Three pupils at an 'outstanding' Chesterfield secondary school have been excluded over allegations of racism towards a black 14-year-old girl.
The Year 10 students at St Mary's Catholic High School, on Newbold Road, were given fixed-term exclusions yesterday.
The school said they take any allegations of racist behaviour 'extremely seriously'.
The family of one Year 10 girl at the school, aged 14, contacted the Derbyshire Times and claimed she had been the target of a number of concerning incidents including:
- Being given a card known as 'The N-Word Pass' which 'allows' a white person to use the derogatory term towards a black person
- A white student poured dirt into a bottle filled with water and told the victim that her skin was as 'dirty as the water'
- White students allegedly saying that black people cannot sit next to them on the bus
- The victim having salt poured into her hair
The older sister of the victim, who we have decided not to name, said her sibling has suffered terribly for a long time and that it has changed her as a person.
She claimed it had been going on for several months and that they had spoken to the school about it before.
The victim's sister, who we are also not naming, said: "As you can imagine I was very, very angry when I found out.
"She is a very bubbly person but she has started to withdraw herself. She is going to take her GCSEs soon and she does not need this. It has taken a huge toll on her. Her mental health and confidence is not the same. She is just not herself. She should not have to experience in school.
"I do not feel okay because I do not think she is safe.
"My parents are very upset."
We contacted the school, which was rated 'outstanding' in its last Ofsted report, and put the allegations to them.
In response, headteacher Maria Dengate, said: “We take any allegations of racist behaviour extremely seriously, as we did today, as soon as we were made aware of this incident.
“I spent the day taking statements from students, met with my senior staff and governors and liaised closely with safeguarding advisors at Derbyshire County Council, to ensure that we took immediate, robust and appropriate action.
“Consequently three Year 10 pupils have this afternoon been given fixed-term exclusions.
“Racism never has and will not be tolerated at St Mary’s Catholic High School. We are open and inclusive community of 1,300 students, with firm policies in place to prevent this kind of behaviour, which I will be reinforcing in special assemblies.
“I also invited the family of the student who brought this issue to our attention into school to talk to me and I hope we can meet as soon as possible, to discuss their concerns in person and for me to reassure them about the facts of the incident and the speedy action we have taken.”