Handling of alleged sexual battery incident at school questioned by parent

by stephen milligan - the walton tribune

Mother ‘disappointed’ over decision to allow her daughter to be around ‘dangerous predator’ at YMS

A local mother claims the Walton County School District has not done enough to protect her child from alleged sexual battery at Youth Middle School.

“I’m so upset and disappointed over this whole ordeal,” Heidi Price, the mother of an eighth grader at YMS, said. “I’m really disappointed with the school board.”

Price claims the school system has failed to do enough to ensure her child, and other girls at the school, do not have to attend classes with a fellow student accused of inappropriately touching several girls.

“The school administration has inappropriately decided to allow a dangerous predator to return to the same school where he committed several sexual assaults and terroristic threats against other students,” Price said. “A male student sexually assaulted my 13-year-old daughter on multiple occasions. At least three other female students were assaulted by this same individual and I believe school officials were well aware of the dangerous situation they allowed to exist. Clearly, the only acceptable action based on these acts is his immediate and permanent removal from this school.”

Instead, Price said the male student was sent to the alternative school and is scheduled to return to the YMS campus after the holiday break.

“I do not think my child should have to be around her assailant,” Price said. “My child is the one being punished because he’s allowed back.”

According to the incident report from the Walton County Sheriff ’s Office, a deputy responded to YMS in response to complaints by Price and her husband on Sept. 12. Price’s daughter claimed the male student had touched her privates and her chest, poked her in the butt and rested his hand on her thigh, as well as threatening to do more if she objected to his behavior.

The male student reportedly said he was simply joking and tickling her, as well as alleging that Price’s daughter and the other girls had mocked him in racially charged terms, including phrases like “monkey” and “field slave.”

Combined with similar statements from other girls in the class to Price’s daughter, the WCSO chose to charge the boy with sexual battery. The case is still pending in juvenile court.

Price says the incident has been traumatic for her child.

“As a result of these incidents and this unacceptable decision, she has displayed extreme issues of depression, anxiety, PTSD and mental anguish,” Price said. “How can my daughter be expected to return to this school if this decision stands?”

Price said the system has offered to allow her daughter to attend another school, but said that’s the wrong approach. “All the school system offered was to let my child go to another county school,” Price
said. “She’s done nothing wrong. Why do I have to pull my child?”

School officials declined to speak on the case, citing legal restrictions on student information, but said all protocols have been followed at all times.

“The Walton County School District is committed to providing safe and orderly learning environments and holds students accountable for actions that violate the Student Code of Conduct,” the school system responded in a prepared statement. “Violations of the Code are grouped into three levels (Level I, Level II and Level III). Before determining the level of a violation, the principal or assigned administrator will review the facts and consult with the individuals necessary to make this determination. Once the level of the violation has been determined, age-appropriate and progressive disciplinary consequences are implemented. Due to federal privacy laws, the Walton County School District cannot share specific details about the incident or comment on student discipline records.”

Price, however, wants more.

“I would like him removed from Walton County schools,” Price said. “I’m not just doing this for my child, but for all the girls involved here. I’m doing this for all of them.”

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