Cherry Creek School District students walk out in protest amid unlawful sexual contact case

Some students focused on allegation that is subject of Title IX investigation

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Students walked out at some Cherry Creek School District high schools and middle schools “to raise awareness of sexual assault,” according to letters the school district sent families.

One alleged case appears to be at the center of the concerns.

Five months ago, a female student made an allegation of sexual assault at Grandview High School against a male classmate, and there has been no clear resolution of the incident, Colorado Public Radio reported.

The walkouts occurred April 20, roughly a week after a KDVR story called attention to how the investigation of the case has unfolded.

A parent of the Grandview girl expressed frustration with how the school district has handled the investigation into his daughter’s allegation that the male student touched her inappropriately, the April 12 KDVR story reported.

The school district acknowledged the protests in two letters to families in late April.

“Today, some students walked out of the building to raise awareness of sexual assault. As an organization, we respect students' rights to peacefully gather,” the school district wrote in a letter dated April 20. “To ensure the safety of our students, we supervised and monitored the activity.”

A letter to families from Cherry Creek Superintendent Christopher Smith described the student walkouts as having taken place at multiple high schools and middle schools.

“I want to say that I stand in solidarity with victims of sexual assault and harassment,” Smith’s letter said. “I also applaud the courage and commitment of our young people who gathered peacefully yesterday and used their voices to call attention to critical issues.”

He added: “I also recognize that some students who participated in the walkout yesterday were focused on a specific allegation that is the subject of a Title IX investigation. We cannot release information about investigations involving students as we have a legal obligation to protect their privacy and provide due process for all students involved. The district has followed both Title IX and CCSD (school) Board policies in its handling of this matter.”

Title IX is a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance, the letter said.

“Let me be clear – CCSD takes ALL allegations of sexual assault, discrimination and harassment seriously,” Smith’s letter said. “We strictly follow all federal laws and regulations, including Title IX, as well as Cherry Creek School District Board policies, to address allegations.”

If families believe their child has been the victim of sexual assault, harassment or discrimination, they should “please call law enforcement,” the district’s April 20 letter said.

“If you or your child have information about something that could be potentially dangerous or harmful, you can anonymously report it through Safe2Tell,” the letter said.

The letter added: “If your student needs support at school or feels they are being harassed, bullied, or discriminated against, please report this information to a school administrator. Parents can also report allegations of discrimination or harassment to the equity compliance officer by sending an email to equitycompliance@cherrycreekschools.org.”

Smith listed the following organizations, which the letter said offer resources “that may also be helpful”:

• Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault at ccasa.org/for-survivors. “If you need or want help finding your local resource, contact info@ccasa.org *Please note, we cannot guarantee the confidentiality of emails sent to CCASA,” Smith’s letter said.

• The Blue Bench (formerly RAAP) at thebluebench.org. The Blue Bench’s mission “is to eliminate sexual assault and diminish the impact it has on individuals, their loved ones and our community through comprehensive issue advocacy, prevention and care,” the letter said.

• Project PAVE at projectpave.org. The organization’s mission “is to end violence by empowering youth to build healthy relationships,” the letter said.

• Sungate Kids at sungatekids.org. Sungate Kids is an organization “committed to creating a community where children can be safe and free from abuse,” the letter said.

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