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'Our students need to be heard': Little Elm superintendent discusses student protest, chaos earlier this month

The district is holding a listening session for parents and students at 6 p.m. on Tuesday

LITTLE ELM, Texas — The superintendent of Little Elm Independent School District says students need to be heard and need to be valued following an in-school protest and the chaos that followed earlier this month at Little Elm High School. That student-led protest ended with police using tasers, pepper spray and other force on teens, captured on videos that were widely circulated on social media.

Daniel Gallagher spoke to journalists Tuesday morning ahead of a listening session planned in the evening where community members, parents and students can share their concerns and ideas for moving the district forward.

On Monday, students returned to campus for the first time since the walkout on Friday, Nov. 19. Gallagher said about 50 students walked out of class on Monday in protest and that he talked with them. The first campus demonstration was in reaction to a student reporting a sexual assault about one month ago, according to Gallagher.

The district plans to hold a listening session for parents and students at 6 p.m. on Tuesday at the Little Elm High School Auditorium.

Gallagher said there was lots of information shared on social media following the incident, and the session on Tuesday will provide an opportunity for people to discuss in person.

"Most importantly from our kids, we want to hear from our kids," Gallagher said.

He said that he's proud of all the students in the district and that they're looking forward to the independent reviews of the incident.

"Students [need to] know that we're not just listening, but we're responding. That's important," Gallagher said. "We want our kids to feel safe and know that they're being heard."

The district plans to take several steps following the protest, including:

  • Creating an independent committee to review Little Elm ISD’s sexual misconduct reporting and investigation process.
  • Launching an after-action review of Friday’s incident, and
  • Launching an independent investigation into the alleged sexual harassment incident that lead to the student protest.

City and school district leaders said social media videos fail to show the entire story and what escalated the chaos during the protest.

“We believe that misinformation related to this incident lead to a call by members of the student body to walk out in support of the alleged victim,” Gallagher explained.

Gallagher said police and school administrators investigated the student's claim of sexual assault and determined there was insufficient evidence to prove a crime happened.

A taser was deployed and pepper spray was used on students. Police said officers were assaulted by students. Little Elm Police Department is investigating the actions of each officer involved.

“A large group of students attempted to break into an administrator’s office, in pursuit of targeted individuals, who were in genuine fear for their safety,” Gallagher said.