Arthur Hill High School Students Walk Out Over Suspension of Student who reported alleged sexual assault

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A group of Arthur Hill High School students walked out of class at noon Monday, Nov. 29, and marched nearly two miles in support of a student suspended after reporting an alleged sexual assault.

A petition and Facebook posts claim an Arthur Hill High School student reported an alleged sexual assault by another student to the school but was met with harsh, “victim-blaming” questioning from an administrator. The student was subsequently suspended, with the post claiming the alleged perpetrator went unpunished.

“The people of Saginaw demand that this student be immediately allowed back to school and that any punishments be taken off of her record with an apology from all the staff involved,” the post reads. “The people demand that the administrator/staff involved be investigated and punished for unfair and cruel and negligent treatment of a child under their care. And that the assaulter in this situation is brought to justice.”

Saginaw Public Schools Superintendent Ramont Roberts said the administration is aware of the situation and said the students were not suspended separately.

“Both students have been suspended pending investigation, based on information that the administration has received relative to the incident, which is normal procedure and part of due process,” Roberts said in a statement.

A group of about three dozen students managed to make the nearly two-mile trek from the school to the Saginaw County Governmental Center, where they demonstrated for a short time. Hundreds of students briefly left the building around noon, but the demonstrators said someone pulled a fire alarm while staff attempted to stop them from leaving the building.

“I’m very disappointed in the way that the school district has been handling this situation and the way that they are sitting here and victim-blaming everyone,” said Isabella Morales, an Arthur Hill junior who marched to the courthouse. “It’s just something that I’m not personally okay with, so I’m gonna be here and do what I have to do in order to let people know this is unacceptable.”

Students claimed this is not the first time a reported sexual assault has been blamed on the victim by administrators. One student said she had been through a similar situation and was told she had “put herself in that position.”

“They were trying to put that on me,” she said. “The boy was still in my class, and they kept telling me for weeks and weeks they were going to switch his classes and didn’t. It took a long time.”

A freshman said his friends went through a similar situation this year after reporting an assault and he wanted to stand up for them and others.

“It feels good because I know that something will happen since we made it here, and if we made it here we can really go anywhere right now,” he said.

Some students at the demonstration feared they would be suspended for their role in the walkout if they returned to school. It’s powerful that so many students came anyway, Morales said. Roberts said he did not have enough information to answer whether students would face disciplinary action related to the demonstration.

“It’s honestly kind of powerful to see this many people here knowing that we’re probably going to face a lot of consequences, talking about 20 days of suspension,” Morales said. “It’s cold and we’re all out here and we still walked. It’s kind of really powerful to show that they’re not going to get away with this. This isn’t gonna get thrown under the rug, they have to hear us.”

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