NEW LENOX – A Joliet mother recently pulled her son out of Providence Catholic High School after a racist incident that led to one student being expelled.
Tianna Waits said the incident that happened on March 13 wasn’t the first time her son, whom she didn’t want to be named, experienced bullying and racism at the New Lenox high school during his freshman year.
She pulled him out the next day and he’s now attending Joliet Central High School.
Providence officials said the student, who played a song to Waits’ son featuring racist lyrics, was expelled March 17.
But Waits said she’s upset by how many times she had to address her sons’ treatment at the school and how she felt the schools’ investigation was "sweeping things under the rug."
She said she felt action was only taken after her case made the news March 16.
“They expelled the child but they haven’t looked into the staff,” Waits said, noting she talked with the assistant principal and deans about her son’s treatment multiple times since last October.
The Rev. Richard McGrath, president of Providence, said top administration found out about the incident with the racist song last week.
He said he knew other staff at the school did some investigation into other incidents involving Waits’ son but he couldn’t give further details.
When the school became aware of the incident where a student played a racist song to Waits’ son, they investigated it, suspended the student responsible and performed a due process discipline hearing that led to that student being expelled, he said.
McGrath said the school is against racism and hate speech.
“Those actions break faith with the Providence Catholic community and will not be tolerated,” McGrath said.
He said the school had asked Waits to keep her son in school so they could continue the investigation. He said the investigation had the benefit of video Waits’ son made of the other student playing the racist song to him.
Waits said, since speaking openly about why she pulled her son out of school, she’s had other parents contact her about their children experiencing similar treatment at Providence.
“Truth, unity and love is their motto but I haven’t found a bit of truth, unity or love from this place,” she said.
McGrath said the school has scheduled diversity and inclusivity training for students and faculty and that the administration is concerned with students welcoming and accepting “each other as they are.”