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High school 'twerking' suspensions to be appealed

May 07, 2013|By Tony Perry

Students will get a chance to shake their fingers in protest over being busted for shaking their behinds in a suggestive "twerking" video.

The two-day suspensions meted out to 31 high school students in San Diego have been served and the students are eligible to return to class, according to a memo provided by the school superintendent to school board members.

In the video, filmed on campus at Scripps Ranch High School, the students are shown twisting and thrusting their hips and buttocks, with rap music playing in the background. The term "twerking" is said to be a mix of the words twist and jerk.

"It is my personal opinion that the video is a deeply offensive production with implications for lewd conduct, sexual harassment and gender victimization," Supt. Bill Kowba wrote. "It is especially insulting to [Scripps Ranch High], having been filmed on district property without district/school authorization."

Some students and parents are attending discipline hearings, with some students challenging their suspensions during an appeals process that will take place this week. The video and the punishment have caused controversy, both locally and nationwide, the newspaper reported.

The suspensions were given to "28 white females and 3 male students of color," Kowba wrote. He described their actions as "gyrating against a wall while standing on their hands." The music, he wrote, was "salacious."

The school's principal, Anne Menna, said that all of the parents were contacted and that "in all but a couple of instances, the parents were disappointed and embarrassed," according to the memo.

Kowba said he has asked district officials, including the district's top lawyer, to review the suspension process to make sure that due process was followed.

He asked that school board members refrain from making public comments about an incident that is "both sensational and scandalous, an attractive media item." He also asked that the memo not be released, though it was quickly leaked to the media.

The video was posted on the Internet but has since been removed.

Before the memo, school trustee Scott Barnett asked that the suspensions be discussed by the board in a closed session next week to determine if the punishments were appropriate to the actions.

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tony.perry@latimes.com

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