Update: Both KIRO-7 tv and KING-5 tv have done stories on this issue. I think that the story has legs and that they may continue on (especially now that the Title IX and the Department of Education has gotten involved.)
I note that the KING-5 piece says that the district couldn't get access to the FBI investigation and that the parents of the girl refused to allow the district to talk to her. (This because the girl had been out-of-state at a residential facility to help her.) Therefore, the district "did not have the evidence to fully support her claims." This seems to be a different story than below but I find the wording suspect below so I would need a timeline to decide.
end of update.
From President Peaslee:
Dear Seattle Public Schools principals, staff and community,
I know many of you are concerned about the story that appeared earlier this week on Al Jazeera America news. I want to assure you that all School Board members – who are also parents – share your concerns about student safety. In the last year and a half, the District has reviewed and improved our field trip, training and chaperoning practices.
The 2012 allegation of sexual assault during a Garfield High School overnight field trip was investigated by the FBI and the National Parks Service, who interviewed all parties involved. The U.S. Attorney’s office decided not to file charges. The FBI told the District not to investigate until they completed their investigation, and we have not received a copy of that report. As soon as the District learned the FBI investigation was complete we conducted our own independent investigation. The family asked the District not to interview their daughter, and we respected those wishes. The Board reviewed the investigation and concluded that we did not have sufficient evidence that a sexual assault occurred.
While we cannot comment in detail about the investigation, we can tell you what steps have been taken to make sure our students are safe. Right now, all employees receive training on sexual harassment when they start employment and receive refresher training every two years.
· In August 2013, all school administrators received added training on new procedures regarding field trips and the responsibilities of chaperones.
· This August, all school administrators will receive additional training on how to respond to crisis situations.
· The District has requested the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, to work with us in evaluating and improving our procedures to ensure full compliance with all federal and state requirements regarding sexual harassment and assault.
The District has procedures in place to respond to incidents of sexual harassment, and those procedures were followed. The safety of our students, whether while in our buildings or at school-sanctioned trips and events, is of utmost importance to us. We will continue to work with our Interim Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland to ensure our staff and administrators always make safety their priority.
These are welcomed comments.
I note that it says that the procedures for response to sexual harassment "were followed." I don't see that procedures for field trips were followed. In fact, the documentation shows that one teacher put in ear buds at 11 pm and went to sleep. I cannot fathom an adult on a field trip, after one night of students not following rules, to put in ear buds and go to sleep.
So left out here is a specific notation that Garfield staff have been fully brought up-to-date on these procedures.
As well, it might have been good to state that principals are aware of consequences should it come to light in the future that, despite these structures in place, policy was not followed.
As Charlie says, it's great to have procedures and policies but without enforcement, they don't mean a lot.