OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- The night before the U.S. Department of Justice was reportedly set to launch an inquiry into claims of sexual harassment and bullying at Shawnee Mission schools, one student took her concerns to the school board.
“I’ve been told many times let’s move on, let’s move past this, kids will be kids, I’ve tried to commit suicide many times and thankfully I have not succeeded," Claire Tietgen, 16, told the school board.
Tietgen’s story drew the attention of the UFC several years ago, including famed fighter Rhonda Rousey, when one of her friends took her own life, and she tried to do the same after what she calls constant bullying and sexual harassment.
“She’s been harassed her entire life, beaten unconscious, she’s got the whole story, but she rises to the occasion still wants to fight, still wants to make a difference," her father Charlie said.
“I’m trying to make it a lot better for generations to come to make it a lot better for them to have a school life instead of going to school and being miserable all day," Claire said.
She and her family feel the district hasn’t followed it’s own zero-tolerance policies when it comes to bullying and sexual harassment. Starting Tuesday according to Tietgen at least 10 district students with similar complaints are set to meet with attorneys from the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division at the gym her family has built to help bullying victims find positive ways to fight back.
“It’s encouraging that families feel that maybe this is an opportunity where they can speak out and be heard," her father said.
Shawnee Mission Superintendent Dr. Mike Fulton told the Tietgens Monday the district takes the DOJ’s potential involvement seriously.
“Obviously it’s very important for all of us to do the very best we can to make sure all children are both physically, socially and emotionally safe in schools," Dr. Fulton said.
DOJ interviews will be conducted privately at E3 Sports Facility on West 83rd Street Tuesday 6 p.m. - 9 p.m., Wednesday 12 p.m - 9 p.m. and Thursday 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
Shawnee Mission Schools say they've yet to be contacted by the Department of Justice regarding an inquiry.