The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has agreed to investigate a complaint filed over the annual "senior list" circulated at Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
The list, circulated near graduation time by students for at least 10 years, names a handful of girls each year and describes them with crude, vulgar and sometimes obscene references to students' body parts, sexual habits and hygiene.
A Ladue High parent, Ruth Ahlemeier, complained to the Ladue School District about the list, after hearing that it was an annual tradition among students, and after her daughter appeared on the list that was circulated on May 11.
Ahlemeier, chief executive for OEM Logistics in Olivette, filed the complaint with the Office for Civil Rights on Sept. 19.
"Opening this investigation is the best possible outcome," Ahlemeier said in an email to Patch. "It is the next (step) towards fixing this problem."
In a letter to Ahlemeier, the Office for Civil Rights said, "we have completed our evaluation of your complaint and determined we have the authority to investigate the complaint." The complaint alleged a Title IX violation on the basis of sex discrimination.
"Please note that opening the allegations for investigation in no way implies that (the Office for Civil Rights) has made a determination with regard to their merits," the letter continues.
Ladue officials have called the senior list "an ugly tradition" and said it represents deplorable behavior by a small handful of Ladue High students. Officials have said efforts to halt the practice are ineffective against students who are hell-bent on bad behavior, regardless of the consequences.
Patch will follow up with more details about this case as they become available.
Here's the response posted on Nov. 1 from the Ladue School District.
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