Harassment policy on Summerville agenda

Brenna Swift, The Union Democrat /

PUBLIC MEETING: Summerville Union High School District Board of Education, 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, school library, 17555 Tuolumne Road, Tuolumne.

Summerville Union High School District's Board of Education will consider adopting a new policy on discrimination and harassment at its board meeting Wednesday.

Superintendent John Keiter said the policy follows California's Safe Place to Learn Act, which requires school districts to adopt written rules against discrimination based on gender, race, sexual orientation or other characteristics.

Summerville already has policies on bullying, Keiter said. The new policy to be considered Wednesday pertains to "hate speech," which is harassment or bullying directed at a minority or protected group.

Several parents showed up at Summerville High's March 21 special board meeting to comment on the subject of bullying and school climate.

Many wanted to speak about freshman Beto Dieste, 15, whose father, Al Dieste, said was driven to the brink of suicide by severe bullying.

Dieste's complaint against the entire Summerville High administration had been on the March 21 meeting agenda. However, Summerville High trustees said the time and place for comments about bullying was the meeting scheduled for tomorrow, April 10.

In the latest move in the protracted dispute between his family and Summerville High, Dieste is appealing the results of Keiter's investigation into the alleged bullying.

Keiter said he found no evidence of the "Hate Beto" club the Diestes described at a December board meeting and that staff handled the situation appropriately.

In a letter Dieste plans to deliver to the school board Wednesday, he wrote that Keiter's 22-page memorandum "contains blatant inaccuracies, misinformation … editorial speculation and conjecture."

Dieste's letter says Beto "may be out of school for the foreseeable future."

Also on Wednesday, trustees will consider approving a new Advanced Placement U.S. History class and an orchestra course.

Before the public session of the meeting, the board will discuss the selection process for Keiter's replacement. Keiter is retiring at the end of this school year.

The Union Democrat
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