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ACLU Warns Tehachapi School District: Sexual Harasment Must End

Potential sexual harassment which may have led to a teenager’s suicide, prompted the teen’s mother, Wendy Walsh to contact the American Civil Liberties Union. The mother, along with her attorney submitted a seven page letter to the Tehachapi Unified School District. The letter requests the school district to take action to respond with a satisfactory remedy for the alleged ongoing sexual harassment.

stop_sign-200x218.jpgThe attorney has not yet filed a lawsuit against the school district but instead is hoping for a more positive outcome. The attorney filed a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights as well, asking the organization to investigate the school district.

The mother wants to understand why the school district did not take action when she complained about her son’s treatment throughout the years. Seth Walsh was 13 years old.
The Tehachapi Unified School District’s superintendent says that federal investigators have interviewed staff, teachers, principals and students on December 15th and 16th.

Walsh states that her son began reporting problems in the 5th grade. He later reported problems in middle school. Walsh filed reports to teachers and administers. In one instance, Seth asked for help to which a teacher responded, “That’s right, you do need help.” Later, the mother took the boy out of school. Her son was called “queer” by other students in front of his mother. At that incident, the mother found the student who made the comments and escorted the student to the office.

After enrolling in various programs, the student was brought back to the school where he was later pushed into lockers and ridiculed. The parent eventually pulled the boy out of school again, at which time he was enrolled in an Independent Study program, with “sexual orientation ridicule” as being the reason for his inability to remain in regular school.

The student continued to be abused by various other students, including one incident in which he was teased by three boys and a girl in a park. That day, he went home, showered and changed, then hung himself from a tree in the backyard.

The complaint filed by Walsh is, she states, in the hopes that better resources are made available to people in her son’s situation. Seth’s death was more than one day of problems at the park but was about years of abusive behavior about the child’s sexual orientation.