NEW YORK (PIX11/AP) — New York City school officials are warning principals to be on the lookout for bullying of West African students after two brothers from Senegal reported being taunted with chants of "Ebola."
Administrators met Monday with the father of the brothers, whose homeland is outside the region hardest hit by the deadly virus. The city's Department of Education issued a statement afterward saying it was working to discourage bullying and dispel misinformation about how Ebola can spread.
Pabe and Amadou Drame, who are from Senegal, have been in the U.S. for less than a month. They speak no English but they are already learning a harsh lesson in school yard bullying.
Some students at I.S 318 threatened them, telling the boys they weren't allowed to touch the gym equipment, they said.
"They said, 'The kids are being mean,'" according to their father, Ousmane Drame. When he asked them about the incidents, one of his boys said, "I don't do nothing to them, they call me 'Ebola.' They beat me.... kicked me."
Their father took his sons to the doctor, but said their scars are largely emotional.
An advocacy group for African immigrants claimed that the brothers, ages 11 and 13, also were jumped and beaten during the incident on Friday afternoon at a Bronx middle school. But school officials said there were no serious injuries and police never got involved.
"They feel threatened, they feel stigmatized, they feel as if they are being held accountable for something they had nothing to do with," said State Senator Bill Perkins.
Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña gave the following statement Monday:
"We will not tolerate intimidation or bullying of our students, especially in this moment when New Yorkers need to come together. We are investigating this incident and we take this matter very seriously."