Four female high school students in Connecticut said administrators told them not to make a "hostile environment" for a boy they were reporting for sexual assault.
Students at Staples High school in Westport said Monday in a school board meeting that they were told not to make “hostile environment” for a boy they said assaulted them after coming forward to a vice principal in November.
They added that the administration responded to the claims by giving the boy a "stern talking to" and telling at least one student "the best thing to do is let it go."
"I’m worried because here a student will get in more trouble for plagiarism than sexual assault," one of the students said in the meeting.
One of the girl’s parents, Stephanie Landon, told NBC 4 New York on Wednesday that the girls felt like they hadn’t been heard by school administrators.
"There have to be changes in the way the schools respond to the girls who come forward," Landon said. "Whether they Pursue consequences or not, just the fact that they felt that they were being reprimanded is enough."
The four students asked the board to change its sexual harassment policy so a larger number of staff members could hear student complaints. They also requested the board involve students in conversations on sexual harassment.
Superintendent Colleen Palmer did not comment on the students' allegations during the board meeting, saying she believes there is room for improvement.
In a statement to NBC 4 New York on Wednesday, she said that while they couldn’t comment specifically on the students’ claims due to federal regulations but that the incident referenced in Monday’s meeting occurred off campus.
She added that they encourage students to report such incidents to police where appropriate and that administrators "take all reasonable steps to assure that students feel safe in school."
"Concerns such as those expressed on Monday evening remind us that we need to continue a dialogue with all stakeholders on this important topic as we review and improve upon our efforts to address sexual assault and sexual harassment wherever it occurs," she said in a statement.
Board member Candace Savin said despite what the girls said she did not hear anything that indicated the policy was wrong or incorrect.
The board voted unanimously to keep the school policy with some revisions including a new section on sexual violence and another addressing social media, according to John Bayers, human resources director for Westport schools.