A former Yuma High School English teacher spoke during Wednesday’s Yuma Union High School District Governing Board meeting to address her resignation, alleging that the school missed a chance to help educate students on sensitivity and victims of abuse.
Kellsey Jane said she resigned from her position last week after the school’s principal, Robert Chouinard, allegedly chose to “blatantly ignore” an opportunity to educate students on understanding and respecting trauma.
The issue arose Sept. 29, after teacher Kellsey Jane was alerted that some of her students had found her Instagram account, discovered that Jane had reportedly been sexually abused by her father as a child and began making jokes and laughing about it.
But Jane said that wasn’t why she resigned.
“Children laugh and joke about things they don’t understand and things that make them uncomfortable,” Jane wrote in a Facebook post on Oct. 8. “I resigned because Mr. Chouinard and the District told me I was not allowed to address the situation with my students.”
Jane’s Facebook post, which announced her resignation and plan to address the board at Wednesday’s meeting, received over 600 reactions, 91 comments voicing support and over 300 shares.
In her speech to the board, Jane alleged she was “denied the opportunity to address the issue” and unreasonably was expected to return to her classroom and carry on with her instruction as though nothing had happened.
According to Jane, Chouinard suggested an alternative method to approaching the situation may be to bring in an outside organization like the health department, or “tossing in some discussion on vaping or other ‘big ticket’ issues.”
“This is what rape culture looks like,” Jane stated at four different points in her speech. “Silencing and minimizing sexual abuse only perpetuates more sexual abuse.”
She said she isn’t raising her voice solely for herself, but for others in the district who may have had similar experiences.
“One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually assaulted before their 18th birthday,” Jane said, referring to a statistic published by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. “I guarantee you there are students at Yuma High and throughout our district who are victims of sexual abuse…. We had the opportunity to intervene and teach our students an incredibly valuable life lesson. Not doing so is to fail each and every one of our students and the entire community.”
Jane left the microphone with a commission to the board and district to make “fundamental and systematic changes” to better protect their staff and students from such issues.
According to YUHSD Chief Communications Officer Eric Patten, the issue is a personnel matter and the governing board typically does not provide comment.