OCR conducted a proactive investigation of the West Contra Costa Unified School District to examine whether the District responded promptly and effectively to sexual harassment of students, including sexual violence, as required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. OCR’s investigation revealed that sexually harassing student-on-student behavior permeated the educational environment at school sites and that the district has not undertaken comprehensive school-wide or district-wide initiatives sufficient to address it. Evidence included verbal and physical conduct by students, including sexual assaults, unwelcome touching, demands for sexual favors, and the use of sexually derogatory language that created a hostile environment at district schools. OCR also found that some students had been subjected to sexual harassment by employees. In addition, the District was not in compliance with the procedural requirements of Title IX, which include adoption and publication of grievance procedures providing for prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of sex discrimination and designation of at least one employee to coordinate compliance with Title IX. OCR determined that the District was in violation of Title IX.
On September 30, 2013, the District entered into a Resolution Agreement to correct the compliance concerns identified through OCR’s investigation. Specifically, the District agreed to: (1) designate a Title IX Coordinator; (2) hire a consultant with expertise in the area of sexual harassment prevention and training; (3) revise its policies, procedures, and practices for preventing, investigating, and remediating sexual harassment; (4) develop guidance to help ensure the effectiveness of remedial actions; (5) conduct annual assessments of the climate at District schools; (6) take interim measures to ensure the safety of victims, reporting students and the school community, address any ongoing harassment and prevent retaliation; (7) create a task force of parents, students, community members and representatives of community-based organizations to identify strategies to improve the school climate and prevent sexual harassment; (8) develop a comprehensive plan for educating students, parents and employees about Title IX’s prohibition against sex discrimination that takes into account the results of the climate assessments and recommendations of the task force; (9) increase supervision of students at school sites and school-sponsored after-school activities; (10) implement systems for tracking reports of possible sexual harassment to ensure incidents are promptly and impartially investigated and resolved; (11) assess the effectiveness of District efforts to prevent and address sexual harassment; and (12) provide periodic compliance reports to OCR during the three year term of the Resolution Agreement. OCR will monitor the District’s implementation of the Resolution Agreement until at least July 1, 2016.