Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences—the exclusive Santa Monica private school where tuitions range from $38,972 for grades K through 5 to $45,761 for 6 through 12—was forced to respond last week to a rash of disturbing allegations, including one from an upper schooler who claims that she and many of her classmates were sexually assaulted by a fellow student. It’s unclear what, if anything, was done about it.
In a November 9 email to parents obtained by Los Angeles, head of school Bob Riddle wrote that Crossroads is “aware of a voice memo emailed to some members of our community last night by an Upper Schooler . . . [who] said that she, as well as 17 others, had been sexually assaulted and harassed by a Crossroads student.”
Although the school admits it is aware of the accusations, it appears that the administration’s response—at least as of November 9—left the alleged victims troubled by unanswered questions.
Riddle noted that the accuser “stated that, based on the accusations of six Crossroads students who had been harmed, the student was ultimately suspended and never returned to the School. The Upper Schooler expressed frustration that the School would not verify whether the student was expelled, or chose not to return.”
Riddle explained that Crossroads must consider student privacy rights along with their safety.
“The challenge we face in every disciplinary situation is balancing the need for confidentiality with the need for resolution for all involved,” he wrote. “We will reach out to the student and her family to continue the conversation and hear their concerns.”
Additionally, the Crossroads memo references a different set of complaints outlined in a November 3 letter written by two middle school students regarding possible recent online harassment.
“We are in the process of identifying the students who created and distributed the eighth-grade ranking list,” the November 9 email continues. “We are working closely with those students and their families to learn more about what happened. In the meantime, because of the serious nature of this offense, students have been suspended pending further investigation.”
The middle schoolers are also troubled by several “ship” TikTok accounts “in which seventh grade students speculate about real or imagined relationships between classmates.” “Ship,” in this case, is short for “relationship.”
The Crossroads memo states, “We have identified the students behind these accounts, as well,” but emphasizes that the school has not uncovered more serious complaints related to those accounts.
“While we have had many meaningful conversations with students in the last few days about issues regarding disrespectful language and sexism, no student has reported being threatened with rape, nor of another student memorizing their route home or following them.”
The memo assures parents that “our investigation remains ongoing” and goes on to say that “any student who has been the target of threats or harassment of any kind is strongly encouraged to tell a trusted adult on campus so that the School may take appropriate action.”
It concludes with a promise “to educate students on issues including sexual misconduct, consent, online bullying and microaggressions” while continuing “to encourage open and honest dialogue among students; provide support to those who have been most impacted; and, by week’s end, determine the appropriate consequences for the students responsible for these serious violations of our School code of conduct.”
It’s unclear if any further action was taken by the end of that week, and Crossroads did not return our request for comment on Wednesday.
While all teachers, teachers’ aides, and most other certified employees of California public and private schools are required by law to report incidents of sexual abuse—even those perpetrated by other students.
Santa Monica Police Department public information officer Rudy Flores told Los Angeles in an email Wednesday, “I checked with our Youth Services Division and School Resource Officer, and I was informed that no one from Crossroads School (including victims, family or faculty) have reached out to us to report these incidents. If anyone wishes to report any of the incidents they can contact us at 310-458-8491.”
Update 11/18/21: A rep for Crossroads says the school made a report to the Department of Children and Family Services, adding, “While we cannot publicly share information relating to this investigation and disciplinary decision out of respect for the privacy of our students, we are confident that we handled the situation fairly, quickly and with care.”
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