In partnership with the Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud & Romo Law Corporation, the District mandated a day-long training session for high school staff members on Aug. 10.
“Back in March when [the OCR] issued their resolution agreement, there were quite a number of action steps that the district had to put in place … and this is one of them,” Principal Kim Diorio said. “[We are] making sure we did a thorough training of all our staff and taking this very seriously.”
In addition to the Title IX training, teachers and administrators also attended Mandated Reporter Training, which is required for individuals working with minors. Along with Title IX training, these may become annual occurrences, according to Diorio.
“This isn’t just a response to the events that happened last May and June,” Diorio said. “This is an ongoing conversation.”
The training targeted Title IX’s role in providing students with safe learning environments and equal access to education.
“What’s happening is that girls on campus may be subjected to sexualized behavior or comments,” said English teacher Kindel Launer. “Federal [law] states that [the behavior] interferes with their ability to get an education. When the environment is scary and sexualized…you can’t learn.”
During training, the staff received guidelines and steps for filing a sexual harassment report.
The presentation delved into examples of actions that may constitute sexual harassment by illustrating specific examples along with hypothetical scenarios.
This training aims to create a safer environment for students to come forward by prohibiting retaliation against students who report any instances.
“The training was very instructive,” Launer said. “I’m glad to see that the District is coming into an understanding of where current case law is relative to Title IX.”
Originally, Title IX was used in the context of athletics or high education. For instance, when Paly introduces a new boys’ sport, they also introduce a girls’ sport.
As Title IX begins to encompass high school classroom situations, students and parents should also be aware of Title IX policies, according to Diorio.
“I do think Palo Alto will be at the forefront of being experts in this area,” Diorio said. “We can certainly help improve our own school culture and climate around these issues and also share that knowledge with schools or districts that are experiencing similar things.”