Charges Filed In Hartland High School Racial Harassment Incident
June 18, 2021
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
Charges have been authorized against four individuals who authorities say stalked and assaulted a Black Hartland High School student earlier this year.
The Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office filed charges on May 24th against three 17-year-old defendants and a 16-year-old juvenile stemming from the investigation of a complaint filed by a Hartland High School student that she was being harassed by fellow classmates.
18-year-old Tatayana Vanderlaan posted to Facebook in March about repeated incidents she said she had endured at the high school, including being called the n-word and being ridiculed about her hair and her appearance. After that post went viral, Vanderlaan said she had to be escorted off campus due to a threat of being “lynched.” The Livingston County Sheriff’s Office then conducted an investigation, which resulted in the charges.
Two of the defendants have been charged with stalking, while another has been charged with Assault and/or Assault & Battery. Details on the 16-year-old suspect were not immediately available as that person was charged in juvenile court. Arraignment on the adult suspects is scheduled for June 30th before Magistrate Jerry Sherwood. Their cases have been assigned to Judge Shauna Murphy. The prosecutor’s office says the names of the defendants are being withheld pending arraignment and that the charges are accusations and that each is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
The incident also resulted in the creation of a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee by the district to examine policies, practices, and procedures to ensure that they were not negatively impacting the learning environment.
The committee was created after the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) reached out to the district and arranged for a Community Engagement Team to visit the school "to assist in evaluating their policies and to offer training help." When asked for a comment on the charges being filed, MDCR Interim Director John E. Johnson, Jr. told WHMI, “It is reassuring to see that the appropriate authorities are treating this situation seriously. Ultimately the courts will decide whether or not these individuals did what they are accused of, and of course they are innocent until proven guilty. The Department will continue to be available to the Hartland Schools as they work to respond in productive and healing ways to these troubling events.”