A recent case of bullying in Danville has gained national attention, as parents of a San Ramon Valley High School sophomore are accusing the school district of not taking appropriate actions after their daughter was harassed on social media, including a video of her urinating getting posted online.
According to Denise and Sean Lynch, their 16-year-old daughter was video-recorded removing her pants and urinating while a locked bathroom stall on campus during sports practice by an upperclassman varsity athlete.
This first happened in November, they said, but the couple found out about the incident in April, when the other girl in question repeated the act, posting the video of their daughter on social media and "bragging about it and using language I can't repeat in public," said Sean Lynch at last week's school board meeting.
The Lynches said they alerted the school, the Danville Police Department was notified and the student who had posted the video was arrested.
According to Geoff Gillette, public information coordinator for the town of Danville, the student was charged with invasion of privacy and the case will now move on to the Contra Costa County Juvenile Probation.
But when the student in question returned not only to school, but to the sports program, the Lynches said they became irate.
"We expected the offending student to have been immediately dismissed from the sports program, and transferred to another school, to protect our daughter," Sean Lynch said during public input on non-agenda items at the May 23 board meeting. "It's not about punishing this other girl. It's about protecting our daughter, the victim."
Immediately following her husband at the school board meeting, Denise Lynch took to the lectern and gave an emotional account of how the incident had affected her daughter, while also accusing the school board members of not taking their complaints seriously.
"I don't know how much more I have to tell you," she said. "That the sheer presence of this individual who committed this unspeakable crime towards her -- every single day she's on campus brings up unnecessary feelings for her, that she's reliving this over and over and over again." She said her daughter's grades had fallen and there had been emotional meltdowns.
"It is crimes she committed, not one, multiple crimes against my daughter," said Denise Lynch of the alleged bully, "and you still allow her to be on campus." She ended by asking that the school board hold the perpetrator accountable. "I don't care if they're juvenile," she said. "They need to be held accountable for their actions."
The school board members said they could not directly respond to any of the speakers because the item was not on their posted agenda.
After Denise Lynch spoke, however, board vice president Ken Mintz spoke up, asking her to continue to work with the superintendent's office on the matter. "I understand it's a legal issue," he said, and expressed an appreciation for her bringing it up. To which she replied, "We don't have to go there. If you removed this individual from the school."
This Tuesday, the school board released a statement to SRVHS students and staff about the bullying incident in question, signed by all board members and superintendent Rick Schmitt and stating that the district is committed to transparency and they would share all available information that did not violate student privacy.
"There has been widespread press and social media coverage regarding this incident," the statement reads. "Due to the ease with which information spreads via social media, it is important to know that not all of the information that has appeared is factual or accurate."
The story has been picked up by media outlets in the Bay Area and nationwide, including the Associated Press and Business Insider.
The district's statement said San Ramon Valley High School administration partnered with the Danville Police Department to investigate the bullying incident as soon as the report was made in April. Disciplinary action took place, according to officials, and the results of the DPD investigation were passed on to the juvenile justice system. The law enforcement matter is still in process, further limiting the information that the district can share with the school community, the officials said.
The statement encourages all members of the community to report any suspected incidents of bullying to the district's online form and safe schools tip-line, and emphasized the policies and programs district schools have in place to prevent bullying.
"We are very fortunate to have a community of students, staff and parents who partner with us as we continue to create an environment where all students and staff feel safe and accepted," the statement concludes. "Thank you for your support of SRVUSD and its schools."
The controversy comes as school set to let out for summer break on Friday and as SRVHS is going through a time of change. Principal Ruth Steele is stepping down at the end of June, and Jason Krolikowski from Pleasanton's Foothill High School will take the reins July 1.
Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included incorrect information about the status of the juvenile case. Town spokesman Geoff Gillette later clarified the case has been referred to Contra Costa County Juvenile Probation.