On June 8, 2023, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced it had entered into a resolution agreement after conducting a Title IX compliance review of Val Verde Unified School District in California (the District).
OCR determined that the District violated Title IX by failing to respond appropriately under Title IX to notice of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, during a two-year period. For example, the District failed to provide written notice of outcomes to parties and their parents, failed to offer or provide appropriate interim measures, and failed to consistently identify the Title IX coordinator.
OCR found the District treated parties differently by providing rights to complainants that were not offered to respondents during the grievance process, including: the opportunity to present evidence; notice of an extension of the timeline to complete the investigation; opportunity to review a written report of the District’s investigation; the right to challenge the report; written notice of the District’s final decision regarding the complaint; and the opportunity to appeal the decision.
OCR further found that school administrators failed to notify the Title IX Coordinator about sex discrimination, including sexual harassment. As a result, the Title IX coordinator could not coordinate the response to the complaints. Over several years, the coordinator was only notified of five out of 41 complaints, including incidents of sexual assault. School administrators would address sexual harassment incidents at the school-level unless a parent of a party was not satisfied with the school’s response. If a parent was unsatisfied, the matter would move to the district level and the Title IX coordinator would be notified. This effectively resulted in the Title IX coordinator being aware of only a handful of reports and left the coordinator without the “information needed to identify repeat harassers or patterns of harassment or to address such issues to ensure the District’s Title IX compliance.”
As part of the resolution agreement, the District will be required to:
- Adopt policies and procedures that are consistent with the 2020 Title IX regulations while also training staff and students on those policies and procedures;
- Develop a program to assess the effectiveness of the District’s Title IX anti-discrimination efforts and;
Maintain required records regarding reports of sexual harassment.
The District will additionally be required to issue a biannual school climate survey to evaluate the climate at each district school related to sex-based harassment. One of the goals of the climate survey will be to assess whether employees and students have sufficient information about the District’s policies and are able to find appropriate resources.
Grand River Solutions subject matter experts can review your policies and practices, train your Title IX personnel, and conduct a climate survey, including analyzing the results and providing meaningful recommendations.