L.A., in the state of California: A mother from California filed a complaint against the Los Angeles Unified School District this week, stating that her daughter, who was 14 years old at the time, experienced emotional distress in 2017 as a result of a cotton-picking field being set up at her Hollywood school.
In a complaint that was filed with the Los Angeles Superior Court on Wednesday, August 10, Rashunda Pitts asserts that school officials discriminated against her daughter, who is only referred to by her initials, SW. According to the lawsuit, “She (SW) has uncontrollable anxiety attacks and has experienced episodes of sadness when she thinks about the cotton-picking project.”
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When SW was a student at Lauren Span School in Hollywood in the fall of 2017, she was just like any other child in that she would tell her mother about everything that happened throughout her day. The complaint alleges that as the semester progressed, Rashunda experienced a decline in interest in her studies as well as “severe emotional discomfort,” which included feelings of anxiety and melancholy.
According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff was “bewildered as to why a cotton field would be growing in Hollywood, let alone on public school property.” As a result, she decided to phone the front office in order to discuss the cotton field with the principal.
While bringing off her daughter at school, Pitts had a glimpse of the cotton field for herself. After learning about the “cotton-picking” event, Pitts made the decision to have a conversation with Brian Wisniewski, the assistant administrator of the school.
According to the lawsuit, Wisniewski “enthusiastically informed her that the children in SW’s class were reading the autobiography of Frederick Douglass and that picking cotton was one of the experiences that he wrote about in the autobiography.” Wisniewski told the plaintiff that the children in SW’s class were reading the autobiography of Frederick Douglass.
According to the lawsuit, Ms. Pitts “expressed her disappointment and hurt in regards to the culturally insensitive and incompetent project.” She was “completely incensed” with the idea that the school would have her daughter and other children pick cotton as a school exercise to identify with the real-life experience of African-American slaves. She was “completely incensed” with the idea that the school would have her daughter and other children pick cotton as a school exercise to identify with the real-
When Pitt’s daughter revealed that her social-justice instructor had invited the kids to pick cotton to experience what it “felt like to be a slave,” the situation became even more difficult. According to the lawsuit, she was not required to take part in the activity; however, she was required to see other kids engaging in the activity. SW chose to keep it a secret out of fear that her school would punish her if her teachers found out that she had addressed the issue with another person.
The district had earlier provided a response to the situation after the coverage of the story in the local media. “When school administrators became aware of a parent’s concern about the cotton plant, they responded immediately by removing the plant,” the school said in a statement, according to the suit. “When school administrators became aware of a parent’s concern about the cotton plant, they removed the plant.”
According to the allegations made in the lawsuit, the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) issued a statement in which it acknowledged that it had recognized that the Laurel Span School’s Cotton-Picking Project, as it was explained to Pitts and the school students, was discriminatory and harmful to the students. According to the lawsuit, the response given by the district was a deception intended to cover up the discriminatory conduct.