Justice for innocent girl

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Kierstin is a 14 year old girl who has been accused of making terroristic threats to staff members and peers at her school. She qualifies for protection under section 504 and her school is supposed to provide 'reasonable' accommodations so that she can have access to an education. Instead, they failed to properly follow a 504 plan and neglected to protect her from sexual violence at school, and are continuously causing untold damage. Worst of all, when she reported that she had been sexually harassed by a boy at school, which was extremely difficult for her to do with her disabilities, they not only completely ignored her, but they took measures to protect the boy. They filed a claim against her alleging that she had bullied the boy whom she had just reported to them... Two days after she reported him! Her complaint was never investigated, and it would seem that the school is trying to silence her by criminalizing her. The boy who she reported as having made sexually harassing comments to her and her friends now claims that she made terroristic threats to him, which is completely false. The school completed a title 9 compliance investigation where several students claim that she made no such threat, yet the school suspended her and filed a police report any way.

She is 13 and facing felony charges and the boy who made sexual comments to her is allowed to remain at the school, with absolutely no consequences for his actions and no official documentation that there was ever a report made by Kierstin, other than the possibility that a friend of hers may have recorded the report that Kierstin had filed.

People need to have a clear understanding of the persistent problems involving sexual assault and the vulnerability of those who have disabilities, and the importance of advocating for the rights of such individuals particularly since some of those disabilities make asking for help extremely difficult if not impossible.

This is a situation where a child with a mental disability found the courage to seek help and what she got for her efforts was the most obvious case of retaliation at the hands of a school that I have ever heard of. It's absolutely disgusting and  people need to know the truth about what is happening.

Kierstin remains in custody, not allowed to return to her home with her loving family and her pets who bring her such comfort. She has no criminal record and has pleaded with her public defender and probation officer to let her go home, as she is not a threat and has no intention of bringing harm to anyone. She is awaiting trial after entering a plea of not guilty to felony charges, meanwhile this boy could be terrorizing more innocent and vulnerable children at this school right now as you read this.

Of further concern to me is that nearly half of the students at this school are reported to have enrolled having already qualified for either 504 accommodations or special education services under an IEP. The website reports that 40% of the students receive Special Education Services, 'mostly due to emotional and behavioral disorders and Autism spectrum disorders.' This is concerning because all of these students could be at risk for sexual abuse if this boys actions are not addressed.

As a staff member of a public school it is greatly disturbing that this is happening at this Charter School and I feel that the behavior of the staff at this school is a disgrace to all education professionals. Kierstin Countryman is innocent, and the charges against her should be dropped. The only criminals in this matter are the teachers at this school who failed to report allegations of sexual harassment under Title 9 and who participated in false reports against Kierstin Countryman as a means of retaliation. Kierstin's family has filed a report with the US Department of Education under Title 9 compliance, as well as with the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division but that is not enough! Kierstin is still facing legal charges for something she did not do!

The boy who made the sexually harassing comments is also not in need of legal charges... but rather, mental health intervention services. Children do not just make comments of a sexually harassing nature to peers for fun, they do it because they are reaching out for help. According to one study, a large portion of children who sexually harass other children have themselves been the victim of such sexual misconduct (Hill & Kearl, 2011). We need to stop the vicious cycle before it causes any more damage! 

Free Kierstin Countryman and hold her school accountable for their actions!

#schooltoprisonpipeline, #educationnotincarceration, #SSAIS, #JusticeforKierstin!

References:

Hill, C., Ph.D., & Kearl, H., M.A. (2011, November). Crossing the Line, Sexual Harassment at School. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from https://www.aauw.org/files/2013/02/Crossing-the-Line-Sexual-Harassment-at-School.pdf
Published by AAUW 1111 Sixteenth St. NW Washington, DC 20036 Phone: 202/785-7700 E-mail: connect@aauw.org Web: www.aauw.org Copyright © 2011 AAUW All rights reserved Printed in the United States First printing: November 2011 Library of Congress Control Number: 2011940886 ISBN: 978-1-879922-41-9

 

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