Harassment allegations surrounding Fishers High School swimmer spark controversy, protest

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FISHERS, Ind. – Hamilton Southeastern Schools is facing controversy over a decision to let a Fishers High School student swim at a sectional swim meet Saturday despite an earlier suspension of the student due to being accused of sexual harassment.

A protest by parents unhappy with the decision is planned outside Hamilton Southeastern High School at noon, the same time as the swim meet Saturday. These parents say the student should not be allowed to swim after being accused of harassment.

The Fishers Police Department confirms the IndyStar's report that there is an open harassment case, but say there is no active investigation into the matter. The IndyStar reports the student was originally suspended by the school following the accusations of harassment which caused him not to meet the minimum required amount of participation to enter the swim meet.

Bobby Cox, a commissioner with the Indiana High School Athletic Association, said school administrators later appealed to the IHSAA to allow the student back on the team after the girl's swim season wound to an end.

Cox clarified the IHSAA's decision and role in the matter by stating:

"Fishers High School suspended a member of their boys’ swimming team for behavior they deemed inappropriate. Prior to the tournament, the school contacted the Association seeking a waiver of the provisions of Rule 50-4 which is a participation rule for individual sport participants.  The school reinstated the student to membership on the team and then asked the Association to waive Rule 50-4. This rule clearly allows the Commissioner to waive the rule and at the bequest of our member school principal and athletic director, I waived the rule allowing his entry into the IHSAA tournament in boys swimming."

Cox stated the IHSAA was told the student was suspended originally due to sending inappropriate text messages to female students.

A Facebook page was created by parents protesting the decision which states, "The school district and IHSAA are sending a clear message to our students that male athletes are not held accountable for sexual assault or threats of sexual assault."

The IndyStar reports the student is one of the state's top swimmers.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools commented on the matter by stating federal law prohibits them from releasing any information about the involved parties in the matter, but did add, "in all situations involving allegations of student misconduct, our schools are guided by two principles – the safety and security of all students involved and the right to privacy afforded to them by law."

The school district said their process for responding to reports of harassment includes a thorough investigation and on-going support for the well-being of all involved, including continued monitoring and taking into account any changing dynamics.

"We believe we have proceeded with this situation in the same manner," the school district said.

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