The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education has opened an investigation into a Georgia elementary school for its handling of a sexual assault that allegedly took place in an elementary school bathroom after a district-wide policy was enacted allowing male students to enter the girls’ bathroom.
On the evening of November 16, 2017, Pascha Thomas’s five-year-old daughter complained of vaginal pain. That’s when her daughter said she had been sexually assaulted by a male classmate in the bathroom at Oakhurst Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia earlier that week.
By her daughter’s account, she had asked the teacher if she could be excused from class to use the restroom. When she was coming out of the bathroom stall, the child said, a male classmate who had followed her into the bathroom was waiting for her.
Victim’s Mother Says She Was Treated Like The Bad Guy
A redacted version of the narrative complaint states that he allegedly “pushed her against a wall, pushed his hand between her legs, and repeatedly felt and poked at her genitals while she struggled and called out for him to stop. No one came to help.”
The next day, Pascha went to report her daughter’s story to school officials, which was relayed to the Decatur Police Department. It was determined that the Department of Family and Children Services (DFCS) would coordinate services for her daughter and the boy who allegedly assaulted her. Pascha took her daughter to the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Hospital to be examined later that day, where she again complained of vaginal pain.
She heard nothing from school officials for several weeks, during which Pascha says they dodged her repeated calls and ignored her requests to speak with them. When they finally agreed to meet with her on December 8, Pascha learned the boy her daughter says assaulted her identifies as “gender fluid.” He had been allowed to use the girl’s bathroom due to a district-wide policy change that allowed students to use whatever bathroom they felt was “correct,” and that the policy would remain in place — allowing him to continue using the same restroom as her daughter.
School Official Says It’s Irrelevant If Victims Are Believed
Decatur Schools spokeswoman, Courtney Burnett, confirmed to The Federalist the policy remains in place to this day. When asked if it’s important to believe women and girls when they say they have been sexually assaulted, Burnett said that is irrelevant.
“Whether or not a woman is believed has nothing to do with this,” she said. “No one has been sexually assaulted.”
After declining to comment further, Burnett sent the following statement to The Federalist via e-mail:
City Schools of Decatur is committed to supporting all students. We are aware of the unfounded allegations made by the Alliance Defending Freedom. We fully disagree with their characterization of the situation and are addressing it with the Office of Civil Rights. As this is a pending legal matter, we have no further comment at this time.
The policy change was enacted shortly after the Obama administration sent letters to every school district across the country in May 2016, threatening to withdraw federal funds unless they got rid of separate bathrooms for girls and boys. Without informing the students’ parents, Decatur Schools Superintendent David Dude sent a district-wide e-mail to staff ordering them to allow male students to use the girls’ restrooms and locker rooms and participate in girl’s athletics if they choose.
In a Facebook post in February 2017, Dude notified the public about his district’s bathroom policy for the first time. In the post, he reportedly stated the Trump administration reversed the policy changed outlined in the letter Obama Department of Education officials had sent the year before, but that they would continue keep the policy allowing male students to use girls’ facilities.
Decatur School’s reasoning behind its decision to continue following the since-rescinded Obama Administration guidance doesn’t make sense under Title IX, since “Title IX explicitly prohibits schools from creating sexually hostile environments,” said Christiana Holcomb of the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing Pascha.
Pascha says Oakhurst Elementary never told parents a boy who identified as “gender fluid” was allowed to use the girls’ restroom. To Pascha’s knowledge, she says, the school never questioned the boy about the alleged assault and instead apparently named Pascha as the responsible party when reporting the sexual assault to DFCS.
When child services showed up at Pascha’s door to investigate the sexual assault, she was surprised to be treated as if she had done something wrong. DFCS investigators questioned Pascha and her children separately and contacted friends and family members before dropping the investigation — an indignity Pascha’s attorney says she should have never been put through.
“I’m not sure why they’re discounting her account of this assault other than that it is contrary to the narrative that they want to push about the transgender restroom policies,” Holcomb said.
After the incident and the schools’ unwillingness to investigate it, Pascha has enrolled her daughter in another school to ensure that she does not experience further retribution. The little girl remains traumatized and will need counseling for many more years, Holcomb told The Federalist.
You can watch Pascha Thomas tell her story in her own words in the video produced by ADF below.