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Oakland Tech Students Walk Out to Protest District's Sexual Harassment Policy

OAKLAND (CBS SF) -- Hundreds of Oakland Tech High School students walked out of class late Wednesday morning to protest claims that Oakland Unified officials are ignoring complaints of sexual harassment and assault.

The walkout began at about 10:30 a.m. at the school at 4351 Broadway.

Students told KPIX that incidents of sexual misconduct are seemingly going unpunished. They took the streets Wednesday, marching two miles from the Oakland Tech campus to district headquarters.

Students said the sexual harassment incidents have been verbal and violent. One major issue they have is that they claim the attackers are still in school, meaning victims and perpetrators can end up in the same room, increasing the trauma inflicted on the victims.

"We all come from mothers. We all come from women. I have a sister, I have a mom who have experienced sexual harassment in their time," said Oakland Tech senior Jules Comui. It's really intolerant to support the people that you live. Right here we are supposed to be a community and feel safe when we're learning at school and that's the only way we can learn at school. If half of our student body doesn't feel safe, then something needs to change."

"They put me in a meeting with them earlier as kind of the head organizer," said Oakland Tech junior Amara Romero, who helped stage the walkout. They wanted me to cancel it, they wanted me to postpone it. I said, 'No!'"

The students sent district officials a lengthy list of demands, calling for a safer, better policy to address sexual misconduct, survivor support systems, immediate and transparent investigation into incidents, as well as staff training and workshops.

The district spokesperson said Oakland Tech staff will be doing development training related to sexual harassment to make sure students concerns are addressed. The district says it has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to sexual harassment.

Beginning next week, all Oakland Tech students will take classes on sexual misconduct. Eventually all Oakland Unified high school students will be required to take the course.

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