After a related series of sexual assaults involving Brighton students, and how the district handled the aftermath, a new committee has been formed to focus on the psychological well-being of Brighton students.

The teen rapist in the case remains in a juvenile detention facility, but will not be allowed to return to the district or set foot on its property once he is released. However, in the intervening months between the revelation of the sexual assaults by the teen and the announcement that he would not be allowed back into the district, many parents repeatedly raised concerns with the board about the safety of their children if the teen were allowed to return, while the parents of the victims said their daughters were being harassed by other students and they feared the situation would only get worse if the teen was allowed to return.

District officials said legal restrictions prevented them discussing the teen’s status publicly. In the aftermath, a newly-formed committee of district officials and social workers has been tasked with the responsibility of dealing with the problems of sexual harassment and assaults, bullying, cyber-bullying and other issues and, where necessary, with making changes with the social and emotional interests of the students in mind.

Brighton Board of Education President Andy Burchfield said at the board meeting Monday night that it has been very difficult period for the district – perhaps the most difficult in its history – and he thanked the community for its support and patience. The newly-formed committee held its first meeting last week at the BECC Building with about 40 people present. Included were three board members, district administrators, social workers, at-risk and general counselors. The next meeting of the task force will be on January 17.

Burchfield told the audience the board has learned a lot from what has transpired, and said as the task force continues its efforts, is looking at bringing forth a proposal that will include community involvement. Superintendent Greg Gray says as it moves forward, the committee will be working toward the ultimate goal of the psychological well-being of Brighton students. As such, he has given the committee the informal name of the “social and emotional task force”.

One district parent, Todd Krebs, spoke at Monday night’s meeting questioning the quality of the legal advice the district had been receiving during the incident. He also said he also had issues with statements made by a teacher at the November 27th board meeting that students would be taught “refusal skills, how to say no, and make sure it is said in a way that is clear a person means it.” Krebs said he was “stunned” by the “infuriating” implication that the victims of the rapes were somehow to blame and not the rapist himself. He urged the board to review the district’s heath curriculum to address that mind-set. (TT/JK)