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‘This is systemic’ Parents voice allegations of terrible culture at high faculty

Editor’s word: At 5:23 p.M., Steamboat Springs Superintendent Brad Meeks issued a letter to high school district households in reaction to “high college figure issues.” The letter can be observed on-line at http://www.Steamboatschools.Net/announcements-92f62ca5.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Six one of a kind human beings addressed the Steamboat Springs School Board at some point of Monday’s board assembly, expressing problem about what became described as a lifestyle at Steamboat Springs High School underneath which female college students have been now not being heard or blanketed amid allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault.

“I am not right here to speak about any precise facts this night or any precise problems or allegations,” stated Lisel Petis, government director of Advocates of Routt County. “But one issue has grow to be very clear from all of the issues that we’ve received — is that proper now, college students and their parents are feeling unheard and unsupported and dangerous inside the excessive school.”

The small room wherein board meetings are held turned into filled with approximately seventy five humans, maximum standing in opposition to the wall or sitting on the ground. The organization protected about a dozen college students.

Petis delivered herself to the board by means of explaining what Advocates does, which includes supplying “services of intervention and prevention for sufferers of domestic violence, sexual violence and teenager relationship violence.”

She stated her employer has received several court cases over the last several months regarding “what goes on within the high school.”

“As a determine and network member, to say I am involved might be a gross understatement,” Sarah Grippa advised the board. “In both my non-public and professional ability, I actually have born witness to the climate and way of life of silence that exists in Steamboat Springs High School and the terrible effect it has at the sufferers and their households.”

Parent Lauren Beversluis instructed the board about her daughter being sexually assaulted via any other scholar her freshman year.

“We went to police. We filed a file. The boy became known as in,” Beversluis stated. “The boy admitted the whole lot. It went to the DA, and the DA determined as it took her a year to tell them that they might do nothing approximately it.”

Beversluis said her daughter defined a “weather of sexuality” on the excessive college.

“She stated she felt sexualized at faculty each single day,” Beversluis said.

Beversluis said her daughter is now in college and doing well.

“Her high school commencement changed into the happiest day of her existence,” she said. “To be out of a faculty where she felt completely not noted — completely minimized. And the boy simply went approximately his existence.”

Beversluis stated she felt “horrible” approximately not being able to propose for her daughter and herself faster.

“I desire I had spoken out,” Beversluis said. “And I’m grateful that I’m right here now.”

Beversluis stated she became on the assembly on behalf of the Wittemyer family in addition to her own daughter.

Elizabeth Wittemyer, who has daughters in excessive faculty, also shared her daughters’ story with the board.

“Our daughters informed faculty administrators that they were sexually harassed,” Elizabeth Wittemyer stated. “We have been not notified. Police had been now not known as.”

Petis told the board that Advocates is working with sufferers and their families and has met with faculty administrators, counselors and instructors.

Grippa stated she was hoping to “offer a huge view of a systemic hassle that exists in our district” and turned into speaking on behalf of mother and father who desired to however felt they could not talk out due to the fact, “they’ve both been silenced or fear repercussions.”

“This is systemic,” Wittemyer introduced.

She said those problems and worries had been brought earlier than multiple directors, and the response become “alarming.”

“The administration has now not replied in any way that has addressed our concerns,” she stated. “We can’t take our complaints and troubles to directors who repeatedly fail to behave and appear to be complicit and co-opted by bad actors.”

Chris Wittemyer requested the faculty board to convene an emergency meeting to at once deal with this crisis.

“The college district has didn’t provide equal protections against harassment to all our college students and as a substitute has created a way of life of fear and intimidation for sufferers who dare to speak out,” Chris stated.

“I desire you’ll without delay start to inspect this be counted and increase a legitimate process for victims to return ahead and feature a voice,” Grippa said.

Petis urged faculty board members to touch her if they receive any additional worries from mother and father or students. She said she is planning to meet with a group of college students and a set of mother and father.

“I do not recognise all the solutions yet,” Petis stated. “We have a few recommendations of what may be powerful. But what is obvious proper now is that what is being carried out isn’t powerful.”

Reached for remark by using e mail following Monday’s meeting, Steamboat Springs High School Principal Kevin Taulman wrote, “I disagree with the statements that have been made tonight. The excessive school administrative group of workers and I will paintings with the superintendent’s office to deal with any issues.”

During a quick recess before the board went into government session, Superintendent Brad Meeks said he had heard the worries and could be following up at the statements made.

“We glaringly want to ensure all homes are safe for college students and personnel,” Meeks stated. “We could be following up at the allegations made. Any time the district gets a complaint, we do our due diligence and provide the assets to comply with up.”

Asked about concerns brought to his attention prior to Monday’s meeting, Meeks stated, “The situations that I am privy to were accompanied up on.”

There changed into no discussion via board members about scheduling an emergency meeting, despite a lengthy dialogue approximately the regular board assembly time table.

Kelly Latterman, who become elected as college board president Monday, said at some stage in the recess, the board had no plans to schedule an emergency assembly, however they might be “following up with the administration to make certain the requests of the network were heard.”

On Tuesday, Steamboat Pilot & Today contacted board participants for facts approximately whether they planned to time table an emergency meeting to talk about the problems raised at Monday’s assembly. Kim Brack become the simplest school board member to respond, and he or she referred the question to Meeks.

According to Meeks, the request for a comply with-up assembly is being evaluated.

The subsequent frequently scheduled school board assembly is set for Jan. 13, 2020.

To reach Kari Dequine Harden, name 970-871-4205, email kharden@SteamboatPilot.Com or follow her on Twitter @kariharden.

Note: Comments in this story were disabled at the discretion of the Steamboat Pilot & Today due to the sensitive nature of the topic.

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