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Parents, students demand answers after Perrysburg teens initially charged with rape allowed to return to school

The Perrysburg Board of Education opened the floor to comments at the end of Monday night's meeting. Some people wanted answers from district leaders.

PERRYSBURG, Ohio — At a packed Perrysburg Board of Education Monday night, just days before students are set to head back to class, parents and students alike demanded answers from district leaders after two teens who entered plea deals for rape charges were allowed to return to school.

The two students are also allowed to compete and participate in sports

The case wasn't on the agenda, but when the board opened the floor to comments at the end of Monday night's meeting, some people said they wanted to hear from district leaders.

"We don't want our students to feel scared at the school, that's where they should feel safe," eighth-grade student Keegan Short said on behalf of himself and some of his peers he said he talked to.

Both of the juveniles, who were 13 years old when they were charged, entered plea deals.

"One juvenile, the rape charges were dismissed when he entered an admission to a charge of pandering sexually-oriented matter involving a minor or impaired person. The other juvenile’s rape charges were amended to charges of gross sexual imposition and he admitted to those," Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson previously confirmed to WTOL 11.

If they do not violate orders, the cases could possibly be dismissed by the court in the future.

People at Monday's board of education meeting expressed concerns about the students returning to Perrysburg Schools.

"All of those kids are in the junior high together, that just doesn't seem like a good situation to me," Geneva Mason, the grandmother of a student, said.

Short said he doesn't think the students should be in school, but said it's not his place to decide.

"I'll talk to them, but that doesn't mean I have to be their friend," he said.

Perrysburg Board of Education President Eric Benington said he would not make any comment about the situation, but that the board would listen and consider the points brought to them by the people in their community.

Superintendent Tom Hosler said the district is "limited" in what it can do.

"We're very limited in terms of the reasons why or how we can keep students out of school," Hosler said.

But he did issue a statement on Aug. 6.

"The school district has no authority in the juvenile court proceedings, including the orders that were issued by the Court here," the statement reads. "In all cases, the school district strives to prioritize the education of its students and the safety of the school community while complying with its legal obligations. We ask that the community understand that the decisions the school district makes with respect to student discipline are made carefully and conscientiously, considering the district's responsibilities and the particular facts of the situations in question."

Mason asked what schools are doing to protect children against sexual assault.

"We do gun control and teach our kids to sit in the corner of a classroom in case a shooter comes in," she said. "What are we doing to protect our kids against sexual assault and help them be more aware of the indicators that something like that might happen or how to protect themselves?"

The district said the situation is not resolved until the two teens have either completed the diversion program or violated the terms of the court order.

Lawyers for the boys responded to community debate about the case with a written statement Wednesday: 

"As legal counsel for the two young boys at the center of the community debate, we are obligated to make clear that claims being circulated are not accurate. First, neither child entered a plea of guilty. Based upon the facts, the parties, which included the Wood County Prosecutor's Office, determined that the appropriate resolution should include an eventual dismissal of this matter. The children are not convicted felons, nor are they adjudicated as sex offenders. The terms of the agreement made on behalf of he boys, which, again, was structured by all parties, are being incorrectly reported. As the stories circulating throughout the community are portraying a false narrative, it is understandable that some in the community would express varying levels of concern. The Wood County Juvenile Court, with the participating of every interested person, approved this agreement recognizing that it served the best interest of all children involved."

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