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Greendale High School student suspended after she says she was called the N-word

GREENDALE, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The suspension of a black student at Greendale High School has called the school’s racial climate into question.

Chanese Knox is a junior who led her friends in protest Wednesday because they say racism in the halls makes it uncomfortable for them just to go to class.

“It’s a struggle every morning,” Knox said.

Knox was suspended for one day last month.

She says another girl called her the n-word, and police were called when she said something to stick up for herself.

“How could you suspend the victim of a racial slur?” said Diannia Merriett, Knox’s mother.

Merriett says her daughter never put hands on the other girl.

Knox says her grades have suffered since the suspension.

“This was a very traumatic experience for [Chanese] to be in a place where she thought she was supposed to be safe,” Merriett said.

Merriett has met with school officials, but she left unhappy with their response.

In a statement, Superintendent Dr. Gary Kiltz said,

Greendale Schools is committed to the safety and well-being of all students. District administration takes every student, family and staff concern seriously and investigates all matters brought to our attention. Threats, hate speech and harassment have no place in our school community. In accordance with Federal student privacy laws, we are not able to provide specifics regarding the incident and student consequences referenced. We can tell you that the students involved in this situation have been counseled and appropriate school actions have been taken in accordance with District practice. School administration continues to offer to work with the student and her mother to ensure she feels safe at school. We take these concerns very seriously and will continue to investigate the matters raised.

The friends Knox marched with say they’ve been called the same word at school multiple times.

“I shouldn’t have to be afraid to come to school because I feel like I’m going to get angry because somebody’s saying something racist,” said Symone McLain, a senior.

Yaminah Powell, another senior, said she’s happy to be graduating, but is worried about her little brother still coming up in the district.

“You have people that will just say [the n-word] freely in the hallways and not realize the magnitude the word has,” Powell said.

Merriett says she wants an apology from the district and to have her daughter’s suspension overturned.

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