Wake Schools letter admits black student was bullied

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"What I'm excited about is the fact that they begin to make some changes," said Yolanda Speed, Micah's mother.

ABC11 obtained an exclusive copy of the 4-page letter from Wake County Public Schools to the family of Micah Speed, the black Wake Forest High sophomore suspended in March after a smart phone video showed him yanking his white classmate to the ground by his backpack.

The letter is a stunning admission; the district concluding Micah was the victim of racial bullying; his teacher did not do enough to stop it. The teacher was suspended without pay.

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"What I'm excited about is the fact that they begin to make some changes," said Yolanda Speed, Micah's mother. "(Changes) not just at that school but across Wake County."

Speed's mother received the letter in the mail this week signed by the principal of Wake Forest High -- admitting that Micah's allegations were true.

It says Micah was the victim of racial bullying and harassment on the day of the video and before. In some cases he was called "black as a coffee bean" by his white classmate who said he should name his children, "crackhead and convict" and spoke about "shooting Micah and his family."

ORIGINAL STORY: WAKE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT IN VIDEOED ALTERCATION SAYS HE COULDN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE

The district detailed in writing what Micah said from Day 1, that what happened in that hallway video was him retaliating against a classmate who'd relentlessly taunted him for months with racist jokes.

The video went viral. Micah's mom thinks the district had no choice but to respond forcefully.

"We were getting support from people in other countries. People were signing petitions," Speed said. "It surpassed Raleigh, North Carolina and Wake Forest, North Carolina. They had to listen."

The district's investigation included interviews with 19 students and 5 staff members. It focused largely on Micah's marketing class including the frequency of jokes about Nazis and the holocaust. The principal, Patti Hamler, calling it all "clearly inappropriate."

Principal Hamler wrote that she was unable to confirm Micah's teacher heard or saw the taunts and ignored it, as Micah alleges. But she concluded the atmosphere "created the opportunity for the specific bullying."

The teacher was suspended without pay.

"When I saw that and understood that, I was elated. Not because I wanted to see anything bad to happen to (the teacher). But, there has to be a consequence. If there's' no consequence then it'll continue. It's a culture," Speed said.

"For years now we've been bringing these cases," said long-time parent advocate Geraldine Alshamy. She helped draft the Speeds complaint to the district. It was one of dozens Alshamy has helped file through the years at Wake County Public School System over bullying and disparate punishments based on race. Alshamy says the response from WCPSS on the Speed case is the strongest response she's seen ever from the district.

"It never comes out that (the school district) admits anything, never. This time they did," Alshamy said.

In the letter, Principal Hamler says the school's entire administrative team has been reminded about teaching tolerance and respect and intervening about bullying.

Trained professionals in racial equity are going to be brought in to Wake Forest High to lead special workshops for students.

The principal also revised Micah's suspension notice to remove the assault and bullying/harassment charges.

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