Students at an Independence high school are banding together in support of a classmate who said another student sexually assaulted her off school grounds.
That senior said that, when she initially went to administrators, she didn’t get all the help she needed.
Shelby Bryan said the incident happened over spring break last school year while she was with a group having a sleepover. She said a classmate and someone she considered a friend sexually assaulted her.
She said what she experienced last school year changed her life.
"I... it was just difficult for me to believe that this was happening to me in the first place, much less get up and do something about it," she said.
She told the school about it in November. She claims it wasn’t until this week that she was offered all of the options available to help her with recovering from the incident.
The Truman High teen said the thought of going to the police or the school administration gave her anxiety.
She eventually did in November, because she shared a class with the other student.
Bryan said the response she received from the school was “disappointing.”
She told KCTV5 News she was offered a class change and, when she eventually went to her school counselor, she was handed a list of numbers to call to help manage what she was dealing with.
"I was pretty much given a class change and was told by the police officer what was done to me would only be considered disorderly conduct, and I felt like, if the administration wasn't going to do anything, there was no point in me filing a police report," she said.
It wasn’t until there became a large social media presence that she said the school took up her cause, offering to change when she would switch classes so as to avoid him in the hall, a different lunch period, and a separation through the school during senior-year school events.
“I wish that they would have done that when I initially reported it to them, because that's what they're supposed to do,” Bryan said. “It shouldn't take me working for it. It shouldn’t take me getting the attention of the media for them to kind of cover themselves and say they offered me help now.”
She now hopes that her situation will encourage other students that may be dealing with something similar to speak up, and that the people banding with her will ensure students get all the help they need when they come the first time.
"I want her to get the help then," she said. "Not two months later, not when she starts to get the attention of other people who are mad about it. I want it to be a given that she gets all of these things."
KCTV5 News reached out to the Independence School District. They said they are a mandatory reporter, so any accusations of sexual assault would be given over to Children’s Services for them to determine if an investigation is necessary.
Full statement from the district: We reached out to the student’s parent, asking to sign a release to allow us to share all of the supports we put in place for the student and they did not grant us permission. The Independence School District takes all reports involving the safety and security of our students very seriously. While the District is not able to specifically address false accusations about the District’s response because of student privacy protection, we want to be clear that in each case in which a student comes to administrators to report concerning allegations happening out of school and off campus, administrators offer support and resources, including schedule changes, regular counseling and assistance filing a police report. While we encourage students to file a police report, we cannot compel a student to do so. We want to encourage any student with concerns or questions to bring those directly to school administrators to allow our schools and our District to continue to maintain a safe learning environment for all students.Copyright 2018 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.