Addressing a Concerning Issue
Dear BHS Faculty, Staff, Students, and Families:
We are writing to you this evening deeply concerned and in an effort to be fully transparent and open with our entire school community.
Over the past two days, we have been made aware of deeply upsetting allegations, accusations, and reports of sexual assault and sexual harassment between students. Students have posted very specific reports on social media of alleged incidents outside of school and have expressed concern with how we are reacting to those reports at school. A petition was also circulated online demanding accountability in these instances and for when allegations are made regarding school-based situations. A common refrain has been that we at school cover up or hesitate to address these issues out of concern for our personal reputations or that of Brighton High School. Our primary concern in this moment and at all times is for the health, safety, and well-being of our students. We ask that you immediately reach out using the information below if we can provide additional support in any way.
We also want you to know that we are aware of your concerns and we are listening to you. We are so proud that our students and our community are working together to keep one another safe. We take our commitment to, “If you see something, say something,” seriously and we are inspired that our students do too. We often say that BHS Believes that everyone has the right to attend school in an environment that is safe, welcoming, caring, professional, and free from harassment. We are unwavering in this belief.
It is important for all of you to know that without exception, the school works to address any reported allegations of sexual assault or sexual harassment immediately and in collaboration with victims, their families, and the Brighton Police Department.
Again, we support and work together with students and their families to report any alleged crimes to the Brighton Police Department. In addition, we work with students and their families to address any potential violations of school policy that may have taken place on school grounds or during school-related events. We consistently enforce the BCSD and BHS Codes of Conduct and Board of Education Policies. We have done this in the past and will continue to do this now and into the future.
Concerns raised in the petition and online should not be minimized. In fact, they have been addressed directly and are being acknowledged here. It is clear that we need to be reflective and clear in our efforts to support victims. We also believe that there are issues that may be causing confusion and should be clarified:
- We have a responsibility to inform students when their actions are being perceived by others to be harassment, bullying or in any way a violation of the Code of Conduct. This responsibility is not an attempt to silence victims or their supporters. No voice has been or will be silenced. Our role is to provide information regarding the impact of communication and to address issues when they are reported to us, especially when they are perceived to be an act that is causing or can cause a substantial disruption to the school environment.
- We are not a police agency and cannot investigate crimes or prohibit school attendance other than through the formal discipline process. Acts of this nature committed outside of school are subject to review and prosecution through the criminal justice system and are not subject to school discipline. We do not look the other way, ever. We report allegations to the Brighton Police Department or work with victims to do the same when they choose to do so. When students continue to attend school when an allegation regarding behavior outside of school is made, it is not because we are looking the other way. It is because they cannot be prohibited from attending school. When students are subject to school discipline due to an act committed at school and their suspension has ended, they again have a right to attend school.
We want to be VERY CLEAR to everyone that we take any and all allegations of sexual assault, harassment, bullying, violations of the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA), and/or cyberbullying seriously, without exception. Below, please find a list of resources we regularly utilize with students and families.
As your principal and superintendent, we take our commitment to the safety and well-being of our student body, faculty, and staff seriously and do our jobs with diligence, integrity, and with the needs of students as our highest priority. You have our assurance that this has been and will continue to be the case.
Dr. Hall and Dr. McGowan
Resources available to students to take action, report, and/or discuss concerns and come up with a plan:
- Trusted Adult/Family Member (parent, teacher, nurse, coach, club advisor, etc.)
- Counselors/Mental Health Professionals – (585) 242-5000, ext. 4803
- Lance Mitchell – School Social Worker – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Julie Bianci – School Social Worker – email@example.com
- Erin Merydith – School Psychologist – firstname.lastname@example.org
- Heather Gabriel – School Psychologist – email@example.com
- Administrators – (585) 242-5000, ext. 0
- SAFE SCHOOLS HELPLINE
- 1-800-418-6423 ext. 359
- Examples of safety concerns that you may want to report include:
- potential acts or threats of violence
- drug or alcohol use
- sexual assault, harassment, or abuse
- concern for someone’s mental or emotional health and well-being
- immediate assistance to a suicide counselor for prompt assistance and intervention if they so choose.
- You may also submit an anonymous report through the Safe School website at www.safeschoolhelpline.com or via text by messaging 66746 and then typing “TIPS” to begin the reporting process.
- RESTORE (information, options, support for individuals impacted by sexual violence)
- 24-Hour Hotline 585-546-2777
- WILLOW Domestic Violence Center
- 24-Hour Call Line (585) 222-7233 and 24-Hour Text Line (585) 348-7233
- Is this Abuse?
- BIVONA Child Advocacy Center – (585) 935-7800
- Brighton Police Department – 911