt racism and what we’re finding is this school fostered this culture of this,” said Rayner-Goolsby. She says there are witnesses to the bullying.
“What they don’t realize is that we have had corroborating witness come forward who will, under oath, say this did happen,” said Rayner-Goolsby.
This comes following an earlier lawsuit this month claiming similar bullying at Admiral Farragut.
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