Little Elm Superintendent of Schools Daniel Gallegher says he’ll hold a community meeting next week to discuss Friday’s planned protest over the handling of an allegation of sexual assault that ended up with four students arrested and a police officer hospitalized.
Students organized the protest after saying the district wasn’t doing enough after a teenage girl reported a sexual assault by another student more than a month ago.
In a video posted on Facebook Monday, Gallegher and Little Elm Mayor Curtis Cornelious said they could not share details of the investigation but that a thorough investigation was done by Little Elm police and that it was determined there was insufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed.
Gallegher said no student received a disciplinary consequence for reporting sexual misconduct and that misinformation related to the incident and shared among the student body led to a call for the walkout.
In the video, Gallegher said, “campus administrators and school resource officers were prepared to accommodate a peaceful walkout and keep our students safe as they used their voice, however, this demonstration was not peaceful and caused a major disruption.”
Citing an instance not found in the videos shared on social media, Gallegher said a large group of students attempted to break into an administrator’s office “in pursuit of targeted individuals who were in genuine fear for their safety.”
Cornelious added that two students were arrested after assaulting a male and female police officer and that a third student was arrested for interfering in the arrest of one of those students. Cornelious said during that third arrest an officer was forced to use pepper spray and a stun gun on a student. The fourth arrest, Cornelious said, occurred after a student spit on an officer.
The video of the student being sprayed with pepper spray and shot with a stun gun by Little Elm police was shared widely on social media Friday. The video does not show the moments leading up to when the officer uses the spray and, Cornelious said, lacked context.
Now the district wants to begin the process of moving forward and the superintendent said the listening session following the Thanksgiving holiday will begin that process.
“What led to Friday’s student protest hits us at the core of who we are and we have to find a way to restore the trust you need in order for all of us to move forward,” Gallegher said in a letter announcing the community meeting. “Your questions, thoughts, and concerns are very important to me. I have heard and read each of them and I can feel your pain.”
Gallegher said in the letter he “will be as transparent as possible” in the community meeting, but that due to federal privacy laws he is restricted on providing certain details related to students.
“It is important to me, our board of trustees, and campus administration that we allow our parents and community an opportunity to voice their concerns, thoughts, and provide suggestions to the district administration,” Gallegher said.
Responding to the protest and the violence that followed, Gallegher said the district is taking the following steps:
The listening session will be in the auditorium at Little Elm High School at 6 p.m., Nov. 30.