U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Sexual Harassment Compliance Review of Redlands Unified School District in California

OCR determined that Redlands USD had no system in place to monitor whether schools’ responses complied with Title IX requirements or to identify emergent patterns or systemic problems either by school or districtwide.

U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights Announces Resolution of Sexual Harassment Compliance Review of Redlands Unified School District in California

Image via Adobe, by Vitalii Vodolazskyi

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced on April 25  that the Redlands Unified School District in California has entered into a resolution agreement to remedy violations OCR found of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 regarding district responses to notice of sexual assault and other sexual harassment of its students, including by employees.

OCR determined that the district had no system in place to monitor whether schools’ responses complied with Title IX requirements or to identify emergent patterns or systemic problems either by school or districtwide. In fully 74% of the incidents OCR reviewed over three school years, the district did not provide any evidence that the district took action to address the effects of harassing conduct on targeted students where necessary and to prevent recurrence of the harassment.

In addition, 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 or other state agencies, 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 and student-to-student cases.

For just one example, after receiving a student allegation that the student witnessed a sexual relationship between an employee and another student for about a year that included the sharing of nude photographs via social media, the district confirmed the sexual relationship and therefore found that the employee violated district policies about professionalism and boundaries.

But the district failed even to determine if the relationship or sharing nude photos constituted sexual harassment and allowed the employee to resign without investigating if the conduct created a hostile environment for the student or other students who knew about the relationship.

OCR also identified a compliance concern that the district’s recordkeeping system to track incidents of sexual harassment in the 2017-18 through 2019-20 school years appears not to have complied with the Title IX regulations.

For example, the district reported only three sexual assaults for OCR’s 2017-18 Civil Rights Data Collection (CRDC), but then reported nine sexual assaults during that same year in this compliance review. OCR also found that the district failed to establish a recordkeeping system that complies with the 2020 Title IX regulations.

The district agreed to resolve the Title IX violations and concern that OCR identified in a resolution agreement to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in its schools.

“The Redlands Unified School District failed to fulfill its Title IX obligations to promptly and effectively respond to reported sexual assaults of its students by employees as well as by students,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “The district commitments today promise, finally, that these students may expect the safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment that federal law guarantees for them.”

The resolution agreement includes:

  • Ensuring that the district coordinates its Title IX compliance through its Title IX coordinator.
  • Notifying students, parents, and employees of its designated Title IX coordinator(s).
  • Assessing the effectiveness of the district’s Title IX anti-discrimination efforts.
  • Revising, as necessary, Title IX policies and procedures to comply with the Title IX regulations.
  • Training staff and students regarding the district’s revised Title IX procedures, how to identify what constitutes sexual harassment, and how to report such harassment.
  • Improving its recordkeeping system to maintain required records of reports and complaints of sexual harassment and to report complete and accurate data to the CRDC.
  • Administering an annual school climate survey to district employees and students to evaluate the climate at each district school with respect to sexual harassment and to identify responsive steps in light of the survey results for OCR’s review and approval.
  • Reviewing case files for reported incidents of employee-to-student and student-to-student sexual harassment from school years 2017-2018 through 2019-2020 to determine if further action is needed to provide an equitable resolution of each incident. And,
  • Reporting to OCR on its responses to reports and complaints of sexual harassment.

The letter to Redlands Unified School District and the resolution agreement are available on the OCR website.

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