Warning: The contents of this article may be disturbing to some readers.
Little Falls parents accused school officials of failing to keep students safe and attempting to “cover up” a recent incident involving a disabled middle-school student during a school board meeting this week.
Parents who spoke at the meeting claimed a disabled, nonverbal autistic boy was “the victim of a horrible crime” at the hands of two other students in a bathroom last month. Superintendent Greg Johnson objected to some community members who have described the incident as a sexual assault.
He did, however, admit “a student in our district took a Snapchat of another student who was in the bathroom.”
“The picture did include nudity. The student who took the video shared it with a small group of other students. The district became aware of the video right away and took immediate action to report the matter to law enforcement, make the appropriate mandated reports, undertake mitigation efforts, and address student consequences,” he said in a statement shared with Alpha News.
He confirmed the student who recorded the video is no longer enrolled in the district.
“The boy who held the door shut and sent it out to the most people was only suspended for two days,” according to Cassie Fredregill, a Little Falls parent.
Fredregill, who attended the meeting, said the board is accusing parents of spreading misinformation and trying to “downplay” the incident.
“From what I understand, two boys took an autistic boy into the bathroom. One held the door shut while the other asked the student to undress from the waist down and perform inappropriate sexual acts, taped it on his cellphone, and sent it out on Snapchat,” Fredregill claimed.
According to Fredregill, the autistic child has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and should be accompanied by a para at all times while at school.
“I believe the school is trying to cover it up because they want everyone to believe that things that happen nationwide aren’t happening in Little Falls. I believe they don’t want the public to know because they’ll have to be held accountable,” she said.
Fredregill said she thinks the punishment was too light. It’s unclear if the student who recorded the video was expelled or voluntarily left the district.
Johnson said he “cannot and will not share any other description of the situation” in order to maintain “the data privacy rights of all involved in this matter.”
“It was handled swiftly, correctly, and with the support of our legal counsel. There was no need to send out a press release or anything like that because there was not any potential for harm beyond the one student victim,” he said, repeatedly acknowledging that the disabled boy was a “victim.”
Johnson concluded his statement by condemning “misinformation,” which “causes harm to students.”
“I do want to address the intentional spreading of misinformation,” he said. “This type of behavior, such as publicly writing that the student victim was ‘sexually assaulted’ by the other student, only serves to stoke fear and causes harm to students. I encourage parents or citizens who have questions or concerns to reach out directly to the district so that accurate information can be provided.”
Sheila Qualls is an award-winning journalist and former civilian editor of an Army newspaper. Prior to joining Alpha News, she was a Christian Marriage and Family columnist at Patheos.com and a personal coach. Her work has been published in The Upper Room, the MOPS blog, Grown and Flown, and The Christian Post. She speaks nationally on issues involving faith and family.