Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wondering about Annual Reports on Sexual Harassment

School Board policy 3208, Sexual Harassment, calls for an annual report to the Board
The Superintendent shall make an annual report to the Board reviewing the use and efficacy of this policy and related procedures. Recommendations for changes to this policy, if applicable, shall be included in the report. The Superintendent is encouraged to involve staff, students, and volunteers and parents in the review process.
The policy was adopted on December 7, 2011, so you might expect the first annual report in the first quarter of 2013 and the second annual report in first quarter of 2014. Those expectations would not be met. I cannot find any record that any annual report as required by this policy has ever been made.

I wrote to the internal auditor, who did an audit of the annual reports required by policy. He acknowledged that no such annual report has ever been made. I next wrote to the address asking about who is responsible for the annual reports required by the policy and when we could expect to see them. After all of the expressions by senior leadership about how much they care about compliance with sexual harassment policy I thought for sure that they would want to fulfill their duties in the policy. So I thought.

Imagine my surprise when Brent Jones, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources wrote back to me saying that he was responsible for the reports and that the annual report for students was presented to the Board at the August meeting of the Audit and Finance Committee and that the annual report for adults was presented at the September meeting for that committee. I was surprised that he claimed to have produced two annual reports. The policy didn't call for that. I was even more surprised by his claim that the reports were presented. To help you imagine my surprise I encourage you to take a look at the agendas for those meetings: August and September. You will find no reference to these reports. Moreover, if you read the minutes of the August meeting, you will see that there is no mention of a report. The minutes for the September report have not been posted to the district web site yet. So I was VERY surprised by his claim.

Makes me wonder what Mr. Jones is talking about. I've asked him.

I think he might have meant a report made to the Operations Committee in August. It appeared on the Operations Committee agenda as:
. Title IX sexual harassment student update (P. McEvoy)
The minutes of the meeting described the update like this:
Title IX sexual harassment student update: The first half of the 2013-14 Title IX report was presented by Pegi McEvoy on Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) non-sexual harassment and sexual harassment student data. The adult data for the 2013-14 school year will be presented next month. Given that the Board has asked for annual school data, the district staff recommend that the annual Title IX report be routinely scheduled for August Operations Committee to allow time to assemble a report and make recommendations based upon complete school year data. Additionally, the superintendent has asked staff to make recommendations on any related policies and procedures, as well as a possible task force. She noted that PowerSchools currently does not collect school based interventions, therefore the current report reflects those cases escalated to the Safety and Security office. A district-wide solution to collect school based information is being discussed. Enhancements to the system and additional school training will be needed to ensure fidelity. It is recommended that the Task Force also make recommendations on data collection and accountability.
This is not the report required by policy 3208. I'm not sure what it is, but it is not the report required by the policy. The report is supposed to be about the use and efficacy of the policy, not a count of incidents that were escalated to the District level. This report is specifically described as a Title IX report, not the annual report required by the policy. You can see by the minutes that the Board is asking for the report required by the policy and you can see that this report is not it.

Also, if you read the internal auditor report you might wonder how he could reach the conclusion that:
The School Board Office has developed an effective mechanism to ensure that all reports required by Board Policy are delivered in a timely manner. All reporting requirements are tracked, and department managers are notified in a timely fashion of their upcoming reporting deadlines.
when the annual report required by policy 3208 was absent. I wondered, so I asked him. Mr. Medina responded:
Our conclusion was based on the overall results of the audit. We did not conclude that all required reports had been completed, and we did not offer any conclusions on the content included in the reports. Our main focus was on whether or not the required reports occurred. We identified errors during our audit testing, but the low frequency of these errors did not necessitate any modifications to our conclusion. 
Your specific policy questions are addressed as follows:
·         Policy 3208 – This was an exception we noted during our testing. Our audit period covered the 2012/2013 fiscal year. During this time period the annual report required by Policy 3208 did not occur.

Mr. Medina said that Policy 3208 was an exception noted, but I saw no note about it in the audit report. I wonder where he noted it. I'm also left to wonder about an auditor who finds errors but, due to their low frequency, concludes that there is "an effective mechanism to ensure that all reports required by Board Policy are delivered in a timely manner." I guess either "effective" or "all" means something different to him than it does to me. He wrote that "All reporting requirements are tracked". That means that someone has a tracking sheet somewhere that shows that this report is two and a half years overdue, and they aren't taking any action in response to that.

I'm still wondering why the Board has not demanded this report. I've asked, but no one on the Board will respond to the question,

I am just full of wonder these days. I can't wait to learn more.


Mary Griffin said...

Charlie, you can find them in the same place as the "annual report on the use of force" that has been required by policy 3246 since at least 2008.

Anonymous said...

Ah, that must be were the various program evaluation reports are, too....


Charlie Mas said...

What happens is that

1) The policy requires a report and set minimums for the report contents.

2) The staff ignores that and issues whatever kind of report they want and call it the report required by the policy - even if it is completely non-responsive to the reporting requirements set in the policy. Why do they do that? Because

3) The Board accepts the report as if it were the report required by the policy and never asks for a report that meets the policy minimums.

As will all governance and enforcement issues, it is the Board which is responsible for the matter and it is the Board's failure that the matter isn't properly addressed.

Anonymous said...

Two words: Equitable Access.

(Shakes head.)


Anonymous said...

Or how about three words:

Creative Approach Schools

(Shakes head again.)


Anonymous said...

Let's keep 'em rolling:

Transportation Report

(Just shaking now.)


Anonymous said... kind of begs the question but why even have the "annual report" with policy minimums clause if there will never be such a report?

Clearly it's lip service that no one is going to follow - why not just make a blanket declaration that from now on no annual reports are required ;)

I'm being facetious but geez, at this point, its just plain silly.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Charlie Mas said...

I now have an email from Mr. Jones in which he acknowledges that the Title IX reports delivered to the Operations Committee were not the reports required by policy 3208, but I'm still awaiting an answer to my original question: when will we see the annual report required by policy 3208? It's more than two years overdue.

Anonymous said... is where all the updated information is now posted. The Task Force on the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Harassment has been very effective in moving the work forward. Hopefully the new Student Civil Rights Office with the Civil Rights Compliance Officer, Title IX Coordinator, 504 Coordinator, and investigators will be the force needed to bring about a cultural change in our schools.
Hopeful Motherofthree