Parents of a Bowie High School student, who filed a lawsuit against Austin ISD after they say their daughter was repeatedly harassed by another student, have opened up about their case.
KHOU sister station KVUE spoke to Josef and Jennifer Merrill about their demands for the district, as well as their message to other parents, Sunday.
The couple says another student has had a history of stalking, creating emotional outbursts and most recently staging a suicide attempt in front of their daughter. Merrill says no one was notified about the latest incident.
"They need to not just look at our claim, but they need to look at every parental claim over a time period because this is a systemic problem,” Josef Merrill said. “In order for our daughter to recover, she needs to be able to go to school and not be afraid.”
The family says, school staff were aware of the male student's behavior and was informed of his mental state by his parents late last year.
The school recently wrote a letter saying,"The other student and his parents have agreed to have adult supervision for him during transitions to protect him from such allegations."
But for the girl's family, this was their last straw. They've filed a lawsuit saying the district is violating their own Title IX policy - sex discrimination.
“If you don't stand up for your kids no one will,” Merrill said.
The Merrills are demanding the district make major changes like implementing an anti-harassment and anti-bullying program approved by a third party. They also want a school safety coordinator on each campus.
But what they're fighting for most? The male student's expulsion.
They say their daughter has gone through enough.
"It's been hard to kind of watch her. She's just not her happy self,” Jennifer Merrill said.
As they strive for closure, they say they want other parents to be aware.
“Don't be silenced if you think something is wrong,” she said.
KVUE reached out to AISD Friday and have not received an official response.