After a north St. Louis County middle school student was attacked on the school bus, his mother wants those responsible to face stiff discipline.
Tuesday afternoon, 11-year-old Reginald Keeton was riding the bus home from Holman Middle School in the Pattonville District. He said two older students on the bus began verbally and physically attacking him.
Keeton, who is black, claims the two white students yelled at him, hit him and said his blue Nautica hoodie looked like the tip of a Ku Klux Klan hat.
When he finally got off the bus, Keeton’s family knew something wasn’t right.
“He was very upset. He didn't want to talk, he had his head down. He looked like he was really hurt,” said his grandfather, Lawrence Stevens.
“It’s disappointing to me because it never happened to me [before],” said the sixth grader. “Never.”
His mother, Darilynn Stevens, called Pattonville School District officials immediately and demanded to see video from the bus. She said she got through to someone in the principal's office first, then came to the school Wednesday to review the footage.
“He put his hood on his head to protect his head and they just kept hitting him,” she said.
School officials called what happened on the bus unfortunate, and are now reviewing it as a bullying incident. They are looking at how it relates to behavior policy, bullying policy, and discrimination policies in the district.
“[The students involved] did some inappropriate things — they were poking this kid, touching him inappropriately, and they also made a comment regarding his hoodie. Sayings his hoodie looked like a Ku Klux Klan hat by the way it was pointed – which was completely inappropriate and not ok,” said Barry Nelson, a Pattonville Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.
Nelson couldn’t address the race of the alleged aggressors or the exact punishment they will face. He did say the students will be disciplined according to district policy in cases like this.
Barry said the district will review how the bus driver responded to the situation and if it was handled appropriately. He said the district trains drivers how to work with children and supervise the bus.
"We need to address the needs of the victims and help them feel supported as well as address the two kids that were involved in this situation – work with them, work with their parents and hopefully help them make better choices in the future.”
Reginald said his head is feeling better a day after the bus incident, but he is still not riding it home from school. His family considers what happened an example of bigger racial divides in the community.
“This racial problem needs to be nipped in the bud before it gets out of hand,” the victim’s grandfather said.
Family members want the alleged bullies to be expelled from school. They said they heard from one school official the students will face a lesser punishment and feel it is not “severe enough.”
“I have a problem with that because now I don’t feel like my child is safe at that school,” Darilynn Stevens said.
District officials would not offer details to 5 On Your Side about how the students were disciplined.
The family said they also took information about the incident to police to file a report.