UTAH COUNTY, Utah, Sept. 22, 2023 (Gephardt Daily) — Federal civil rights regulators found the Alpine School District ignored or mishandled more than 100 complaints of sexual assault and harassment in a three-year period.
In its report issued Thursday, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) wrote “the district discriminated against students based on sex by failing to respond to reports of sexual assault by employees and students or to coordinate its responses to such reports through its Title IX coordinators, among other Title IX violations.”
The report for the years 2017 to 2020 covered a number of employee-student sexual assaults and 88 student-to-student sexual assaults.
In particular, the report reads, OCR found that the district failed to investigate or redress employee-to-student and student-to-student sexual assault allegations after they were reported to law enforcement, leaving affected students vulnerable to the discrimination that Title IX prohibits but that law enforcement does not address. “Likewise the district did not complete or take required investigative steps in other reported employee-to-student cases and most reported student-to-student sexual assault cases.”
The first example of the flawed responses of the district listed in the report was a 2018 incident where a teacher performed a sexual act on a student in the teacher’s classroom immediately after school. After the student told a third party, who reported the incident to law enforcement, law enforcement questioned and arrested the teacher, who later pleaded guilty to unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. “The district allowed this teacher to resign without conducting a Title IX investigation to determine whether this student or other students needed remedies under Title IX, and if so to provide them.”
“Alpine School District failed to meet its Title IX obligations to protect students from sexual assaults, including by district employees, and operated a broadly noncompliant system for responding to sex discrimination in its schools,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon, in announcing a resolution agreement with the district to ensure compliance.
“This resolution commits the district now to provide the safe and nondiscriminatory learning environment the district’s more than 81,000 students have deserved.”
The resolution agreement includes:
- Ensuring that the district coordinates all of its efforts to comply with Title IX through its Title IX coordinator(s) moving forward.
- Notifying students, parents, and employees of its designated Title IX coordinator(s).
- Revising Title IX policies and procedures to comply with the Title IX regulations.
- Disseminating a notice of nondiscrimination that complies with the Title IX regulations.
- Training employees and students regarding the district’s Title IX procedures, how to identify what constitutes sexual harassment, and how to report such harassment.
- Reviewing case files for reported incidents of employee-to-student and student-to-student sexual harassment from school years 2017-18 through 2019-20 to determine if further action is needed to provide an equitable resolution of each incident.
- Improving its record-keeping system to ensure that records about sexual harassment are created and maintained and to report complete and accurate data to the CRDC.
- Administering school climate surveys to students, parents, and district employees. And,
- Reporting to OCR on its responses to reports and complaints of sexual harassment during OCR’s monitoring of the resolution agreement.