BLANCO COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — A lawsuit has been filed and a criminal investigation is underway involving a school field trip to a Blanco County ranch.
According to the lawsuit filed Monday, three boys put a rope around the neck of a 12-year-old girl and jerked her to the ground, causing burns around her neck.
The students in question were all sixth grade classmates at Live Oak Classical School in Waco, and the lawsuit identifies the three boys as white and the girl as black.
The lawsuit is filed against the school and the owner of the Germer Ranch, attorney Larry Germer, whose daughter is a dean at the school.
The attorney for the girl’s family, Levi McCathern, said there was a history of bullying leading up to the field trip, and claims the school failed to properly address it and did not notify her parents about the injury at camp.
No one from the school reached out to the mother to check on her daughter, according to McCathern, until the following Monday via email.
“Given the nature of these wounds, for the school to not even investigate that, not even look into whether there’s a racial motivation or what’s going on is completely irresponsible,” said McCathern.
He said it happened on a Thursday, and when the students arrived back at the school the next night the mom thought her daughter had a necklace around her neck. When she asked chaperones what happened to her daughter, they said a doctor looked at the girl’s neck at camp, put Vaseline on it and gave the girl ibuprofen.
The lawsuit says the mother took her daughter from the school straight to the hospital to get checked out, and Waco police were called to the hospital to take a report.
“This is being turned into something it is not,” said school attorney David Deaconson.
He told KXAN it is not a case of bullying, but rather an “unfortunate accident.” He said those on the field trip followed school protocol based on the severity of the situation, but the school has since reevaluated their policy. Going forward anytime a student is injured the parent will be contacted immediately.
“It’s sad that it happened,” said Larry Germer. “But there was no fault involved by anybody.”
Germer said there are no dangerous conditions on the property, and the claims in the lawsuit are “simply not the facts.”
“It’s devastating for a school that prides itself on being open to all students,” said Germer.
The Blanco County Sheriff’s Office has also launched a criminal investigation. Captain Ben Ablon told KXAN the first call he got about the case came from the media. Since then he has been driving back and forth to Waco to interview everyone who was at the ranch that day. Capt. Ablon said he has also visited the ranch and talked to the owner. He plans on showing the pictures of the rope marks on the girl’s neck to a child abuse and trauma expert.
According to Capt. Ablon, Child Protective Services is investigating. A CPS spokesperson said they cannot comment on investigations involving schools, but they are obligated to investigate allegations of neglect or abuse by school personnel in a school setting.