Mother upset with response to ‘groping game’ at daughter’s school

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INDIANAPOLIS – An Indianapolis mother says her daughter is among several female victims of an inappropriate and long-running “game” involving groping and sexual harassment among sixth graders at a local school.

The IPS Sidener Academy is investigating the allegations, but Alicia Ridner says she’s now pulling her 12-year-old daughter out of the high-performing school because she doesn’t believe enough is being done to protect the girls.

Ridner said the principal called her three weeks ago to notify her of an investigation involving her 12-year-old daughter. Ridner said she had to wait until her daughter got home to find out what was going on.

“Tears started streaming down her face and she proceeded to tell me how they’ve been groping her, punching them in their private parts… they’ve renamed the days of the week to different things so it’s like a game for them,” Ridner said.

Ridner said her daughter told her that six boys in her class had come up with the game, which referred to days like “Free Booty Friday” and others that referred private parts and vulgar sex acts. She claimed her daughter and four or five of her classmates endured the treatment for months before finally coming forward.

“The boys call themselves’ the clique’ or ‘the pack’ and it’s been going on the whole school year,” Ridner told Fox59. “The girls were fearful every time a teacher left the room because it would happen.”

IPS spokesman John Althardt told Fox59 News that there are multiple investigations into the allegations. He said the case was reported to the Department of Child Services, but there has been no action taken. IPS police also investigated, but have not found anything criminal.

Althardt said IPS also opened its own Title IX investigation, but he said he couldn’t comment on the allegations or the investigation until it is complete. Title IX investigations can include sexual harassment, sexual violence or sexual discrimination.

“How do you train your children to do the right thing, tell people and expect to be protected when they do that and they’re not?” Ridner asked. “You expect them to be safe at school or at least for the school to protect them.”

Alicia said the boys were removed from class during the investigation. She was notified Friday morning that the boys would be returning to class soon. She said the only other action the principal told her about included an assignment for everyone involved.

“She said, ‘I’ve talked it over with my director. We’ve assigned them all an essay,’” Ridner explained.

Ridner said her daughter won’t be at school to complete that essay—she’s already looking for a new school.

“It’s supposed to be an exceptional school that she fought to get into, had the grades, tested to get in there, and now she has to be pulled because she can’t focus,” Ridner said. “She’s stressed out. She shakes and cries every day that she comes home.”

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