Three students who are accused of raping a classmate at Cedar Shoals High School on Jan. 7 were never suspended, Superintendent Phil Lanoue confirmed in an email to parents today.
"I know that there are still many questions around the incident at Cedar Shoals High School,” Lanoue wrote. “What I can share is that unfortunately, no student suspensions occurred. Disciplinary decisions are made at the school level. At the district level, we did not receive any follow-up through our police department. We did not effectively provide communication to our community. Due to breakdowns that transpired, we are working at the district level to increase checks and balances.”
The school district will hold training sessions for principals on safety protocol and work to improve communication between the district and Athens-Clarke County police departments. In addition, CCSD Chief of Police Fred Stephens, Associate Superintendent of District Services Ted Gilbert and Executive Director of Student Support Services Ernest Hardaway will meet weekly.
Previously, Director of Public Relations Anisa Sullivan Jimenez has said the students were disciplined but did not give any details. Administrators have cited federal privacy laws in refusing to answer questions about any discipline that was meted out prior to the students’ arrests Jan. 30 and Feb. 1.
Cedar Shoals Principal Tony Price is on administrative leave pending the results of an internal investigation.
The school board met in closed session for an hour and a half Monday to discuss personnel matters but took no action.
Lanoue’s full email is below.
The past few weeks have been very emotional and difficult for our community. I know it has been extremely challenging to be patient through this process, and I want you to know that your frustration is understood and shared. The safety of our children is and has remained my priority, and in order to keep that focus, the integrity of an ongoing investigation must be kept intact.
One of our district’s beliefs is that “caring and trusting relationships among students and adults in schools are vital to encouraging and promoting meaningful learning.” We must remember that children are learning from us every moment. Exactly what they learn often depends on our reaction to difficult conversations and situations. Some of the ways we talk with each other and with children can have a definite impact on their views about conflict, sexual assault, victim blaming and healthy relationships.
Data from the Crimes Against Children Research Center shows that 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse. Self-report studies of adults show that 20% of adult females and up to 10% of adult males recall a childhood sexual assault or sexual abuse incident. Clearly, the school and community conversations we have moving forward will have the greatest impact on our students, colleagues and many other individuals in our school and community.
Our counseling and support services departments are ready to provide support. If you notice signs of distress among your children, please seek out our school counselors to provide professional assistance.
I know that there are still many questions around the incident at Cedar Shoals High School. What I can share is that unfortunately, no student suspensions occurred. Disciplinary decisions are made at the school level. At the district level, we did not receive any follow-up through our police department. We did not effectively provide communication to our community. Due to breakdowns that transpired, we are working at the district level to increase checks and balances. Therefore, the following have occurred or are in process:
-We will hold a work session/training for all principals regarding safety protocol, including reporting and communication
-Our Chief of Police has communicated with the Athens-Clarke County Police Department to streamline communications
-Weekly standing meetings have been scheduled between the Associate Superintendent of District Services, CCSD Chief of Police and Executive Director of Student Support Services
-Community partners such as The Cottage and Project Safe continue to be available to our school community to help facilitate conversations around education, prevention and intervention
It’s time for us to all come together to move forward and work together to do what is right for all children. Thank you for your continued support of our district and community.