Texas Teens Tasered, Arrested While Protesting School's Handling Of Sexual Assault
Students and parents at Little Elm High School in Little Elm, Texas, are furious following a demonstration Friday where several students were tasered, pepper sprayed, dragged by their hair, thrown around and shot with rubber bullets for, according to students, protesting the school's lax attitude toward sexual harassment and assault. Four students were also arrested. Curiously, while city spokesperson Erin Mudie initially told Fox News Digital that the "four juvenile students were arrested … for assaulting/spitting on officers," this was later amended in the Dallas Morning News to say "she couldn't comment on what they were arrested for as a result of the incident."
Either that or as a result of video footage of the police attacking students published on social media after she initially spoke to the media.
Content warning here, as this is some extremely disturbing footage of what clearly appears to be police brutalizing children:
MAJOR TW: s/a, police brutality. this is my school guys. JUSTICE FOR JAELYN. we only wanted peace, not violence. it broke my heart to watch it all.
Parents of the students involved in the protest spoke to the media later that day to express their horror over what happened to their kids, at school, where they are supposed to be safe.
According to students on social media, the protest was sparked by an incident in which a girl was sexually assaulted by a male student, reported it to the school administration (as did two eyewitnesses), and was given in-school-suspension for falsely accusing him and lying, because he said he didn't do it and because they found video footage of her talking to him on the bus prior to the assault. They say the demonstration they planned had been peaceful until the school called the police to come in and take care of it.
The female student whose complaint sparked the demonstration initially posted about her assault and the aftermath on Snapchat, leading to the demonstration on Friday. Other witnesses posted their own corroborating statements to social media as well.
Here is one of the statements, edited for clarity and with the names of the students redacted:
Myself and one other girl gave statements as witnesses who had heard and seen these events take place. The school's response? Talk to the boy. The boy who denied it all and said "I can't believe she would accuse me of something like this." The school even checked the camera footage on their bus, and determined that since [female student] had been seen speaking to [male student], that she had allowed it. Officer Pham asked her the day she reported it "Did you do anything to allow it?" In the end, not only did [male student] walk away with no consequences for his actions, but [female student] received 3 days of ISS for "falsely accusing him and lying about the situation.
Students at Little Elm High School FREQUENTLY report instances of sexual assault, harassment, abuse and rape, a considerable amount of those taking place on school grounds or property. The school? They do nothing. The administration as a whole but specifically our lovely [assistant school principal] Dr. Mohammed. Little Elm High School admin CANNOT keep ignoring the students crying for help. They CANNOT keep victim blaming. They CANNOT keep putting their students in harms way and then punishing them when they get hurt.
All it teaches these boys is that if they can get away with touching a girl, maybe they can get away with raping one too.
Little Elm High School cannot keep ignoring these girls and encouraging their abusers.
Posts on Facebook and TikTok make it clear that while students and parents were upset about this particular incident, they also felt this was part of a larger pattern with the school's attitude towards complaints of sexual harassment and assault — an accusation that will likely not come as much of a surprise to any woman who has gone to high school, or college, or even middle school. Or even just existed in this world for more than a day.
The school's initial statement to the media about the incident was that "the demonstration was a result of a social media post the day before that contained inaccurate information regarding an incident that happened a month ago."
However, after a full weekend of parents and students flooding the school's Facebook post about the demonstration and the arrests with their own stories of the school ignoring complaints of sexual assault and harassment — and making it clear that they would not stop doing so, regardless of how many times the post "disappeared" and was reposted — the school's tune sharply veered into "I feel your pain"-town by Sunday night.
At Little Elm ISD, our mission is to Engage, Equip, and Empower each student to realize their full potential. We want our students to feel they received a great educational experience while attending a Little Elm ISD school. What led to Friday's student protest hits us at the core of who we are and we have to find a way to restore the trust you need in order for all of us to move forward.
Your questions, thoughts, and concerns are very important to me. I have heard and read each of them and I can feel your pain. I am a parent as well who knows how important it is that our children feel safe, valued, and heard. I will be as transparent as possible, but due to federal privacy laws we are restricted on providing certain details related to students. With that said, I want to assure you that our Board of Trustees, District administration, and the administration at Little Elm High School are focused on student safety and restoring public trust.
That statement, from school superintendent Daniel Gallagher, also now appears as a pop-up on the school's website, which suggests they've been getting more than a few calls from angry parents. But good for those parents, good for these students, good for camera phones and good, on this rare occasion, for social media.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse