OKLAHOMA CITY - Of two people who spoke Monday evening at a school board meeting, Edwina Floyd was the sole parent to raise student safety concerns after a Putnam City West High School student was allegedly assaulted and raped by four other students late last month.
"I come to you today because of a concern for safety in the school as a result of the incident which recently occurred, which – let's be frank – was an aggravated sexual assault," said Floyd, who said one of her own daughters was sexually assaulted in the past. "My daughter came to me this afternoon and said, 'Mother, please, please, go to the meeting tonight. Go, and tell them and tell them we have to be safe in school.’”
Last week, the only adult suspect in the case, 19-year-old Putnam City West senior Dawson Mclain, was charged with felony assault and battery with a dangerous weapon for his alleged role in the alleged assault and rape of another student with a broom handle on September 28 in the varsity locker room.
Mclain, who is listed at 6 feet 3 inches tall and 280 pounds on the school's athletics website, is accused of holding the young boy, along with two others, as a fourth suspect pushed a broken broom handle through the victim's clothing and into his anus. The other three suspects are all juvenile boys.
"My heart goes out to the parents of that student, for they have a very long, dark road ahead of them," Floyd said.
Of the five-member board, only two broadly thanked Floyd and another parent, who spoke on another subject, for coming forward Monday evening.
"It’s not easy to get up here, from a public participation standpoint, it’s not easy for me to sit behind here and address. Your words don’t fall on deaf ears, so I truly appreciate it," said board member Jay Sherrill.
"To our speakers, I want to second what Jay said," said board president Becky Gooch. "Thank you very much. It is hard to come, and we do listen and we will definitely take heed to your concerns."
Gooch declined to comment about the matter after the board meeting, deferring to district spokesman Steve Lindley. Lindley said the district is in the final stages of setting up a task force created in the wake of the assault.
"We’re just finishing up the process of identifying the people who should be on the task force. The next step then is to set a schedule for those meetings," Lindley said. "The point is to look at the culture of the school and how that can be changed."
For Floyd, the change has to come from all corners of the district and the only way to heal is as a community.
"The fact that I'm the only parent makes me wonder if other parents didn’t quite understand what it was," Floyd said. "It can’t be something where we just say, 'Oh well, let's all say a prayer and hope that it all turns out alright.'"