Administrators, deputies investigating rumored sexual harassment at Ruckel Middle School dance
NICEVILLE — Parents of Ruckel Middle School students have taken to social media to express concerns about an incident or incidents that took place Friday at a school dance.
Amy Anderson, the mother of a seventh-grader at the school, said several girls who attended the event were upset and crying after the dance and telling stories of a boy or boys who were groping them or their friends in the girls restroom or during the dance.
Anderson said that a fight had also taken place at the dance and there were rumors that a boy or boys had been taken into custody, although those reports have not been verified.
"I pulled up to pick up my daughter and everyone was crying. It was a scene like you'd see after a school shooting," Anderson said. "It was very disturbing."
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Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Nicole Hodskins was able to confirm that no children were arrested or detained at the dance.
There was some frustration with school officials and event chaperones being expressed in Facebook comments posted over the weekend, along with calls for parents to attend Monday's meeting of the Okaloosa County School Board to insist that something to be done.
The dance was her daughter's first, Anderson said, and the incident left the child traumatized.
"Right now she doesn't want to attend a dance again," she said. "My question is how this just went so terribly wrong."
Other parents reached out to the Northwest Florida Daily News on Monday regarding the incident, but declined to have their names printed in the paper.
Steve Horton, the deputy superintendent of the Okaloosa County School District, said Ruckel administrators initiated an investigation, which included taking statements from students, on the night of the dance. More interviews are scheduled as part of what he promised will be a thorough inquiry.
"We take this very seriously," he said.
Horton confirmed that the school resource officer assigned to Ruckel for the dance has been involved in the investigation from the onset.
The Sheriff's Office records department disclosed in an email that the incident at the middle school is being investigated and a report is "still in the process of being completed.
"At this time due to this being an open/active investigation and the report still being completed there are no records available for release," the email said.