The mother of a 13-year-old at the center of disturbing allegations of bullying and racially-motivated abuse says her family has been threatened and driven from their home. The leader of the Plano Independent School District says they, too, have been threatened with harm as they investigate the high-profile case.
This stems from an alleged incident in mid-February in which the middle school student was at a sleepover at a boy's house and says he was coerced by classmates into drinking urine. The boy's mother previously stated she allowed him to go to the sleepover, but neither knew his bullies would later show up.
She claims they woke her son from his sleep one night, told him he had stopped breathing and to drink from a plastic cup that one boy was holding up to his mouth. Cell phone video shows the victim taking a sip as those around him laughed.
The boy later told his mother, Summer Smith, who reported it to school officials on March 2. A school resource officer determined the case warranted the involvement of Plano Police after viewing the video. Both agencies are investigating.
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Smith and her supporters met with Plano Superintendent Sara Bonser Tuesday afternoon to discuss the district's investigation and handling of allegations Smith's son was bullied for more than a year at Haggard Middle School, before the February incident off-campus.
Plano police are also investigating those claims and any previous allegations to determine if crimes were committed.
“Detectives were instructed to not only look at the events that happened on February 12, 13, 14 but also any other incidents,” said Plano Police Chief Ed Drain, referring to additional videos that have been posted by Smith on social media allegedly showing other attacks on her son.
Bonser announced during a press conference that the district is finalizing plans to bring in an independent third-party to investigate previous accusations of bullying at the school, which the boy's mother claims were ignored by the district.
Bonser said she was not immediately aware of the case when Smith first reported it to school officials. She said she was made aware days later, as is protocol, and proceeded to call Smith.
The district's investigation into the February incident could wrap up next week and may lead to disciplinary action for students and policy changes for the district pertaining to the reporting of bullying allegations.
Smith and her attorney said they have received hundreds of emails of other disturbing cases of bullying in Plano ISD. Cole said she offered to help the district by providing the information they obtained.
Bonser said was not able to say how many investigations the district is involved in at the moment, and may not be able to get into details citing federal laws protecting students' privacy.
But the district leader made something clear on Tuesday:
"What we saw. What you saw. What we all saw was inexcusable. It's inexcusable and we will all have to do our part. The school district, the community and the families to come together and say, 'No more. This is not OK.'" Bonser said. "I'll say it again, that child should never have had to experience that. Ever."
Smith, faith leaders and community activists are demanding that the case be investigated as a hate crime.
Smith and her attorney revealed the family has been receiving threats of harm in the high-profile case garnering national attention.
“She’s receiving threats,” said attorney Kim T. Cole. “She is no longer safe, her children no longer feel safe in their home, so they have had to leave.”
Bonser said the district, too, has received threats since the incident became more widely known.
“From the school district’s perspective, we have all been threatened with physical harm or death,” said Bonser.
Smith, meanwhile, said she's struggling to figure out what to do next while also caring for her son and daughter.
"I try to keep it together. I try not to break down. I need therapy. Everybody keeps asking me am I OK. No, I am not OK. Not by a long shot. I am whatever the opposite of OK is," Smith said. "It doesn't get better every day. I'm able to say I'm alive. I'm able to say my son is alive, my daughter is alive. We are safe, we are protected we have a team behind us that's going to fight. But am I ok? No."
The boy's mother said during a news conference last Friday that the way her son was treated was evil and amounted to assault.
"This was beyond bullying. The things that they did to my son in his sleep. In his sleep, defenseless. It was assault. Assault with bodily fluid, assault with hands," Smith said. "It's being pursued to the fullest extent of the law. It was premeditated. It was hateful and the word I keep using is evil. I cannot understand."
Smith said she had not received a message or call from the boys’ involved or their parents, even in the days after the incident and before details became public.
“Do I welcome that now? No,” she said. “Would I have welcomed that last week? Absolutely. Would my son have forgiven them? Absolutely.”