'I just want them to stop ...' 

A four-year study finds a nightmare of abuse, bullying and sexual harassment for Latino students in some Little Rock schools, with reports of complaints falling on deaf ears. What's going on, and can anything be done to stop it?

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Trevino-Richard said that though blacks are a minority in America, they're a "numerical majority" in the student body, administration and employee ranks in most Little Rock schools, giving them the power to discriminate against the minority groups they see as being in competition with them.

"One of the parents [interviewed in a focus group of black parents] at Hall High School said, 'You know, it's just like survival of the fittest. We're in power now.' " Trevino-Richard recalled. "That was a statement ... . Once you get into power, it allows you to receive the benefits or the perks of that. In many cases you often either ignore or in many cases you really begin to scapegoat the other group that's in competition."

'They were just kind of hidden there ...'

Marco Martinez graduated from Hall High last spring. He said that there was constant tension between blacks and Latinos at the school during his time there, often escalating to violence. In March 2012, Martinez said he was involved in a fight in which he said he was trying to save his sister, who was "getting stomped by seven girls."

"The funny thing is that the outcome was, we got suspended for 10 days, and [the other girls involved] got suspended for three or five days," Martinez said. "Some of the girls who were actually involved in the fight, they didn't even get suspended." In his experience, Martinez said, when a Latino student reports being bullied by a black student, "they'll just ignore it."

"Ms. X" is a former Hall High School teacher who has since left the district but who was at the school during the time the Operation Intercept study was conducted. She spoke to the Arkansas Times on condition that we would protect her anonymity. Ms. X said that while she was a teacher at Hall, her experience was that black students were allowed to say almost anything without fear of real repercussions. "The blacks are extremely prejudiced," Ms. X said. "I've never seen anything like it until I started working for the Little Rock School District. They can say anything. They can call names. They can do anything they want to. Nothing ever happens to them." She said the constant abuse led Latinos and other minorities at the school to believe that what they do doesn't matter.

"They feel very intimidated, and the Hispanics as well as the white kids at Hall, they felt like what they think or have to say is not really important. They were just kind of hidden there." Part of the reason she left the district, Ms. X said, was because she often felt intimidated by students at the school. "Many times, I was called 'This dumb white bitch,' " Ms. X said. "Why do I have to be 'white'? Why can't I just be a 'bitch'? ... Why do I have to be 'a dumb white bitch'?"

In a later focus group with 11 African-American students at Hall High in 2010, after a reported fight between black and Hispanic students, students acknowledged there was bullying, but said it was playful at times, and mostly involved non-Spanish speaking students.

Asked if a reporter could speak to Hall High Principal John Daniels, district spokesperson Smith said: "To be frank with you, unless these were administrators who were at the school at the time, that wouldn't really be a fair assessment. Mr. Daniels is new to the school; however, I know that he's committed to excellence in education and behavior at Hall High." Smith said that since she's been in the communications office of the school, "there's been a significant focus on increasing communication and awareness in the Hispanic community."


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