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Parents plead for change amid claims of sex assault at Chandler elementary school

Posted at 10:17 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-27 10:42:25-04

Claims of sexual assault, bullying and even death threats on an elementary school campus. Now parents are speaking out to get the school board’s attention.

Dozens of parents attended the Chandler Unified School District meeting Wednesday night, advocating for their kids and other families. 

This meeting focused on issues at Tarwater Elementary School. However, ABC15 has learned parents from at least three other schools in the district are voicing similar concerns.

Passionate parents pleading for change and a crackdown on what they say is dangerous and disturbing behavior at Tarwater Elementary School.

Dyan Barela says her fifth-grade daughter was sexually assaulted and verbally harassed by a boy in class. She says there was no discipline, no police report and no follow up. 

“She came home and told us that he had put his hands on her,” Barela said. “It was not handled at all, in fact, our child’s safety was not a concern at all.”

Kassidy Harstad says she has been fighting to protect her son for the past two years.

“There’s been one child who has continually put his hands on my child, made threats to kill him, threats to harm him,” Harstad said.

In a letter, the school’s principal acknowledged an “increase in incidents involving inappropriate behaviors” and laid out a plan for action.

It includes increasing supervision, explaining what inappropriate behaviors may look like and teaching students how to report them.

Still, parents say more needs to be done because there is so much at stake.

“I wish I could be on campus with him all day and protect him, but that’s not realistic,” Harstad said. “I’m just hoping by parents speaking up about what their kids have gone through that maybe we can keep our kiddos safe in school.”

This all comes on the heels of the Hamilton High football sex abuse scandal which came to light a little more than a year ago. Same area, same district, which says it is investigating these new claims.