LA mom wants principal fired after daughter was victim of alleged racist bullying

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Editor’s note: This story may be considered disturbing for readers. Please proceed with caution. 

LOS ANGELES – A South Los Angeles mother sought justice for her fifth-grade daughter who was allegedly the victim of racist bullying at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School in the Exposition Park area. The mother, Keyanna Celina, claimed the school’s principal knew about the bullying and refused to act.

“I’m here to demand that Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho remove Principal Chanelle Thomas. She has created a lion’s den here at Martin Luther King Elementary,” Celina said during a press conference Wednesday afternoon. 

In a previously sent press release, Celina said she notified Thomas that her daughter was being harassed by a male student and that he was taunting her with hateful speech and slurs during a mental health assessment. 

Instead of taking action against the alleged bully, Celina said he was excused and called her claims “unsubstantiated.” 

Celina said it only continued to get worse from there. 

The bully then allegedly sent her daughter explicit videos, calling her multiple names that all entailed the n-word during a field trip.

Celina said on May 6, she attempted to intervene and told the alleged bully to stop calling her daughter those horrific names and, again, reported the student’s behavior to the principal. 

Following that incident, Celina said she was banned from the school, while the alleged bully’s actions were not addressed. 

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Her daughter’s culmination keynote speech was also canceled. 

Celina added her daughter had been thriving despite the alleged constant bullying. 

“She’s been having awards and honors since she arrived here. And they told her that she would be the keynote main speaker for the culmination. And once she came out with a report of bullying, they retracted her culmination speech, and they gave it to the bully,” she said Wednesday. 

“When you have bullies being rewarded for bullying a young student who is a shining star, who is a star in her class and nothing is being done to correct that, then we need to take legal action to ensure that our students are safe. This is the ultimate villain story,” the family’s attorney, Christian Contreras said. 

The victim’s father also got involved. The bully’s actions continued and one day, the bully proceeded to throw food at her. The other students reportedly joined in and also threw food at her as she was allegedly physically and verbally assaulted. 

Los Angeles Unified Regional Director Tracy Murray investigated the allegations and on May 20th, concluded that Thomas followed district policy and, according to Celina, denied the incidents were ever reported. 

The following day, Thomas then released a bullying report that said the incident that happened around May 25th didn’t meet the criteria for bullying.

After everything that happened to her daughter, Celina and her supporters want Principal Thomas removed from her duties as the school’s principal. 

“It’s really hard for me to believe that someone who’s in charge of keeping our children safe is legitimizing an abuser, and exalted him and [is] turning him into a star and [is] punishing the girl who came forward. It is time to shift the goalpost from ‘boys will be boys’ to ‘students will be protected,’” she said. 

“Bullying must be stopped and when the school doesn’t take measures to stop bullying, then we will take matters into our own hands,” Contreras added. 

FOX 11 has reached out to both the school and the district for further comment, and has not yet heard back. 

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.