A Brooklyn-based attorney is calling for an investigation into New York City Schools after their mishandling of a number of cases involving the sexual assaults of Black female students.
According to the Huffington Post, attorney Carrie Goldberg wants the Education Department and U.S. Department of Justice to launch a joint investigation into the school system after three female students who reported their sexual assaults were suspended from school. Goldberg asserts that the schools’ response to the incidents is clear proof of the system’s “racial and gender discrimination.”
Goldberg submitted her initial complaint with U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in November 2015, followed by another one in April, and the latest one on June 4, the Huffington Post reports. The publication obtained edited copies of the attorney’s complaints along with several pages of evidence.
According to one complaint, a 15-year-old student attending the Teachers Preparatory School was forced to perform oral sex on two males in a stairwell, while five others stood watch. The New York Times reports that the girl was developmentally delayed with and I.Q. of 71.
The female student later reported her assault to a school guidance counselor after one of the boys informed her that she would have to perform the sex act again. Rather than sympathizing with the student, the school opted to suspend her after they deemed the sex consensual, the complaint states.
“This behavior constitutes a danger to the health, safety, welfare and morals of your child and others at school,” a letter to the girl’s parents, obtained by Huffington Post, read.
The complaint also revealed that the reason school officials pursued out-of-school suspension was because the NYPD failed to arrest anyone for the heinous assault.
In a separate case involving an 8th grader at Middle School 584, a female student was punched in the genitals by a boy, after which she was dry humped and slapped across the face by another male, the complaint details. The school suspended the perpetrator for a month. After his return to school, the female victim was forced to sit in three classes, a lunch period, and gym with her attacker.
The girl’s parents tried to have her transferred to the McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, but an audition was required for admittance.
They had the “survivor of sexual assault literally do a song and dance in order to attend a safe school,” the Huffington Post reports. The student completed the audition, but still was not admitted to the school. According to her parent’s court filing, it took over a month to get the girl into a new school.
In the third complaint, an 8th grader at Spring Creek Community School reported that she had been sodomized. She informed her principal that a video of the assault was making its rounds among students, after which the principal suggested she transfer schools to avoid being gossiped about and humiliated, the complaint states.
“It was the most awful thing,” the girl told Buzzfeed, who first reported her story. “It was bad enough that everyone knew what happened. But knowing that they had seen the video was that much worse.”
The 13-year-old also expressed the overwhelming amount of pressure she felt, as classmates blamed her for not putting up enough of a fight to ward of her attacker.
“They said I allowed it to happen to me,” she explained. “But I had no idea what I was supposed to do.”
“Everyone was blaming things on me,” the young student continued. “It was so much pressure. I couldn’t take it. At times I felt like giving up on my life.”
Goldberg blames racism, sexism, and, classism for the poor handling of the cases involving the three girls.
“Teenage black girls are sexualized in society in a way that white girls are not,” she told the Huffington Post. In these cases, there was no doubt the sex happened, no belief the girls were making up the whole stories, there was ample proof this happened. What was being disbelieved was whether or not it’s consensual.”
Goldberg also pointed out that her clients were never educated on their Title IX rights after suffering such sexual violence.
NYC Schools hasn’t said much about the accusations, the Huffington Post reports.
“Our legal team is reviewing these deeply troubling complaints and will respond to the Office for Civil Rights regarding any pending matters,” spokeswoman Toya Holness told the publication.