NBC 7 has obtained a San Diego Unified School District internal memo warning trustees not to speak publicly about the suspension of 33 high school students over a “twerking” video, because federal privacy laws prevent district officials from talking about student discipline.
In an e-mail sent Thursday, San Diego Unified Superintendent Bill Kowba called the incident involving Scripps Ranch High School students “sensational and scandalous.”
SRHS Principal Anne Menna suspended 33 students Tuesday for sexual harassment following the publishing of a “twerking” video on YouTube.
In the clip, students ranging from freshmen to seniors pop their hips and buttocks in a dance move made popular by the hip-hop artist Diplo.
Kowba describes the students involved as “28 white females and 3 male students of color.”
“The video consists of a twerking display, young women gyrating against a wall while standing on their hands. A young male is in the video in a sexually suggestive role,” Supt. Kowba explained in the memo.
“It is my personal opinion that the video is a deeply offensive production with implications for lewd conduct, sexual harassment, and gender victimization,” he wrote.
Kowba states that the majority of parents were disappointed and embarrassed. There were some exceptions according to the memo.
Some of the parents claim their daughters thought they were helping a classmate with a school project and were not aware the video would include offensive music or be made available online.
One Scripps Ranch parent has called the superintendent directly to find out how the video was shot with school equipment on school grounds without faculty or security interference.
She also felt the video’s producer should be punished more severely than the dancers.
Kowba has asked the district’s legal team to review the actions taken by the principal to ensure the “every consideration was rendered to all parties.”
The video was removed from YouTube but a shorter version appeared later and has been featured on national news websites.
Because of the school’s special rules regarding senior activities, some of those suspended are also banned from attending prom or walking at graduation. Seniors can file an appeal requesting the ability to attend those activities.