PIEDMONT -- Piedmont High School is in the national spotlight again -- not for its bird callers who appear on "The Late Show With David Letterman" -- but for a student "fantasy sex league" involving boys in varsity sports and girls who participate in sexual activity for "points" similar to fantasy sports leagues.
Some of the girls are unwitting participants, while others don't mind "being on the list" of conquests, said high school students polled Monday after school.
One freshman considered it bad and a game that was demeaning to girls. A Facebook page devoted to the fantasy sex league was taken down quickly once word spread that the school was on to it, some students said.
Phones rang off the hook at school district offices Monday as word spread. The high school that ranks No. 1 academically in Northern California was under siege Monday from television reporters scrambling on campus, from "The Today Show" and local news channels.
Piedmont High Principal Rich Kitchens issued an advisory to parents on Oct. 19 that the league came to light following a recent date rape assembly.
Kitchens acknowledged that the practice may have existed for several years and involved alcohol and/or pressure by older students to participate in the league through peer pressure.
"The advisory was a no-brainer," Kitchens said Monday. "It was important to share with parents what we knew. We tend to take a broad view of the well-being of our students. It's not just about reading and math."
Kitchens said that school officials' investigation and talks with students "convinced us we may not know everything, but we know enough, that kids were hurt.
"Good kids can make bad decisions. We all make mistakes. The key is what you do afterward."
He has no sense at this point how many students were involved in the "league."
At an assembly planned in early December, students will be confidentially interviewed one by one afterward, Kitchens said, not only about this but about other issues such as cyberbullying or harassment.
Response from parents has been mostly positive, he said. Schools Superintendent Connie Hubbard issued a statement Monday that said, "This is a matter of school and family working together to support our teens to make good choices and to treat each other with respect and dignity.
"We wanted to communicate to families to encourage a dialogue and to inform parents of what we as a school community are doing to proactively address activities that are detrimental to the culture we want for our students.
"We are confident that our students are capable and willing to step up to the challenge to be active participants in strengthening what is fundamentally a safe, respectful school community."
A smattering of Facebook postings ranged from "Shameful!" to "Way to go, Piedmont!" to "We used to play that game but never got caught. Back in my day we never tweeted."
One student wrote to an online site that the school was overreacting and had no business reporting "on something with no factual information."
The students all agreed that the school did the right thing notifying parents. A sophomore student said that parents deserved to know about it because some students were treating others with disrespect.
Interim police Chief Scott Wyatt said Monday there have been no reports of sexual assaults in the wake of the scandal.
"There is something going on at the kid level, and adults found out about it," Wyatt said. "At the first inkling, you need to take a nip-in-the-bud approach."
Wyatt said counseling centers such as the school's Wellness Center can help students sort things out in a confidential setting.