Former Edgewood High student sues over repeated racial discrimination
An African-American former Edgewood High School student claims in a lawsuit filed this week that for 2 1/2 years his old administrators not only knew about systematic school racism but failed to protect him from intense racial bullying.
A 23-page complaint accompanying the lawsuit filed this week not only talks about examples like the student, Blake Broadnax, repeatedly being called the N word, but also being called a slave, and claims a white student made a comment in front of him about the Ku Klux Klan “dominating.”
“I think the worst situation for me was, out of everything that had happened, was in public speaking I had asked a kid to edit my speech and he gave it back to me and he crossed out my name, Blake Broadnax, and wrote ‘my little niglet.’ And then wrote the N-word on the paper about 10 more times,” Broadnax said.
Broadnax first spoke publicly last May. He said he felt horrible racism required him to leave Edgewood and move with his family to Indiana. At that time the family had asked for a full tuition refund and compensation for emotional distress.
“From the beginning they’ve asked for the same thing,” Broadnax’s lawyer, Stan Davis, said. “They asked for Edgewood to seriously reconsider how they’ve handled these issues. The culture at the school. And then in terms of damages, they want to be reasonably compensated for what he and the family went through for 2 1/2 years at the school.”
Davis said the family finally decided to sue because it does not appear to them Edgewood administrators have done anything to truly fix systematic racism.
“One of the most troubling things has not just been what happened at the school, it’s been the reaction of the administration,” Davis said. “The lack of willingness to accept the things that happened there were inappropriate.”
In May, Edgewood President Michael Elliott said he did not believe rampant racism was a part of the school’s culture, and said efforts like school assemblies had properly addressed concerns as they came up.
“It wasn’t due to one family and one family leaving, it was due to multiple issues that were out there that were challenging our institution, and we felt we needed to take a stand and educate in a major way,” Elliott said. “I look at our students, I look at our faculty, I look at our student services, and when we knew and know about an issue, we do deal with it.”
In a statement reacting to the complaint Elliott said, in part, “We believe the claims of the lawsuit are without merit, and Edgewood High School will vigorously defend its reputation as a school that fosters inclusion and has a strong commitment to ensuring a welcoming, diverse, safe and supportive environment for all who learn, teach and work here.”
Elloitt goes onto say, “We firmly believe that Edgewood High School faculty and staff acted promptly, and appropriately at all times in addressing and taking action on the matters that were brought to our attention. We talked with the Broadnax family after each reported incident was addressed, and they stated that they were satisfied with the steps that were taken.”