Missouri school district protects children from critically acclaimed books, but not from rape.

Vern Minor, Superintendent, Republic School District

This is one of the most outrageous stories I have ever come across. Via Jezabel, the family of a girl in Springfield, Missouri has filed a lawsuit against the Republic School District, claiming the girl was harrassed, sexually assaulted, and raped by a male student on school property.

The suit, filed July 5, alleges when the girl — a special education student — told officials about the harassment, assault and rape that occurred during the 2008-09 school year, they told her they did not believe her. She recanted.

The suit also alleges that, without seeking her mother’s permission, school officials forced the girl to write a letter of apology to the boy and personally deliver it to him. She was then expelled for the rest of the 2008-2009 school year and referred to juvenile authorities for filing a false report.

The suit notes that school officials did not report the girl’s accusation to law enforcement officials, as they are mandated by law to do. Not only that, they apparently didn’t even read the girl’s psychological evaluation–in the school’s files–which described her as “conflict adverse, behaviorally passive” and likely to “forego her own needs and wishes to satisfy the request of others around so she can be accepted.”

In 2010, the girl was “allowed” to return to school, and the harrassment and assaults continued.

In February 2010, the boy allegedly forcibly raped the girl again, this time in the back of the school library. While school officials allegedly expressed skepticism of the girl, her mother took her to the Child Advocacy Center and an exam showed a sexual assault had occurred. DNA in semen found on the girl matched the DNA of the boy she accused, the suit says.

The boy was taken into custody in Juvenile Court and pleaded guilty to charges, the suit says. The specific charges are not stated in the suit.

So there is no question whatsoever that the second rape took place–in the school library! But the school district’s response to the suit claims that the girl’s accusations are “frivolous and have no basis in fact or law.” They further claim that the girl “failed to…protect herself,” and so whatever happened to her was her own fault.

Ironically, this is the same school district that recently banned Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliant novel Slaughterhouse Five and Sara Ockler’s Twenty Boy Summer from their school curricula and libraries. The books were banned by school board members all of whom except one had never read either book, but had been shocked by newspaper column by a Missouri State professor.

Wesley Scroggins, a business professor at Missouri State University, who also pioneered a movement to reshape middle school sex-education classes in Republic’s schools, wrote in a column last year that Vonnegut’s classic contained enough profanity to “make a sailor blush,” and warned that “Twenty Boy Summer” was similarly dangerous.

“In this book,” Scroggins wrote, “drunken teens also end up on the beach, where they use their condoms to have sex.”

Apparently books about consensual sex are wrong, but rapes that take place in the school library are just fine. And if a girl reports being raped, she’ll have to apologize to the boy who did it for speaking up.

This case is very reminiscent of the case of the cheerleader in Texas who was forced to pay damages because she refused to cheer for her rapist, a basketball player. It also reminds me of the case in Muncie, Indiana, in which a girl was raped on school property, and when she reported it, school administrators interrogated the girl and held her for hours in the principal’s office, refusing to report the crime to police.

What is it with school officials who refuse to protect girls from sexual harrassment and rape? The mother of the girl in Muncie is also suing the school system as well as the 16-year-old rapist’s family.

I hope both of these families are successful and that having the pay the settlements will force these school districts to get serious about sexual assault.

Meanwhile, Republic school superintendent Vern Minor should be fired immediately.