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Did LAUSD overreact to Taft High prank?

February 27, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Parents and faculty members at Taft High School are telling the Los Angeles Unified School District that it went overboard in disciplining six employees who may have known about the alleged incident, including the school's principal. Parents and faculty held a rally Taft High School in Woodland Hills Friday afternoon.Parents join William Howard Taft Senior High School faculty to denounce what they call unfair treatment. District officials removed six high-level employees, including two coaches and head principal Sharon Thomas.

"Thomas is the best one I've ever worked for, and I've worked for four principals," said history teacher Gil Whitley. "She's fantastic."

The district also confirms a school police officer was reassigned. The L.A. Police Dept. is investigating whether the staff knew of an alleged hazing incident involving the boys volleyball team, and whether they reported it immediately, as required by law.

"There was no nudity. There was no penetration. There were no stitches. There was no hospital visits," said parent Leslie Piatt.

Leslie Piatt's son is on the volleyball team. She says it was a harmless prank.

"It was water, there was water and wetting involved," said Piatt. "And you know, that's it -- with water."

"Hazing is, you know, when you make them do things that they don't want to do. That's my interpretation of hazing," said parent Rennie Santhon. "I think that a bunch of boys harassed a freshman."

Teachers say they are trained to report child abuse. They get police bulletins. District officials concede there are no guidelines for students defining hazing and when to report it.

"I've been here for 15 years, and I just saw the first bulletin last week," said Rosalyn Savage, textbook clerk.

"I think there's humiliation, but there was no physical abuse," said Leslie Piatt. "But you know, there's always a degree of ... it's ambiguous."


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