The Berkeley Unified School District is being investigated for not properly responding to sexual harassment claims at Berkeley High School. It is not the first time the school has been involved in such an investigation.
In 2010, a male counsellor was accused of sexually harassing a 16-year-old female student. The ultimate outcome of that case involved a payment to the student and an undertaking by the counsellor to keep his door and blinds open when meeting with students.
Failing to respond appropriately to such allegations is a Title IX federal offense. The relevant part of Title IX relates to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded educational program.
A board member of the school district, also serving on their sexual harassment advisory committee that came about in 2010, led the way toward implementing a viable sexual harassment policy after her daughter was inappropriately touched by two boys while she was in eighth grade. However, her calls for such a policy were being stalled. Frustrated, she contacted the Office for Civil Rights, who responded by opening a new investigation into the matter.
Once the investigation was launched, the High School Principal sent a letter home with students proposing plans for sexual harassment training, educational programs for teachers and students and appointing an interim Title IX coordinator.
It appears that something is now being done to address sexual harassment in the school. The issue is that it took so long to get the issue to the table and get something done about it. When people fail to address the issue appropriately, the harassment continues to happen.
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