LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Solanco School District and high school football coach Anthony Cox have been named in a civil rights lawsuit.
The lawsuit, filed on June 17, claims that the school district created a racially harassing, hostile and discriminatory environment, and Cox made discriminatory and racist remarks against an African American student athlete.
It’s alleged that Cox called the student derogatory names throughout the season and downplayed the student’s concerns about a photoshopped image on Instagram that depicted the student carrying a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken while in a football uniform. A second post on Instagram showed a black man caught in a mouse trap with a bucket of chicken used as bait, according to the lawsuit.
The student also witnessed the confederate flag being worn on clothing in school and the flag being displayed on vehicles in the school parking lot and waved during football games. The student added that classmates made racial slurs toward African American students and other minority students.
A second individual — a former Solanco student who graduated in 2018 — also claimed in the lawsuit that the display of the confederate flag was “offensive and made her feel uncomfortable” and when she expressed her concerns with the district’s superintendent, he allegedly failed to take action and didn’t sympathize with her.
The former student added that during her senior year, a teacher showed racist conduct during a discussion of that year’s valedictorian speech.
The lawsuit alleges that the school district and Cox’s civil rights and conspiracy violations caused the students to “suffer humiliation and embarrassment, and emotional distress.”
The plaintiffs seek the court to declare the acts in violation of their protected civil rights as well as compensatory and punitive damages, and further relief as the court deems fit.
The Solanco School District released the following statement in regards to the lawsuit:
The Solanco School District denies allegations in a recent lawsuit claiming racial discrimination against two former students.
Solanco strives to ensure a safe and caring learning environment for all our students. We have implemented numerous programs that encourage an inclusive learning environment. We have refined our anti-harassment programs that are built on the core components of developing a culture of respect, reporting incidents, intervening, and supporting each other. Our goal is to create and reinforce a school culture where racism and discrimination is not tolerated and where respect is the norm.
We are reviewing the civil complaint with legal counsel and do not plan to discuss the pending litigation outside of the court process.