The American Civil Liberties Union is getting involved in the twerking controversy at Scripps Ranch High School.
The ACLU sent a letter to SRHS Principal Ann Menna expressing serious concerns about the suspension of 31 students for the making of a music video in which students dance suggestively on school property. The music video was produced during school hours and using school equipment.
The ACLU’s legal director David Loy wrote the suspensions were unjustified and excessive and that the principal is wrongly interpreting the state's sexual harassment code.
"It twists and trivializes the purpose of sexual harassment policies to use them to punish students they were designed to protect,” Loy wrote. “The records of all students involved should not be tarred with such a serious violation in these circumstances.”
Loy continued, “the mass suspensions appear to be illegal and ill-advised.”
SRHS administrators have stood by their decision to suspend 31 students for making the twerk video.
Earlier this week, NBC 7 obtained a memo on school letterhead explained the procedure followed by Principal Menna and others at the school and demanding a school board trustee retract his criticism of how the issue was handled. The memo was delivered by the email account of the school’s head counselor Jane Morrill and was signed “The SRHS Counselors and Counseling Support Staff.”
On Tuesday, parents of the suspended students urged the school board to intervene but members said it’s not within their jurisdiction to overturn California code.
The ACLU is urging the board to reconsider the suspensions.
For those unfamiliar with the trend, twerking involves popping of the hips in a suggestive dance
Parents have defended the students’ actions with some dismissing the video as high school antics and others explaining that their daughters thought they were helping a classmate with a school project.
The Scripps Ranch HS student handbook specifically outlines its sexual harassment policy prohibiting “verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature made by someone from or in the educational setting.”