LEHS Walkouts Supporting Sexual Assault Victim are met with Tasers

It all started on November 19 when Little Elm High School students participated in a walkout to support a student who filed sexual assault and harassment claims. Unfortunately, the student-led protest led to police interference, as students were pepper-sprayed and tasered, and officers arrested five students for allegedly assaulting them.

The officers were originally called to “calm things down.” However, it seemed like they did anything but that. One officer used pepper spray against a student to which the student lunged at the officer. Seeing that, the officer tasered the student, making him collapse.

Students scared for the collapsed student were only forced away by the officers. According to NBC DFW, Kaden Throckmorton (a junior) said, “He pushes me away, he pulls out his Taser and pushes me with the Taser and he’s like, ‘Hey, you need to back off.’ I’m like, ‘He’s not breathing, we need to do something about this.’ And he ends up putting the Taser to my stomach, he Tases me, one of the other officers pushes me on the shoulder, he actually rips my shirt,”

Another video shows an officer grabbing a female student by her hair and forcing her to the ground.

Mobile phone video shows the interactions between Little Elm police and students at Little Elm High School after police were called in to calm a protest, Nov. 19, 2021.

It seemed as if the officers didn’t know they were dealing with mere teenagers who were only rallying in support of a sexual assault victim. The police’s actions were unnecessary, and there should have been better handling of the situation.

After Thanksgiving Break, classes were back in session at Little Elm High School. However, according to CBS DFW, 50 of the 2,500 students were not, and there were two police cruisers parked in front of the school. At around 9:25 am, another walkout took place, and students went outside only to talk to Superintendent Daniel Gallagher, school board member Dr. Monique Thompson, and Town of Little Elm Mayor Curtis Cornelious, who listened to their concerns.

A day after, on November 30, Little Elm ISD hosted a “listening session” which became heated rapidly, as parents were outraged against the high school’s response to the sexual assault claims and the police’s use of tasers and pepper spray against Little Elm high schoolers during the November 19 protest. According to CBS DFW, one parent said, “you have demonized our kids, demonized the sexual assault victims, allowed our children to be tased, manhandled, arrested and jailed,”

These walkouts were all done to support Jaelyn Alvarez, a sophomore who was unfortunately molested on the bus. According to the same source, she said, “not only my father but other parents have brought my voice and others out so now we’re being heard, because we before we weren’t really been taken seriously, and now I think this is happening we’re gonna be taking way more seriously,” Jaelyn was most likely referring to how her father accused the school district of not believing her claims and how other parents chimed in during the session. Furthermore, parents collectively agreed that they lost trust in the officers on campus.

Recognizing the flaw in the officers’ response, earlier in December, Little Elm ISD published an After Action Review of the walkouts, recommending the setting up of better protocols for responding to student protests, more counseling for students, and the implementation of a more reliable chain of command.

Following that, on December 18, Eichelbaum Wardell Hansen Powell & Muñoz, PC, an Austin law firm, released the results of a Title IX investigation centered on the sexual harassment claims at Little Elm High School. While the firm found that LEISD administrators and employees did not fall below the legal standard of deliberate indifference, they also had a few recommendations for the district.

According to CBS DFW, the report recommends:

  1. That parents be notified within three days after a student comes to a school administrator with a claim that requires a written statement and investigation. The report notes that this process is already required for bullying claims.
  2. That school administration be better informed about what kinds of misconduct fall under Title IX so that reports can be properly referred to the school’s Title IX Coordinator when appropriate.
  3. That there be additional Title IX training for both school administration and staff. Everyone “from teachers to substitutes to food service to bus drivers” should be able to recognize sexual
    harassment and know who to contact when they see or experience it. This training should also be available in Spanish.
  4. Printing a QR code for the email or phone number of the Title IX Coordinator on student IDs.
  5. Considering other ideas about how to provide Title IX information to students and staff, such as posters.
  6. Educating students and parents about what Title IX is and what it covers.
  7. That the district create a separate Title IX Coordinator position who can focus on keeping up with changes to Title IX and lead a centralized effort to combat both Title IX complaints and bullying.

Hopefully, we will be seeing the implementation of these recommendations in the near future. Thank you for reading, and stay safe!

Works Cited

4, FOX. “Some Little Elm High School Students Walk out Day before Listening Session.” FOX 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth, FOX 4 News Dallas-Fort Worth, 29 Nov. 2021, https://www.fox4news.com/news/some-little-elm-high-school-students-walk-out-day-before-listening-session.

Maria Guerrero, Frank Heinz. “Police Called to ‘Calm Things down’ Use Stun Guns, Pepper Spray on Students; 4 Arrested.” NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth, 20 Nov. 2021, https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/police-respond-to-calm-things-down-after-disruption-during-protest-at-little-elm-hs/2820925/.

Miles, J.D. “’You Have Demonized Our Kids’: Little Elm High School Parents Lecture School Board over Police Handling of Student Walkout.” CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, 30 Nov. 2021, https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2021/11/30/little-elm-high-school-parents-anger-school-board-police-handling-student-walkout/.

Staff, CBSDFW.com. “Little Elm High School Title IX Report Released after Student Protest Sparked Investigation.” CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, 18 Dec. 2021, https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2021/12/18/little-elm-high-school-title-ix-report-released/.

Staff, CBSDFW.com. “Little Elm High Students Stage Another Walkout after Returning for 1st Time since Protest 10 Days Ago.” CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, CBS Dallas / Fort Worth, 29 Nov. 2021, https://dfw.cbslocal.com/2021/11/29/little-elm-texas-high-students-back-school-walkout/.