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Sexual harassment and racial discrimination alleged at Eureka, Loleta schools
EUREKA- Two school districts on the North Coast were charged Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California for racial and sexual discrimination. In the federal civil rights lawsuit parents of students in the Eureka City Schools District and the Loleta Union School District allege that top officials subject Black and Native American students to both sexual and racial harassment.
"It is very important that we get to the bottom of this and figure out exactly what happened and figure out if there is any merit to any of these allegations," said Eureka City Schools Superintendent Fred Van Vleck.
The allegations claim frequent use of blatant racial slurs toward both Black and Native American students without any discipline from school staff,
"In the student handbook it says Eureka City Schools will not tolerate any type of racial, sexual, gender, harassment or discrimination against any students at all, it is just absolutely intolerable," said Van Vleck.
Zane Middle School is one of two schools in the district where the alleged incidents are believed to have taken place, some of the allegations include students slapping buttocks and grabbing the breasts of other students on school grounds.
"They are definitely under-staffed, there are too many kids and so the teachers just turn a blind eye to a lot of the things," said parent Kelly Sprague.
Sprague’s son attended Zane Middle School two years ago, and said he was one of many who fell victim to sexual harassment, and it was not until he came home with bruises on his body that she brought her complaints to the school, but was left empty-handed,
"The bruises were pretty significant, you know he is young and does not have a whole lot of mass to his chest. They were all over on both sides of his chest,” she said.
It is called "titty-twisting," an act in which someone grabs the chest of another person and twists the skin until it bruises, something the ACLU alleges school staff witnessed and in some cases participated in.
Van Vleck said, "If there was actual discrimination or anything to the level of what was alleged, we will handle that in accordance with our board policy and do everything we can to make sure the harassment and discrimination is not happening."
Van Vleck said the school district will continue to investigate the allegation to get to the bottom of it, "The number one thing we want to take care of is our students... we do not want them to have to deal with those types of things."
The ACLU has also filed a lawsuit with Loleta Union Schools, alleging that staff at Loleta Elementary School physically assaulted Native American students and used racial slurs. News Channel Three reached out to the Superintendent of the school district Thursday but did not hear back.