Gunn robotics team member accused of harassment gets a lawyer

Gunn High School

Daily Post Staff Writer

A Gunn High School student who was booted off the robotics team after taunting his ex-girlfriend about her sexual performance at school has lawyered up and gone to court to be let back on the team.

On Feb. 7, the 16-year-old boy’s Los Angeles-based attorney, Alec Rose, entered a petition in the case was originally filed last month by the girl’s family against the Palo Alto Unified School District.

The girl’s family is asking a judge to permanently ban the boy from the robotics team. The girl’s family is represented by San Jose attorneys Crystal Riggins and Laura Riparbelli.

The boy is seeking to intervene in the case to convince a judge he should be allowed back on the team.

In the meantime, the court has ordered the boy off the team until the matter is settled in court.

Boy has speech disability

Rose, the attorney for the boy, said the district failed to determine whether the boy’s alleged sexual harassment of the girl was a manifestation of his speech-related disability, in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Act.

That law requires school districts to limit discipline of disabled students to 10 days unless the student’s misconduct is found to be unrelated to his or her disability.

Rose said the boy has a significant pragmatic speech disability, also known as social communication disorder.

The district found that the boy qualified for special education in 2016 after an eligibility test found his social speech skills were in the fifth percentile.

His teachers’ rating scales placed his social speech in the second percentile, according to Rose. Superintendent Don Austin said the district would be filing paperwork in the case on Feb. 22.



  1. The boy committed sexual harassment. The girl feels unsafe w him present. Why would his having a disability entitle him to make someone else feel unsafe at school? I don’t think it does.

  2. Does his disability trump her sense of safety? He was determined to have sexually harassed her. He can still get an education even if not on the robotics team.

  3. Everybody’s got something wrong with them … at some point you just have to judge by behavior. The evidence in this trial by internet suggests he harrassed her for an extended period of time. Thus I, by the powers vested in me by the Internet, judge him guilty and sentence him to find another robotics team.

    I realize that the prerequisits for Stanford, MIT, Carnegie, Harvard, and Cal Tech require a minimum of 4 years of membership on specifically and only the Gunn or Bellarmine teams, so that means that this boy will never attend a top school and so will spend the rest of his life* making mud bricks in a dirt field somewhere in Alabama. But justice simply must be done, even to the socially innept. The girl is sentanced to 5 months of “how to choose a boyfriend” remedial class and shall be required to aquire a social life entirely separate from her parent’s demands so that she can meet a wider set of people.

    Case closed.

  4. If he has autism, he might say things inappropriate without knowing that what he says or acts inappropriate. I am a school psychologist and have dealt with kids like that before. He might even obsess over it. It would be considered part of his disorder. It doesn’t mean he should get off, but if could put it in perspective. I don’t know if he has autism, but often children described as having communication issues are.

  5. Something doesn’t add up. The harassment piece seems undisputed. He did make disparaging comments, sent text messages, etc. Why the heck are the boys’ parents fighting back? They should be glad he is still able to attend Gunn. If he forced her to perform oral sex on him why wouldn’t this be considered sexual assault / rape?

  6. You’ve got a repeat of the situation at Paly with the baseball player who sexually assaulted two girls. Board policy and the school’s handbook said that after the first assault he should have been removed from school. That’s not only a punishment but an attempt to protect other girls from the same fate. But because he was disabled, just like this young man at Gunn, he is allowed to remain in school. Wave the disability flag and different rules apply. In the Paly case, letting the boy return led to the next sex assault, and now the district has paid a $190,000 settlement to the victim and her family in that case. Had the district followed its own rules and not allowed the boy to return, we could have saved that money and—much more importantly—prevented a sex assault on the Paly campus.

    • KG,
      You’re combining two separate cases at Paly. The $190K was not for the assault by the baseball player.

      I know, with all the assaults that go on at PAUSD, it’s hard to sort them all out.

      We also need to understand that “disability” by school standards is not the same as most people think about a disability. It can be something like dyslexia, or in this case a speech issue. Neither of which cause one to assault or harass another. But it 1) provides the student with additional due process and also gives the district a shield to hide behind when things go south.

  7. @B Wayne, how are you able to tell the Paly cases apart since the names haven’t been released publicly? I’m a tad suspicious and would like you to identify your source or provide a link.

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