An online petition has accused Pine Bush High School of repeatedly mishandling sexual assault cases. As of Monday evening, more than 7,700 people had signed the petition.
The petition states that recently a student who was a victim of sexual assault went to the school for help. The school’s response was to give the perpetrator a maximum of five days out-of-school suspension.
“Keep in mind he received an equal punishment as someone who threatened to fight another student,” stated the petition. “The school treated a serial rapist (8+ women) to a cyberbully, equally.”
In addition, the petition alleges that while the high school preaches “No Place for Hate” they seem to fail to adequately assist victims of sexual assault. The document states that the same student who was suspended was then allowed to attend an overnight trip with many other potential victims. This then caused more situations to arise. There are numerous other instances of the school failing its students in abusive relationships.
One instance reported in the petition alleges the school sent a student back to class after they had marks all over their body from being beaten badly by their abuser on school grounds as well. Another example explained that the school forgot to document an instance of abuse in a student’s relationship.
“Pine Bush needs to be held accountable for the people who are being hurt constantly due to them allowing awful people to walk the halls with their victims,” the petition states. “The school should be HELPING those victims receive proper help and guidance through this. Helping them with police reports, talking to parents, checkups, etc. should ALL be done. The safety of their students should matter.”
Timothy O. Mains, superintendent of the Pine Bush Central School District, met with students last week regarding sexual assault at the high school. After meeting with the students, he wrote a statement that he hopes will encourage members of the community to report sexual misconduct whenever they experience it or hear about it. The statement can be found on the district’s website.
“The district has not and will not condone acts of sexual harassment, assault or other sexual misconduct,” Mains said in the statement. “We take such allegations extremely seriously and we believe that such actions have no place in society at large and certainly not in our public schools.”
He added that allegations of sexual harassment, aggression or abuse that come to the district’s attention are investigated consistent with the district code of conduct, as well as federal and state laws regarding sexual misconduct. While the district has been working most recently with a number of students who have reported being victims of sexual misconduct, they are never able to discuss or describe their responses because matters of student discipline are all confidential. Additionally, the district is reviewing its code of conduct and proposing an increase to the mandatory disciplinary consequence for forcible sexual offenses.
Mains noted that the district wants any student or staff member who believes that they have been the victim of sexual harassment or other aggression to let them know so that they can help. Pine Bush also wants to remind anyone who has knowledge of a student or staff member being the victim of sexual misconduct to let them know, since victims are sometimes reluctant to come forward themselves.
Those who have knowledge of an instance of sexual assault can notify the district via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 845-658-0918.