By JENNIFER FITCH
Local police confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating allegations of a school-day sexual assault that occurred in February at Waynesboro Area Senior High School.
A Waynesboro woman concerned about hall monitoring and policies for how students’ misbehavior is reported addressed the Waynesboro Area School Board this week, saying her daughter was involved in the alleged assault.
She questioned why students are able to wander the halls during advisory periods, why the halls are not better monitored, and why surveillance cameras’ footage is not regularly reviewed.
Waynesboro Police Chief Mark King said Wednesday that the alleged assault was reported to his department.
“It is an active investigation,” King said, noting that he could not provide further details.
The alleged ninth-grade victim said an 18-year-old senior pushed her into a wall and would not let her pass him Feb. 17, according to her mother.
The girl said she was forced to perform oral sex on the senior after she had signed out of a morning advisory period to “roam the hallways,” her mother said.
The Herald-Mail is not naming the woman and her daughter to protect the identify of the girl.
The school board met with the woman in a closed-door session Tuesday evening. Afterward, Schools Superintendent James Robertson said he needs to further investigate what happened, including the response by school officials.
High school Principal Chris Dennis would not address specifics of the alleged incident, citing the police investigation and student confidentiality. However, he said school officials are cooperating with police in their investigation.
Teachers who learn of or see potential crimes report them to the front office, Dennis said.
“We investigate, and if it’s deemed to be criminal behavior, we immediately report it to the police,” he said.
In a telephone interview Wednesday, the woman said she addressed the sexual assault with an assistant principal, who contacted police a few hours after they spoke.
The woman said she talked previously with another administrator about shadowing her daughter, whom she said has diagnosed mental health issues and has had previous problems related to the senior.
The woman, who was allowed to follow her daughter through school, said she developed concerns about drug activity.
“As I walked out in the hallway, as I was passing students, you could clearly smell marijuana,” the mother said.
The woman was not satisfied by the administration’s response to her questions about policing hallways or utilizing drug-sniffing dogs.
Another Waynesboro mother, Nancy Helman, told the school board Tuesday she, too, has concerns, some of which stem from a morning fight at the entrance of the school.
She claimed a boy was kicked in the forehead with a steel-toed boot when no one was staffing that entrance.
“All of our fights are reported to the police,” Dennis said, noting that only “extremely rarely” do fights result in someone needing medical attention.
Some teachers are assigned hall duty as part of their responsibilities, Dennis said.
Typically, more than one teacher is checking restrooms, stairwells and student passes at any given time during classes, he said.
Policy violations and fights have been on the rise in recent years, according to Dennis.
“Major disciplinary violations are still few and far between,” he said.
Dennis said he believes — both as a parent and a principal — that the school is safe.
“I have confidence we are responding accordingly to situations as they are presented to us,” he said.
Source : herald-mail