District must apologize to student

Corona del Mar alumna who endured homophobic taunts says she’s pleased that school will also provide training on gender issues to students and staff, per settlement.

September 09, 2009|By Brianna Bailey

As part of a legal settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, the Newport-Mesa Unified School District will provide a written apology to a former Corona del Mar High School student who claims school officials did little to stop four varsity athletes from harassing her with homophobic and sexist taunts, attorneys in the case announced Wednesday.

The school district also has agreed to provide training on gender issues to students and staff at Corona del Mar High School and other school administrators as part of the settlement.

“I am very happy to know that, because of the trainings and oversight directed at Corona del Mar High School, no one else will have to go through what I went through last year,” former Corona del Mar High School student Hail Ketchum said in a written statement released Wednesday. “School principals and vice principals should offer protection to all students regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Threats against women students along with hate speech against gay or lesbian students should not be tolerated under any circumstances.”


Ketchum, who graduated from Corona del Mar last spring, was identified publicly for the first time Wednesday. She had previously been referred to in legal documents by the pseudonym “Mary.”

Three male students at Corona del Mar posted a video on the social networking website Facebook, allegedly discussing raping Ketchum in the back of a pickup truck and killing her, and a fourth male student taunted her at school, the lawsuit claimed.

The male students were never disciplined for their actions, according to the ACLU’s lawsuit, and criminal charges were never brought against them.

The training students and school district staff will take as a result of the settlement will include topics like how to identify bias, harassment or discrimination based upon sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and how to file a complaint about harassment with the school district.

“We believe this training program will raise awareness for staff and students and will contribute to an overall positive environment at Corona del Mar High School,” Laura Boss, a spokeswoman for the school district, said in a written statement.

The school district admitted to no wrongdoing as part of the legal settlement.

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