School investigating claim of harassment between students

Disturbing allegations were made at a local board of education meeting on Monday night.Region 14 schools, whic...

Posted: Apr 11, 2018 3:56 PM
Updated: Apr 11, 2018 3:56 PM

Disturbing allegations were made at a local board of education meeting on Monday night.

Region 14 schools, which covers Woodbury and Bethlehem are coming under fire from parents who said officials are not responsive to their concerns.

"This boy cupped his hand and grabbed her crotch, over and over again," said Dawn Cipriano, a parent.

Dawn Cipriano detailed what she says her daughter experienced in the first grade, over the course of a month at Mitchell Elementary School.

"In line in the hallway, at the drinking fountain and wherever else he found the opportunity to do so," Cipriano said.

Channel 3 obtained a copy of the Title IX Complaint summary written by the schools.

In it, officials confirm the harassment, which included inappropriate touching and requests to show underwear.

The reports confirm this occurred approximately five times and two male students were accused.

The report also showed the female victim reported the touching to her teacher who did not report it to the principal or the district.

Cipriano said it took her daughter going to the principal herself to launch the investigation.

"We wanted her to be empowered to control and regain control of what was happening to her," Cipriano said.

In the end, the district found, "The conduct that took place was unwelcome and offensive so as to create a hostile educational environment."

Cipriano wants to know why more wasn't done for her daughter while the investigation was going on.

"There were no protections offered for the month that the investigation took place, she was subjected to continued sexual assault and harassment in her classroom," Cipriano said.

Due to board policies, Superintendent Anna Cutaia couldn't respond directly to parents but did offer a statement to Channel 3.

She wouldn't answer questions pertaining to the details of this case, specifically what happens to victims while an investigation occurs, but she did confirm other agencies did get involved.

"We involve the proper authorities. In many cases that you hear about, we involved the Department of Children and Families and the law enforcement," Cutaia wrote in a statement.

In this case, according to the district's report, Department of Children and Families said, "They will not investigate the incidents as they did not rise to the statutory level of abuse or neglect."

Cipriano said her child is now in the second grade, still at Mitchell Elementary School.

She said one of the two boys accused is still in the same classroom as her daughter. The district denies this.

The district also confirmed the teacher who did not report this incident is no longer employed.

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