Students protest outside Beloit Board of Education meeting

BELOIT, Wis. (WMTV) -- Students held a protest outside the School District of Beloit Board of Education meeting Tuesday evening after recent allegations of sexual assault on a school trip.

This protest was the second of the day, after students held a peaceful protest at Beloit Memorial High School during the day. Outside the district building Tuesday evening, students chanted "can you hear us," while holding posters. Many attended the meeting itself inside, which was packed with community members and featured a public comment portion. The protests were in reaction to allegations that a student sexually assaulted other high schoolers earlier in April.

"There was a lack of response from the school board about the sexual allegations that came out," said Beloit Memorial High School senior and co-organizer of the protests, Gloria Heiss.

Heiss said she felt as if students were not being heard by the board.

"Communication is key, definitely, and that you don't need to get all the answers, you just need to say something, because silence is not going to work," Heiss said.

Students were not the only concerned attendees at the Tuesday night meeting.

"If somebody has been victimized, to have to see that person everyday is reliving the trauma," said Tia Johnson, a parent of a student in the Beloit school district.

Interim superintendent Tony Bosco said that they are now looking at field trip policies.

"We've already had some preliminary discussion with the board about looking at some of our field trip policy, specifically the overnight bus trips," said Bosco.

Bosco also said that they are "extremely proud" of the conduct of students who participated in the protests at the high school earlier in the day. The students staged a peaceful, non disruptive protest.

"Transparency is always the goal, but again, the idea that we're working within protection of rights for all the students involved in the situation, due process, FERPA, etc., there are limited amounts of transparency that we can give," Bosco said. "But as information comes about, the process will be as transparent as it can be within the confines of our legal guidance."

Some students in attendance said the situation isn't good for anyone.

"It's just really taking our school and splitting it up more than it already was, and it's just overall bad," said student Isaac Johnson.

Brian Vissers, the Community Relations Coordinator & Public Information Officer for the district, said he did not anticipate the district making any more statements regarding the allegations as the investigation is ongoing. Instead, he referred to a statement the district issued last week, which said, "The District’s ability to disclose confidential information about a particular student is governed by state and federal law. Under the applicable laws, the District is required to maintain the confidentiality of pupil records and information including but not limited to information about student discipline."