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Indian American Congressmen express concern over Coppell middle school bullying incident

NRI Pulse Staff Report

Washington, DC, May 24, 2022: Indian American lawmakers Ro Khanna (CA-17), Ami Bera (CA-07), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), and Raja Krishnamoorthi (IL-08) have, through a letter sent to the administration of Coppell Middle School North, expressed concern over a recent video circulating that shows 14-year-old Shaan Pritmani being assaulted at school.

“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,” the lawmakers wrote.

In the aftermath of the incident, school administrators decided to give Pritmani a longer suspension than the other student, prompting outrage around the country. In their letter, the lawmakers ask the school’s administration to evaluate the determination for periods of suspension and consider whether an objective and thorough investigation was conducted. 

“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,” the letter addressed to the Superintendent, Dr Brad Hunt and Principal, Dr. Greg Axelson says.

“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.”  

“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 Pritmani 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,” the letter concludes.

Last week, Mark Lassiter, the attorney for the family of the other student, told NBC 5 that the student was responding to “vulgar and violent threats against his family”.

“We are confident that after all the facts are revealed, the case will be closed and no further action will be taken other than what the school has already decided was appropriate,” the statement reads in part, reports NBC 5.

The attorney for the Pritmani family, Marwa Elbially, denies the accusations. “The school can preach all it wants that they’re antibullying and place it on their website, but they are sending a message to this kid and the rest of the student body that this behavior is acceptable,” said Elbially.

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