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NBC Montana looks at Bozeman High School sex crime policy

Published On: Oct 08 2012 07:00:56 PM MDT   Updated On: Oct 24 2012 10:18:25 AM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

What's the school district's policy in handling reported sex crimes, especially in regards to informing parents?

This question stemmed from a reported sex crime Bozeman High School resource officers said they're investigating. NBC Montana first saw the report in Friday's Bozeman Police log.

Though it's unclear what, if any, crime has been committed -- or if it was even at school -- the question of how the district handles these situations still remains.

"If something happened on campus I would want to know about it," said Bozeman High parent Mark MacWhorter.

Bozeman High School parents like MacWhorter said they want to know when something happens at the school.

"If there was a sexual harassment case," MacWhorter said. "Something sexual to somebody."

But the school district said the issue isn't quite black and white.

"We approach every situation on an individual basis," Superintendent Rob Watson said.

He said they have a general policy written on paper, but each case is different.

"Any time we have any potential incident that would affect student welfare or student safety, then we will make an effort to contact parents," Watson said.

He said they'll always let parents know if there's a case that affects the safety of a large number of students -- in the form of a written note home, or in extreme emergencies, interactive community notification.

But for those smaller cases parent might still want to know about?

"We always have to balance that with the confidentiality of our students and the situation," Watson said.

They can't always send a note home, due to privacy laws.  But if the situation is serious enough, parents will be informed.

"We always want to make sure that students feel safe when they're at school," Watson said. "To that end, when we need to communicate with regards to a particular situation or potential safety hazard, we do that."

MacWhorter said he trusts the school district to use that discretion.

"I have trust in the administration that they would -- whatever that case would be -- they would make the right choices in those case by case situations," he said.

Watson said they do continuously look at their policies, procedures and emergency management.

He said they make appropriate updates as they see necessary.