Responding to sexual harassment: What the law says | News | Palo Alto Online |


Responding to sexual harassment: What the law says

Guidelines, rules provide framework for school investigations

Prohibited sexual harassment under Title IX and PAUSD board policies:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 ("Title IX") is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All public and private schools receiving federal funds must comply with Title IX.

The U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces Title IX, and publishes regular "guidance documents" (often in the form of a "Dear Colleague Letter" or "DCL") to help schools better understand their Title IX obligations.

Prohibited discrimination on the basis of sex under Title IX includes sexual harassment, which is defined as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature."

Title IX protects students from student-on-student as well as employee-on-student sexual harassment. According to OCR's 2001 Dear Colleague Letter (as affirmed in subsequent guidance documents), the harassing conduct must be sufficiently serious that it adversely affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from the school's program by creating a hostile environment that interferes with or limits the ability of a student or students to feel safe and learn at school.

A key factor to be considered, according to the 2001 Dear Colleague Letter, especially in cases involving sexual harassment allegations of a student by a school employee, is "the identity of and relationship between the alleged harasser and the subject or subjects of the harassment. For example, due to the power a professor or teacher has over a student, sexually based conduct by that person toward a student is more likely to create a hostile environment than similar conduct by another student."

In some circumstances, nonsexual conduct by a school employee may take on sexual connotations and rise to the level of sexual harassment. For example, a teacher's repeatedly hugging and putting his or her arms around students under inappropriate circumstances could create a hostile environment.

A 2014 OCR guidance document states: "With respect to sexual activity in particular, OCR will always view as unwelcome and nonconsensual sexual activity between an adult school employee and ... any student below the legal age of consent in his or her state. In cases involving a student who meets the legal age of consent ... there will still be a strong presumption that sexual activity between an adult school employee and a student is unwelcome and nonconsensual."

The same document addresses inappropriate employee conduct known as "grooming," which is described as "a desensitization strategy common in adult educator sexual misconduct," and which uses the teacher's position of power to form the basis for a subsequent sexual or romantic relationship with a student.

OCR writes that it is "imperative" that schools develop policies that prohibit "inappropriate conduct by school personnel and procedures for identifying and responding to such conduct."

At the local level, the Palo Alto school district in 2014 issued a "Staff Guidance Memorandum" (developed in collaboration with OCR pursuant to a Resolution Agreement which followed an OCR investigation and findings regarding disability-based bullying at Terman Middle School) which summarizes the school board's updated policies and procedures regarding prohibited discriminatory conduct and states that the "Governing Board recognizes the harmful effects of discrimination...on student learning and school attendance and desires to provide safe school environments that protect students from physical and emotional harm."

Specifically, the district's BP 5145.7 prohibits sexual harassment of students at school (or related to school-sponsored activities), using the OCR's definition of sexual harassment.

The district does not currently have a policy that specifically mentions "grooming" behavior, however, though there is a pending proposed policy scheduled to come before the board's policy review committee this year that reflects OCR's language and approach to this specific form of sexual harassment.

The current board policy proposal, introduced by school board member Ken Dauber, would prohibit grooming (using OCR's grooming definition above) "regardless of the student's age."

The proposed policy, as currently worded, would create a "strong presumption that such contact is unwelcome and non-consensual even where a student is over 18." It also states that "any sexual or romantic contact between a staff member and a student during the first year after a student graduates...creates a presumption that grooming may have occurred prior to graduation."

The 2014 OCR guidance document suggests: "Such policies and procedures can ensure that students, parents, and school personnel have clear guidelines on what are appropriate and inappropriate interactions between adults and students in a school setting or in school-sponsored activities.

"Additionally, a school should provide training for administrators, teachers, staff, parents, and age-appropriate classroom information for students to ensure that everyone understands what types of conduct are prohibited and knows how to respond when problems arise."

Required school investigative response and procedures to reports or complaints of sexual harassment under Title IX and PAUSD board policies:

Title IX Requirements

OCR's 2011 "Dear Colleague Letter" states: "A school that knows, or reasonably should know, about possible harassment must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation." It is required to do this regardless of whether a harassed student, his or her parents or a third party bring the allegations to the district's attention.

Moreover, the school is required to investigate even if "a student or his or her parents does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on the student's behalf."

As part of the schools' obligations to respond to notice of alleged sexual harassment, OCR requires that all schools adopt procedures for "prompt and equitable" resolution of sexual harassment allegations involving students, within the basic parameters established by OCR in its 2011 DCL, which include:

• Investigations of sexual harassment complaints must be "prompt, thorough and impartial"

• Designation of a properly trained and knowledgeable district Title IX Coordinator who is responsible for overseeing investigations and other areas of Title IX compliance

• Provision for immediate interim remedies, if appropriate, to protect the student and/or eliminate a hostile educational environment pending the investigation's outcome

• Specific timeframes for completing investigations (60 days as the standard maximum); OCR also notes that a school's own delay in responding to allegations of sexual harassment might subject students to a hostile educational environment.

• Use of the "preponderance of the evidence" standard for weighing evidence gathered during the investigation (i.e., it is "more likely than not that sexual harassment occurred")

• Notice, in writing, to parties of the outcome of the investigation

• An assurance that the school will take steps to prevent recurrence of any harassment and to correct its discriminatory effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate

The 2014 guidance document states: "When a school is on notice that a school employee has sexually harassed a student, it is responsible for taking prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects."

In addition, investigations required by Title IX must proceed separately from law enforcement investigations. A criminal investigation does not relieve a school district of its independent obligation to conduct a Title IX investigation, the 2014 guidance document states. Also, conduct may be considered unlawful sexual harassment under Title IX even if the police do not have sufficient evidence to conclude that a crime occurred (OCR guidance documents note that crimes may be defined differently from Title IX sexual harassment and also are held to a higher standard of evidentiary proof -- "beyond a reasonable doubt" -- because of higher-stakes penalties in criminal proceedings).

Palo Alto's Uniform Complaint Procedures

In cooperation with OCR, pursuant to the Terman Resolution Agreement, in February 2014 the Palo Alto school board adopted updated policies and procedures -- BP 5145.7 and BP/AR 1312.3, known as the "Uniform Complaint Procedures" (UCP) -- for investigating and resolving reports and complaints of sexual harassment (as well as other forms of discriminatory harassment based on race, disability, gender identity, etc.).

The district's BP 5145.7 requires that: "All reports and complaints alleging (sexual harassment) prohibited by this policy shall be handled in accordance with the District's Uniform Complaint Procedures AR 1312.3."

The district's Uniform Complaint Procedures -- which were approved by OCR as consistent with federal law parameters -- contain a comprehensive blueprint for the district's response to any allegation of sexual harassment involving a student, whether by another student or district employee.

Included in the UCP are the following provisions regarding the district's required response to sexual harassment allegations:

• A UCP investigation is triggered when a source reports an allegation (any student, parent/guardian, third party or other individual or organization who believes that s/he or another student or group has been subjected to unlawful discrimination can be a source).

• A staff member who receives a report or complaint of sexual harassment, or witnesses an incident, must within one day notify the school principal; in turn, that principal must within two days notify the district's Compliance Officer (who also serves as the district's Title IX Coordinator) who must then immediately (within five days) begin an investigation. (Assistant Superintendent and Chief Student Services Officer Holy Wade currently serves as the district's Compliance Officer/Title IX Coordinator.)

• The start of investigation may be delayed for no more than 10 days to allow for possible informal site-level resolution if the parties consent and notice is given to the district Compliance Officer, who will monitor the outcome of that process and may determine, within the 10-day time limit, that no formal investigation is required if the matter is satisfactorily resolved and appropriate remedies applied, as warranted.

• If an individual making an oral report does not want to be identified or give names of the perpetrator(s), the school may still have a duty to respond "depending on the seriousness of the allegations and the risk of future harm to the student and others."

• All investigations must be impartial and resolved within 60 days, unless the district has "good cause" to extend the time, and in that event, must give written notice to the complainant, including the reasons for the extension.

• Duties for the district Compliance Officer include being trained and knowledgeable about the laws and programs for which they are responsible (including federal and state anti-discrimination laws), appropriate steps for conducting and documenting discrimination complaint investigations and the applicable legal standards for reaching decisions on such complaints.

• After a report or complaint is received, the district's Compliance Officer shall determine whether interim measures are necessary to stop, prevent or address the effects of harassment during and pending an investigation.

• The Compliance Officer (or his or her designee in conducting an investigation) shall interview individuals who have information relevant to the investigation, including the parties, anyone who witnessed the reported conduct, and anyone mentioned as having relevant information. The investigator also will review any documents related to the allegations made.

• The UCP sets out "factors in reaching a determination" which include: statements made by all those interviewed; the details and consistency of each person's account; evidence of any past instances of unlawful discrimination or other misconduct by the accused; the age of the subject of the complaint and the individual accused, and the relationship between them; and other incidents of discrimination at the school.

• Within 60 days, a written report of the investigative findings shall be prepared, and sent to the parties. The report shall include: the findings of fact based on the evidence (using the required "preponderance of the evidence' standard); as to each allegation, the District's conclusion(s) about whether unlawful discrimination occurred; the rationale for each conclusion; corrective actions, if any warranted (which can include individual consequences and remedies, and also systemic measures taken at the school to eliminate a hostile environment and prevent recurrence); and notice of the right to appeal the district's decision within 15 days (and the process for doing so).

• All reports and complaints regarding sexual harassment and the District's response must be documented in writing (and entered into the district's public "UCP Log") to ensure they are appropriately addressed in a timely manner. Records of the process used to investigate all complaints, including witness interview summaries and documentation of complaint resolutions, shall be maintained by the district's Compliance Officer.

• Staff members found to have engaged in sexual harassment towards students shall be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal. Other disciplinary action may include oral warnings, written warnings, mandatory training, counseling, suspension, transfer, demotion or termination. The UCP states: "Such disciplinary action shall be determined by site and district administrators in accordance with applicable policies, laws and/or collective bargaining agreements."

Requirement of Impartiality When District's Outside Counsel is Hired to Conduct Title IX Investigation:

Impartiality is a cornerstone of Title IX investigations. According to the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, "a school's investigation and hearing processes cannot be equitable unless they are impartial."

The 2014 OCR guidance document states: "A balanced and fair process ... will lead to sound and supportable decisions."

This document also specifically addresses the question of avoiding conflict of interest with appointment of a district Title IX Coordinator, stating that a Title IX Coordinator "should not have other job responsibilities that may create a conflict of interest. Because some complaints may raise issues as to whether or how well the school has met its Title IX obligations, designating the same employee to serve both as the Title IX Coordinator and the general counsel (which could include representing the school in legal claims alleging Title IX violations) poses a serious risk of conflict of interest. ... Designating a full-time Title IX Coordinator will minimize a conflict of interest."

When a district decides to hire its outside counsel (who already advises and/or advocates for the district) to also conduct an impartial Title IX investigation -- as occurred with the district's long-standing law firm Fagen Friedman & Fulfrost in the Kevin Sharp case -- similar questions may arise about bias or appearance of bias arising from possible conflicting or incompatible job responsibilities, according to legal experts.

While there are no hard and fast rules on this, some organizations and lawyers in this field have sought to develop recommended best practices aimed at optimizing the quality of impartiality in investigations. The Orange County Department of Education's "Manual for Investigating Employee and Student Complaints," prepared by its general counsel, states: "Investigators must be independent and unbiased both in fact and appearance. They have duties of fairness, objectivity, thoroughness, ethical behavior and observance of legal and professional standards. ... An investigator should not be appointed to a particular matter if there are any reasonable concerns about the investigator's objectivity."

The national Association of Workplace Investigators has adopted "Guiding Principles" which include:

• "The point of an impartial investigation is to provide a fair and impartial process for the complainant and respondent and to reach reasoned conclusions based on the information gathered."

• "The investigator should be impartial, objective, and possess the necessary skills and time to conduct the investigation."

• "An outside attorney investigator conducting an impartial investigation should appreciate the distinction between the role of impartial investigator and that of advocate."

According to Andrea Kelly Smethurst, a Bay Area attorney and founder of an employment law and human resources consulting firm specializing in workplace investigations: "It is best to refrain from conducting investigations for advice and counsel clients because of the perceived bias."

Attorney Amy Bomse of San Francisco firm Arnold & Porter represents lawyers and law firms in malpractice and breach of fiduciary duty claims, advises law firms on compliance with legal ethics including conflicts of interest and is a member of the California State Bar Committee on Professional Responsibility. She told the Weekly that there is no actual or potential conflict of interest under the California Rules of Professional Conduct if a law firm is "doing other work in a capacity of defending the district and at the same time (is) hired to do an investigation of sexual harassment charges."

"The traditional sense of a conflict of interest is one that arises where a lawyer represents two parties and those two parties have conflicting interests," Bomse said. But in cases where a law firm represents the same entity and owes the same duty of loyalty to that entity, it doesn't fall under that type of conflict of interest, she said.

Several other legal experts who spoke with the Weekly agreed with Bomse's conclusions regarding the California Rules of Professional Conduct and its general inapplicability to situations involving lawyers taking on different roles in service of the same client; the professional rules only prohibit representing different clients with adverse interests, but permit a lawyer to wear more than one hat for the same client, which is not an uncommon practice, they said.

Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel for the National Women's Law Center and Title IX expert, and others questioned, however, whether it is best practice for an outside law firm to represent a school district in administrative proceedings involving Title IX compliance issues and at the same time be responsible for conducting an impartial Title IX investigation of allegations of sexual harassment due to the risk of potential bias or appearance of bias, which would be at odds with the concept of impartiality.

Referring to OCR's admonition that Title IX coordinators should not have other job responsibilities that could create a conflict of interest (see above), Chaudhry said that while an outside law firm is not "technically the Title IX coordinator, the point is the same, which is: If you are conducting a Title IX investigation, your job is to be impartial and thorough and prompt. It does seem to be a conflict of interest to have a law firm that is representing the school in legal or administrative proceedings to be the one to conduct the Title IX investigation."

Chaudhry continued: "I think it's common sense and what most people would think for the right reasons. ... I think the school should just put themselves in the parents' or the students' shoes and I can't imagine that they would want someone investigating -- if it was their child -- who has responsibility to defend the school. That's the lawyer's job (to defend) and that's fine. But I don't think that person...or that law firm should also be conducting the investigation.

"You want the person on the not be conflicted, and it's important for everybody. You want this process to be fair; these are serious allegations that are coming up here and in all places around the country and it's really, really important that the process is fair to both the person who is complaining, and to the person who has been accused, whether it's harassment or assault. I think schools have to do everything they can to have a very clear, transparent, fair, thorough (and prompt) process."

According to the Orange County Department of Education Manual and other legal sources, one critical task that requires investigator impartiality is making "credibility determinations" after gathering all the relevant facts.

According to the Orange County Manual: "The most important sections of the (investigator) report are those that set forth the investigator's credibility determinations and analyze the factual issues in dispute. In writing the credibility section, the investigator should carefully describe the factors that weigh in favor of -- and against -- the witness's credibility, and should set forth his or her determinations. ... The question is not whether the person is 'lying,' but whether the person's statements are credible based on all of the evidence."

In making a finding of fact, the investigator should explain "why the evidence supporting or refuting the allegation is more persuasive."

Factors to be applied in making such determinations, according to the manual, include examining: motive to falsify; whether there is corroborating testimony from other witnesses or physical evidence that corroborates the testimony; and any history of similar behavior in the past.

"When an investigator is having a difficult time making a credibility determination, the best approach is usually to re-interview people with relevant knowledge. Sometimes the interviewee will make statements that are inconsistent with the information he or she provided earlier. This inconsistency could weigh against the person's credibility."

The resulting report should be objective and discuss "all material evidence, whether or not it supports the investigator's conclusions," the manual states.

Related content:

Convoluted sexual-harassment case against Paly teacher lingers on, more than a year later

Timeline of the investigation

Editorial: A tortuous school inquiry

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3 people like this
Posted by "Title IX Requirements"?
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 9:08 am

"Title IX Requirements"?

OCR's "guidance" are suggestions, not requirements. Web Link (US Department of Education Assistant Secretary Amy McIntosh: "guidance that my department issues does not have the force of law [and] is not binding")

So when the OCR says in a Dear Colleague letter that it is "imperative" that schools develop policies on grooming which OCR defines as "a desensitization strategy" to form the basis for a subsequent sexual or romantic relationship with a student, it means that it is something the OCR would like to see.

Unless the requirement is stated in a federal statute or regulation, that was open to public input and debate, it is not required.

Ditto on the other things reported above as "required" like investigations when the student prefers that there not be one, the "preponderance of the evidence" standard, deadlines, notices, etc.

The Weekly reports that Ken Dauber is proposing that PAUSD adopt a new policy, beyond the sexual harassment policy he supported that the board recently put on the books, that also prohibits "grooming" using OCR's definition "regardless of the student's age." "Regardless of age" appears to mean that it would apply to 18 year olds who are old enough to consent under the law.

Last spring a board member proposed a PAUSD policy that would ban "all romantic and sexual relationships with any individual, regardless of whether the individual consents, while the individual is a student of the district and for a period of four years after graduation from high school." Web Link

Who will police this for four years?

What does "grooming" include and exclude?

18 people like this
Posted by Report and Letter
a resident of Jordan Middle School
on Oct 9, 2015 at 11:33 am

What is disturbing about the Graff Report and letter in the Palo Alto Weekly story: Web Link
Web Link
is the District's use of the law firm to conduct the investigation. This District uses this law firm to file legal actions against the District's parents and student. The law firm is paid by the District and has a pre-existing interest to protect the District management. It is disturbing the attorney was allowed to conduct interviews, especially of young people. The attorneys are savy litigators. Any responses families and students give to the law firm's questions will be used against students and families in legal papers and in court.

It would be very frightening to be questioned by District paid litigators skilled at framing questions and turning responses into legal attacks and statements that can be used against victims, their families, the accused, and other youths in court.

The tone of the Graff Report is disturbing with such an intense focus on statements about what a great District this is and that the District already does so much. These are compliments to a client, who is paying a lot for this report. The implication blaming students for rumors switches the focus to blaming youth, the District's students. Any time a teacher is on leave or reduced hours questions of "why" naturally come up, even among adult teachers and families. The District holding back information leads to a rumor mill.

The report is not credible. It was written by a hired gun and carries the pervasive tone of complimenting the client who is paying for it.

27 people like this
Posted by Nauseated
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 12:51 pm

When I was in high school, a close friend admitted, the day after grad nite, that she'd been having an affair with one of the younger English teachers ( he was 28 ) dice sophomore year! It continued into she left the state for college, but resumed for another year during holidays and summer, when he finally grew bored with her. She was crushed and felt "used".

When I was a freshman in college, a friend in one oft classes told me she had been having an affair with her high school English teacher since senior year there. That affair took exactly the same turn as the one above. Pattern?

My sophomore year in college, another friend told me that she had been having an affair with her high school English teacher since senior year there, and not only was it still going on, the guy had JUST gotten married! She also had a serious boyfriend who was very devoted to her and was very popular with classmates. I broke off this friendship in disgust.

I know of a couple of other cases with college professor, usually in the English, Art, philosophy or Humanities departments.

What is it about English teachers, pray tell? A way with words? If so, I wonder what goes on in law schools!

10 people like this
Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 9, 2015 at 1:00 pm

This all reminds me of the 60s movie, To Sir with Love. That had the added dimension of race, but the principles of student/teacher attraction are valid.Web Link

As for why English teachers, well it seems to me that English literature choices for high school students involve lots of sexual situations and they have to be discussed as part of the exploration of the material. Emotions of a young woman and a particularly engaging English teacher could explode from these dialogs.

Posted by ConcernedParent
a resident of Palo Alto High School

on Oct 9, 2015 at 2:05 pm

Due to violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are only visible to registered users who are logged in. Use the links at the top of the page to Register or Login.

22 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of another community
on Oct 9, 2015 at 3:22 pm

So the first law firm and a police investigation exonerated the teacher. But because the District didn't like that response they had another law firm go after him. Why would any teacher want to work in such a toxic community?

11 people like this
Posted by Ladies please
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Oct 9, 2015 at 4:02 pm

@bill it seems like the perks are good and the restriction on their usage is minimal.

10 people like this
Posted by Unsafe and unwelcome
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 7:19 pm

On the issue of this case: No one said it was illegal or a crime had been committed. The police saying that no crime had been committed was not the same thing as saying it was all hunky dory. Even if this was a 20-year-old intern and a boss....

On the issue of discrimination in general from above, does this apply in other instances of discrimination?

if we told the Superintendent in a discrimination matter that we experienced retaliation and correspondences from an employee that were so relentlessly untruthful and harmful that we wished we could take a restraining order out on said employee, and the Superintendent responded by implying the district will put the full force of district legal behind denying anything and being confrontational, and will NOT do an investigation or consider our concerns impartially -- and continued to give said employee power and control over all interactions with the district,


if our student and our family experienced relentless retaliatory behavior that interfered with our student's education and wellbeing and caused our family enormous stress, an unhealthy, unsafe, and hostile environment from staff as a result of interference by the above employee,

given that the district seems to think it's owed a chance to fix things before people complain to the OCR, or pursue other action,

Exactly when are they going to create a framework in the system for students and families to get help before things get bad, and for the district to impartially, honestly and earnestly look at what's wrong, even if it's own employees misbehave? When will the SCHOOL DISTRICT put as much care and advocacy behind its students as even the most misbehaving of employees?

McGee seems to think he will get a fresh start if he just ignores the skeletons in the closet. They will come back to haunt you, Max, and it won't be just a few of them. And each of them represents a child's life and education harmed or interrupted. What you do about this now will have repercussions in many children's lives for years to come. Get out of the echo chamber and do the right thing.

7 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 8:06 pm

Hmm .. a few bits of information worth knowing, but not yet revealed …

There have been other teachers involved with students in the past—was an outside investigation conducted in the past?
Why was a parallel investigation of this matter conducted?
Who initiated each of these investigations?
Will all future situations like this one also involve parallel investigations?
Was the school board updated on each of the investigations in a timely fashion?
Why doesn’t the PAUSD have a checklist for handling these matters.
Why did the law firms prepare statements involving Sharp’s status, rather than the PAUSD?
Did the PAUSD approve each of these statements before they were provided to Sharp?
What was the total cost of each of these outside investigations by the PAUSD’s law firms?
How can all UCP investigations be completed in 60 days if those involved are no longer enrolled at the PAUSD, or living nearby?
How is it that any complaint against a teacher does not become a personnel matter?
What exactly is “grooming”? Is there a clearly defined legal definition?
Why is the OCR involved in this matter? Has someone filed a complaint with them?
Why does the PAUSD believe it has a right to investigate the personal lives of former students?

8 people like this
Posted by Unsafe and unwelcome
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 8:13 pm

@Report and letter,

"The law firm is paid by the District and has a pre-existing interest to protect the District management."

Why is that actually? District legal isn't supposed to serve the professional interests of the management usually, in fact, many educational institutions spell out when management has to incur expenses for their own legal. Why aren't there protections so that district legal first and foremost serves the interests of STUDENTS and families?

"It would be very frightening to be questioned by District paid litigators skilled at framing questions and turning responses into legal attacks and statements that can be used against victims, their families, the accused, and other youths in court. "

The culture of district legal directly influences the approach of staff. I have witnessed students and families afraid to express emotional strain, depression, and difficulties in the school setting (including bullying) because of fear that any vulnerability or need for help or services will only make life harder.

17 people like this
Posted by Ed B.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2015 at 9:07 am

This is an excellent explanation of the legal framework around Title IX and also the Uniform Complaint Procedures that are required to be utilized by all school districts in California in cases of discrimination.

It is upsetting but not surprising that the district failed to implement the UCP or to enforce TItle IX properly. The district never really accepted responsibility for the problems that OCR uncovered in its 2012 Terman investigation. Therefore it only grudgingly adopted those reforms after years of resisting OCR's efforts to get it to make policy reforms. The district finally adopted new policies at the gunpoint and then promptly threw them in the trash and never enforced them.

The result is a teacher who [portion removed] received a slap on the wrist. Indeed, characterizing a 45 day notice as a slap on the wrist is an overstatement since it is essentially nothing. Urging a teacher not to groom a student for sex a second time is hardly appropriate. [Portion removed.] It makes it all the more mysterious why Lozano did not issue a 30-day notice to terminate rather than a 45-day notice to correct.

There should be accountability for the employees who failed to implement the new policies, chiefly Brenda Carillo, Charles Young, and Max McGee. Young has evidently been selected as the fall-guy for this failure, and he certainly deserves that designation. But McGee is the CEO of the district and it was his responsibility alone to ensure proper legal compliance. Carrillo as the line-employee charged with this implementation totally failed and should also have accountability.

Recently, board member Ken Dauber was publicly castigated by the Campanile and by the Daily Post for having stated to OCR in 2013 that the district could benefit from Title IX technical assistance. The sad facts of this sordid matter show that he was exactly right, and that he is still exactly right because this district has learned little to nothing since 2013.

The only thing that changed is that the Weekly obtained information about this case and published them. Were it not for the light of day here, there would be business as usual which involves non-compliance and disinterest with respect to all of the laws described in the story above.

Until there is accountability for those in the chain of command at the district, including McGee, who brought this debacle about, and until the district replaces Lou Lozano and FFF, these kinds of problems will continue to occur and occasionally will burst into public view.

4 people like this
Posted by Humble observer
a resident of another community
on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:30 am

"Report and Letter" wrote: ' It would be very frightening to be questioned by District paid litigators skilled at framing questions and turning responses into legal attacks and statements that can be used against victims, their families, the accused, and other youths in court. '

Which "victims" did you mean?

The former student and the teacher at the core of the case were evidently both content, neither interested in making any issue. The whole investigation arose from allegations by the discontented parents of this now-adult student, by her ex-boyfriend [portion removed], and assorted adolescent students with "rumors." Hardly objective or disinterested sources. [Portion removed.]

17 people like this
Posted by Ed B.
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 10, 2015 at 10:54 am

[Portion removed due to deletion of referenced comment.]

I must adhere to the belief that the majority of Palo Alto citizens [portion removed] are outraged, disgusted, and offended at this sad sordid debacle. Hopefully that majority will not be silent but will organize, stand up, and insist on right action.

Like this comment
Posted by Paly Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Oct 10, 2015 at 12:03 pm

[Post removed.]

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