District releases more information on 'inappropriate' touching at Republic Middle School dances

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Republic Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.
Republic Middle School on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.

Republic police are still investigating allegations of inappropriate touching at two middle school dances in late October, but the school district recently told parents it has made progress in determining what did, and did not, occur.

Josey McPhail, director of communication, said district officials have viewed 40 hours of video footage and taken at least 80 statements from students.

"What we have determined is that it was inappropriate touching, and nothing else," she said.

McPhail said allegations of inappropriate touching were serious, and treated that way by the district.

The district told parents that social media rumors about a "rape or other intrusive sexual assault" has not been reported to police or verified.

The allegations surfaced Oct. 21, the day of the middle school dances, and circulated quickly. The dance for sixth grade started shortly after the end of the school day while the dance for grades 7-8 was in the early evening.

More: Republic police investigate 'inappropriate' touching at middle school dances

Students reported that at the end of each dance, a student was inappropriately touching other students.

Both dances were in the middle school cafeteria and were chaperoned.

The district told parents three formal reports were called into the Republic Police Department.

"The school sent out the last update, which was that there were three claims of inappropriate touching," said Allyssa Dudley, public information officer for the city of Republic. "But beyond that, the investigation is still ongoing."

McPhail said the district is proud of students who reported the incidents. At school the next day, the district made counselors available for any student who needed to talk.

"You see something, you experience something, you reach out to a parent, an administrator, a trusted adult," McPhail said.

Asked if a student or students accused of wrongdoing at the dance have faced school discipline, McPhail said yes.

Josey McPhail
Josey McPhail

But, she said the district is not allowed to provide details about any disciplinary action for specific students.

In an update to parents last week, the district wrote: "Any and all reports of inappropriate and/or threatening behavior are taken very seriously in our district. Our goal is to create an environment where all students feel safe as they come to school to learn and for activities."

The email also encouraged students and parents to report any concern to the district or police before going to social media.

McPhail said "facts get skewed" on social media, where accounts are often shared by individuals who are not directly involved.

"It prolongs the process of getting down to what happened," she said.

Claudette Riley is the education reporter for the News-Leader. Email news tips to criley@news-leader.com.

This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Republic police still investigating Oct. middle school dance incident

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