AUGUSTA — An investigator with the Maine Human Rights Commission has recommended the commission find no reasonable grounds that Regional School Unit 21 discriminated in educational opportunity or public accommodations in a case of parents of a student claiming their daughter was bullied and sexually harassed at the Middle School of the Kennebunks from fall of 2010 to June of 2013.

The parents of the student filed the case against RSU 21 in March of 2014. The commission is scheduled to make a decision on the case Dec. 14.

The parents of the former middle school student claim the school administration did not properly address the bullying and harassment their daughter received from her peers and she was socially isolated in school, felt unsafe and her schoolwork declined, according to a report from Maine Human Rights Council Investigator Alice Neal.

The parents claim their daughter was called names by her peers including “slut,” “whore” and “drug dealer,” was dared by two students to kill herself, and was inappropriately touched by boys at the school. The parents claim their daughter spoke with a guidance counselor about the alleged name calling, and the guidance counselor told her the school could do nothing and told her to ignore the behavior, according to Neal’s report.

The parents claim their daughter spoke with staff about the alleged sexual harassment she received, and her advisory teacher told her that was “just how boys act” and her counselor told her not to miss class to discuss “immature girl drama,” according to the report. They claim she worried the rest of her eighth-grade year with no adult in the school to talk to.

The parents claim their daughter gave the school resource officer evidence of cyber bullying she had received on a USB drive, a peer admitted to the school resource officer that they had bullied the girl online and the school resource officer dropped the issue.

The school claimed that the school resource officer did not have a computer with a USB port at that time, and if she came to him with a flash drive he would have referred her to the guidance department to print out information. The school resource officer said he met with the girl and her father about online harassment, according to the report.

The school district states that it takes “a tough stance” on bullying and harassment, according to the report. The school district claims the girl had a successful school experience, did well academically, was seen frequently with peers and was a member of the cheerleading squad.

The school district claims that staff never minimized any of the student’s concerns and she was never barred from talking to the guidance staff.

The guidance staff claims the girl visited them several times during her seventhgrade year, not multiple times a week, as her parents have claimed, and she talked about her problems with the school’s cheering program and conflicts with her friends, rather than bullying, according to the report.

The school district stated a peer pulled the girl’s hair and broke her pencil, and the peer was disciplined, according to the report.

The school district claims that the girl was always with peers at lunch and was not socially ostracized, according to the report.

The school district stated an incident was reported where a male student put his fist to the girl’s face and called her a cow, and the boy’s mother came immediately to the school and insisted he apologize to her and took him out of school, according to the report.

Neal states the parents of the girl have not established their daughter was subjected to a hostile environment or that the school was liable for that environment.

Neal states the research does not support holding the school liable for harassment the girl received. The school was aware of some of the incidents the girl’s parents discussed, but not all of them. The school made corrective action when aware of any such incidents and responded promptly to any complaints, said Neal.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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