Thousands of sexual harassment offenses in California schools

Thousands of sexual harassment offenses in schools
Posted at 7:26 PM, Mar 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-12 22:45:50-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Across the state of California, there were more than 10,000 sexual harassment offenses, as defined by California education code that resulted in suspension, expulsion or disciplinary diversion.

A San Diego mother says her daughter was bullied and sexually harassed at school.

“She said that he would take her pencils from her,” said Myiesha Jackson. “If she tried to get them back he would stick them down his pants."

Jackson claims the male student didn’t stop there. She claims he took Play-Doh, made it into the shape of a penis and rubbed it on her daughter while making inappropriate sounds.

"I consider that sexual harassment,” said Jackson. 

An investigation report Jackson gave to Team 10 says the accused student admitted to rolling up the Play-Doh and holding it up while singing an inappropriate song that was sexual in nature, and the Play-Doh represented a male genitalia part, but the other student denied touching her with it.

At the end of the report, it lists an action play, basically separating both students at all points of the day so they wouldn’t come into contact with each other.

Jackson says that’s not what happened.

"The very day I brought her back she was in lunch, the line to get lunch, and they let him out of the office apparently, and he went and stood directly behind her,” she said.

Magnolia Science Academy- San Diego denied 10News’ request for an interview.

In an emailed statement an attorney for Magnolia Public Schools wrote:

“State and federal student confidentiality laws and our organization's policy prohibit MSA-SD from commenting on specific students or incidents in which they may be involved. MSA-SD is committed to the social, emotional and academic well-being of all its students. Any incidents that impact the well-being of a student are reviewed, investigated and responded to with the utmost urgency and thoroughness and addressed according to our internal policies protocols and legal requirements.”

Jackson’s daughter isn’t alone in her claims of sexual misconduct.

Team 10 discovered disciplinary actions for sexual harassment and sexual assault in public K-12 schools are on the rise in the state.

State records show more than 10,000 sexual harassment offenses, as defined by California education code that resulted in suspension, expulsion or disciplinary diversion.

In San Diego County, there were more than 900 total counts of offenses committed related to sexual harassment in the 2016-2017 school year. That’s a number that’s also up from the previous school year.

"It's more prevalent than parents recognize,” said Joel Levin with the group Stop Sexual Assault in Schools.

Using the state data, Team 10 discovered that despite the increase statewide, districts like San Diego Unified, Sweetwater Union High School District, and Oceanside Unified School District all had fewer total offenses that resulted in disciplinary actions or disciplinary diversion than previous years.

"If the numbers go down, they decline, that could be a sign that students are afraid of reporting or there's some sort of barrier to feeling comfortable to reporting,” Levin said. “Or, it could mean the school's policies are effective in reducing the incidents of sexual harassment.”

In Jackson’s case, she says she got an email from the CEO and Superintendent that says in part, “sexual harassment and/or bullying are NEVER acceptable on Magnolia campuses. Students who engage in these offenses are dealt with according to our student handbook. The young man who started this situation has been punished and continues to be regulated by staff according to the appropriate chapters of the student handbook.”

The handbook found on Magnolia Science Academy–San Diego’s website outlines grounds for suspension and expulsion related to sexual harassment and the schools Title IX, harassment, intimidation, discrimination and bullying policy.

In a statement sent to 10News Monday Caprice Young, CEO and Superintendent of Magnolia Public Schools wrote,

“We have a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment as well as harassment and/or bullying of any kind. When allegations of such conduct arises, we take appropriate action in line with applicable law. The emotional and physical well-being of all our students is our top priority. We are committed to providing all of our students with a safe and nurturing environment in which to learn and thrive."

Jackson says she wants parents to know sexual harassment and assault happens.

"This was an emotional situation that's probably going to be with her for life,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s daughter is still with the school, but she says she’s now in a homeschool program.

Jackson does have an attorney, and they are looking at their legal options.