We have been following for the last three weeks plus, the ongoing situation of a family whose son was harassed at Harper Junior High School in Davis. The incidents involved anti-gay slurs and repeated incidents of abuse.
The family and their attorney sent the Davis Joint Unified School District a very clearly outlined eight page letter depicting the events and listing the necessary steps to be taken by the district in order for the family to feel that their son could attend school again. This letter allowed the district ten business days to respond and that time has now elapsed and the District made no effort to respond.
Moreover, the district has still failed to provide the son with an in-home tutor and the son is falling further and further behind in school. He has not been in school now for well over a month. This is a 13 year-old kid in 8th grade.
The school district has told a number of people that the victim in this case is responsible for the problems. Apparently the family has been told that the kid was a bit too cocky and he talks too much (what kid doesn’t?). There has also been an allegation that he was a bit of a show-off rich kid wearing a Rolex watch to school. Some of this may have merit, but that does not excuse the ongoing abuse and it certainly does not excuse the school for failing to work with the family to provide a safe learning and educational environment.
The key issue for this family is the safety of their son. He came back to school twice after the initial incident was reported and was further harassed. The family does not feel like the school is providing a safe environment for their son and moreover they are not providing him with a tutor.
A few things that are coming up this week in this ongoing case:
On Wednesday, News 10 ABC in Sacramento will have an in-depth feature on this case. The reporter Dan Adams is covering it and if you have concerns about this case you are invited to contact him at: DADAMS@NEWS10.NET
In addition they will be filing this week in the Northern California District Court in Sacramento. They really did not want to sue; but they do not feel safe putting their son back in school.
As I’ve stated in past coverage of this issue, my feeling is that the school district has done a huge amount to put programs into place to prevent future incidents. However, they seem to believe that this is sufficient. On the other hand, the family feels that they have not done enough to insure that their son is safe and can attend class in a safe environment. The school district has not communicated what they plan to do to protect this student from future abuse, so I do not know what they have offered the family, but it seems that they have been incommunicative and cut off contact. If this goes to lawsuit, it seems tragic for all involved and fully avoidable. The young son has future ambitions and is likely going to be the one who has to suffer.
Unfortunately, this is a continuing pattern in the Davis school district, one would have hoped that we could be more responsive to these sorts of problems—however that does not appear to be the case.
—Doug Paul Davis reporting