The article “Hidden horror of sex assaults by K-12 students” –– which appeared through news services and was widely circulated in U.S. newspapers –– points out the huge liability school districts will have unless they start treating this problem rather than ignoring it.
This issue will not go away simply by having programs in place to recognize bullying. Trial attorneys across the country recognize the threat to our children due to totally inadequate prevention programs. The Dietrich case demonstrated the lack of oversight by school officials who were charged with dealing with these problems. They, like most school districts, had policies and procedures dealing with these issues, but that was the extent of the solution. No one trained on how to investigate charges, no written reports, no action taken to prevent more abuse. Two previous assaults on the child were ignored, leading to the heinous act in the locker room on a disabled black child.
The state prosecutor, who works for the Idaho attorney general, filed charges under Idaho Code 18-6108 rather than the appropriate Idaho Code 18-6608, which is “Forcible sexual penetration by use of a foreign object.” By doing so, a perpetrator was given probation and justice was denied. The AG supported the decision of Judge Stoker. Consequently, over 176,000 people signed an online petition at Change.org to have the judge removed. Nothing happened.
The Dietrich “town hall” meeting organized by Kelly Miller, director of the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, demonstrated the ongoing abuse that pervades our communities. Many testimonials pointed out that people do not know where to turn for help. This is a national problem. Parents need to be educated on how to deal with these problems. StopBulling.gov is a resource that can begin to help. Schools must be held accountable. Title IX and Title VII are two laws that can be utilized to prosecute schools that do not comply. Unfortunately, that appears to be the only tool to force compliance.
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The Boise School District is taking this very seriously. If your school officials in Boise are reluctant or indifferent to assist with a problem, call Tamara Fredrickson at the Boise School District office 208-854-4173.
Bob Shepard is the director of a newly formed advocacy group in Boise. He has been the chief investigator for Lee Schlender, regarding the Dietrich School District lawsuit. Shepard is a former U.S. Air Force officer who served in combat. He was the regional director for the Small Business Development Center at Boise State University and taught business courses as an adjunct professor. His website: Shepardsolutions.info