BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
A judge ruled today (March 26) that a Gunn High School junior who sexually harassed a teammate on the school’s robotics team can participate in team activities for 12 hours a week, the minimum amount of extracurricular time required for course credit.
The boy may still be banned from the team for his senior year if Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Helen Williams ultimately sides with the girl, who went to court in January to have the boy permanently banned from the team.
Williams ruled today that until she decides the overall outcome of the case, the boy can participate in the team for 12 of the 48 available hours per week for the rest of his junior year.
The girl can participate in the other 36 hours per week so the two are kept apart. She will have preference for which hours she spends at team activities, Williams ruled.
Both students are allowed to attend robotics club field trips with supervision.
A court order temporarily suspended the boy from the robotics club two months ago, after the girl took the case to court.
The two teens dated briefly as sophomores, but the boy allegedly forced the girl to perform a sex act in January 2018.
After she broke up with him over the alleged assault, the boy started to harass the girl at school and over vulgar text messages, making obscene, insulting comments in front of other students.
The Palo Alto school district investigated the case and banned the boy from the robotics team in November, finding that he had harassed her.
The alleged sex assault took place off campus, so the district didn’t investigate it.
The boy’s parents fought the decision to ban him from the robotics team with the state Office of Administrative Hearings, which found that the district failed to hold a “manifestation hearing” to determine whether the harassment was related to the boy’s pragmatic speech disability, also known as social communication disorder.
Under disability law, failing to hold that hearing precludes the district from imposing any discipline on the boy that would last longer than 10 days.
On Jan. 18, district officials told the girl’s parents that the boy was allowed back on the team, but that they would be providing an “escort” at team activities.
Claiming the escort provided inadequate protection, the girl petitioned the court to force the district to reverse its decision and ban the boy from the team again.
A hearing in the case is scheduled for May 31.