Great Bend school superintendent addresses school bus incident

GREAT BEND, Kansas – Great Bend Superintendent Brad Reed addressed the media Monday on an alleged incident that took place involving multiple Great Bend High School swimmers. He said the falsehoods and circulation of misinformation has resulted in students, coaches and administrators receiving threats.

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Superintendent Reed read a prepared statement and did not take questions from the media. He told reporters that the reason he can’t answer questions is because of federal student privacy laws. The superintendent says he has been responsive.

Great Bend students march in support of student victim, February 15, 2016 (KSN photo / Avery Anderson)
Great Bend students march in support of student victim, February 15, 2016 (KSN photo / Avery Anderson)

“This incident was handled swiftly and appropriately,” Reed said. “The incident happened late on a Saturday evening and was initially addressed at the time.”

He added that corrective action was taken Monday morning. Reed said that they will continue to work with law enforcement.

“If their investigation provides new information, then we will consider that and respond appropriately,” he said.

Meanwhile, Great Bend students protested Monday the handling of the incident Monday.

They hope by doing so, it will show support for a student whose mom says was assaulted.

USD 428 Superintendent Brad Reed Statement:

Unfortunately, USD 428 and the GBHS Boys Swim Team have been the subject of recent controversial media stories and social media discussion. Even more unfortunately, these have resulted in the circulation of misinformation and falsehoods; falsehoods which have resulted in students of USD 428, as well as coaches and administrators receiving threats and shameful treatment. While my ability to provide details in response has been, and remains, limited by federal student privacy laws, the policies of the district and student privacy rights, I would like to address some of the false statements being circulated.

1) USD 428 has not addressed this issue and has tried to “sweep it under the rug.”

Not true. This incident was handled swiftly and appropriately. The incident happened late on a Saturday evening and was initially addressed at the time. By Monday, the incident had been further investigated and considered by the coaches and administrators and appropriate corrective action was taken. In addition, while the information provided to us by the persons present and involved does not indicate serious criminal activity occurred, we have cooperated with law enforcement in investigating the possibility of criminal conduct. We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement and if their investigation provides new information, we will consider it and respond appropriately.

2) USD 428 has not issued any statements and is attempting to hide something.

Not true. I, as the Superintendent of Schools, and our School Board President have been speaking to the media and issuing statements. As I have stated from the beginning:

“USD 428 has been engaged in this incident from the time it happened. It has been handled in an appropriate manner. All district policies and procedures have been followed.”

We have repeatedly explained to the media that student privacy rights under federal law and district policies prohibit us from providing details about individual students involved – whether they are the victims or perpetrators of alleged misconduct. We are not trying to hide anything. We are following the law.

3) Two students are being allowed to participate in the state swim meet even though they have committed serious infractions.

Not true. No student in USD 428 who should receive discipline would ever be allowed to represent our school district in a sporting event instead of receiving that discipline. That will never happen in USD 428 as long as I am your Superintendent.

I want to assure the citizens of Great Bend that regardless of what they have been hearing in the media, USD 428 is a fabulous school district, filled with outstanding educators who provide a world-class education to their students every day. Our Head Swim Coach, Steve Beaumont, High School Principal, Tim Friess, and Athletic Director, David Meter are stellar examples of the caring professionals in our schools. They have been on top of this incident from the time it happened, and have handled it in an appropriate and swift manner. All USD 428 policies and procedures have been followed, and respect for the privacy and confidentiality of all our students has been maintained.

KSN’s Avery Anderson is covering the protest. Follow her on Twitter:

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