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Chenango Valley High School students protest over sexual harassment allegations

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 11:07 PM EDT
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BINGHAMTON (WBNG) -- Over 40 students staged a walk-out at Chenango Valley High School Monday, May 23 in protest of the district’s response to allegations of sexual harassment at the school.

On Thursday, May 19 a group of students met with Chenango Valley School District Superintendent Dr. David P. Gill to bring forward their claims of harassment involving other students.

Gill addressed the student’s concerns in a letter that was sent out to families on Friday, May 20.

However, students at the protest said they feel like they are not being heard or taken seriously by school administrators.

“We encourage the school to change because we do need to be heard, and we are sick and tired of being harassed,” said Chenango Valley junior Anesia Christian-Tas.

Elizabeth Zandunk, who is also a junior at the high school, said she started a petition in response to the sexual harassment allegations.

“The petition is basically to help end the way all the higher authorities treat us, and how they don’t really do anything when it comes to serious issues,” Zandunk said.

Following the protest, the school district sent out a second letter to families.

The full letter is posted below:

This letter is being sent to you as a follow-up communication to the letter that was sent to families on Friday, May 20. We wanted to further update you that allegations involving students were brought to our attention on Thursday, May 19, during a meeting between a group of students, myself, our assistant superintendent, and a high school social worker. These students also presented additional concerns, including some arising from what they see as broader cultural issues at the school.

We are taking these concerns very seriously and are determined to get to the bottom of both the specific allegations involving students as well as the broader cultural issues potentially affecting our community.

First, we are investigating the specific allegations of misconduct. Once that investigation is concluded, we will take appropriate action as warranted. While New York State law prevents us from making public the outcome of certain matters, I assure you that the school is treating this matter with the utmost seriousness.

As you may know, approximately 30-40 students walked out of the high school building in protest around noon today. Students have a right to peacefully protest, and they exercised that right appropriately today. During these protests, a parent entered the school building without going through security. Our safety plan was immediately put into action, and the parent left the building without incident.

Because we are also troubled by the broader cultural issues that some of our students communicated, we are seeking Board approval to retain an outside law firm with no prior connection to our school district, to conduct an impartial investigation into these issues.

The board is in the process of selecting a firm which will have extensive experience with investigations of this nature. This will be determined at a special board meeting that will be held in the next day or two. Information on this meeting will be posted on the district website as soon as possible. We will publicly announce the firm’s name in the coming days.

As noted above, we are constrained in what we can share about specific allegations, as they relate to students. However, we understand this is troubling news and we are here to listen to your concerns. Please feel free to reach out to your child’s school counselor who will be your point person on the school’s response to these issues.

We also encourage anyone to report any concerns through our anonymous reporting system, Sprigeo. This can be found in multiple areas on our district website (www.cvcsd.stier.org).

This is a developing story. Stay with 12 News for more information.