Protest sparks school-wide commotion

Photo provided by student.

Photo provided by student.

Bear Facts Staff, Contributing Editors

Bethel High School, HAMPTON, VA: This morning, high school students across Hampton walked out of class to protest the official response to an alleged sexual assault at a local school. While the walkout began peacefully, it quickly escalated into a school-wide disturbance.

At 9:28 AM, student protestors gathered in the courtyard, where several gave speeches about their cause. When asked why they were protesting, one student shared, “Many students know someone or personally have been sexually assaulted…and gathered the courage to say something about it, only for it to go unnoticed or ignored.” 

As more students gathered, the scene in the courtyard devolved into chaos. Speeches gave way to unorganized shouts. The crowd of students moved back into the school, where some strode the halls chanting, and others banged on doors and lockers. Others sat on the floor of the main thoroughfares. The protest came to a sudden halt when someone pulled a fire alarm (the first of three alarms set off within the hour), causing all students to exit the building.

Reflecting on the disturbance that followed the initial walkout, one student commented, “The people that caused this were not truly supportive of the cause and did not represent what it stands for.” In the wake of the protest and subsequent fire alarm stunts, students expressed frustration, wondering if their voices will be heard or obscured in the fallout.



Editor’s Note: In response to the alleged case prompting the walkout, Hampton City Schools issued the following statement: 

“The information the parent has now come forth with is not factually correct. The school division did investigate and responded to the parent’s complaint. Upon notification of the complaint, immediate action was taken by the school, which included a thorough investigation by the school division and the Hampton City Police Division. Often there are specific details surrounding investigations in which the school division is unable to discuss due to confidentiality laws. However, what we can communicate regarding this matter is the investigation revealed that two female students in the second grade who attend different after-school programs met in a girls’ restroom after school hours. HCS had no knowledge of these encounters until after the fact, and as soon as HCS was made aware, the school division acted as required by law in all manner. HCS made all reports and took all appropriate remedial actions as required by state law and as advised by our attorneys. In addition, HCS took proactive actions including, at the parent’s request, enrolling the aggrieved student at another school and offering counseling. It must be noted that if someone disagrees with actions of HCS, there are appropriate procedures that can be followed to reconcile grievances, including seeking redress in the courts. Airing disagreements on social media or in open forums is not a practice the school division endorses. If required, HCS welcomes the opportunity for a court to examine this situation as the division is confident that at all times HCS personnel acted appropriately. Hampton City Schools staff members remain committed to ensuring a safe and nurturing environment for all of our students. We will have no further comment. Providing additional details may potentially breach the students’ expectations of privacy with respect to their school records.”