Parents concerned about fights and sexual harassment at Cherry Creek board meeting

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DAWN | Concerns over a middle school fight shared on social media and a sexual assault case at Grandview High School dominated public comments at the penultimate Cherry Creek School Board meeting of the school year. , a speaker expressing concern that the district is in the news “for all the wrong reasons.”

According to a Article by Denver7 last week, an instagram account called “Lib_Fights2022” posted 11 videos this year, including one from May 3 that showed a student pinned down and beaten at Liberty Middle School.

In an email to parents, Liberty principal Kevin Doherty said the school is aware of the account and will investigate any information it gets from the videos. District practice is to flag these types of social media accounts for removal, he said.

“Violence of any kind is not tolerated at Liberty Middle School, and students involved in violent incidents face serious disciplinary consequences from the school and may also face legal repercussions. We support the police in their investigation,” he said.

At the council meeting, several parents urged the district to take a tougher line against school violence.

“Taking down the site and contacting students is a weak response,” said parent Nate Jecminek. “I hope the school district adopts a strict policy to remove these students from our schools, not just those who hit them, but those who spread the violence by posting the videos on social media sites.”

District spokesman Abbe Smith said as soon as the administration learned of the scuffle they contacted police, who investigated the incident. Students found involved were disciplined, but for privacy reasons, Smith said the district could not provide further details.

The district occasionally sees accounts appear documenting alleged school fights, Smith said, but cannot verify that they all take place at Cherry Creek schools. Sometimes people who see fights on social media contact the news before the district, which can slow down investigations.

“We would just ask if a student sees a fight or records a fight, they immediately notify the school so we can get involved and investigate,” she said.

Several parents also discussed the walkouts that took place at several Cherry Creek high schools last month due to frustrations with how the district handles allegations of sexual assault.

The walkout stemmed from a case at Grandview High School, where a 16-year-old student was allegedly groped by a classmate. The victim’s parents says KDVR that although the alleged perpetrator faces criminal misdemeanor charges, the district had repeatedly delayed an investigation and failed to do anything to punish the student or separate him from the victim beyond making him sign a no contact order.

District officials said earlier The Sentinel that the article was inaccurate, but did not give details.

In a follow-up article from On April 29, KDVR reported that the district had suspended the student for four weeks, until the end of the school year, with an exception allowing him to come to campus to take an AP test.

The article said the victim’s parents were “furious” that the suspect could be allowed to return to school in the fall and that it took the district so long to make a decision.

Smith said the four-week suspension was not accurate, but for student confidentiality reasons she could not give any details.

In an email to families in the district after the walkout, Superintendent Chris Smith said the district takes all allegations seriously and stands in solidarity with the victims.

During the meeting, Council Member Kristin Allan reiterated the Superintendent’s comments.

“I stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and harassment,” Allan said. “I also applaud the courage and commitment of our young people who peacefully came together and used their voices to bring attention to this critical issue.”

Parents who spoke at the meeting said they weren’t impressed with the district’s response.

“Families shared that the district failed to provide victimized students with a safe learning environment, failed to properly address Title IX complaints, failed to implement no-contact policies, and did not ‘didn’t communicate with the families,’ a relative said. “A pattern of neglect is apparent.”

The victim “deserved not to have to see the person who damaged her every day for months while we figured it out,” mother Melissa Scully said. “We need to do more.”

MacKenzie Sleesman, a junior who organized a strike at Cherokee Trail High School, said The Sentinel that perpetrators face few consequences and that no contact orders between perpetrators and their victims are not enforced.

“In a classroom, if something isn’t working, you change it,” she said. “If the non-contact agreement isn’t working, change it.”

She said she was also frustrated that the district acted as if the protests were meant to raise awareness about sexual assault in general, and not specific grievances with the district.

“There has to be consequences for these kids, not just a pat on the back and sending them on their way,” she said.

The last board meeting of the school year is scheduled to take place on Monday, June 13 at Infinity Middle School in Aurora.

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