Parents demand removal of 'sexual harassment' charge relating Scripps Ranch HS 'twerking' video

Sexual harassment charge added to records

SAN DIEGO - A group of Scripps Ranch High School students who made a controversial "twerking" video will be allowed to go to the prom and walk at graduation, but a sexual harassment charge will be added to their school records.

San Diego Unified School District trustees met privately about the issue Tuesday, but some parents were allowed to weigh in prior to the meeting. Many of them demanded an apology from the school.

"We are asking you to look at these girls in the eyes and tell them they deserve a sexual harassment charge," said one mother.

The mother told trustees that her daughter's punishment does not fit the crime, and she added, "They had no idea; they are horrified and humiliated ... My daughter is just embarrassed and humiliated, and the fact that she has to put down on her school applications that she has been charged with sexual harassment … what does that say?"

The students -- mostly girls -- were suspended for two days and initially banned from going to the prom and graduation after the video went viral. That punishment was recently lifted, 10News learned.

Parents at the meeting said the girls were told the video was for a school project and that they had no idea it would be edited in a vulgar way and uploaded to YouTube. They also presented a DVD of other school-backed productions and pep rallies where similar dance moves were involved.

"It illustrates the environment in which these girls have implicitly been shown what is acceptable," said one parent, who did not want to be identified. "The video also includes what is acceptable media production, what is sanctioned but also promoted by the school administration, with dances similar to 'twerking.'"

One former educator was brought to tears during her two-minute plea, in which she said, "Please, be strong enough to stand up for these girls and their future … How would you feel?"

Attorney Ruth Hargrove, who is representing an unidentified student, is asking for an apology and for the sexual harassment disciplinary charge to be expunged from their student record.

"She made a couple of moves that I would best describe as a cross between Elvis Presley and Mary Lou Retton," said Hargrove. "Everybody deserves due process, even the guilty people. The problem for my client is she's not guilty."

Most of the girls are A or straight-A student-athletes with clean records -- until now.

Following the meeting, trustees said the decision to remove the sexual harassment charge from the students' records would have to be made by the school's principal.

School Board President John Lee Evans released this statement which reads in part:

"It is not the purview of the board, according to the California Education Code, to overturn any suspensions, only expulsions. Disciplines at the school site, and suspensions, are under the authority of the principal by Ed Code."

Some parents expressed disappointment with the school board's decision. One mother, who didn't want to be identified, said she was furious with the board for not going to bat for the students. She said she plans to take the battle to court.  

"I am so disappointed. We elected these people and they did nothing for us. We are going to have to hire attorneys and pay $20,000-$30,000 … that was money that would have gone to college. Now, it will be used in attorney fees," she said.

As of Tuesday evening, no lawsuits relating to this issue have been announced.

Earlier Tuesday, counselors at Scripps Ranch High School sent an angry letter to school board member Kevin Beiser after he recently questioned the school's punishment.

In the letter obtained by 10News, counseling staff at the school said, "When you voiced your opinion against the school the parents and students felt vindicated, further encouraging them to continue the fight, which has now gained negative global attention."

The counselors said they want Beiser to retract his statement.

Click here to read the letter

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