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Marist Students In Racist Text Exchange To Get Diplomas From School

By Howard Ludwig | December 22, 2016 7:47am | Updated on December 22, 2016 8:26am
 Lawyers for Marist High School in Mount Greenwood were in court Wednesday after a lawsuit filed Dec. 5 against the school by the fathers of two seniors involved in an exchange of racist text messages.
Lawyers for Marist High School in Mount Greenwood were in court Wednesday after a lawsuit filed Dec. 5 against the school by the fathers of two seniors involved in an exchange of racist text messages.
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DNAinfo/Justin Breen

THE LOOP — Two girls expelled from Marist High School after an exchange of racist text messages went viral will nevertheless receive diplomas from the school, their lawyer said Wednesday.

Steven Glink withdrew the portion of his lawsuit Wednesday afternoon against the Catholic school at 4200 W. 115th St. in Mount Greenwood asking for the two seniors to be reinstated.

Glink told Judge Celia Gamrath in Cook County Circuit Court that an "academic alternative" had been reached with Marist. He and the school's lawyer declined to provide more details of the plan.

"Personally, I am very disappointed in the way Marist has handled this thing," Glink said before the court appearance.

Glink represents two of the five girls who were either suspended or expelled after the exchange on Nov. 6. Screen shots of the texts were shared widely on social media, including a message from a Marist student, who said "I F------ HATE N------," to which one of her friends replied, "same."

The lawsuit filed against the school Dec. 5 also asked that the two families be reimbursed $65,000 each for tuition and school costs. They also seek more than $1 million for privacy invasion, the lawsuit said.

The monetary portion of the lawsuit is still in play and likely will be transferred to another division of the court at the Richard J. Daley Center, according to the exchange between the lawyers and the judge.

Marist Principal Larry Tucker and disciplinary dean Beth O’Neill are listed as defendants in the suit with the school. A Marist spokeswoman said Wednesday the school does not comment on pending litigation.

Glink's suit claims the two white teenagers were "used as scapegoats” as the school sought to act swiftly in the wake of the texts surfacing on the day after a police shooting of a 25-year-old black man in Mount Greenwood.

The student's texts were made on the same day as black activists took to the streets on the Far Southwest Side demanding justice in the death of Josua Beal. Protesters said they encountered racism as they clashed with demonstrators supporting police.

One of the families in the lawsuit lives in Mount Greenwood, and the charged atmosphere throughout the neighborhood as well as safety concerns ought to be considered as part of the context of the text exchange, Glink said.

Indeed, the lawsuit includes screen shots of messages posted on Twitter on the same day as the girls' texts warning that gangs were planning "to kill all white kids seen in Mount Greenwood."

The lawsuit states that the two girls, who are unnamed, were among 32 girls in the group text. The group originally met in September at a religious retreat, known as Kairos.

The retreat is designed for students to meet and "freely express themselves on all types of topics," according to the lawsuit. As part of the retreat, the girls involved were promised that "any comments made orally would be strictly confidential."

Glink also said Wednesday the actions of the school fly in the face of Marist's Catholic mission, which ought to focus on forgiveness and redemption. He added that the punishment doesn't fit their crime in this case.

"It's like they are getting the death penalty for what is not a death penalty offense," he said.

Glink said that the girls are truly sorry, and "there is no question that words are hurtful."

Still, he said the girls will be branded as racists forever as a result of the incident, and the families have had to endure threats in the wake of the viral exchange.

"It's a terrible thing. It's a terrible thing for the kids. It's terrible for the school. It's terrible for everyone," he said.

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