EDUCATION + SCHOOLS

Alpine School District did not respond to assault allegations, review finds

Sep 21, 2023, 10:11 AM | Updated: Sep 22, 2023, 10:33 am

Image of the Alpine School District's Board of Education building. The Alpine School District is lo...

The Alpine School District will host its first meeting to potentially split up the district.(Stuart Johnson, KSL TV)

(Stuart Johnson, KSL TV)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Alpine School District has entered into a resolution agreement after the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights found the district did not respond to allegations of sexual assault, thereby not fulfilling its Title IX obligations. 

In a press release, OCR stated that the Alpine district failed to respond to reports of sexual assault by employees and students, according to Title IX requirements. It wrote that the Alpine failure to respond to assault allegations left the affected students vulnerable to discrimination, and unequal access to education.

Alpine District, by not reporting assault, failed its Title IX obligations 

The OCR provided a list of examples of sexual assault allegations against employees towards students where the district did not fulfill its obligations. 

OCR cited a case where a teacher was accused of performing a “sexual act” on a student in their classroom in 2018. After law enforcement was informed, the teacher was arrested and pleaded guilty. OCR said the district then allowed the teacher to resign with no investigation and did not reach out to the student to provide assistance offered under Title IX. 

A year later, a former student reported that a teacher had groomed her, touched her exposed lower back, and kissed her repeatedly. She reported this happened to two other students as well.

The OCR described how the district spoke with several former and current students, after which the principal said “We heard the same story again and again. … [I]t was eerie how similar the stories were, even though most ended early with the students transferring or quitting.”

According to the report, the teacher denied the allegations and blamed the students before retiring at the end of the school year. 

“OCR found no evidence that the district provided current students interim measures or investigated to determine if the teacher’s conduct created a hostile environment for current or former students that required redress,” the release stated. 

In 2017 a parent complained about an employee hugging and kissing the cheek of several female elementary students as they got off the school bus. The OCR said the district confirmed this through video footage, yet produced no evidence that they followed this up with a Title IX investigation or went forward with any disciplinary action against the employee in question. 

Of the 88 reported sexual assault allegations against students towards other students from the  2017-18 through 2019-20 school years, OCR said only one was taken to the district’s Title IX coordinator. It found no evidence of the district following up with the students to find out if these incidents created a hostile environment that would limit or deny their access to education. 

Resolution agreements

In order to resolve the Title IX violations, the Alpine School District has agreed to follow a resolution agreement. 

The resolution agreement includes the following measures.

  • Ensuring that the district coordinates all of its efforts to comply with Title IX through its Title IX coordinator(s) moving forward.
  • Notifying students, parents, and employees of its designated Title IX coordinator(s).
  • Revising Title IX policies and procedures to comply with the Title IX regulations.
  • Disseminating a notice of nondiscrimination that complies with the Title IX regulations.
  • Training employees and students regarding the district’s Title IX procedures, how to identify what constitutes sexual harassment, and how to report such harassment.
  • Reviewing case files for reported incidents of employee-to-student and student-to-student sexual harassment from school years 2017-18 through 2019-20 to determine if further action is needed to provide an equitable resolution of each incident.
  • Improving its record-keeping system to ensure that records about sexual harassment are created and maintained and to report complete and accurate date to the CRDC.
  • Administering school climate surveys to students, parents, and district employees.
  • And reporting to OCR on its responses to reports and complaints of sexual harassment during OCR’s monitoring of the resolution agreement.

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Alpine School District did not respond to assault allegations, review finds