HAMDEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Parents and students gathered Tuesday night with school officials at Eli Whitney Technical High School in Hamden.
They met to address serious allegations of sexual harassment that some female students say have been going on for years. The students staged a walkout on Monday because they said their voices were not being heard.
The media was not allowed into the meeting. News 8 spoke to parents who came out of the meeting angry because they say they is no security plan in place and the student accused of the sexual harassment is back walking the hallways.
“We asked ‘where do we go from here?’ Because the students still don’t feel safe, and he said unfortunately that ‘that student has a right to education as well as every other student,’ I have a problem with that! I have a problem with that, that this man, he’s not even a boy, he’s 19 years old and this man is still allowed in the building after there is clear evidence of him sexually harassing young females,” parent Jasmine Reed said.
Police showed up as angry parents came out of the meeting.
State officials now say they hear these girls loud and clear after the students took matters into their own hands and walked out 100 strong.
Several young women say they have been the targets of repeated sexual harassment, including unwanted touching and sexual advances, even followed home for what they allege is four years. They claim the harassment stems from one senior boy and students tell us that when they came forward with screenshots, texts, and photos.
“My freshman year there was a student who got sexually harassed, very badly and I don’t want to get into explicit details, but I had to go talk to the administrator because they didn’t want to do anything about it,” student Joseph Ely said.
Now, the Connecticut Technical Education and Career System (CTECS), the division of the State Department of Education that oversees the state’s technical schools, says they are listening.
Dr. Ellen Solek, the interim superintendent of the CTECS, spoke with News 8 Tuesday ahead of the meeting.
We asked her, “A couple of girls said ‘we were not believed,’ so the question is why weren’t they believed or why wasn’t anything done sooner?”
“The principal and his team have spent the last 24 hours with students soliciting as carefully as they possibly can any and all information that’s related to this concern,” Solek said.
She told News 8 Tuesday’s meeting is a listening session.
“Throughout the day, we met with individual students to hear their concerns and to begin to implement some safety and security measures in the building to address the needs and concerns of those students,” Solek said. “We are laser-focused on keeping students safe and secure.”
Students and parents are talking about holding more protests at the school Wednesday.