The Kansas City, MO, School District said they will work to make schools safer after a student said she was raped by classmates at Southwest Early College Campus last week.
In a recently released police report, police said the 17-year-old victim told them she had also been assaulted a few weeks prior and believed one boy was involved in both attacks.
Police said they were contacted Thursday about 12:15 p.m. by the victim's friend and a school counselor. Police arrived and found the victim crying and unable to speak, but her friend told officers she believed the girl was assaulted.
The victim told an officer she was walking to class with her friend when two male students, ages 14 and 15, asked her to come over to them. She refused, kept walking and eventually dropped her friend off at her class.
While walking back the way she had come, police said in their report she told them that one of the alleged assailants grabbed her by the neck and began choking her while the other helped lift her legs, carry her up a flight of stairs and into small room with desks. It was there, she said, the 15-year-old raped her while the 14-year-old waited outside.
After the attack when the second boy came back into the room, the police report said the girl ran away and got her friend out of class and the two told a school counselor.
The news of the rape has students and parents on edge.
"I'm a tough girl. I can handle myself, but it's worrying me," said Makayla Estell.
"I'm very concerned, not only for my daughter, but the next one," said her father, Otis Hooker. "It can happen to anybody … anybody's child."
The officers who responded to the attack report found that the small classroom in question is usually locked and secured.
Kansas City Public School Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green said he doesn't want anything like this to ever happen again. The incident prompted school officials to take extra security measures at Southwest.
"We spent the morning, me and my security team, looking at different things we can do to guard against this happening again," Green said.
He said the area where the girl was assaulted, near a stage area, had been roped off.
"We have construction going on that normally would be sealed off become accessible, where someone can jimmy a lock, which is what happened in this case," Green said.
He said they will be installing more security cameras and conduct follow-up training with staff to recognize inappropriate behavior as well as talking to students.
"A means for students who sense that something is wrong to report right away and not wait," he said.
In the police report, the 17-year-old told police she had been sexually assaulted before by one of the two boys, but she didn't report it. She said she had a class with her two recent attackers.
The boys were taken into juvenile custody where they are awaiting charges.
Green detailed the school district's changes in a letter.
Dear KCPS family:
Maintaining student safety and health is one of the highest priorities of the Kansas City Public Schools (KCPS). As such, I want to inform you about an atypical incident that occurred recently, and the steps we will take ensure our schools are a safe place for students moving forward.
Last week, a student at Southwest Early College was a victim of a sexual assault. First and foremost, we are thankful the student victim is receiving family support and proper medical care, as well as support from KCPS and our counseling team. We will continue to do everything within our scope to aid in her recovery. Meanwhile, police were immediately notified and the young men that were allegedly involved have been taken into custody.
The next step for the Southwest community, and our school system as a whole, is to support students moving forward. This means becoming more aware and vigilant while increasing education for students in this area. In conjunction with the KCPS Safety and Security Committee established a year ago, we commit to taking the following steps to further protect students:
Increase safety awareness training for employees through our SafeSchools web-based training program.
Instituting weekly safety reviews at each school; the discussion will include principal, security leaders, and Facility Services staff.
Immediately review the condition of all doors and locks to ensure proper operation. An emphasis will be placed on ensuring securing staff work areas and closed classrooms, and restricting access to isolated building areas.
Continue upgrading closed-circuit security camera systems to provide additional coverage at schools.
Reinforcing adult supervision of students during lunch, recess and passing periods.
In addition, we need your help in supporting the student that was impacted by this horrific act, and for ensuring such instances do not occur again within our schools. We strongly encourage anyone aware of potential or real instances of sexual assault to immediately report them to our Parent Information Line at (816) 418-7556. You do not need to include your name in the report. The phone line is operational from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. If you are uncomfortable with that option, please call Kansas City Police at 911.
Again, KCPS is thankful the student impacted in this atypical incident is receiving proper care and support. This occasion is a reminder that we must remain vigilant and proactive in protecting the health and safety and students. KCPS will do all it can to reduce the chances of such incidents happening in the future.
R. Stephen Green, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools
Kansas City Public Schools
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