BANGOR — The mother of a Bangor High School sophomore thinks the school’s administration has failed to protect her daughter from obscene taunts and insults.
And she has made her complaint public.
In big, block letters, Cathy Frost-Bailey has declared “Bangor High Supports Sexual Harassment” on the marquee outside Hammond Street Video, which she owns.
A three-week investigation into allegations her daughter made against a former boyfriend ended Thursday with the case being closed by school administrators.
At a meeting with her and her daughter, Shanna Bailey, the high school’s assistant principal said that no action would be taken against the boy, according to Frost-Bailey.
“All Shanna asked for was an apology,” Frost-Bailey said. “If she’d just gotten the apology she asked for we would have walked out of there happy.”
But because “the people paid to protect [Shanna] would not do their job, now as a parent I have to do mine,” Frost-Bailey said.
Thus the sign that she wrote Thursday just after the meeting.
The problem, however, is that “we could not prove the allegations,” said Norris Nickerson, principal at Bangor High School. “If we can prove them we discipline the student. But we can’t go on hearsay.”
James Doughty, Bangor’s school superintendent, said the system’s affirmative action officer — currently assistant high school principal Ray Bussiere — investigates all claims of sexual harassment as thoroughly as possible.
But in some incidents “with our capabilities we can reach a point of `he said, she said,”‘ Doughty said. “We have to follow the laws and everyone’s rights.”
What angers Frost-Bailey is that in her opinion the school administrators “gave more weight” to the stories of the accused boy, who denied the allegations, and to the words of his friends who backed him up than to her daughter’s complaints.
Shanna said that if she “had been given a fair chance” to have her story substantiated she would have proved her case.
“The males got believed and the female didn’t,” her mother said.
According to the written report Shanna filed with high school administrators, a few weeks after she broke up with her boyfriend in late February, he began to tell lewd and insulting jokes to her face. The harassment included “sexual innuendo.”
The two were in the same honors chemistry class and sat at the same study hall desk in back-to-back periods. Where he had previously left “love messages,” he began leaving crude notes behind on the desk for her, according to Shanna.
Eventually the harassment became “relentless,” and she began to fear going into chemistry class.
Holding the tip of her forefinger and the tip of her thumb about a quarter-inch apart, Shanna said, “They reduced me to about this big.”
Her mother said she will not take down the sign “until there’s a change” at the high school.
Shanna and her mother hope the sign encourages girls who are sexually harassed in school to speak up.
The school system will not try to force Frost-Bailey to take the sign down, Superintendent Doughty said. “It’s free speech.”
Neither the Frost-Baileys nor school officials would reveal the name of the boy.