In an effort to resolve the issues raised in the past few years pertaining to multiple occurrences of sexual misconduct throughout the district, the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) agreed to make a few changes to a resolution agreement proposed by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

The District has agreed to work with the OCR by assisting them in their requests on the investigation and is fully willing to work with them.

“We intend to fully comply and fully collaborate and cooperate with the Office for Civil Rights,” said Superintendent Max McGee. “Our initial conversations [with the OCR] have been cordial.We have found the OCR has been very helpful [and] have been very supportive, and we all want to do what’s best to protect the safety and security for our students. So this is not an us versus them — this is [us] working together.”

One of the issues highlighted in the plan drafted by the District and the OCR involves reaching out to alumni for information about sexual misconduct in the District. Though the school board supports this idea, some members of the board are concerned about how far back to go when investigating past students and resources that may have been involved, as well as how information on delicate sources will be collected whilst keeping the best interests of the students in mind.

“I don’t have any issue with an independent investigator talking to current employees [and] talking to current students who had any involvement with the two former employees or with the off campus issues of sexual violence,” McGee said. [It is] just a question of how far back that investigation goes and maybe what that investigation entails.”

For example, there are a few cases where the District would like to limit behavioral incident reports about past cases from the high schools as well as certain cases involving students who are currently enrolled at either District high school.

Another concern that board member Jennifer DiBrienza brought up was the duration of the OCR’s investigation and its effectiveness.

“It seems reasonable to ask [how long the investigation will take,]” DiBrienza said. “I don’t know why it’s taken so long, but I certainly think it’s reasonable to request a timely response or for us to understand if there is a certain time frame we can expect.”

Therefore, the District will alter the resolution slightly — a proposal will ask the OCR for a report if monitoring has not ended after three years and the District will have a meeting on next steps the District will take at that time.

Ideally, the plan made by the OCR is set to be approved by the district no later than June 30, so the OCR can commence its investigation into the District.

About The Author

Grace Kitayama is a junior at Palo Alto High School. Kitayama has been a member of The Campanile since her sophomore year of high school and is also a member of her school's dance team. In her free time, she enjoys hugging large shrubs.

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