PALM DESERT, Calif. - Seventh-grader Alana Mittleman said she was shocked to hear that one of her peers, a 13-year-old girl at Palm Desert Charter Middle School, reported that on her walk to school a man in a white pickup truck slowly pulled up next to her and exposed his genitals to her.
"It was really scary because you wouldn't think something like that would happen," said Alana.
Mary Beth Mittleman says talking to her daughter about the incident is an unsettling conversation for any parent to have with their kids.
"It's a little uncomfortable because that's not something I want to talk about, that someone could do this to another person," said Mittleman.
The teen victim called her mom, told school officials and then police.
She described the suspect as a white male in his early to mid-20's. He had brown middle-length hair, with a mustache and a large nose, and was wearing a white collar shirt and blue shorts. He was driving a newer model white Ford F-150 truck with pool cleaning equipment and a pool filter hanging from the tailgate.
PDCMS Principal Sallie Fraser sent students home with a letter, notifying families about what happened and urging students to take precautions.
"Please remind your students to walk to school with other students and to get to our campus as quickly as possible. Please drop your students off in the drop-off area where there is supervision."
The notice encouraged families to help staff keep students safe by reporting any unusual behavior to the office.
The Mittlemans said they're grateful the school stepped in.
Alana said, "They had teachers supervise students after school when they were picked up or walked home."
"I don't think it's right to live in fear, but awareness," said her mother.
They added that they are proud of the victim's bravery to report the incident.