The Shaker student arrested Sept.10 for the alleged rape of a female student will almost definitely face expulsion. Additionally, new details from school and police officials suggest the incident did not occur in a locker room.
Without even considering a criminal verdict, Principal Michael Griffith said the maximum penalty the high school could give to the student is 90 days out of school; an 80-day expulsion with a 10-day suspension. That 90-day punishment is at the principal’s discretion.
Beyond that, there are longer punishments for more heinous acts, decided by the superintendent. “It could be up to a year,” Griffith said. “The superintendent has to support that.”
Griffith said a full-year expulsion is “very rare.” He said, “In 13 years [that Griffith has been principal], it’s happened once, maybe.” The superintendent, however, could expel the student for even longer.
“I don’t want to convict or say someone’s guilty when we don’t have all of the facts,” Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings Jr. said.
However, Hutchings would not rule anything out. “Permanent expulsion is always an option for anybody,” Hutchings said. “One thing I can tell you is that anybody who I think poses a threat to the safety of our students or staff — they’re not welcome in our schools, period.”
Barring permanent expulsion, Griffith said the suspect, as with any expelled student, could return to school eventually.
In days following the incident, a rumor circulated that the alleged rape occurred in a locker room due to signs on the doors informing students that they were locked.
However, according to Athletic Director Don Readance, the locker rooms were closed because staff were “checking to make sure the locks were all operable.” Additionally, Griffith said, to his knowledge, the doors had been locked since Tuesday morning, before the incident occurred.
Shaker Police Chief Scott Lee said the police department has not closed any parts of the school. “We don’t have any parts of the school locked down, which would be considered a crime scene,” Lee said. “I don’t know if the school has taken steps to close down parts of the school.”
Asked if there is security footage of the incident, Griffith said, “Not that I’m aware of.”
Griffith noted how unusual this incident is. “Generally, the things that result in a kid being incarcerated were in the community,” Griffith said. Further, most expulsions occur because of acts “on campus.”
This incident involves potential incarceration for an act on campus, a rarity.
In an email to staff about the incident, Griffith told teachers to “avoid any conversations regarding this.”
Hutchings clarified Griffith’s quote. “It’s not to tell teachers not to talk about it, it’s to tell teachers not to embellish and to give information that they don’t know,” he said.
“Everything that they know is what they should know,” Hutchings said. “They can always read from the letter [Griffith] sent out, the email I sent out yesterday. They can share that information with any and everyone. We just do not want people giving false information or details about something they really don’t know about.”
“No one has information,” Griffith said. “If the adults actually had information to have a conversation about, maybe then I’d think differently.”
One common message from all school officials: do not speculate, especially over social media. “It serves no one — either the two students involved or anyone else — any good to speculate,” Griffith said.
Griffith said some claims on social media could be seen as “slanderous.”
“I would say to any young person, any young adult: We weren’t there, that’s not our job to ferret out. The police, that’s their role,” Griffith said.
“We need to stay out of that,” he said. “Not speculate about that, not create rumor about that, because the truth of the matter is, we don’t have the knowledge and information to make any judgment about what happened. We know something horrible happened that is hurtful to two young people and to their families. That’s all we know.”
Read all of our coverage so far here.