Indian American lawmakers concerned over bullying of Indian origin student

Ro Khanna, Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal, Raja Krishnamoorthi ask Texas school to take concrete steps to to prevent bullying

All four Indian American lawmakers have expressed their deep concern over the assault of an Indian American in a targeted bullying incident at a school in Texas sparking outrage in the community.

US House members Ro Khanna, Ami Bera, Pramila Jayapal and Raja Krishnamoorthi Monday sent a joint letter to the administration of Coppell Middle School North in the Coppell Independent School District (CISD) in Coppell, Texas about the May 11 incident.

A video of the assault on 14-year-old Shaan Pritmani in the cafeteria of the school North shot by his classmates went viral and sparked anger on social media.

Read: Viral video of Indian American student being bullied sparks outrage (May 17, 2022)

“This video has sparked widespread outrage in the Indian American community,” the lawmakers wrote. “As Indian American members of Congress and representatives of our diverse communities, the possibility of a young Indian American being targeted in this manner is extremely disturbing.”

In the aftermath of this horrific incident, school administrators decided to give Pritmani a longer suspension than the aggressor, prompting outrage around the country, they noted in a press release.

In their letter, the lawmakers noted that in a May 15 statement to the community, school superintendent Dr. Brad Hunt emphasized that “Bullying, both verbal and physical, as well as physical acts of aggression are never acceptable and do not align with who we are at CISD and our core values.”

With that in mind they asked the school’s administration to evaluate the determination for periods of suspension and consider whether an objective and thorough investigation was conducted.

The lawmakers also hoped that the school was taking concrete steps to ensure Shaan Pritamani is not facing ongoing bullying from assailant or other students as also steps to prevent bullying and for restorative justice and counseling for those involved

Pritamani’s mother parents have also started a petition on Change.org a worldwide petition website, based in California, seeking protection of victims of assault at schools and action against the bully.

Text of the Indian American lawmakers’ letter:

May 23, 2022

Dr. Brad Hunt

Superintendent, Coppell Independent School District (CISD)

200 S. Denton Tap Rd | Coppell, TX 75019

Dr. Greg Axelson

Principal, Coppell Middle School North

120 Natches Trce, Coppell | TX 75019

Dear Dr. Hunt and Dr. Axelson:

We are writing to express our deep concern about the recent incident of bullying which occurred at Coppell Middle School North in the Coppell Independent School District (CISD). As you know, a widely circulated video of the incident shows 14-year-old Shaan Pritmani being assaulted and eventually “choked out” in an alleged wrestling maneuver that could have resulted in serious injury.

This video has sparked widespread outrage in the Indian American community. As Indian American members of Congress and representatives of our diverse communities, the possibility of a young Indian American being targeted in this manner is extremely disturbing. We understand that in a May 15, 2022, statement to the community, Dr. Hunt emphasized that “Bullying, both verbal and physical, as well as physical acts of aggression are never acceptable and do not align with who we are at CISD and our core values.”

Read: Indian-American lawmakers ‘concerned’ after viral video shows Indian-origin boy being assaulted in school (May 24, 2022)

With that in mind, we are hoping that such values are backed up by consideration of the following factors:

  •     Whether a thorough, objective investigation was conducted
  •     If the investigation was done to the satisfaction of the families involved
  •     If the physical risk of brain damage or death or other injury considered in determining the severity of the incident
  •     Fair determination for periods of suspension
  •     Fair standards of accountability
  •     Steps to prevent bullying at this school
  •     Steps for restorative justice and counseling for those involved
  •     Concrete steps to ensure Shaan Pritamani is not facing ongoing bullying from assailant or other students

We appreciate your attention to this matter, not only to serve your school community, but also to consider the concerns being expressed to us from across the country.

Sincerely,

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