Despite the growing awareness about sexual harassment and assault in American public schools, it’s clear the most vulnerable students’ voices are still being silenced. An anonymous 15-year-old girl with developmental disabilities in Brooklyn was suspended from her high school after reporting a gang rape to administrators, according to her lawyer.
The student, who the Daily News says has an IQ of 71, was walking down the hallway at the Teachers Preparatory High School when seven male students pulled her aside and sexually assaulted her in 2016, according to a federal lawsuit. After she allegedly reported the incident, the school investigated the situation and concluded that the reported assault was consensual, proceeding to suspend the student from school.
“My client is a 15-year-old girl of color on public assistance with a severe developmental disorder who was gang-raped at her Brooklyn school and then suspended for it,” Carrie Goldberg, the young girl’s attorney, said according to the Daily News.
Despite the fact that the NYPD arrested and charged one student with sexual misconduct and sexual assault, the case was essentially hidden by administrators as the student remained suspended. When the Daily News contacted the school to see if any of the seven students allegedly involved were punished, the administration referred to privacy laws and refused to say.
Two months after the incident, the New York City Education Department reversed the suspension, allowing the teenage girl to return to class. But in the wake of the assault, she faces multiple mental and physical issues, including sleeplessness, extreme anxiety, PTSD, and skin rashes, according to the Daily News.
It remains unclear if the arrested and charged student was ultimately convicted, as the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office explained to the Daily News that the case was sealed. But either way, the case suggests that transparency remains minimal in public school systems when vulnerable children–like students of color or disabled students–report incidents to officials.