DOJ begins inquiry into Shawnee Mission’s handling of sexual harassment cases

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Students who claim they've been ignored when sharing stories of harassment met with attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday night.

It was the first of three days of scheduled meetings concerning the Shawnee Mission School District.

The Justice  Department has repeatedly told FOX4 it can't confirm or deny possible investigations. But FOX4 was there as attorneys arrived Tuesday in Overland Park, telling parents they really want to hear about cases of sexual assault and sexual harassment, the district's policies and how they are implemented.

Late Tuesday, FOX4 obtained a copy of a letter given to parents by the department. Read it here. It requests parents allow the school to share their child's school record from Jan. 1, 2016, to present.

"As a parent with a daughter who's been a victim in the Shawnee Mission School District, it's so empowering you have no idea," Charlie Tietgen said.

His daughter Claire, now 16, was badly beaten in school, and the family said she's been sexually harassed for years.

But they've been unhappy with the school district's response to its own zero-tolerance policies, shipping the victim from school to school and not hearing much about what was ever reported to authorities or discipline enacted on the students responsible.

"We've been complaining for eight years to everyone about how things are working with the Shawnee Mission School District, and this is the first time you feel somebody is really going to do something about it," Tietgen said.

Shawnee Mission Superintendent Mike Fulton said during Monday's night board meeting the district takes federal involvement seriously and will continue to do its best to ensure student safety.

It's unclear if or when federal attorneys might contact the school district about what they learn this week from students and parents.

The private interviews continue at the E3 Sports Facility on Wednesday from noon until 9 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. until noon. It's located at 7010 W. 83rd St. in Overland Park.