Two students have filed complaints against two difference teachers for sexual harassment in 2022
By Andrew Harris
Bolivar “Officer-in-charge,” Stephen McPherson has reported that the most recent investigation of a complaint made by a student will not bring criminal charges. McPherson investigated and brought the findings of his inquiry to the Allegany County District Attorney office:
“On February 22, 2022 the Bolivar Police Department received a complaint from a 15 year old female who attends the Bolivar Richburg High School alleging she was touched by teacher in early September 2021. The school conducted an internal investigation and found no wrong doing. The student was removed from the class after the latest investigation. The parents of this investigation did not feel as though the school did a thorough enough job so they contacted the Bolivar Police Department after a lengthy investigation. The case was turned over to the Allegany County District Attorney’s office and the DA said there would be no charges filed.”
We asked McPherson to give readers some detail into the process of receiving, investigating, and making a decision on a complaint.
“Anytime there is any complaint of sexual harassment or believed to be, work place investigation lawyers are brought in. In this case, lawyers from CA Boces come in and do an investigation into the allegations. If they feel as though it’s criminal in nature the will contact law enforcement. If they don’t they handle it depending on the case, it doesn’t always have to be criminal. As we spoke before, sexual harassment is not a criminal offense and breeching the school code of conduct is not a criminal offense. If parents don’t like how the school handles it or feels as though they want to pursue charges, law enforcement can be called and we will do an investigation. We always meet with DA office to go over the case file to see if there is in fact any criminal charges and if so what way we need to proceed. Law enforcement does not prosecute, the DA does so we look to the DA for what way they want to proceed if there is anything criminal or not.”
The announcement of this latest investigation comes on the heels of increased community concern over how the Bolivar-Richburg school district handles complaints by students and parents. Current parent of a BRCS student and an alumni of the school, Stephanie Dunn, recently summarized those concerns in a letter to the editor:
“As a parent of a student in the school district now, I want to see real change. People need to be accountable for their actions, our school needs to show us that they are doing the best to keep our children safe from these types of behaviors.
It’s sad when the school is stricter about reinforcing the code of conduct then it is about there sexual harassment policy.
It’s also sad that the past and present victims of this behavior are basically punished by being taken out of the classes these teachers teach.”
The full letter can be found below and Officer McPherson has some simple advice for students and parents who have a complaint that they feel is criminal in nature, “Call 911.”