We got the lip service. We got the crocodile tears. What we didn't get was any real movement towards improved policies, procedures, or practices. Nor have we seen any movement to hold anyone accountable for failures to follow the policy or procedures. Instead, we've seen the Board and the senior management close ranks to not only excuse the non-compliance, not only condone the non-compliance, but actually defend the non-compliance. I'm sorry, but how tragic do the outcomes have to be before anyone will take this seriously? Does someone have to die?
Oh, but they will claim that they have done so much. Really? What have they done?
They have appointed new Title IX officials. They don't really deserve any credit for this. They had to appoint someone new because the previous one, Paul Apostle, retired.
They are making sure that the new Title IX officers know and understand their responsibilities. This is a nice way of saying that they allowed the previous Title IX officer to be ignorant of his. They allowed that for a year and a half after the reported rape. They allowed Mr. Apostle to continue in the role despite the fact that he didn't know his responsibilities or perform his duties, and they allowed him to continue untrained. What reason do we have to believe that they will confirm the training of the new Title IX officials? What reason do we have to believe that they will demand that they be promptly trained? Why didn't they demand that of Mr. Apostle? The Board Audit Committee and the senior staff were aware of the fact that he wasn't trained. They never - not even after the reported rape - made it priority that he get trained. By the way, the new Title IX officers haven't been trained yet. I'll believe that they will be trained when they are trained. Not before. The promise to train them is worthless - like all of the District's other promises.
They are drafting a new sexual harassment policy. They don't really deserve any credit for that. The OSPI Consolidated Program Review required it. But, they are responsible for the failure to follow the policy and the failure to hold anyone accountable for failing to follow the policy. And, in case you are thinking that, since the reported rape they would, for sure, based on their solemn statements of commitment, be following the policy now, you would be wrong. They are not following the policy. The policy requires an annual report. They have had nearly two years since the reported rape and the senior staff has not produced the report and the Board has not demanded it. They are no more concerned about policy compliance now than they ever were, which is to say that they aren't concerned about it at all. By the way, given the lip service they have paid to this issue, you might thing that they would be prompt about revising that policy. Nope. They are past the deadline they set for themselves for the CPR required action. It was supposed to have been done by July 1. I guess it just wasn't a priority.
There will be a revised superintendent's procedure on sexual harassment. Again, as with the policy, they don't deserve any credit because it is a required action from the OSPI Consolidated Program Review and, as with the policy, they never held anyone accountable for failing to follow the procedure and they aren't following the procedure now. The procedure, by the way, requires the superintendent to form an ad hoc task force annually to review reports, review the procedure, and recommend revisions. Hmmm. Kinda like the task force that a lot of people have been asking for at Board meetings. As with the policy, it's pretty clear that despite their claims the Board and the senior staff are no more interested in compliance after the reported rape than they were before: not at all. They have had nearly two years and haven't formed that committee or called for its formation. By the way, given the lip service they have paid to this issue, you might thing that they would be prompt about revising that procedure. Nope. They are past the deadline they set for themselves for the CPR required action. It was supposed to have been done by July 1. I guess it just wasn't a priority.
They are working with the Office of Civil Rights and the OSPI to improve their practices. No, they aren't. They are being investigated by the OCR and the OSPI. There's a difference. If the police come to my house and search it for your missing jewels I can't claim that I'm working with the police to find them.
The District is conducting training on sexual harassment for building leaders. Again, they don't get credit for this. First, because it's unclear if they actually are doing this training. Second, because there is no indication that the training meets any minimum standard. Third, because annual training is a regulatory requirement and has never been done before - not even in the other opportunities since the reported rape.
The District will post notices about sexual harassment. No credit. These notices have been a legal requirement all along and have been absent to date - even in the two years since the reported rape. They had all of that time to improve their practices and they didn't. Clearly they are not taking these actions in response to the rape report or the complaint, but in response to the press about it.
The District has tightened procedures for field trip chaperones. Have they? Where are these procedures? If they are so proud of these procedures, why can't we see them? Why aren't they posted on the District web site with the other superintendent procedures? Let's see the procedures so we can decide for ourselves if they are an improvement. Let's also see the old procedures. More to the point, who cares? It won't make any difference if they change the policies and procedures if they don't follow those policies and procedures. The problem wasn't that the policies and procedures were inadequate before, the problem was that they were ignored. Have they taken any steps to improve enforcement? No. Enforcement remains an alien concept.
UPDATE: Not only is this purported procedure not listed among the superintendent procedures on the District web site, it is not among the superintendent procedure changes reported to the school board in their Friday memos. Policy requires the superintendent to report all procedure changes to the Board and he does it with an annual report in the Friday memo. There is no field trip procedure update in either the 2011/2012 report or the 2012/2013 report.
There is no evidence that field trip procedures were ever changed - the District's only actual claimed response.
The District has developed a Critical Incident Response Plan. Actually, the District had the Critical Incident Response Plan before, they've just updated it. And I've read the plan. It's a public relations plan to manage the District's image, not an action plan to respond to danger. Want to know why they haven't posted the Critical Incident Response Plan to the District web site so everyone can see it? Because they are not proud of it.
I see the Board and the senior management working very hard to convince people that they take sexual harassment and assault seriously, but I don't see them working very hard on actually doing something about it.
Here's what they could do:
- Acknowledge the failure to follow the field trip and chaperone policy and procedure.
- Hold people accountable for their failure to comply with chaperone and field trip policy and procedure in the NatureBridge case.
- Acknowledge the failure to follow the sexual harassment policy and procedure in the NatureBridge case. This statement actually appears in Board President Peaslee's letter to the community about the case: "The District has procedures in place to respond to incidents of sexual harassment, and those procedures were followed." This childish denial needs to stop.
- Hold people accountable for their failure to follow policy and procedure in the NatureBridge case.
Are you noticing a theme?
- Demand the annual report required in the current policy.
- Hold staff accountable for the failure to produce the annual report in the past.
- Demand the annual task force be formed.
- Hold staff accountable for the failure to form the annual task force in the past.
- Demand the required notices be posted.
- Hold staff accountable for the failure to post the required notices in the past.
- Demand the annual training be done. In particular, the training should put a focus on the idea of consent - what is and is not consent. For example, a woman does not consent to sex by entering a man's room. That does not give him license to rape her. Here's another example: A woman does not consent to sex by making out with a man. That does not give him license to rape her. Consent isn't really that tricky a concept.
- Hold staff accountable for the failure to conduct the annual training in the past.
- Speak kindly and humanely with the victim and her family. Acknowledge the shabby treatment they have received from the district in the past.
- Hold staff accountable for their shabby treatment of the victim and her family.
- Advise Mr. Banda and Mr. Apostle that, in the event of litigation, the District will not provide them with legal defense. Moreover, that if the District must settle or pay damages, that the District will sue them in turn to recover those costs. Those bastards are on their own for what they did.
- Demand that the District stop treating an inconclusive results as if they were conclusively negative results.