Sexual Harassment At School
Q: I am very new to parenting as I have just accepted guardianship of my
14 yr. old niece. The other night, one of her teachers called me and
told me that she had been missing a lot of classes. Upon questioning
her, I was told that the reason she has been skipping classes is because
of a boy that has been bothering her and a friend of hers. They have
told teachers about the harrassment; the teachers told them that there
is nothing that can be done about it. I don't believe it! I'm going to
make an appointment with the principal to see just what can be done.
Does anyone know of any laws that would apply to a situation like this?
I haven't met with the principal yet, but from what I hear about the
school here, the students are just running wild. If that is the
situation, then yes, I can see how the teachers can't do anything. I
want to do something though as I don't believe any teenage girl should
have to put up with this stuff.
Anyone have any suggestions or comments?
A: There are several things you can do. Firstly, here's some information. The Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights has the responsibility to enforce Title IX in public schools. Title IX prohibits sex discrimination in education. The OCR has long held the agency view that peer sexual harassment -- harassment of students by other students -- is the liability of the school. This is an issue in the courts at this time. You must be sure that you are reporting the harassment to the proper chain of officials in the school, even if that includes the school board. This will help establish liability should you later feel you need to sue the school system for sexual harassment. Document your complaints. Make sure you ask who is responsible for Title IX (sex discrimination) compliance in your school system. I wish you good luck, as you are now a sexual harass- ment complainant and the system can easily begin to work against you as some systems do, to protect themselves.
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