See also: Trainings for Students
Teachers, school administrators, legal counsel, and leadership staff are unprepared to respond to reported acts of sexual harassment, unwelcome contact, and sexual assault. Few administrators have studied U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) guidance regarding Title IX. School district administrators often cannot name their Title IX coordinator and are ignorant of the coordinator’s responsibilities. Many schools do not even have a designated Title IX coordinator.
Our schools are in crisis. Although Title IX has been law for over 40 years, OCR reports receiving more sex-discrimination complaints in 2014 than ever. An increasing number of school districts face OCR investigations. More Title IX lawsuits are being filed in federal courts. More families are successfully suing districts over mishandling sexual harassment and violence, and are reaching large monetary settlements. Media reports cast ill-informed school districts across the country in an unfavorable light.
Unfortunately, school districts view reported sexual violence as primarily a legal and public relations problem. They fail to realize that sexual harassment and sexual assault can be a form of sex discrimination prohibited under Title IX. The impact on the well-being and education of the student reporting sexual harassment and violence is devastating. The consequences can reverberate throughout the community and across the nation.
Actual incidents of sexual harassment and violence in schools raise complex emotional, educational, ethical, and legal issues. School districts often respond by ignoring or denying sexual harassment in their schools. Even in cases where schools know about Title IX, they typically puzzle how to interpret and apply OCR guidelines to the variety of complex situations that arise. This is why trainings that simply recite policies and procedures are inadequate.
Public school districts would do well to train all staff on Title IX by using the SSAIS free online video Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School! It features nationally-respected experts in the legal, educational, and trauma-informed response disciplines:
Schools’ responsibilities under Title IX to respond promptly and equitably to reported sexual harassment and violence
Student recourses if schools fail to handle reported sexual violence properly
LGBTQ students’ protections against sex discrimination under Title IX
Responsibilities and duties of the Title IX Coordinator
Trauma-informed response to reported sexual violence
OCR expects that all schools will “take proactive measures to prevent sexual harassment and violence.” At a time when non-compliant schools are regularly featured in the media, schools that implement OCR guidance before students endure and report sexual harassment/assault set a critical example for school districts nationwide. Sexual Harassment: Not in Our School! enables school to be proactive in cultivating a school culture free from sexual harassment and violence.