THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 26TH, 2020

Staff from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) visited Palo Alto High School on March 29 to investigate a series of Title IX violations by the school administration.

Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) Title IX Representative Megan Farrell refused an interview, but directed The Campanile to a PAUSD visit summary which stated that “[OCR Representatives took a] tour of Palo Alto High School, followed by meetings with administrators and office hours with Paly students and staff.”

The summary also details that the representatives repeated the same process at Gunn on the same day.

“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in programs that receive federal financial assistance. The agreement addresses the district’s response to reports and complaints of sexual harassment, including sexual violence.”

OCR press release

The purpose of the OCR visit was to monitor a resolution agreement by the district that was approved in March 2017. The school board approved this resolution agreement after an extensive investigation found that PAUSD mishandled numerous cases of sexual assault.

The OCR originally opened an investigation on Palo Alto High School after a Verde Article on Paly rape culture was published in 2013.

The OCR then discovered numerous other Title IX violations present, such as the mishandling of the in formation about how former Paly Principal Phil Winston sexually harassed students and staff.

The violations included a lack of promptness by Kim Diorio, assistant principal at the time who was later promoted to principal, in reporting allegations about Winston.

The District also mishandled the information given to them regarding former Paly science teacher Ronnie Farrell who inappropriately touched a student of his.

Despite numerous requests for an interview, the OCR representatives said that they were “not doing press interviews during this site visit.”

According to the provided PAUSD Paly visit summary, “neither OCR nor PAUSD will be issuing an official report about the specifics of the visit.” The summary then concluded with the following closing statement: “We look forward to continuing our partnership with the OCR to ensure that we provide all students with an environment in which they are empowered to report Title IX incidents without fear or judgment.”

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