In July of 2020, an Instagram account called @othsprotectors was created to document instances of sexual harm against Oakland Tech students. The account was made after a similar account, @bhsprotectors, was created to fulfill a similar purpose for Berkeley High students. Both accounts worked the same way: students would send a message to the account administrators detailing an instance of sexual harm, who would subsequently post the message to the account.
Within hours of @othsprotectors being created, several survivors had sent in their stories. One of the posts pertained to the inappropriate behavior of an OTHS PE teacher, Mr. Bascom; soon after, another student’s experience with Mr. Bascom was posted, which detailed similar behavior. Three additional students would share their experiences with Mr. Bascom before the day was over.
The following day, thirteen more OTHS students detailed the predatory behavior Mr. Bascom had been exhibiting towards them. Many of the students said that they had reported Bascom’s misconduct to the school administrators. However, no disciplinary or administrative action was taken in response.
After hearing about the experiences of their fellow students, two students at Oakland Tech (Amara Romero and Kaelyn Pena) created a petition on Change.org. The petition advocated that “Peter Bascom be held accountable for his actions – that he be fired from Oakland Tech and criminally charged.” When Romero was asked about how she heard about the accusations against Mr. Bascom, she said, “Both [Kaelyn] and I became aware of the sheer number of allegations through the @othsprotectors account. [Amara] had seen harm…at the hands of Peter Bascom.” Romero also stated that she was compelled to make the petition when she saw “how many people [had] made complaints to both the administration…and the district. Nothing was going to happen unless there was something OUSD could not ignore. [anyone should know] you are never alone, and that help is always there.” The petition has collected well over 3,400 signatures in the two months since its creation. As of September 18, 2020, Mr. Bascom is on paid leave and not teaching a class.
The reaction from the student body at Oakland Tech has been extensive. Hundreds of students took to social media, with some students encouraging their friends to sign the petition. Other students added their own stories of problematic behavior from Mr. Bascom. One anonymous student told The Scribe, “Honestly I’m all for getting him fired, this has been going on for way too long.” Another said that they “completely believe the people coming forward with stories [because they] had a few friends who had horrible experiences with him and [they] don’t think the school should let him stay.” A different student noted that nobody should “fear sexual harassment and assault from anyone, anywhere — let alone on a school campus from a teacher.” A fourth student added “It’s frustrating to not know what the school is doing to deal with an employee who is a predator.”When The Scribe reached out to OUSD and Oakland Tech for a comment, both Oakland Tech administration and OUSD did not respond or share a comment. With no comment from Oakland Tech administration, several students are frustrated about the lack of communication on the current situation and feel it shows an unfortunate disregard for the students who have been asking for action persistently. “One of the fundamental duties of any educational institution is to protect their students, and when they refuse to take the time to respond to and coordinate with an already disgruntled student body, they are actively abandoning one of their primary responsibilities.”