Parents call for Niagara Wheatfield principal's resignation over handling of rape case

Jun 6, 2019

The mother of a high school rape victim who was forced to attend most of her senior year with her rapist is speaking out again, this time at a packed meeting of the Niagara Wheatfield School Board.

Superintendent Dan Ljiljanich says the male student who pleaded guilty late last month to raping a female student was removed from school grounds as soon as the district received confirmation of his plea.

But the victim’s mother, Leslie, disputes that account. She says she spoke to Niagara Wheatfield High School Principal Michael Mann on May 24, after which the student was allowed to remain in school for another week.

Parents, students and community members spoke out at Wednesday night's meeting of the Niagara Wheatfield school board about the district's handling of a rape case.
Credit Kyle Mackie/WBFO News

At Wednesday night's meeting, the mother shared a statement written by her daughter.

“Once school started up, I thought everything was going to be okay. But it turns out I was wrong. I was stuck seeing my predator every day. I had to deal with people bullying me about it, sending me photos of him and people accusing me of lying about it," she said.

The meeting followed a student walkout at the district’s high school last Friday over how it handled a rape case. Several students were then suspended for participating in the walkout. Ljiljanich now says the protesting students should not have been punished.

The mother spoke on behalf of her daughter about how the incident impacted her senior year.

“Once this happened I entered a dark world. I shut down quick. I lost so many friends because I was afraid. I didn’t know who I should trust anymore and who I shouldn’t. I lost enjoyment in the sport I’ve been doing for many years now. Everything changed. I changed,” she added.

The mother and dozens of other attendees at Wednesday’s meeting called for Principal Mann’s resignation. School Board President Steven Sabo says concerned parents and students should contact the superintendent.