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SAN DIEGO — The school records of 31 Scripps Ranch High School students involved in a “twerking” video are being expunged.

twerkingIn April, the video was posted on YouTube. The school suspended and charged the students with sexual harassment.

Ruth Hargrove, attorney and professor at California Western School of Law, said the agreement was reached Thursday with the San Diego Unified School District. School officials said they will erase all records of disciplinary action related to the incident.

Hargrove represented three female students who were juniors when the incident happened.

“They have really been through an awful lot in the past four months,” said Hargrove. “They have been through an enormous amount. They have been publicly vilified. They have been called all kinds of names by all kinds of people.”

Officials with San Diego Unified would not talk to Fox 5 on camera, but did release this statement:  “After further review, a mutual agreement has been reached that is in the best interest of the students and the district. The parents, students, school and district are ready to move beyond this incident and focus on the upcoming school year. The district cannot provide any further details since this is a student discipline issue and therefore confidential.”

Hargrove filed two appeals prior to the agreement.

“There are two ways you can go through the school district policies to do appeals,” said Hargrove. “And we did both of them and we were on the verge of going to court if we had continued losing.”

Moving forward Hargrove said she hopes the school district will implement some policy changes.

“I look forward to having the school resolve some of the internal issues that propelled this and to changing some of their processes,” said Hargrove. “I think they will.”

SAN DIEGO – Seniors at Scripps Ranch High School graduated Tuesday night, including half a dozen students who were reprimanded after they participated in a racy dance video.

Six seniors nearly missed the opportunity to take part in the graduation ceremony at Viejas Arena on the San Diego State University campus after they took part in a twerking video that showed dozens of students gyrating their hips in a suggestive dance move.

graduationThe video was created by students during school hours, on school grounds, and with school equipment, before it went viral.

“They got Scripps Ranch on the map,” said Kairssa Qui, who graduated from Scripps Ranch High School in 2012.

But school officials didn’t quite see it that way.  According to them, the students had violated a school policy prohibiting major disruptions at school.  They suspended more than 30 students who took part in the video and banned them from prom.

“I think it could have been handled differently. They could have taken different measures,” said Darcie Roark, who attended the graduation.

The San Diego Unified School District told Fox 5 it could not discuss student discipline issues with us.

Students and parents said after much controversy the school board did allow the students to participate in graduation.

“I’m glad the parents stood up against the school board, the high school, and administration,” said Roark.

The suspensions meted out to 31 high school students in San Diego for being in a “twerking” video were “illegal and ill-advised” and should be reconsidered, the ACLU said in a letter to the school principal Thursday.

The two-day suspensions do not fit the Education Code definition of conduct that constitutes sexual harassment, David Loy, legal director of the ACLU branch for San Diego and Imperial counties, wrote to Scripps Ranch High School Principal Ann Menna.

twerking“…Mass suspension based on allegations of sexual harassment was apparently unjustified and excessive,” Loy said. “It twists and trivializes the purpose of sexual harassment policies to use them to punish students they were designed to protect.”

Also, Loy said, the Education Code calls for suspensions only when there is no other way to “bring about proper conduct.”

Through a school district spokesman, Menna declined comment. Several of the students are appealing the suspensions to get them erased from their school record, using a school district procedure for such appeals. Some parents have hired lawyers.

Loy said the ACLU does not have a client in the issue but will watch what action is taken by the school.

In the video, shot on campus, the students are shown twisting and thrusting their hips and buttocks, with rap music playing in the background. The term “twerking” is said to be a mix of the words twist and jerk.

“It is my personal opinion that the video is a deeply offensive production with implications for lewd conduct, sexual harassment and gender victimization,” Supt. Bill Kowba wrote in a memo to board members before this week’s meeting. “It is especially insulting to [Scripps Ranch High], having been filmed on district property without district/school authorization.”

After hearing complaints from parents that the suspensions were too harsh and could hurt their children’s chances of being admitted to college, the San Diego Unified School District governing board met in closed session Tuesday night.

Board members emerged to announce that the state Education Code bars them from overturning the suspensions given out by administrators. Only those administrators can overturn their decisions, the board said.

But one board member broke ranks Wednesday by issuing a memo to reporters saying that both the students and the Scripps Ranch administrators “showed poor judgment.”

Board member Scott Barnett called on the students to apologize and the school principal to expunge the suspensions from their records. He agreed with parents who said that a suspension for alleged sexual harassment could be damaging to students’ college admission hopes.

Barnett said that parts of the video “were offensive and inappropriate” and that the video should not have been shot on campus.

Read more of reporter Tony Perry’s story at latimes.com.

SCRIPPS RANCH, Calif. – Several parents of the Scripps Ranch High students, who were suspended for a suggestive dancing video, spoke out for the first time Thursday.

Four parents, who remained unidentified for the protection of their daughters, broke their silence Thursday about what they said is unfair and unjust treatment of their girls. Their daughters were four of the 28 girls who appeared in the now well-known Scripps Ranch “twerking” video.

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 5.20.03 PM“We just feel compelled to share the real story,” said one parent.

“There just hasn’t been a voice for the girls,” said a mother.

“Not one of them was interviewed before the mass suspension was decided,” said another mother.

Three boys and 28 girls were suspended no matter what part a student had in the video. A parent said students of the multi-media class told their daughters the video was part of the “Falcon-Five” school newscast.

“My daughter was pulled out of class, the teachers gave her permission to leave,” said the parent.

The parents also said “twerking” was also already part of the school culture.

“They’ve seen in school sanctioned pep rallies, power puff football games,” said the parent.

It is a fight they’re now waging against the high school principal and the school district, only to find it’s a losing battle.

“It’s been really clear – by what we’re getting back from the administration – that they are for themselves and not for the girls,” said one mother.

“It’s about the reputation of Scripps Ranch High School and if they didn’t use the name would we still be here?  I don’t’ think so,” said another parent.

They’re now working to appeal the charges, but said it’s a process that could take anywhere from six to eight months.

One parent pointed out the resolution could come after some of the girls start college.

“Scholarships are already in jeopardy, because you have to be within good standing.  A suspension isn’t good standing,” said a parent.

They can only hope the principal will reverse the suspension.  For now, there’s a bigger worry, getting through high school.

“I mean they’re forever marked from this as the ‘twerking team’ and it’s really unfair,” said one mother through tears.

“We want to be done with this,” said a father.  “Could you please remove the sexual harassment charges from our kids records and let’s just move on? That’s what we’re asking for.”

Fox 5 contacted the school district as well as the school principal, but we were told no comments will be made Thursday.

SAN DIEGO – Parents were preparing Wednesday to appeal charges of suspension and sexual harassment, after their teenaged children were punished for their part in a sexy-dance video.

Attorney Ruth Hargrove represents one of 28 Scripps Ranch High School students, who “twerked” in about 20 seconds of video, and plans to appeal a mistake she said her client was never guilty of in the first place.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 5.18.28 PM“I want to make clear, whatever she did it was not sexual harassment,” said Hargrove.  “You have to target somebody. There has to be victim.  I’m unclear who the school thinks is a victim here.”

Hargrove claimed her client did not make a video, my client did not put music to the video.

“She has a suspension and sexual harassment charge on her record,” said Hargrove. “This is hugely devastating for them.”

On Tuesday, concerned parents packed into a closed session of the San Diego Unified School District board meeting.  The parents were allowed to speak for three minutes each before the meeting began.  Parents testified and pled with the school board to rescind the charges.

“Look at [the students] in the eye and tell them they deserve a sexual harassment charge,” said one parent through tears.

Despite the pleas, the board let the punishments stand.

“My overall view of this twerking incident is that I believe all parties, both students and administrators showed poor judgment,” Board of Trustees Scott Barnet wrote in a statement released Wednesday.Screen Shot 2013-05-15 at 5.22.37 PM

Barnet stated he found parts of the video to be “highly offensive,” but said poor judgment should not result in an overly severe punishment, which would be on their records and could do harm to the student’s academic future.  Barnett indicated the principal has the authority to “expunge” the suspensions.

“My hope is the students will apologize and the principal will rescind the suspensions,” he said.  “This can all be ended quickly and equitably.”

“For one thing, a suspension never looks good,” said Vivian Fung, college prep consultant.  “Sexual harassment definitely adds another level of severity to the situation.”

Fung said students would be required to disclose the negative marks on what’s called a secondary school report in the college application process.

“They’re going to put this on their application as part of their record,” said Fung. “They will have an opportunity to explain themselves. People will understand they’re just teenagers and they made a mistake.”

SAN DIEGO –The city school board Tuesday listened to angry parents of students who were punished for taking part in a racy dance video, but board members let the disciplinary measures stand.

After meeting for more than two hours in closed session, board President John Lee Evans released a statement backing the suspensions of more than 30 students at Scripps Ranch High School. Board members also chose not to remove the charge of sexual harassment placed in student records.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 5.18.49 PM“It is not the purview of the board, according to the California Education Code, to overturn any suspensions, only expulsions,” Evans said in the statement. He also said that questions about the loss of senior privileges by students involved in the video had already been resolved at the school level.

The two-minute video received national attention after it was posted on the Internet.  It shows dozens of female students shaking and gyrating their hips — dance move known a “twerking.”

After the Scripps Ranch High principal saw the video, 33 students were immediately suspended for two days.  Seniors involved were told that they might not be able to attend graduation or the senior prom, but the principal has since said they will be able to attend those functions.

Parents who spoke before the board met in closed session pleaded with the board to overturn the suspensions and sexual harassment charges.

twerking“It has created devastating ramifications in our family,” one parent told the school board.

“My daughter has a 4.6 (grade point average) this quarter. It’s ridiculous. She’s never had any offenses,” said another.

Each parent had 3 minutes to address the school board.

Ruth Hargrove, attorney for one of the students, said many of the girls in the video had no idea they were breaking school rules.

“My client thought that she was helping with a school project,” said Hargrove.

Other parents defended their children’s motives.

“It’s my understanding the children were doing a clip for a dance that would go into a school video,” said one parent.

“They had no idea this video was being produced the way it came out, and they’re horrified and humiliated,” said another parent.

Parents argued that appearing in the video was not a crime and the charge of sexual harassment would ruin their children’s educational careers.

“Sexual harassment is an incredibly severe charge to have on one’s record and be following one to college,” argued Hargrove.

“Anybody who is looking at her college application is going to think she’s some stalker girl,” said one parent through tears.

Parents told the school board the students in video never got a chance to explain their actions.

“I’d like to see the kids actually get to explain what their intent was,” said one parent.

“This is so inappropriate. It’s ridiculous. I’m so disappointed for not following due process,” said another. “Look at them.  Look them in the eye and tell them they deserve a sexual harassment charge.”

Board members could not discuss the details of individual cases due to privacy laws, Evans said. There is an appeals process for each student to challenge information in his or her student record, and the parents and students had been informed of the processes and procedures, according to Evans.

Screen Shot 2013-05-14 at 5.19.14 PM

SAN DIEGO — The two-day suspensions meted out to 31 high school students who made a racy dance video at Scripps Ranch High School have been served and the students are eligible to return to class, according to a memo provided by the school superintendent to school board members.

Twerking picIn the video, filmed on the North County campus, the students are shown twisting and thrusting their hips and buttocks, with rap music playing in the background. The term “twerking” is said to be a mix of the words twist and jerk.

“It is my personal opinion that the video is a deeply offensive production with implications for lewd conduct, sexual harassment and gender victimization,” Supt. Bill Kowba wrote. “It is especially insulting to [Scripps Ranch High], having been filmed on district property without district/school authorization.”

Some students and parents are attending discipline hearings, with some students challenging their suspensions during an appeals process that will take place this week. The video and the punishment have caused controversy, both locally and nationwide, the newspaper reported.

The suspensions were given to “28 white females and 3 male students of color,” Kowba wrote. He described their actions as “gyrating against a wall while standing on their hands.” The music, he wrote, was “salacious.”

The school’s principal, Anne Menna, said that all of the parents were contacted and that “in all but a couple of instances, the parents were disappointed and embarrassed,” according to the memo.

Kowba said he has asked district officials, including the district’s top lawyer, to review the suspension process to make sure that due process was followed.

He asked that school board members refrain from making public comments about an incident that is “both sensational and scandalous, an attractive media item.” He also asked that the memo not be released, though it was quickly leaked to the media.

The video was posted on the Internet but has since been removed.

Before the memo, school trustee Scott Barnett asked that the suspensions be discussed by the board in a closed session on May 14 to determine if the punishments were appropriate to the actions.

Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times

SCRIPPS RANCH, Calif. – Dozens of students at Scripps Ranch High School were suspended after appearing in a video posted on YouTube.

33 students were put on a 5 day suspension and may also miss prom and graduation for “twerking”.

“I think it’s a little bit ridiculous that these kids are getting suspended for 5 seconds of their time,” said Lindsey Le, student.

TTwerking picwerking is a dance where a person moves their hips and bottom up and down in a suggestive fashion.

The video made on school grounds and with school equipment has now garnered national attention, but it’s attention the school does not want.  Friday, security guarded the campus from media and even told students to keep quiet.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous that they’re telling us not to talk to you,” said one student.

District officials told Fox 5 they are prohibited by federal law to comment on student discipline.

Trustee Scott Barnett is the second board member to come forward calling for a review of punishment.

In a statement, he wrote:

“As a father of two teen-aged daughters, I take issues of proper conduct and discipline very seriously.  At the same time, I need to be satisfied that the consequences of these actions are reasonable and proportionate.

Fox 5 spoke to Ron Maghsoodi after school Friday.  He has both a son and a daughter at the school.

“I wouldn’t agree with what the kids are doing, but I’m not going to be too harsh on it either,” said Maghsoodi.

Students said harsh doesn’t even begin to describe it.

“Suspending them because they made a video is a little ridiculous,” said one student.

“I feel bad.  They can’t graduate right now, hopefully they can work it out,” said Le.

The board is expected to take up the discussion at the May 14th closed door session.

Students in the video over 18 years old were offered free tickets to Diplo’s concert at Valley View Casino.  Diplo is the musician behind the song and video.

SAN DIEGO — Two members of the San Diego Unified School District Board of Education are questioning whether school officials acted appropriately by suspending more than 30 students at Scripps Ranch High School for appearing in a suggestive dance video.

twerkingTrustee Scott Barnett issued a statement through the district Thursday that called for a closed session discussion at the board’s next regular meeting on May 14. Wednesday, Trustee Kevin Beiser also called for a review of the suspensions by the school board.

Parents and other students told local media outlets that the dancers and videographer were suspended for five days and could miss prom and might not be allowed to walk at graduation.

The video shows the students gyrating and shaking their hips in a sexually suggestive manner, a dance move known as “twerking,” while doing handstands.

The video was uploaded to YouTube, where there are dozens of other “twerking” videos, including several by celebrity Miley Cyrus.

The story on the suspensions has received national attention.

UT San Diego reported the video was made on the Scripps Ranch campus while school was in session.

“The school board has not received a briefing yet, and all I know is from media reports,” Barnett said. “As a father of two teen-aged daughters (in a different high school in San Diego Unified) I take issues of proper conduct and discipline very seriously; at the same time I need to be satisfied that the consequences of these actions are reasonable and proportionate.”

He declined to discuss specifics about individual students. The district has refused to comment on the suspensions.

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