OCR Preparing to Resolve Investigation of Calif. School District

The OCR is investigating school responses to sexual assault and harassment at Paly High School and Gunn High School.

The Office for Civil Rights is close to releasing its findings in an investigation of a northern California school district’s response to multiple allegations of sexual harassment and assault.

The office is expected to reach a resolution agreement with the Palo Alto Unified School District after two months of negotiation with District Superintendent Max McGee, according to Palo Alto Online.

The OCR began its investigation into Paly High School and Gunn High School in 2013 and 2014, respectively, after allegations that the schools did not “appropriate and effectively respond” to reports of sexual harassment or assault.

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The investigation into Paly was likely sparked by a series of April 2013 stories in the student-publication Verde Magazine where a student that was an alleged victim of sexual assault said she was shunned socially after reporting the crime to her parents and police. Members of the nonprofit Adolescent Counseling Services filed an official police report in the case, but the victim chose not to press charges.

The investigation at Gunn began in March 2014 when the family of a student accused the school of mishandling peer sexual harassment and violating Title IX. In that case the family said their child was victimized by her former boyfriend, who also attended Gunn High.

The district will have between one and three months to respond to the agreement, and if they accept the OCR’s finding there will be a resolution letter released and a monitoring period by the OCR to ensure the district is enforcing any policies or procedures it deems in violation of Title IX.

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