I’m responding to your coverage of events that occurred at Culver City High School in December 2013, and were reported to school officials and police in January 2014. Your report seems to be based on allegations made in a recent lawsuit brought against the Culver City Unified School District on behalf of a female former student.
At a meeting on Friday, January 22 with CCUSD leadership, Lt. Jason Simms of the Culver City Police Department (CCPD) said that three sexual assaults occurred on campus. He also pointed out that only one of the individuals involved was charged with or convicted of a crime. That one student had already turned 18, and the crime he was convicted of was Illegal Sex Acts With a Minor. The young man received a sentence of 5 years probation.
Lt. Simms explained that the police department did a thorough investigation of the matter, but never found any evidence of a video or photos taken of any incident. He also said that our high school and school district handled the matter appropriately, contacting the police immediately and cooperating fully. Anyone who wants to check these facts can go to the statement on the CCPD Facebook page or contact Lt. Simms at 310-253-6258.
Because these were self-contained incidents involving minors, the school district, in consultation with the police department, determined that no one else was at risk, so no one without a need to know was informed of these incidents at the time. Such matters are kept extremely private both to protect students and as a matter of law. We only know now because a lawsuit was filed and made public; none of us are privy to the details of the case. Through all of this it is important to remember that the allegations in the lawsuit are allegations, not proven facts. They will have their day in court.
Before and after these incidents, Culver City High School has had a practice of continually reevaluating its security procedures. In the past year or so this has resulted in the installation of some surveillance cameras on school grounds and an increase in the time high school administrators spend daily walking the campus. Security officers have been patrolling the campus for years.
As the mother of a current high school student and a recent CCHS grad, this entire situation makes me feel sick.
It does not, however, make me fear for my son’s safety or for the safety of his friends, male or female. Nor does it detract from my appreciation of his teachers, his guidance counselor and all of the other high school staff who work so diligently on his behalf and on behalf of all of our kids.
I sincerely hope that people hearing about these events will not become fearful of sending their kids to our high school. I wouldn’t want the actions of a few students to cause people to think badly of our entire student body. We have so many amazing kids.
Want proof? Go to their concerts, their art exhibitions, their film screenings, their plays. Check out their sports teams, their robotics team and their garden club. Ask about their civic action projects, their internships and volunteer work. Talk with a teacher about how academically high achieving high school students are mentoring academically at risk students, or ask about the schedule change designed to help many more struggling students find their way to academic success. Go on our district website and sign up to receive Culver Currents Online, our district’s electronic newsletter— aside from attending CCHS PTSA meetings, it’s probably the best way to stay informed about the great stuff happening at our high school.
That doesn’t change how bad I feel about what happened, but I hope it helps to put it in perspective. I do not know how we prevent people from ever making mistakes or doing bad things, but it can’t be by running away when something bad happens. It has to be by seeking still better ways to reach our students and teach all of them self-respect and mutual respect. When bad things happen, we may cry, but then we must resolve to go forward with renewed effort.
Jody Reichel, President
Culver City Council of PTAs