Parent of victim criticizes Brewton Schools’ code of conduct

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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The mother of an alleged victim of sexual assault stood before the Brewton City Schools’ Board of Education to give her opinion on how the school system’s current code of conduct addresses sexual assault and harasment during Monday’s meeting. The board was expected to vote the 2019-2020 school year’s code of conduct into place during the meeting. The mother, whom The Brewton Standard has elected to keep her name anonymous to protect the minor child, read a printed speech in front of the board and gave each member a copy of her speech.


“Since my own child ended up a victim in a criminal case from incidents that occurred on school campus due to your negligence,” the mother told the board members, “then I think it is clear for me to say that the policy presented to you for your consideration is a total failure. No change to it is simply unacceptable.”


She told the board members that she expressed her concerns with the code of conduct to each of the members before Monday. The mother’s speech addressed several areas of the code of conduct. She first addressed that the code of conduct does not mention sexual harassment, assault or abuse of any kind under the “It’s the Law!” section on page 15. However, the section does include teacher assault.


She then addressed the “Classification of Violations” section, pages 24-26 in the code of conduct. The mother described how the violations are broken up into four classes: type I, II, III and IV. She said this section does not mention first time or second time offenders. The “Student Transportation Categories of Violations” section does list punishments for multiple offender. She said by not including disciplinary action for multiple offenders, then the school is risking the chance of more students being victimized.


“What if the first or second offense is not properly documented or disciplined?” the mother asked. “What if a student commits a third offense but there is no written record for the incident? They will not be punished correctly, and in essence the victims, if any, will be victimized again.”


The mother also pointed out how the code of conduct fails to mention the school’s procedure for responding to complaints of sexual violence, which according to the United States Department of Education Title IX is required. The current code of conduct’s “Complaints and Grievances” section does not list the Title IX’s 11 guidelines for complaints of sexual violence despite Title IX stating “the following elements are critical to achieve compliance with Title IX.”


The code of conduct does list a four step process for submitting complaints to the school’s principal. She said she completed and submitted a complaint to the school, but she never received a response.


“Regardless of your failure to list these items, what is more concerning to me as a victim’s parent is that you failed to follow those guidelines as well,” The mother said to the board. “What happens when the school administration does not follow its own guidelines? I personally followed step one outlined in the code of conduct. Today, 452 days later, I still have not received a written response from any representative of Brewton City Schools.”


The mother also stated that the school’s Athlete Drug/ Alcohol Policy should include a zero tolerance policy for students indicted in a criminal proceeding.


“No child deserves to be failed by their school,” she said. “The policies and procedures are in place to protect them, and no employee of Brewton City Schools has the authority to pick and choose which ones get followed and for whom.”


Brewton City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kenneth Varner wouldn’t comment on the mother’s speech or the alleged sexual violence that occured on school grounds. The board did say they will be taking more time to consider the mother’s speech and if the current code of conduct needs alterations. Varner said the board will hold a special session on the matter, but the date and time of the meeting have not been released at this time.