Since last year, 134 Los Gatos – Saratoga Union High School District (LGSUHSD) students and alumni have come forward – mostly on social media – as survivors of sexual abuse and harassment, according to #MeTooLosGatos and From Survivors, For Survivors organizers tracking the claims.
In a series of news reports, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit has been examining the student-led movement since the spring. Our team spoke to former Los Gatos High School (LGHS) students Mia Lozoya and Lyssa Broomfield who say they were sexually assaulted by fellow students when they attended the school.
Their stories helped prompt a rally of about hundred people in Downtown Los Gatos Tuesday.
“I care a lot about seeing these schools held accountable,” said Heather Hennessey who was the rally’s keynote speaker. Hennessy, a former LGHS student athlete, recently came forward about her ongoing lawsuit against the school. She says her track coach repeatedly abused her in the 90’s.
“I reported to my head track coach that I had been abused and he had covered it up,” Hennessey told the Investigative Unit. Her accused attacker, Chioke Robinson, is awaiting trial and is charged with sexually assaulting several other young girls around the same time. Robinson has denied the allegations. His supervisor never responded to the Investigative Unit’s requests for comment.
In a statement to NBC Bay Area, LGSUHSD Superintendent Michael Grove said the school district fully supports students advocating for survivors of sexual assault and harassment.
“We are proud of those who speak out against this behavior as it has no place in our community,” Dr. Grove wrote. “We continue to listen to and engage with our students to better educate our community and prevent this heinous behavior and to support those who are survivors of it.”
Last August, LGSUHSD board members approved the hiring of the law firm Hirschfeld Kraemer to first investigate a single complaint. Then in the spring, the board tasked the attorneys to investigate broader concerns surrounding campus climate and student sexual assault and harassment at both its high schools: Los Gatos High School and Saratoga High School. To date, the district has been billed $32,619 for the inquiry, which is ongoing, according to Dr. Grove.
“I do feel like they’re trying to do something, but the way [the District is] handling it I don’t think is severe enough,” said Katy Hawk, a current LGHS student. “I don’t feel like they’re taking the proper actions to get there.”
This is the full statement Los Gatos-Saratoga Union High School sent to NBC Bay Area on 8/6/2021:
The District remains committed to completing a thorough inquiry into the intersection of campus climate and issues surrounding sexual harassment and abuse. This inquiry began last spring and will continue after school resumes this fall when we will gather more input from in-person interviews with students that were challenging to conduct last year when students were not on campus. There is no set timetable for completing the inquiry - it will conclude once we have gathered all of the relevant information and input needed. The results of this inquiry will inform our future work. From the start, we committed to sharing the findings of this inquiry with our community and we will do so once the inquiry is complete. To date, Hirschfeld Kraemer has billed a total of $32,619 for the broader inquiry.
Please note that this inquiry is only one part of our broader commitment and effort to combat sexual harassment and assault in our community. We’ve listened to our students and made a great deal of progress over the last year and we still have work to do, but we are committed to this work in both the short and long term. A key piece of this work is engaging our students in helping us to identify areas of need, developing potential solutions, and evaluating our efforts as our students often have amazing insight into this issue. Included here are just some of the steps we’ve taken with many more to come as this effort evolves.
- Reviewed and revised board policies related to Title IX and related reporting
- Updated the District’s extracurricular code of conduct to clarify expectations and consistently address misconduct under our jurisdiction
- Approved a 24/7/365 anonymous/conﬁdential tip line
- Implemented Year 1 of an ongoing four-year prevention education curriculum related to issues of discrimination, sexual harassment/assault, and bullying
- Expanded staﬀ, student and coach training related to sexual harassment and assault
- Implemented restorative practices to resolve conflicts and repair past harms
- Invested in leadership related to these issues including an expert to support Title IX coordination and education, a Director of School Culture & Climate/Curriculum and Instruction responsible for prevention and education efforts, and increased oversight and responsibility of the Assistant Superintendent of Student Services
- Established wellness centers at both high schools which includes the addition of clinical health outreach workers to provide additional support for students
|Candice Nguyen is an investigative reporter with NBC Bay Area. To contact her about this story or others, email firstname.lastname@example.org.|