The Fishers Police Department said Friday it has an open harassment case involving a Fishers High School (Ind.) student who is set to compete Saturday in a sectional swim meet.
A detective has not been assigned to the case, and there is not an active investigation, officer Tom Weger said. He said a report on the incident is not publicly available, though, because the case remains open.
The male student, one of the state’s top high school swimmers, was suspended from the team. But now he is set to compete Saturday in the sectional, a development that has enraged at least one parent who is organizing a noon protest that day outside Hamilton Southeastern High School.
IndyStar obtained documents from a parent whose daughter was involved in an investigation by the school into the matter. The documents said the male student would not be allowed to swim with the team “due to substantiated cases of harassment” and “fear exhibited by female swimmers” making the pool a “hostile environment.”
Yet Bobby Cox, a commissioner with the Indiana High School Athletic Association, told IndyStar that school district administrators appealed to IHSAA to allow the male student back on the team. The student’s suspension caused him not to meet the minimum required amount of participation to enter a tournament, so the school reached out to IHSAA to make a verbal appeal.
“Once the girls season was coming to a close, they decided to lift the suspension and asked us to waive the (participation) rule,” Cox said.
The girls swim season ended last weekend.
Cox said the IHSAA originally stuck by the rule, but because the school had suspended the male swimmer and wanted the rule waived, he reconsidered.
“The schools make the rules,” Cox said. “We enforce their rules.”
HSE in a written statement Friday said federal law prohibits the district from releasing “any information about any of the involved parties.”
“Our process for responding to reports of harassment includes a thorough investigation and on-going support for the well-being of all involved,” the statement said. “This includes continued monitoring and taking into account any changing dynamics. We believe we have proceeded with this situation in the same manner.”
IndyStar was unable to reach the parents of the male student. IndyStar is not naming him because he has not been charged with a crime.
The documents IndyStar received appear to be written on Hamilton Southeastern Schools letterhead and signed by Erica Buchanan-Rivera, the district’s chief equity and inclusion officer and Title IX coordinator.
The documents indicate that 12 students were interviewed during the school’s investigation but the male student had “direct contact” with three. The allegations of harassment center around text messages, though the specific nature of the messages was not made clear in the documents.
The parent organizing Saturday’s protest, Reagan Stafford-Tarin, said she planned the event after reaching out to the school board and no one responded.
“I decided I needed to get more attention brought to this because I just find it unacceptable that male athletes are being told that this is OK,” she said.
Stafford-Tarin, who has a son at Hamilton Southeastern High School, said the protest outside the sectional swim meet at Hamilton Southeastern High is scheduled for noon to 3 p.m. She said she wanted to call attention to the brewing controversy.
“I’m just a concerned parent trying to make sure that my son is being given the right message and that my daughter, when she’s in high school, can look forward to having a safe environment where she’s protected,” she said.
As of 5 p.m. Friday, a Facebook event page indicated that nine people planned to attend and 20 others were interested.
IndyStar on Friday spoke to a parent of one of the female students who reported the harassment allegations, and she confirmed there was a Title IX investigation. She declined to comment further.
On Wednesday, two female students who identified themselves as swim team members told school board members during their regular meeting that the situation “caused an extreme level of both stress and tears.”
They said they reported the allegations to an administrator and police officer on Dec. 3.
“Not only has the administration failed to act in the interest of the majority of the swim team and the victims of sexual assault, but they also lied to the team by telling us that we were safe,” one of the girls said.
“The action administration made set the precedent that any elite athlete can participate in post season regardless of their terrible action.”
The second girl said: “I know for a fact that myself and my teammates will not be coming to the school with any other issues like this because we feel that we were not heard and not supported.”
School board member Brad Boyer said the board was told a couple of weeks ago that the male student wasn’t going to be returning to the team.
“I don’t understand what happened or didn’t happen, but that’s alarmed me,” he said.