UPDATED 11/24/2014 5:00 P.M.
NORMAN, Okla. – Many students at Norman High School marched out of the classroom in a silent protest, but their message is speaking volumes.
The student-led protest attracted others in the community to join in Monday morning near campus soon after the school day started.
The students are protesting how the school district handled alleged student rape cases.
According to a Facebook page titled ‘Yes All Daughters’, the group is protesting lack of appropriate action regarding rape and bullying by certain students.
Three girls at the school were allegedly bullied after they were allegedly raped by the same male student.
Now, there is a report of a fourth victim that has come forward.
The group claims one of the attacks was allegedly videotaped and passed around the school.
The protestors say school leaders failed to protect the students from being bullied after the alleged sex crimes.
The girls claim they were subjected to name calling and even death threats.
“It has gotten worse, it’s brutal. They send out videos, they make pictures, they do it online, in person, they get a whole bunch of people involved, it’s just disgusting,” said Maddie Carter, current student.
“It’s put these girls’ lives on hold. They tried to come back to school after being victims of a horrific crime and the school failed to protect them,” said Stacey Wright with YES ALL DAUGHTERS.
“I just couldn’t stand back. I had to do something.” said Kiera Moddleton, a student protester.
Kimberly Wiser, a Norman parent who attended the protest, said, “How can we fight for justice for grown women without fighting for justice for little girls?”
Jay Trenary, one of the organizers of the protest, said, “You don’t have to be a conservative or a liberal to agree rape is wrong.”
Of the victims says she was later re-victimized, this time by a bully.
“Somebody confronted her and said, ‘I heard you liked getting raped in the a**.’ Highly inappropriate.” said Trenary said.
Dr. Joe Siano, Norman Public Schools Superintendent, says all reports of bullying were addressed.
“The district received one report of bullying related to the above incidents and immediately responded to that incident,” stated Siano.
“We are very empathetic for the victims. Have been from the very beginning. When we took our action to suspend the assailant, we were only aware of one victim,” said Shelly Hickman, Norman Public Schools. “We share the same conviction that sexual assault and bullying has no place on a school campus anywhere in our society.”
According to the Norman Transcript, the Norman High School principal, Scott Beck, wrote a letter to parents which said the school is cooperating with the Norman Police Department as it conducts its investigation.
The letter further stated that the school took “the strongest disciplinary action against the alleged assailant permitted by Oklahoma law.”
In the letter, the principal wrote, “despite what rumors on social media may indicate, we have not – and would never – discipline a victim for being a victim.”
The Norman Transcript reports that the principal can’t share information regarding the allegations due to federal law restrictions.
However, he supports the students exercising their First Amendment rights to peacefully protest.
“Wherever a student body wants to stand up in a unified way and say we have zero tolerance for sexual assault and bullying that can only be seen as a great thing,” said Hickman.
School officials did confirm the accused male student has been suspended from school for passing around a pornographic video from one of the victim’s cases.
He has not been arrested or formally charged by police.
Officials say the investigation is ongoing.
With powerful words and hundreds of voices together, people are turning their pain into demands for justice.
“I hope this stops.”
“We just hope this affects some change.”
Yes All Daughters wrote a letter to Beck, asking for demands related to the treatment of sexual abuse victims.
Those demands are as follows:
- School must fully accommodate the educational needs of the victims and take all necessary steps to ensure the victims feel welcome and safe at all times on school grounds.
- School administration shall request a full investigation by law enforcement into the child pornography passed around school and into any teacher or administrator who failed to make mandatory reporting of child abuse as required by Oklahoma Statutes, Title 10, section 7103.
- School shall create a new, full-time position of Victims’ Advocate for students who report sexual assault, sexual harassment or bullying. That position is responsible for overseeing all such reports and following up with the student, the student’s parents and law enforcement.
- School shall create a notice of victims’ rights to be provided to any student who reports sexual assault, sexual harassment, physical assault or bullying.
- School shall prioritize the immediate implementation of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying prevention education for students and faculty.
- School shall promptly train all faculty on victim sensitivity and the appropriate response to reports of sexual assault, sexual harassment and bullying.
- School shall establish a committee comprised of three students, three parents and three faculty to oversee the implementation of these demands and to review the programs and policies implemented every 90 days.
School officials say some of the changes being requested by protesters were already in the works.
School officials say more officers are expected for the next school year thanks to a bond issue passed by voters in April.
They also say they have been working for six months on a curriculum which will educate students on issues like sexual assault and sexual harassment.
That curriculum will cover how those victims should and should not be treated.
Norman Police will confirm there are multiple investigations pending.
They also say school officials have been cooperating with police.
Norman Police will not discuss the investigations because they involve minors.
Norman Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano released the following statement regarding the protests at Norman High.
“We applaud Norman High students for conducting themselves in a mature, respectful manner today.
We continue to be very concerned about victims of sexual assault and are committed to doing what we can to support them and ensuring our schools provide a safe, secure and supportive environment for our students.
Norman Public Schools has worked closely with the Norman Police Department since we learned of these allegations and continue to do so.”