of the passage of time, all proper names have been changed.
October 30, 2002
Ms. Nancy Rosales
President, Wadell School Board
Dear Nancy Rosales,
on behalf of a female junior student at Wadell High School
and her mother. We're deeply concerned about the responses
of Wadell school officials in the aftermath of the July 20th
kidnaping and rape of this student. We're concerned that
the responses of Wadell school officials constitute serious
violations of the female student's rights to an equal education
as defined by Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act.
This letter is a formal complaint and request for investigation,
correction, and a written apology to the student and her
we're concerned that Wadell school officials refused to stop
the continuous sexual harassment of the girl since the rape,
despite the girl's repeated pleas to school officials for
help. And that instead of punishing the perpetrators of
this harassment as required by Title IX, Wadell school officials
punished the girl by severely restricting the girl's freedom
of movement in the school. As we understand it, school officials
banned her from any location in the school where she could
be seen by the perpetrators of the harassment, a restriction
that kept the girl from being able to attend her physical
education class. And most recently as their way of dealing
with the continuing harassment, that school officials put
the girl on independent study, an action that has now banned
the girl from all but one of her classes with other students.
At the date of
this letter, the criminal case against the 31 year-old accused
rapist Jermaine Casey is proceeding well and Jermaine Casey
has been ordered to stand trial on multiple felony counts
of kidnaping and rape.
As we understand
it, Casey's stepdaughter was a student in the Wadell /El Molino
school district during the summer months at the time of
the rape. We understand that Casey's stepdaughter began
fomenting hostility among other students toward the rape
victim. And that this hostility escalated to the point where
many students were accusing the rape victim student of lying
about the rape, of being a "skank", of "wanting
it", of "looking like a whore", and other
such cruel and sexist remarks. These sexist incidents have
continued since the rape and have intensified to the point
that a few weeks ago the student was threatened on the street
by another student who was saying things like "Have
you ever seen a Mexican knife, or would you like to",
and calling her a "damn slut".
the student, she sought help a number of times from her
school counselor, Ms. Anders , concerning this harassment.
Though Ms. Anders did attempt to find a therapist for the
student, she also repeatedly told her there was nothing
that she (Ms. Anders ) could do about the harassment. Ms.
Anders told the student to ignore it and it would go away.
Ms. Anders told the student that she (Ms. Anders ) "couldn't
control what comes out of other people's mouths."
however, as we have brought to the attention of Wadell school
officials on a number of similar occasions in the past is
that the counselor and all school officials are legally
obligated under Title IX of the Federal Civil Rights Act
to put a complete stop to the sexual harassment and to protect
the girl's civil rights to a non-discriminatory education.
About four weeks
ago, when the student continued to seek help to stop the
harassment, Mr. Walker, Mr. Peterson, and Ms. Trenton prohibited
the student from going anywhere in the school where she
would be visible to the students who were harassing her.
This action, in addition to restricting the girl's freedom
of movement in the school, also had the effect of keeping
her out of her physical education class.
17, 2002, the student, Ms. Anders, and Wadell vice principal
Karen Trenton were meeting to discuss the girl's schedule.
Trenton began to yell at the student about having missed
classes. Both the student and Ms. Anders tried to explain
two things to Trenton . One, that the girl had been mistakenly
scheduled for two classes simultaneously in her first period,
and two, that she was having difficulty handling the rape
hearings at court and difficulty having to testify in front
of the rapist. In response, Trenton began to accuse the
student of lying and of making up excuses. And though Ms.
Anders validated the student's statements both in regard
to the scheduling mix-up and in regard to the rape, Trenton
continued to accuse the girl of lying. In addition, Trenton
began threatening to kick the girl out of the school.
Two days prior
to this meeting the girl had walked out of history class
when the class discussion was dealing with the rape of black
slaves, and how the victims of these rapes had no rights.
The student had told the history teacher, Mr. Hanson, that
she couldn't handle dealing with the subject because it
"hit too close to home". The history teacher responded
to the girl that she" had to move on and deal with
it". The history teacher refused to allow the girl
to get out of the class dealing with the rape of slaves.
The girl did attempt to attend the class, but when the video
dramatization of the slave rapes was about to begin, she
couldn't handle it and left the class.
At the September
17th meeting between the student, Ms. Anders , and vice principal
Trenton , Trenton said she didn't want to deal with the
girl's difficulties with the rape discussions in her history
Because the student
was very distraught over her meeting with vice principal
Trenton , the next day the student brought her mother in
to school to meet with Trenton . In that September 18th
meeting, according to the mother and daughter, Trenton
repeated again that the rape was just another excuse for
missing classes. Trenton said that there were many girls
who had been raped. Trenton implied that it was the girl's
problem for allowing the rape to bother her.
Trenton 's response
to the problems and concerns brought by the student and
her mother was to route the student into independent studies,
thus further robbing the student of her rights to a safe,
equal education, the very rights that Trenton is legally
obligated to protect.
The student did
not want to leave the normal school environment. She feels
she is being treated unjustly because the school is punishing
her and not the perpetrators of the harassment. She feels
like she is being wrongfully robbed of her educational rights
and being re-victimized by school officials.
We agree. In
addition, the school's response injures all the students.
The girls learn the dangers of ever seeking help for a rape
or sexual harassment, and all students learn that the school
doesn't take these violations seriously. We are especially
outraged because we have met a number of times with Wadell /El
Molino school officials when other female student victims
of sexual assaults have been similarly re-victimized by
We, along with the undersigned student and her mother, ask
that you immediately act to correct this situation and create
a safe, equal educational opportunity for this student.
All school officials who know of this situation are legally
obligated to stop all harassment of the girl by other students.
The perpetrators of past harassment must be punished. And
all school officials who violated the girl's civil rights
must also be punished. In addition, the student and her
mother are asking for a written apology for the injuries
the school has already caused them.
Thank you for
Marie De Santis
Mayor Tom Rogers and all Scranton City Council Members
All Wadell /El Molino School Board Members
Mr. Peterson, Principal of Lasiter Continuation School
Mr. Walters, Principal of Wadell High School
Chief Robert Wagner, Scranton Police Department
Mr. Richard Strom, Superintendent of Schools and all school