Updated on Nov. 24 at 4:54 p.m. to include more information and clarity.
Little Elm ISD Superintendent Daniel Gallagher issued a statement the evening of Nov. 21 regarding a confrontation between student protesters and police that led to the arrest of four Little Elm High School students on Nov. 19. The next day, he and Little Elm Mayor Curtis J. Cornelious released a joint video statement addressing the incident.
“What led to Friday's student protest hits us at the core of who we are, and we have to find a way to restore the trust you need in order for all of us to move forward,” Gallagher said Sunday night. “Your questions, thoughts and concerns are very important to me. I have heard and read each of them, and I can feel your pain. I am a parent as well who knows how important it is that our children feel safe, valued and heard. I will be as transparent as possible, but due to federal privacy laws we are restricted on providing certain details related to students. With that said, I want to assure you that our board of trustees, district administration and the administration at Little Elm High School are focused on student safety and restoring public trust.”
In the statement, Gallagher announced a “listening session” at the Little Elm High School auditorium on Nov. 30 at 6 p.m. He also said the district would create a committee to review and investigate student reports of sexual misconduct and review the allegations of sexual assault that led to the student protests the morning of Nov. 19.
Gallagher added that the confrontation – which escalated as police maced and shot stun guns at least one student demonstrator – would be investigated next week by the Little Elm ISD Safety and Security Committee. Furthermore, the district announced Wednesday that it is seeking community volunteers to comprise an “independent review committee” tasked with oversight into the incident, which is scheduled to meet at the Zellars Center for Learning and Leadership on Dec. 7.
“These are the first steps we can take to ensure that every student feels safe, heard, valued and supported,” Gallagher stated.
In the joint video statement, Cornelious called the incident "a very upsetting time in our community." Cornelious also addressed the tactics utilized by police, saying, "In the chaos, one student assaulted a male police officer. Another student assaulted a female police officer. These are crimes. And both students were arrested. When a third student attempted to interfere with the arrest, the officer was forced to use pepper spray, and then a stun gun when the student would not stop advancing toward the officer. A fourth student spit on an officer, which Texas law deems as an assault."
The protest was organized by student protesters after a student was allegedly sexually assaulted on a school bus by another student.
In a statement that was posted on social media approximately two hours after the police confrontation, Little Elm ISD said the protest happened as a result of a social media post they said contained “inaccurate information.” When asked on Nov. 19 for more information on the social media post, district spokesperson Cecelia Jones said that afternoon that the district was not making any further comment beyond the district statements.
The city also launched a website, littleelmfacts.org, which features an FAQ section giving the city and district’s account of the incident.
As of Wednesday, specific questions regarding the incident were not returned by police.
Before the protest started, a Nov. 18 Snapchat message circulated among students that read, “Justice for the girls who got ignored by our school system” while advertising a student-led walkout Friday at 10:40 a.m., during fourth period.
Little Elm resident Paula Dauro said she received a Facetime message from her granddaughter, a Little Elm High School student, at approximately 11 a.m. that morning. Dauro said her granddaughter, 15, was pepper sprayed by police officers.
“She said they were indiscriminately, wildly swinging at anybody in the vicinity,” Dauro said.
Dauro alleged that administrators gave the complainant disciplinary action for filing what was deemed a false report.
Gallagher said in the joint statement that "no student received a disciplinary consequence for reporting sexual misconduct."