Some readers might have wondered why we took the time and space to cover the federal civil case of a Lewisville Independent School District student who claimed she had been sexually assaulted by two football players at an off-campus party and that school district had retaliated against her for complaining about the abuse and about bullying that followed. The reason we decided to look at the case was the fact that it hadn’t received a lot of media coverage despite the fact that the issues involved were complex and far reaching. While it dealt with specific instances at a specific school, they were the kinds of things that could happen at any school and to any child.
It is important to note that the jury agreed with the school district that it did not retaliate against the girl and that the boys the girl accused of raping her were never charged with a crime.
The case brought to light a lot of the complications and difficulties of teaching and protecting students in this new era of digital awareness. The case asked interesting questions about just how a school could or should go about protecting one student who alleges she was hurt by another student while protecting every student’s right to be treated fairly and respectfully. It also asked: What can or should schools do to stop cyberbullying? How do schools devise policies and procedures that protect students from bullying that can attack a child even inside their own homes at any time of the day or night, without walking all over their students’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression?
I wish I could say that having sat through the trial for days and reduced what I heard to writing means I have some simple and straight forward answers to those questions, but I can’t. All I have now is a much healthier amount of respect for the people who are trying to dig through all of the noise to find the answers and to hear the voices of the people who are being hurt in the meantime.
Happy birthday to Larry Hughley of Sherman; Cheryl Eichelberger of Monument, Colorado; Loretta Walker; Jerrod Hill; and Johnny Stephens of Whitewright.
Happy anniversary to Casey and Starla McKinney of Sherman and Brad and Carrie Sisemore of Pottsboro, 15 years.