May 10, 2010 6:31 PM
Willows High School may be in a small town, but a recent case made big news. It had all the makings of a Dr. Phil episode. Alleged racism, bullying and two families with very different views of what happened last October at Willows High School. Shawki Al-Rafai's mother says nothing was ever done to stop school mates from hurling racial slurs at her seventeen year old son. She says the high school senior was even called a terrorist. "No actions were taken to stop the bullying, to stop any of the harassment and to stop the name calling. My kids get harassed almost everyday at Willows High School," Muyassar Al-Rifai said.
His brother said several events led up to a physical fight between Shawki and junior Dalton Day. "I was there in first period, standing right by my brother, he was the one who wanted Shawki to box. The next day he was coming up to Shawki again and asking him if he wanted to box," Mohammad Al-Rifai explained.
Then, it all came to a head. The incident happened October 28th right here in the gym lobby around 3:30 p.m. while football players were getting ready for practice. Muyassar says some of the team surrounded Al-Rifai, started intimidating him and calling him names. She says her son feared for his safety and lashed out. "One of the football players had a helmet in his hand and he was standing in front of a glass window, it was either fight or flight mode."
But Dalton Day tells a much different story. He says prior to the fight, Shawki was harrassing him. He says that afternoon, he asked Shawki why he was spreading rumors and that's when Shawki swung. "With out any warning at all, Shawki hit him in the mouth and knocked him out and kept hitting him over and over, just hitting him in the face," Dalton's mother Judy Elworthy said.
Day ended up with a broken nose. His teeth were knocked out and he had to undergo about 40-thousand dollars worth of surgery. Shawki was arrested and charged with assault. He ended up accepting a plea bargain and was sentenced to 120 days in juvenille hall, something Day says is not nearly as bad as what he had to go through. "I would rather spend 120 days in juvy and do some community service then the four surgeries I've had, the two I'm probably going to have to take and all the pain I went through."
Day's mother says even though they are dealing with major medical bills, Day is still the one being blamed. "My son is the victim in this case, it was not racial, it was blown out of proportion and it was not provoked."
Day doesn't understand where the racial accusations are coming from, especially since it was reportedly not brought up until the expulsion hearing. "I never surrounded him, there were no racial remarks, there was no other way I provoked him."
But Shawki's sister says her entire family has experienced this and wonders when it will all stop. "We've been here all our lives, people say you should love it but all the stuff that we get, we can't take it anymore," Luz Al-Rifai stated.
Al-Rifai's mother is currently pursuing a court case againt the school district. Day says he will have to have dental surguries until the age of forty.
2 days ago