PROSPR Now: Pine Richland Volunteer Parent Group Calls District's Response To Sexual Assault Allegations Into Question
Trigger Warning: This story details an account of sexual assault, which may be difficult for some to read.
GIBSONIA (KDKA) - Silenced no more.
That's what a new group of parents and students vowed at Monday night's Pine Richland School Board meeting.
The group, PROSPR Now, stands for Protect Our Students in Pine and Richland Now.
It calls itself a volunteer parent alliance and called into question the district's response to past alleged sexual assault allegations.
A former student, along with her parents, addressed the meeting at the meeting, alleging the district "inadequately" responded to multiple complaints of sexual assaults, calling it a "pattern."
"This is happening everywhere," said Tom Baxter, president of PROSPR Now. "Sexual assault and sexual harassment of kids in K-12 schools are going mostly unaddressed."
The group claims there's an unaddressed pattern of behavior by the district when it comes to handling complaints. Something the district denied Monday.
Watch as KDKA's Briana Smith reports:
"We allege, in our opinion, not properly responding to allegations of sexual assault and action and inaction that intimidates victims and reporter and complainants," said Baxter.
It's personal for Baxter.
His daughter, Ana, talked publicly for the first time Monday.
"I was raped on January 7, 2019, at the high school on a Monday and it was very, very awful. I was scared during the whole thing I couldn't move or yell when somebody would come to the door," she recalled.
Ana hopes her speaking out encourages other students to come forward, if they feel like she feels.
"Everyone needs to know that you're not alone, no matter what and that you're going to get through it," said Ana.
The Pine Richland School Board sat and listened Monday as the Baxter family addressed the room.
Solicitor Emily Mueller read a prepared statement, saying:
"The district and law enforcement have worked extensively together and separately to investigate these allegations and all circumstances surrounding them- timely, completely, and in accordance with the law." She continued, saying, "We have at all times been and remain fully committed to and engaged in providing and maintaining a safe and healthy school environment for all students."
The group PROSPR Now is asking for parents and students to come forward if they experienced something similar over the past 10 years.
Baxter tells KDKA he hopes to present any gathered evidence to the district, in hopes of creating a "clean slate."
The district provided KDKA with a statement, saying:
"The PRSD Board and Administration are fully committed to providing and maintaining a safe and healthy school environment for all students. We respect the right and ability of community and school members to appear in a public forum such as a board meeting to speak. We typically do not respond to public comment during meetings. However, we did so at the August 2nd board meeting because we strongly disagree with some of the statements made by speakers. For the confidentiality of those involved and other legal reasons, we cannot go into detail, except to say that both the district and law enforcement have worked extensively, together and separately as appropriate to investigate allegations and all circumstances surrounding them, timely, completely, and in accordance with the law."
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