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Obscene List About Ladue High Girls Sparks Parent's Ire with School Board

A Ladue School District letter describes it as an "ugly tradition" the school has tried to stop.

The parent of a student has mounted a campaign against what the school district itself has called an "ugly tradition" — an annual list of graduating senior girls that describes them with vulgarities and obscenities and is circulated throughout the school.

A series of letters between parent Ruth Ahlemeier and various officials with the Ladue School District describes Ahlemeier's efforts to have the practice in Ladue High stopped and the district's efforts to investigate her complaints.

In one letter, shared with Patch on Monday, the president of the school board, Jayne Langsam, responded to Ahlemeier, recounting a conversation Ahlemeier had with Ladue High's principal:

"The principal did say during the conversation with you that it was an 'ugly tradition' and the school had tried to stop it, including this year, but had not been able to."

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Ahlemeier showed Patch a copy of the "Senior List" that was written by and circulated to students on May 11, at the end of the last school year. She declined to leave a copy with Patch.

The list, referenced in district correpondence as the "Senior List," came on a standard sheet of copy-paper and referenced seven female students by first name (the list Patch saw had the names blacked out). In each case, the writer or writers made crude, vulgar and sometimes obscene references to the students' body parts, sexual habits and hygiene.

"It's not condoned by the school or organized by the school," said Susan Dielmann, director of communications for the Ladue School District. Later, Langsam said: "We are looking at efforts to curb it. It's a culture of bullying we're trying to address."

On Monday, Dielmann told Patch she would check on what routine practices the district has implemented to educate students about sexual harassment and bullying.

"We have anti-bullying measures in place and there are plans to ramp those up," Dielmann said.

After seeing the list, Ahlemeier wrote to the school district requesting an investigation into the practice and to learn what steps the district has taken to stop the practice. The series of letters led to a closed meeting with the school district on Monday afternoon with Ahlemeier.

Patch requested the reason why the meeting was closed and the district superintendent, Marsha Chappelow, cited student privacy concerns — although Ahlemeier herself also requested that the hearing be open to the public.

Ahlemeier was accompanied at the hearing by Missouri State Rep. Sue Allen, R-Town and Country, a friend of Ahlemeier's who has twice sponsored anti-bullying legislation in Jefferson City.

When asked whether her daughter had been included in the May 11 list that was circulated, Ahlemeier said, "I would prefer to keep the focus on the list."

"I just want to know what they are going to do about this," Ahlemeier said. "The kids who were doing it were juniors, so they are still in school."

The series of letters between Ahlemeier and the school district indicates that district officials looked into her concerns and "the students responsible were identified. They received immediate and long-term consequences," according to a letter on May 23 from Joan Oakley, an assistant superintendent in the district.

The letter goes on to say later that "continued corrective action will be taken." It later says "it is the desire of the district, the high school administration and the parent association to stop the lists and provide specific training to the high school students and staff on sexual harassment and bullying."

Ahlemeier, chief executive of OEM Logistics in Olivette, said she does not want any action taken against the boys who participated.

"The school board needs to stop it from this point forward," she said.

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Debbie Cole September 11, 2012 at 02:05 PM
If she doesn't want action against the boys who did it, then it will not stop. The school board does not have the power to stop this unless the perpetrators face harsh consequences. From the rumor mill, I heard that the consequences amounted to a slap on the wrist.
Lynn Zaltsman September 11, 2012 at 05:47 PM
At first I thought it was faculty or staff who wrote comments about the students. It wasn't until I was almost though the story when I figured out that it was students who added comments. The student handbook already addresses 'bullying'. This is a case of enforcing policy and consequences, which appear to be subjective.
Diane Kerckhoff September 11, 2012 at 06:34 PM
What will it take for schools to realize that education includes teaching decency and consideration for all students. Everything placed on Facebook, etc. is viewed by college admissions and human resource directors. This form of "bullying tradition" should not be permitted by any school employee.
Kurt Greenbaum September 11, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Thanks, Lynn. Never occurred to me that would be unclear. I've made it more clear higher in the article.
Kurt Greenbaum September 11, 2012 at 10:31 PM
Dear Doogie: I deleted your note. If you'd care to post it without the obscenity or the personal attack on another reader, you're welcome!
Gregg Palermo September 11, 2012 at 11:53 PM
Doogie, I deleted your second attempt. You can say what you want about how difficult it may be to control that kind of behavior, but nobody deserves to be subjected to it.
Jane Doe September 12, 2012 at 12:38 AM
I go to the high school currently and the list is just part of going to the school. If you are under the radar, you don't get put on the list. It's really simple.
Former ladue student September 12, 2012 at 12:49 AM
This is not "part of going of going to school!" very sad to me that current high schoolers think this behavior is acceptable. The real world will catch up to these poor pathetic souls. The universe will take care of those who have done this in the past. What can we do to change this in he future?
Jane Doe September 12, 2012 at 12:58 AM
It's just something that happens every year. The only people hurt by it are the ones who end up on it. And the ones who end up on it are usually a little on the promiscuous side. Not to say that they deserve to be taunted or ridiculed but...
Ladue Alumni September 12, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I remember one of my guy friends told me that they had heard I was on 'the list' during my last class of the day. I was literally shaking and tears were swelling up in my eyes with anxiety that i could barely read the print on the quiz my teacher passed out. I debated leaving school for the day so I didn't have to walk out of my last class and into the commons where they were distributing 'the list' to all of my fellow peers. I decided to suck it up and when the bell rang I walked though the commons and witnessed a flock of people laughing at my expense. I was extremely humiliated to say the least, and for once I didn't feel comfortable or safe at school. I grabbed the list out of someones hand and took it to my school counselor and they acted like it was no big deal and that there was nothing they could do. I still remember exactly what they wrote about me 5 years later. Both of my parents went to Ladue and this is not a 30 year tradition...This was just a humiliating thing made up by dumb senior boys a couple years before I went to High School at Ladue.
Rebecca September 12, 2012 at 02:04 AM
They didn't have it when I went there, a loooooong time ago. But it doesn't surprise me. Unless things have changed they were the meanest most click-ish group I have ever met.
Another Alumni September 12, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Another alumni Jane Doe, it's scary and sad to read your thoughts. NO ONE deserves to be treated in such a way, no matter who they are. I hope someday you'll understand the devastation such ridicule can cause, and learn to stand up for the right thing to do. I
Donna Coble September 12, 2012 at 05:15 PM
Jane, my daughter also attends Ladue. No person deserves to be humiliated by being singled out on this offensive "List." That sounds like blaming the victims instead of the bullies. We should teach students to stand up to bullies, not sit by as young women get the not-so-subtle message to "stay under the radar" if you want to be safe from ridicule and public humiliation. As "Ladue Alumni," a victim of this abusive behavior, said so well in her post, "...for once I didn't feel comfortable or safe at school." It's up to parents, teachers, administrators AND students to make sure this "tradition" ends now.
John Jacob September 13, 2012 at 12:01 AM
Usually the kids that end up on it are the bigger bullies in the school. I think that if they wanted to take action, they should have done that when the list came out in May. Why punish the boys now, when they should have done it- if they were going to- when the list came out? They knew what was happening write away and while they tried to stop it, they didn't punish anyone. It doesn't make sense as to why they would wait so long.
Tim Johnson September 13, 2012 at 07:01 PM
According to her own daughter's facebook page. She was "liking" the comments and being on the list. Perhaps she should have a talk with her daughter.
Slim Shady September 14, 2012 at 02:27 AM
A current Ladue senior posted a status on facebook (that was admittedly vulgar) disagreeing with Ms. Ahlemeier and saying that most people don't care about the list beyond the day it comes out. Ahlemeier's daughter (who was supposedly extremely offended by the list) and her friends proceeded to tell that senior that she was stupid and a sl** and that she would have ended up on this year's list (with various other swear words and offensive terms). Obviously, the whole exchange has been deleted by now, but it's worth noting that the only time her daughter takes issue with rude name calling is when she's on the receiving end. Also, as I mentioned in my last post, there was a response list written about the junior boys and her daughter was rumored to have participated in that, as well as the list written the previous year (in 2011, there was a list written about the senior girls by the junior girls). I'm not sure what business Ms. Ahlemeier has suing the school when her own daughter and her friends are known to be hateful and rude.
Missy Combs September 14, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I encourage you to read my story tomorrow so any misconceptions about the list can be cleared up. Thank you.
Robert W. Kent September 17, 2012 at 02:12 AM
Very simple: The Ladue school board needs to direct the School Administrator to set a policy that any student, involved in writing, publishing or distributing any abusive list by written or electronic means will be permanently expelled from the Ladue School system and will give up any rights to return and if graduated will have their certificates of graduation revoked. After a couple of Harvard or Yale Scholarships are lost that will end it. If the School Board refuses to invoke consequences for these actions then the Ladue residents need to vote in a new school board. I am not a Ladue resident but I am the father of two daughters and I would lead the charge against any school board and administration that put up with this kind of sexual harrassment. Where are all of you lawyer fathers in Ladue when your children need you? I am ashamed for you. R. W. Kent Ward IV Creve Coeur
SFCaramia September 26, 2012 at 07:21 PM
As a former Ladue alumni, I'm sad to say that Mr. Kent is right; only when the punishment has consequences that involve the loss of prestige will things change. Alternatively, impressing upon these students that such behavior is prohibited under Title 9 and engaging in it in the "real world" outside the cocooned environment of Horton Watkins High could have serious job and/or legal repercussions may be the only way to get to these kids and their parents. I'll reiterate what another poster said above that these were some of the meanest, cliquish kids on earth, and sadly, it seems little has changed

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