Merrillville parent's Facebook post claims daughter sexually harassed

2013-03-11T21:19:00Z 2013-03-11T23:55:04Z Merrillville parent's Facebook post claims daughter sexually harassedBy Carmen McCollum, (219) 662-5337

MERRILLVILLE | Two Pierce Middle School boys will be suspended for making inappropriate comments to a female classmate.

Merrillville Superintendent Tony Lux said he was aware of the incident and talked to the girl's mother Monday, who posted comments about the incident on her Facebook page.

Parent Jennifer Straug said on Facebook her daughter was sexually harassed while walking down the hallway to class March 7. Straub wrote that two boys approached her daughter and a classmate, grabbing at her daughter and attempting to pull her into the bathroom while muttering foul and sexually suggestive language at her.

"Fortunately, she was able to break free and thankfully, she had a schoolmate aiding in her escape," Straub said on Facebook. "This was all captured on video, no audio, but I saw the footage and heard the trepidation in my daughter's voice as she told me of the incident."

Lux said he viewed the video and talked to Straub on Monday. He said several administrators and the school resource officer investigated the incident and reviewed the video, which came from the school's hallway cameras.

"Two boys did go out of their way to direct a comment to a girl about how she looked, causing the two girls to turn around and walk the other way," Lux said. "This was in the main hall during passing period. There were other students around. There was no bathroom incident. This took place in a very quick manner. The boys were inappropriate and will be disciplined."

Lux said the investigation was not finished last week when the parent came in and one of the boys was absent from school. He said the investigation was completed Monday, and the two boys will be suspended. He said the school policy calls for a suspension ranging from one to three days.

Lux said the parent wanted to file some sort of charge against the two boys, but the SRO officer explained the incident did not warrant a police complaint. There is also no record on file that the parent filed a complaint with the Merrillville Police Department.

Lux said school officials attempted to notify the parent to report the incident to her but the telephone number on file was not correct.

Straub said she is glad to hear the boys will be suspended but she also thinks the Pierce administrators should be reprimanded for the way they handled the incident.

In an email response to the newspaper, Straub also said she sent an updated phone number to the school district and the school has emergency phone numbers for her mother and fiance. Straub said she intends to withdraw her daughter and consider homeschooling; she plans to move in the summer.

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