The Madison School Board affirmed its commitment to support the survivors of sexual assault Monday following the arrests of four boys in recent weeks on allegations of sexual assault at district high schools.
The board issued a public statement during its meeting, which was held at Chavez Elementary School on the Southwest Side, following concern and criticism from teachers and students regarding the district’s response to reported sexual assaults and comments made by the district’s head of security.
“We must do all that we can to ensure that our schools are places that promote the safety and dignity of all people,” said new member Ali Muldrow, reading from the board’s statement. “As Madison’s first School Board made up entirely of women, we are committed to ushering our community into the future by working to end sexual violence in our schools.”
Some Memorial High School students called on the School Board to do more to improve the process of reporting sexual assault, to educate middle and high school students on rape culture and consent, and to ensure that students know how to file complaints under Title IX — the federal law that bars discrimination in education based on sex.
“We are doing little to support the victims involved or prevent it from happening in the first place,” said Maggie DiSanza, a sophomore at Memorial High School.
Two boys, both 15, are accused of assaulting a girl inside an East High School bathroom on April 10; a 16-year-old La Follette High School student was arrested Wednesday for allegedly repeatedly groping a girl throughout February; and another La Follette boy, 15, was arrested Thursday on allegations of sexually assaulting a girl in a high school bathroom during a weekend in January.
The three new School Board members elected earlier this month — Cris Carusi, Ananda Mirilli and Muldrow — were also ceremonially sworn in Monday. They had been officially sworn in last week since board policy requires new members to join the School Board on the fourth Monday of April.
Additionally, the School Board passed a resolution setting a goal to get 100% of the district’s energy needs from renewable energy by 2040.
The goal was originally brought to the School Board by a group of students and parents. It is similar to resolutions passed by Madison, Dane County and other municipalities to move toward renewable energy sources.
In other action, the School Board approved a five-year renewal of the dual-language immersion charter Nuestro Mundo Community School, which is one of two charter schools authorized by the district.