Arlington parents, students concerned over alleged sexual assault and harassment incidents at school

Parents and students are speaking out and taking a stand against sexual assault and harassment in Arlington Public Schools (APS). They are now calling on administrators to step up to address the problems and be more transparent.

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The most recent case of sexual harassment being discussed on social media happened at Swanson Middle School. Students told their parents two weeks ago cheerleaders were being called sexual names and having their body parts touched inappropriately during the school day. The Swanson Middle School principal sent out a letter alerting families that cheerleaders were not respected or treated in a proper manner. Some say that was only revealed after the community caught wind of the incident which makes them now question – how many situations are not brought to light?

One APS father, Nathan Brinkman, sent FOX 5 a back and forth e-mail with the principal where he asks for more details, but she did not reveal any further information and instead – copied and pasted the original message. APS says they do not provide details on ongoing investigations.

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"I just want to know what is going on in my child’s school. It troubles me that Arlington Public Schools or at least Swanson Middle School appears to be of the view that parents don’t have a right to know what exactly is happening inside the walls of their own kid’s schools," said Brinkman. "I’m obviously very troubled by the news. I've read disturbing accounts from fellow parents online."

On Friday, October 22, hundreds of high school students here in Arlington walked out of class – to protest sexual assault and school administrators lack of action to prevent it or punish the bad actors. They believe a lot of cases are not being looked into.

Doorways, a nonprofit that helps address domestic violence and sexual assault, was invited to help students. Scotney Young was an invited speaker.

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"The students actually explained to me that there have been some incidents of sexual assault recently that were high profile, but this isn’t something that’s new to them. This is something that has come up," said Young.

FOX 5 asked Arlington Public Schools to see how many sexual assault cases have been reported so far this year. They directed us to a Virginia Department of Education website that’s supposed to keep track, but it was last updated in 2017.