Middle school student alleges racial discrimination after coronavirus outbreak

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- As coverage of the coronavirus outbreak has intensified, many Asian communities have faced increasing discrimination.

"This was the first time I ever felt like I was being treated differently for being Asian," said 13-year-old Dylan Muriano.

Muriano believes he was targeted by his teacher for coughing in class.

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"He swallowed some water awkwardly and coughed. The teacher looked up, noted him and instructed him to go to the school nurse. Dylan indicated that he was fine. The teacher ignored his assurance and commanded him to see the nurse," said attorney Gloria Allred.

He says other non-Asian students who coughed in class were not sent to the nurse and says his teacher remained silent when Dylan asked him if he was sent out because he's Asian.

"The teacher has not once denied that he targeted my son for being Asian, and he has not once apologized for what happened," said Leyna Nguyen.

His mother, former local news anchor Leyna Nguyen, says she just wanted an apology.

"What kind of message does that send to my son and what kind of message does that send to every other student sitting in that classroom? That it's okay to discriminate and single someone out because of their ethnicity," asked Nguyen.

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She's filed a complaint against Walter Reed Middle School and the Los Angeles Unified School District.

Her attorney, Allred, says the teacher retaliated against Dylan and described a mixed response from school officials.

"A senior school administrator initially reacted with appropriate outrage, stating that circumstances 'reeked of discrimination,'" said Allred.

"School officials claimed they could effectively do nothing. She was told 'Mrs. Nguyen, I implore you to consider moving your son out of this classroom because we can't control the teacher.'"

Nguyen says it's about accountability and speaking out on behalf of other families.

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LAUSD declined to comment on the case.
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