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A Maine teenager said there was a rapist at her school. She was suspended for bullying.

Aela Mansmann was cautious to not identify any names. “There’s a rapist in our school and you know who it is,” she wrote on yellow sticky notes, leaving them on lavatory partitions at her coastal Maine highschool. The 15-year-old felt that directors hadn’t been doing sufficient to reply to allegations of sexual assault, and she or he hoped her small act of protest would begin a dialog.

Instead, her faculty suspended her, saying that the nameless notes amounted to bullying.

“I definitely am ashamed to say I go to Cape Elizabeth High School with this being their reaction,” Mansmann instructed WGME on Monday, as dozens of scholars walked out of sophistication to protest her punishment.

Though faculty officers say they’re merely abiding by their very own anti-bullying insurance policies, Mansmann and her dad and mom have argued that the suspension is a violation of {the teenager}’s proper to free speech. The college students who gathered outdoors the highschool on Monday agreed, questioning how a word that didn’t embody any names or figuring out particulars might be thought of bullying. Holding indicators that learn “I choose to believe survivors” and “Rape culture has got to go,” they mentioned they wished Mansmann and two different college students who had been suspended for serving to to submit the sticky notes to have their information expunged.

Though solely a sophomore, Mansmann has already made a reputation for herself as an activist, profitable awards for her advocacy round sexual harassment and assault, and serving to to guide a teen summit on combating sexual violence. Recently, the 15-year-old instructed the Portland Press Herald, she grew pissed off after speaking with college students at Cape Elizabeth High School who felt that they had been ignored by faculty directors after coming ahead with allegations of sexual assault.

The public highschool, which has roughly 600 college students and is situated simply south of Portland, Maine, carried out seven investigations into allegations of sexual harassment or assault through the earlier faculty 12 months, the paper reported. In 4 of these circumstances, officers concluded that it was “more likely than not” {that a} violation of Title IX occurred, and took motion. But in current months, some college students have mentioned that they really feel directors brushed their issues underneath the rug.

“On a day-to-day level we don’t feel believed,” Mansmann instructed WCSH. “We don’t feel supported.”

While district officers say they’re doing all the pieces doable to make the college protected, equivalent to updating their insurance policies on sexual harassment and assault, the sophomore felt they weren’t going far sufficient. So, she determined to take issues into her personal fingers.

On Sept. 16, she and several other different college students adorned two ladies’ bogs with handwritten sticky notes, warning of a rapist on campus. Mansmann has mentioned that the intention was to attract consideration to a number of totally different incidents the place college students had been allegedly sexual assaulted, although it’s not clear if the notes had been meant to name out one particular perpetrator. (Officials deny that there’s a rapist enrolled on the faculty.)

From the beginning, Mansmann admitted that she was liable for the nameless notes. Her mom, Shael Norris, instructed the Press Herald that college officers assured her that {the teenager} wouldn’t be punished. Then, on Friday morning, the paper printed an in depth story on college students’ issues concerning the dealing with of sexual assault circumstances, which quoted Mansmann and talked about the sticky notes.

“Cape Elizabeth High School is not special, sexual assault happens everywhere,” the 15-year-old wrote on Facebook, sharing the article to her timeline. “But just like every other school, we have work to do.”

Later that day, she was yanked out of sophistication and knowledgeable that she was being suspended for 3 days. “I was told someone made a complaint that I was bullying them,” Mansmann instructed the Press Herald. “So I thought, why is this person self-identifying as the (alleged) rapist?”

These are the sticky notes sophomore Aela Mansmann posted. She says she doesn’t perceive the way it’s bullying if she didn’t write the accusers identify. She might be suspended for three days subsequent week. She hopes it will begin an essential dialog @newscentermaine pic.twitter.com/eQExV6uhcL

— Roslyn Flaherty (@roslyn_flaherty) October 4, 2019

Cape Elizabeth Schools outline bullying broadly, noting that it may embody a variety of behaviors equivalent to “creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment” and “interfering with the student’s academic performance.” A Friday assertion from the college district mentioned that officers “have never disciplined a student for advocating for their peers or their views on cultural, social and political matters,” however are legally obligated to take motion “when a student’s speech bullies another student [ . . .] even if that same student has also spoken out on a matter of public concern.”

Though barred from commenting on Mansmann’s case on account of privateness legal guidelines, faculty officers “are confident that the matter was exhaustively investigated and that we took the action that law and policy required,” the assertion concluded.

Students who took half within the walkout on Monday mentioned that two different ladies had been additionally suspended for hanging the nameless notes. In an interview with WCSH, Donna Wolfrom, the superintendent for Cape Elizabeth Schools, mentioned that the sticky notes had “caused a lot of confusion,” and weren’t the correct means for college students to voice their frustrations.

“It had adverse effects on other students,” she mentioned. “I think there could have been a better way to do it.”

Mansmann’s dad and mom have appealed her suspension. Her mom, who co-founded a nationwide sexual assault prevention group named SafeBAE, instructed the Press Herald that earlier than handing down the punishment, faculty officers pressured her daughter to call the opposite college students who had been concerned, and {the teenager} refused.

“They wanted her to name everyone who told her about an assault, but she’d didn’t feel comfortable doing that,” Norris mentioned.

Roughly 50 college students walked out of sophistication on Monday morning to protest the district’s determination, the paper reported. Mansmann, who’s allowed to attend faculty whereas her suspension is being appealed, joined them.

“It makes me angry that I’m being punished for bullying and a rapist isn’t being punished for raping people,” she instructed WCSH.

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