Family suing school district claims daughter was bullied - WSMV News 4

Family suing school district claims daughter was bullied, harassed by teammates

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HENDERSONVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Sixteen-year-old Shannon Rice loves to shoot hoops.

She has such a passion for the game that she's been known to sleep with a basketball, so you can imagine her excitement to play ball on a high school team.

But she says what she experienced on the court at Hendersonville High School is well beyond any fouls of the game.

"I just hated being on the team," she said.

Shannon says she was a target of her teammates because of her race.

"They would say racially discriminating things to me, and I would tell my coach, and she did nothing about it," she said.

Rice says on a regular basis her teammates called her the n-word, not too far from the ears of her coaches.

And in the locker room, she says the bullying got worse.

"They would always use things like that, and sometimes the coaches would even be in the locker room. And they would just act like they didn't hear or they'd laugh," she said.

Rice was dismissed from the team last December. A lawsuit filed against the district argues the 16-year-old was removed from the team in retaliation for speaking out.

"It's painful seeing your child come home and explain to you that they've been discriminated against," said her mother, Dr. Wanda Rice.

Shannon's mother said she filed the lawsuit against Sumner County Schools so other students don't face similar discrimination.

Shannon no longer attends Hendersonville High School, but she says she is still dribbling after her love and no longer has to block racist jabs on the court.

"That's not something that you can cover up anymore, not anybody that can cover up because out here, it was going on and it's got to stop," she said.

In a statement, the attorney for Sumner County Schools says, "Our school board has anti-discrimination policies that we enforce strictly, and when claims arise, we investigate thoroughly and appropriate action is taken when necessary. We deny these allegations and look forward to defending each of them individually in court."

There are two coaches named in the lawsuit. A district spokesperson says both no longer work at Hendersonville High School.

The Rices' attorney filed the civil lawsuit this week.

This isn't the first time Hendersonville High School and the Sumner County School System has been accused of harassment or discrimination. Another family filed a lawsuit last year, saying their daughter, who was also a basketball player, was the victim of repeated racially motivated harassment and bullying.

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