'They Don't Believe Me:' Teen Claims Winchester Schools Refused to Protect Her from Alleged Attacker - NBC4 Washington

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'They Don't Believe Me:' Teen Claims Winchester Schools Refused to Protect Her from Alleged Attacker

A juvenile court put the alleged attacker on probation for abduction and sexual battery. The victim's mother says the school ruled the attack likely didn't occur

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    Girl Says VA School Won't Protect Her From Alleged Attacker

    A Virginia student plans to confront the Winchester school board after she says the administration refused to protect her from her alleged attacker. News4's Julie Carey reports. (Published Monday, June 25, 2018)

    A Virginia student plans to confront the Winchester school board after she says the administration refused to protect her from her alleged attacker.

    Francesca was 14 years old when she says she was sexually attacked by a boy she didn't know in a park.

    Documents from juvenile court show that the boy was placed on probation for sexual battery and abduction. He was also ordered not to have contact with Francesca.

    But when Francesca started school at John Handley High, she began running into the boy.

    "I can't function for the rest of the day," Francesca said. "It brings me back to, you know, the event."

    After a month, Francesca's mother, Danielle Bostick, says she began to push the issue with school officials.

    "My daughter's not safe here," Bostick said. "School has become a place of retraumatization and not learning."

    The family filed a Title IX complaint. The school determined that the assault had likely not occurred, Bostick said.

    "Despite criminal charges and later despite an adjudication order that put the perpetrator under court supervision for both sexual battery and abduction, they found that is was more likely than not that the incident did not occur," Bostick says.

    "They don't believe me," Francesca said.

    The family appealed, and on Monday Francesca plans to confront the school board face to face.

    Francesca says she wants to tell the board that she is a victim

    "What the school is doing is wrong and other people need to know that because otherwise they're going to continue doing this, and they're going to treat victims with hostility and injustice," she said. "I shouldn't give them power by being silent."

    The school refused to comment on a specific case, but detailed the division's harassment policies in a statement.

    You can read the entire statement here:

    "The Winchester Public Schools deeply cares about all of its students. We want all of our students to succeed here at WPS as we prepare them for their future. To ensure that all of our students learn and thrive from the educational environment we provide, we go to great lengths to ensure their safety and wellbeing. This includes a thorough review of any concerns or complaints brought to our attention, so that we can make well-informed decisions that are in the best interests of our students. When it comes to specific student matters, given our many obligations under state and federal law, as well as our own school board policies, to maintain the privacy and confidentiality of student records and information, it is not our practice to disclose student information in response to third-party inquiries. However, we can share with you information demonstrating, generally, our expectations and approach to complaints alleging prohibited harassment.

    "Our school division does not tolerate or permit prohibited harassment against our students and staff. This is clear throughout our school board policy manual, which is available on our website, www.wps.k12.va.us. Please refer specifically to policies JFHA and GBA, as well as their implementing regulations. We have other policies that also relate to prohibited harassment and discrimination. Our policies require a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation of any complaint involving prohibited harassment, including prohibited sexual harassment between two students. With regard to complaints involving sexual harassment, our policies require not only a finding of unwelcome sexual misconduct, but that this unwelcome sexual misconduct created what is referred to as a hostile environment in our schools.

    "Winchester Public Schools takes its responsibilities under these policies very seriously. We are also committed to redressing any behavior found in violation of our policies."

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