Immediately Reinstate Dominic Conti as Senior Class President and Remove the Suspension from his Record
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Westlake High School senior Dominic Conti stood up to a member of the school's football team after the player had repeatedly sexually harassed Dominic's fifteen-year-old sister. Despite reports of the ongoing harassment to the school administration, no action was taken to reprimand the offending football player. When Dominic and his father confronted the player, the player allegedly lunged at Dominic who deflected the blow in self-defense. Consequently, it was Dominic who was suspended for five days and stripped of his position as Senior Class President. He was not given due process, no formal investigation was made, and any attempts made by the Conti family to discuss the situation with the administration were rejected.
According to the CBS report ...
Dominic, his father, Lawrence, and a school security guard confronted the boy at a game that night in an attempt to “escort the player to school administration after he again sexually harassed the girl,” a statement said.
“That’s when [the player] lunged at me and my dad and he threw a punch. In self defense, I pushed down his arm,” he said.
The football player was suspended for two days for fighting.
Dominic, a 4.4 GPA student, insists he never threw a punch at the football player and explained to the principal that he only acted in self-defense.
“I looked him in the eye and I said, ‘Mr. Lipari, I do not regret protecting my sister,’” Dominic said.
The family also filed a harassment claim and requested a restraining order against the football player in October.
The administration of Westlake High School and the Conejo Valley Unified School district need to be held to account for their protection of a sexual predator on their campus. Dominic Conti acted in self-defense and defended his sister's honor — only to be penalized.
Westlake High School's Mission Statement states that they mean to "provide a comprehensive education in a safe and positive learning environment; prepare studets to function academically, vocationally, culturally, and socially as responsible citizens; encourage personal integrity, pride and the life-long pursuit of knowledge and well-being; prepare students to make a meaningful contribution to an ever changing society."
The administration at WHS failed to live up to their mission when they did not provide a "safe" environment after allegations of sexual harassment were brought to their attention. WHS administration claims that the harassment was reported to "the wrong person." According to the US Department of Education, there is no "wrong person." Whomever receives the complaint is obligated to report it through the proper channels. According to the USDE — "Regardless of whether the victim files a formal complaint or requests action, the school must conduct a prompt, impartial, and thorough investigation to determine what happened and must take appropriate steps to resolve the situation."
The only steps WHS took were side steps. No investigation was made and any inquiries were far from impartial as they refused to speak to witnesses who would corroborate Dominic's story.
They mean to "prepare students to function ... as responsible citizens; encourage personal integrity ..."
WHS punished Dominic Conti for being a responsible citizen when he stood up to a bully for his sister's honor and they, in fact, discouraged his personal integrity when Principal Lipari accused Dominic of being a "vigilante" and then dimissed Dominic's concerns about how Principal Lipari's actions would affect him by saying "bummer for you," according to testimony given to the board (at 14:14).
The actions of Westlake High School are shameful and an embarassment to the community. As an alumnus of Westlake High School, I am ashamed of my alma mater in regards to this incident and they should be held to the same high standards of excellence they purport to demand of their students. While they claim to foster a safe environment for all students, it is painfully clear that the WHS administration—and Principal Lipari in particular—are only interested in selectively supporting certain students.
Sexual harassment is intolerable, especially on a public school campus among students. The reinstatement of Dominic Conti as Senior Class President and removing the suspension from his record would show that Westlake High School not only recognizes, but rewards outstanding citizenship, encourages students to stand against harassment, and supports their students when they show exemplary moral fortitude.
The students of Westlake High School deserve to have a campus where they can feel safe from harassment and bullying and an administration that not only encourages such an environment, but has a zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual harassment and bullying, regardless of a student's affiliation with a particular team.
Dominic Conti stood up for what is right. This petition is to show that he is not standing alone.
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