ROCKLIN (CBS13) — A 12-year-old Rocklin boy is speaking out on issues of bullying and racism at his elementary school.
Daniel Pocklington addressed the Rocklin school board Wednesday night after his family says a number of incidents were not handled appropriately.
"I want there to be a policy where there's no hate speech and bullying at Rocklin schools; it's not fair," he said.
Daniel bravely took to the podium Wednesday night begging the school board to listen.
"I'm here to talk about what it's like to be an African American boy in your school. I've been hit, chased, thrown down, and called the N-word several times this year."
"It's hard for me to find a safe way to go to school and actually feel important. It keeps happening and I don't feel safe, or that it will get better," he said.
Daniel was adopted at birth and now at 12, he's a fifth-grader at Rock Creek Elementary. His family says he gets good grades, is part of student council and on the school's cross country track team. But his school life has been tough.
"Someone just left a note on my desk again with the N-word. And it makes me think, why does this keep happening to me, like what have I done to people to make them do this to me?" said Daniel.
He says on a number of occasions he's been bullied, thrown down, kicked and called racial slurs.
"It felt really bad, it felt like you got shot right through the heart. It felt like you didn't mean anything in the world," he said.
"He said 'This is what life is gonna be for me, Mom, and I can't accept that,'" said Daniel's mother Adrien Pocklington.
Pocklington says she's tried speaking with the district and the school's principal.
"He said he was handling it, that they were doing one-day in-school suspension and I said 'that's not enough, that's not teaching my child that he matters and that the school isn't gonna tolerate it,'" said Pocklington.
Daniel says he speaking up because it hurts more to hold it in and he knows there are other students feeling the same way but too afraid to speak up.
"I feel like my friends deserve a better way to go to school and feel safe," he said.
And that strength earned him a standing ovation Wednesday night at the school board meeting.
"They're not being held accountable, if your punishment isn't working, change your punishment. If we don't start now they're not gonna have the confidence or strength to stand up for themselves," said Daniels mother.
The Rocklin school district released this statement:
We are aware of instances regarding offensive behavior at one of our elementary schools. Each allegation was addressed immediately with an investigation and appropriate disciplinary actions taken when appropriate. Following the final instance, the principal met that day with all 5th grade students to speak seriously about a variety of related topics including tolerance and acceptance. The Rocklin Unified School District is a place where we build people up and celebrate each other, and embrace our diversity. We will continue to work together with all our families, students and staff to reach that aim.
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