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November 1, 2022

SRVUSD’s sexual abuse records infected with lies and misconduct.

SRVUSD+needs+to+protect+their+students+rather+than+ignore+them.
Nishita Mukherjee
SRVUSD needs to protect their students rather than ignore them.

 In sixth grade, my favorite teacher was my math teacher. He was so sweet with me, I thought. He would make jokes, give me candy whenever I wanted and would listen to all of my middle school drama.

But over time, I realized that his relationship with me and other girls in the class wasn’t just plain friendly. It started off with small comments and conversations. Calling us his favorites, complimenting my eyes, saying how clear they were and calling them beautiful. I can’t believe I felt so special at that moment. He created nicknames for many women in the classroom, his favorites. Mine was “Pound Cake.”  

After asking him why my nickname was “Pound Cake,” he told me it was because of my smooth skin. Even though it set off red flags in my mind, I dismissed it because I couldn’t have been right. He’s my teacher, a man I should trust. He wouldn’t think of me like that, right? 

It led to comments on my weight and how my body was, how well I was “developing” into a young woman. I was twelve. At some point, he even showed us sexual gestures that my adolescent mind didn’t think much of. And for some of the girls, he physically touched them.

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After learning about these other incidents, I took it to the administration at Windemere Middle School. I had to type multiple reports of my experience and talk to my counselor. I had to give a verbal statement to the police.

I never heard back.

Months passed and it was finally my eighth grade graduation. Among all the speeches and announcements, my principal told everyone that the same teacher I’d complained about was retiring. Amid the applause, I felt a stab in my gut. 

How could this horrible man be celebrated? How is it fair that he gets to retire properly after harassing God knows how many girls in that time? Why does he get to be free from it, when every girl he did this to will always remember?

I remember reading, not too long ago, about other girls with the same exact story, in the same school district as me. I remember that old wound opening up again, and I remember realizing that this wasn’t just a one-off incident. No,  San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) has a pattern of dismissing reports on teachers who have sexually abused students.

Take Nicholas Moseby, who is facing child molestation charges at San Ramon Valley High School. When authorities looked into the details of the case, they found that key reports in the case had gone missing. These were reports of girls who complained about Moseby’s inappropriate behavior, which were then dismissed.

The same thing happened in 2014, with Kevin Lopez, the prior California High School wrestling coach, who was charged with 20 felonies based on lewd acts with minors. Before Lopez was charged, one of his victims sent a lawsuit to the district. It was rejected. 

Within that report, there were allegations that the district didn’t notify authorities after learning of the situation. The report also mentioned that during Lopez’s high school days at CHS, the school didn’t report him hosting parties, soliciting alcohol from middle schoolers and sexually assaulting them. Instead, school officials decided to do their own search, rather than report this to the police as advised.

If SRVUSD had properly addressed these complaints, there could have been hundreds of students who wouldn’t have to live with the trauma they endured. Lives could have been changed. So much pain could have been avoided. But when the system ignores multiple students’ complaints and reports, how can justice be served? How is it fair that lives are ruined because the SRVUSD chooses to ignore red flags?

It isn’t about liking or disliking teachers. It has everything to do with wanting protection and a safe space that can at least try and guarantee sanctuary. Students shouldn’t have to worry about their teachers’ inappropriate behavior, and I shouldn’t have to write this article. We don’t deserve more, we just deserve better.

This story was originally published on Wildcat Tribune on March 1, 2023.