BRYANT, Ark. – The parents of a Bryant Junior High cheerleader are demanding fair disciplinary action be taken after their daughter’s photo was taken and sent to a stranger.
Thursday, the family, along with their attorney and local leaders came together outside Bryant High School for a press conference to address the matter.
Candace and Kenneth Thompson’s 13-year-old daughter had her photo taken, unknowingly, by a group of her cheer teammates in late January.
The photo was captioned with sexual and vulgar language and sent to a random person in Louisiana, causing fear for their child.
“Stop for one moment and imagine and think if it was your child,” Candace said.
The actual photo taken and sent was non-sexual, but the fear of who received that photo is what brings alarm to this family.
The Bryant School District said it doesn’t condone the actions in any way, but the family feels they only gave a slap on the wrist to the students behind it.
Civil right attorney Carol Powell Lexing who’s with the family said the school board needs to expel those responsible.
“The school board needs to take a harsh stance and expel those bullies from this school,” Powell Lexing said.
The family feels the school district isn’t sending the message that this is unacceptable, so they are calling for the termination of superintendent Dr. Karen Walters.
It is unknown what the exact punishment for the student was.
“In matters of student conduct and discipline, the specifics of those communications must, by law, be between the district and the student’s parents or guardians,” the Bryant School District said in a press release.
At the press conference it was stated that the cheerleaders accused of taking the picture were seen on social media dismissing their three day suspension and were back at school days after the incident.
“We haven’t been told if the girls are off the team or on the team. We just know they have taken precautions to make sure they don’t see each other,” Thompson said.
The press release also confirms that the stranger the photo was sent to is a minor by stating “the incident occurred as part of a broader, ongoing text message exchange between students and an individual confirmed to be an out-of-state minor.”
“Their take on the fact that this is another 8th grader doesn’t matter because 8th graders are rapist too,” Powell Lexing said.
As for bullying and using a cell phone to take photos of another student, the district’s handbook states, “students found to be in violation of this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.”
The family believes more needs to be done.
“We can’t change what happened to our daughter, but we can bring awareness to the systematic problems that exist in our school systems,” Thompson said.
The Thompson family also said they will be requesting the United States Justice Department Civil Rights division to conduct an investigation.