By Sharon Stevens Education Reporter
ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) - A hurtful senior tradition at Ladue Horton Watkins High School has caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Education.
It's called the "senior list," and some say it's been around for 30 years. It's written by junior boys and discusses junior and senior girls in sexually derogatory terms.
If the list circulates this year, officials say there will be a price to pay, including suspension and possible charges of sexual harassment.
Ladue mom Ruth Ahlemeier says it's time for this ugly tradition to come to an end. She filed a federal complaint with the Education Department's Office of Civil Rights after her daughter's name appeared on the list.
"I feel glad that people on the receiving end of this will no longer have to suffer, like the ones did before. I feel glad I made a positive change," said Ahlemeier.
Letters went home to parents explaining the zero tolerance policy and the ramped up penalties. Students were warned at assemblies last week.
"I think it's a good idea because the list is pretty nasty, but this year they're really stepping up the discipline and exactly what will happen if you participate in this or write the list," said student Duncan Cannon.
"The students here, they've definitely taken it seriously, and I know for sure that they're not going to write one this year, and probably never again, hopefully," said student Sasha Scott.
Ladue officials will also offer counseling to any of last year's victims, if they want it. The key, officials say, is communication.
"A lot of it has to do with talking to parents, talking to students, talking with the community, making sure people understood what our policies were regarding harassment, specifically sexual harassment and bullying," said Susan Dielmann with Ladue Schools.
Any list found in a student's possession could lead to suspension, charges of sexual harassment and referral to a school psychologist. If a senior participates in making a list, that person will not be able to take part in graduation on May 20.