High School Students Plan Protest over Treatment of Alleged Rape Victims
Three Oklahoma students say they were raped by the same former student, then bullied and unable to return to school
Administrators and faculty at an Oklahoma high school are preparing for a protest Monday by students upset with the handling of an alleged rape.
In a letter to parents, Norman High School principal Scott Beck said sexual assault victims’ advocates were organizing the protest because of an alleged rape involving two students that occurred off campus two months ago.
The school “took the strongest disciplinary action against the alleged assailant” and the Norman Police Department was investigating, Beck said in the letter, a copy of which was posted on the website of the Oklahoman.
The newspaper reported that a small group of students had begun a social media campaign on behalf of three female Norman High students who alleged they were raped by the same male student. The three also claimed they have been bullied and are unable to return to school, the paper reported.
“We would never discipline a victim for being a victim,” Shelly Hickman, spokeswoman for Norman Public Schools, told the paper, disputing claims that one of the young women had been disciplined because of the alleged rape.
Hickman said federal law protecting student privacy prevented her from discussing details, but she acknowledged that the alleged assailant was no longer a student at Norman High.
The principal said police and administrators would be on hand for Monday’s protest but would not prevent any students from participating if they had parental support.
“We must do everything we can to protect and advocate for the safety and well-being of our students,” Beck said in his letter to parents. “However, we support our students’ First Amendment rights to exercise free speech and participate in peaceful demonstration.”
He also assured parents that the school would monitor both on- and off-campus student behavior and would “respond quickly and decisively whenever we are provided facts and information indicating any student is in danger or has been harmed in any way.”