Parents of 12-year old describe mistreatment, humiliation of their daughter by Elk Grove school administrators

The parents of a 12-year old student at Katherine L. Albiani Middle School told EGUSD Trustees
about the mistreatment of their daughter by school administrators. | 

The parents of a 12-year old Elk Grove middle school student described what they characterized as mistreatment and humiliation of their daughter at the hands of school administrators.

During the Tuesday night meeting of the Elk Grove Unified School District, Trustees received a presentation from Heather Morris-Washington and Charles Washington. The parents described the series of events that led their daughter to be banned from the locker room of Katherine L. Albiani Middle School, which resulted in her being forced to change clothing in an open area on campus.

Ms. Morris-Washington who described her daughter as a motivated honor roll student who started her own business in fifth grade, said the actions against her started in August when she was disciplined after another student complained about her presence in the locker room. The student told school administrators she was changing and waiting on a friend.

As a result, the student was ultimately banned from the locker room, and at a later time when she tried to change clothing after physical education, she was compelled to change in an open area. 

"She was denied access to the locker room, she then went to the bathroom to change, and was unable to enter because the bathroom was full," Morris-Washington said. "My daughter, with no other options, had to change outside on the blacktop in front of the locker room in public view."

She added, "My daughter was humiliated and degraded." 

Morris-Washington provided Trustees with a detailed chronological description of the events. She noted police officers were also used in an intimidation effort when they met with school principal Ms. Brie Bejar. See Morris-Washington's complete presentation in video below. 

"Ms. Bejar then walked into the office meeting us with an armed Elk Grove Police officer," Morris-Washington said. "Ms. Bejar was clearly trying to use police presence as an intimidation tactic toward a Black family." 

Through the efforts of the student's parents and others, she was regained access to the locker room. Morris-Washington said her daughter would leave Albiani Middle School to feel safe from school administrators.

"My daughter has suffered unimaginable physiological and emotional trauma as the result of [vice principal] Ms. [Kristen] Couchot and Ms. Bajar," Morris-Washington stated.

Because Morris-Washington, her husband Charles Washington, and others made their presentation during public comment of non-agenda items, Trustees cannot directly address the concerns. In a report for Sacramento Channel 10, district spokesperson Xanthi Soriano said the district is exploring new ways to deal with suspensions. 

"We definitely recognize and accept the challenges it takes to address disproportionate discipline in our schools," Soriano said in the report. 

This experience for the daughter of Mr. Washington and Ms. Morris-Washington comes following the release of a report that showed Elk Grove Unified School District had the highest suspension rate in California for Black students. The report, Suspending our Future, was complied by Black Minds Matter Coalition.  

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