Meeting to address fight, bullying of transgender student

November 22, 2013 12:22:03 PM PST
School district officials are meeting to address a fight at Hercules High School last week that involved a transgender student, a West Contra Costa Unified School District board member said.

The school board will hold a special meeting in Richmond on Dec. 2 to discuss the fight that broke out among three female students and one transgender student at the high school on Friday, as well as the larger issue of bullying district-wide, school board member Charles Ramsey said.

All four were suspended, though two have since returned to school, he said.

"The board takes this very seriously, and we are not going to sit idly by and let these activities take place," Ramsey said. "We want parents and families to know that we have safe campuses."

The focus on bullying and harassment stems from a fight that was reportedly sparked by ongoing harassment against a 16-year-old transgender student, he said.

That student, identified as a male by Hercules police, allegedly hit a female student in a courtyard at the high school. The girl and two other female students then began fighting with the transgender student, according to police.

A video of the fight captured on a cellphone showed hair-pulling and one of the students being pushed to the ground.

Police said a campus security guard broke up the fight, and the students walked away with minor scratches and complaints of pain.

While the fight involved a transgender student, police did not find any evidence that the fight was a hate crime, said Hercules police Detective Connie Van Putten.

Reports of the fight are being reviewed by the Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office, she said.

Ramsey said school staff members are addressing the issue of bullying with students, and that the district remains concerned about the atmosphere that allowed such a fight to occur.

District officials say the district has seen rates of reported bullying and harassment decline significantly in recent years, and that the district has implemented safeguards meant to prevent violence among students, such as surveillance cameras on campus.

The Richmond High School campus was outfitted with surveillance cameras after a brutal gang rape of a 16-year-old girl at the school in 2009, and other district schools will also get cameras, Ramsey said.

The special school board meeting discussing last Friday's fight is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 2 at Lovonya DeJean Middle School at 3400 MacDonald Ave. in Richmond.


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