LAMAR, JOHNSON COUNTY, Ark. — At a Lamar School Board meeting Monday night, protesting parents were told to wait a little longer for whatever punishment the district issues for three students accused of sexual harassment and assault.
A Title IX determination of responsibility, leaked by someone involved, states an audio recording was key evidence, and a warning, some of the details in this sexual harassment determination are disturbing.
In the locker room audio recording, the voices of three out of four accused boys were calling to inappropriately touch a student, among other lewd behavior. One even admitted, “I was raping” the student.
No punishment has come yet, but an independent decision-maker recommended 10 days suspension. Parents argued to their school board and superintendent that is not enough.
“We have a child here that says he’s raped someone or is raping someone, and they want to give him a ten-day suspension? Come on now,” Lamar Elementary school parent Bobbie Crinella stressed.
According to the Lamar School Board attorney Cody Kees, any suspension over 10 days is expulsion. A recommendation to expel a student can only come from the superintendent for the school board to approve.
He also says the superintendent’s hands are tied until due process is over and the investigation’s appeal process concludes. The 10 business day appeal window for this Title IX investigation ends Friday, July 15.
“The board could not have done anything and should not have done anything because the board has no role in the Title IX process at this point,” Kees asserted.
Lamar Schools Superintendent Jay Holland kept silent as the Title IX procedure was being discussed, but parents made sure their voices were heard.
“We are our children’s voice,” Mefford urged, but she also fears what the Superintendent may do. She said, “I think he’s just going to slap them on the wrist. I don’t think he’s going to take it seriously.”
According to the Title IX findings, there is an open criminal investigation into the allegations by the Lamar Police Department and Arkansas State Police.
Two other students stated that beginning in the Summer of 2021 through November 2021, the students experienced sexual assault by other students.
Another student stated that on March 8, 2002, while in the boy’s locker room, another student forcefully put his finger in the student’s rectum.
Joey McCutchen, Chip Sexton, and Stephen Napurano, represent the three students who were sexually harassed and sexually assaulted.
McCutchen stated, “We whole-heartedly agree with the decision-maker’s determination that the students were sexually assaulted, but strongly disagree with the punishment, which amounts to nothing more than a slap on the wrist. Conduct rewarded is conduct repeated.” McCutchen further stated, “There is nothing more important than the safety of children, and parents should always feel confident that their children are being kept safe at school. This also begs the question, where were those responsible for supervising these children when all of this was happening?”