‘Things have been swept under the rug’; students call for change in addressing sexual assault in Lawrence schools

photo by: Dylan Lysen/Lawrence Journal-World

A group of Lawrence students hold signs calling for the Lawrence school district to take action in improving policies for addressing sexual assault and harassment in its schools, during a school board meeting on Monday, June 28, 2021.

A group of current and former Lawrence High School students on Monday demanded action from the school district to address sexual assault and harassment in schools.

About 15 students appeared at the Lawrence school board meeting holding signs that said “Playing football does not excuse your actions,” “Justice delayed is justice denied” and “Students over sports.”

While the protest appeared to stem from a recent incident, Rachel Krambeer, a recent LHS graduate who spoke to the board during its public comment period, said more than a few instances of sexual assault and harassment had occurred at LHS that she felt had not been addressed.

“Things have been swept under the rug,” Krambeer said. “We need change, and we need to do better.”

Krambeer and others called on the board for policy changes that prioritize victims of sexual assault and harassment and asked that the district to be more transparent when it comes to investigating cases of misconduct, among other things.

Prior to hearing from the students, Superintendent Anthony Lewis said the district was committed to student safety. He said the district process for serious reports like sexual assault was to share those reports with law enforcement, which then investigates.

However, Lewis noted that when district disciplinary actions are taken, the district does not announce them publicly because of student privacy concerns. He said he understood that may be frustrating for some but it was a district obligation.

“It is my hope that we can work together because at the end of the day it’s our students’ safety that is of utmost importance to us,” Lewis said. “This is something we take very seriously.”

Additionally, Board President Kelly Jones said she planned to reach out to those who spoke to discuss the issue.

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