Students unsettled by reports of sexual assault

    Editors’ Note: This story has been updated to clarify information about the juvenile student’s court conviction.  

    Palo Alto High School students are frustrated and worried after a news story released by KTVU Channel 2 News on Wednesday night revealed that a Paly student, whose identity has been concealed, is facing his third sexual assault charge.

    According to the KTVU story, the student, who is a member of Paly’s varsity baseball team, has been convicted twice of sexual assault of a minor in juvenile court, all the while attending Paly.

    Many students are confused as to why the student is still allowed to be in attendance of Paly.

    “They should expel him immediately because that is unsafe for all the students here,” sophomore Maia Lagna said. “Anyone can be a victim if he is still walking around. That’s unsafe for all the students and all the people in this neighborhood.”

    Paly administration acknowledges these concerns, stressing that students’ safety and wellness is their top priority.

    “I think the most important thing is making sure the students here understand that when something happens, that there are adults that want to help them,” Principal Kim Diorio said. “Anything we can do to foster a culture where people realize that safety and how they’re feeling on our campus is our primary focus, and [we are] making sure that our school climate is really supportive.”

    Students also expressed their concern that the school did not tell them about this incident earlier.

    “We as students have a right to know about this sort of danger on campus,” Lagna said. “Them [the school] not publicizing this more adds to the whole idea that it’s not a real problem, that sexual assault can be swept under the carpet. It’s unfair to the victims.”

    However according to Diorio, the administration was not allowed to share this information, due to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This federal law protects student privacy and outlines when schools can disclose information about a minor.

    “There’s a lot of information we can’t share because of confidentiality and privacy,” Diorio said. “But we do everything proactively behind the scenes to make sure that that person doesn’t pose a risk to anyone on the campus.”

    While some students are against allowing the student to continue attending Paly, Diorio explains the legal obligation Paly has as a public institution.

    “All students have the right to a free, public education,” Diorio said. “So if there’s a student who’s convicted of a crime, any crime, and they are not in juvenile hall, they have the right to be here and we have the right to educate that person and make sure that they are not a danger or threat to anyone else on this campus. We do this regularly and we follow through and we handle things to make sure that that’s always the situation.”

    Editors’ Note: Adrienne Kwok and Aidan Maese-Czeropski contributed to the reporting of this story. this story has been updated