Education

Wichita student sexually battered during a school field trip last week

Wichita public schools administrative center
Wichita public schools administrative center Courtesy photo

A Wichita seventh-grader told school staff she was sexually battered by a fellow student while she was on a school field trip to the Sedgwick County Zoo last week.

Both the girl and the student who touched her attend Coleman Middle School, Wichita public schools spokeswoman Susan Arensman confirmed. They were on a seventh-grade field trip to the zoo on April 26 when the girl was the subject of unwanted, inappropriate touching.

Arensman wouldn't give specifics of what exactly occurred but said the pair were standing in a group with other students and adults when the girl was touched.

“Sexual battery can be, like, touching areas of someone’s rear end. So it’s that kind of situation," Arensman said, speaking generally.

It happened "towards the end of the visit" to the zoo, Arensman said. A law enforcement report says the girl was battered sometime between 9:20 a.m. and 1:55 p.m. April 26.

The field trip was scheduled between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., according to Coleman's website. The zoo is at 5555 W. Zoo Blvd.

"There were many students around and adults that were around," Arensman said, adding that this "didn’t happen in an isolated area."

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The girl told staff about the battery either later that day or the following day, she said. A 50-year-old woman notified law enforcement about it around noon on April 27, according to a law enforcement document — when school was in session. That woman's name — as well as the girl's — was redacted from the document.

“When it was reported to school staff, they investigated, meaning they … interviewed students and possible witnesses. And then, as we do, we contacted the sheriff’s office, which is protocol," Arensman said.

"Law enforcement will decide how to move further as far as criminal investigation, and the school takes its own disciplinary action (against the suspect student) based on its (the school's) investigation."

The student responsible has been disciplined, Arensman said. But she wouldn't disclose what kind of discipline that student received.

“When something is brought up to us, we always investigate," Arensman said. "We take appropriate action.”

Because the alleged crime happened at the zoo, which is under the county's jurisdiction, the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office is investigating the report.

Lt. Timothy Myers said this week by email that investigators were looking into it.

Arensman said about 150 seventh-graders went on the April 26 zoo field trip. More than a dozen adults were along to supervise, she said.

Coleman Middle School is at 1544 N. Governeour, near 13th and Woodlawn.

Amy Renee Leiker: 316-268-6644, @amyreneeleiker
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