Alpine School District accused of failing to respond to reports of sexual assault

Sep 21, 2023, 5:52 PM | Updated: 6:16 pm

AMERICAN FORK — The Alpine School District is being accused of failing to comply with Title IX by not reporting sexual harassment and assault claims by other students and employees.

In a federal compliance review, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) said the district discriminated against students, failing to investigate “employee-to-student and student-to-student assault allegations after they were reported by law enforcement leaving affected students vulnerable.”

In the 21-page letter, the OCR listed eight violations and three concerns related to compliance between the 2017 to 2020 school years.

These included failing to carry out responsibilities through the districts designated Title IX coordinator, failing to adopt and publish grievance procedures, and failing to take steps when investigating some of these complaints, just to name a few.

The letter lists five employee-to-student assault incidents.

In one example, OCR stated a teacher performed a “sexual act” on a student in 2018. The district alerted law enforcement, but they let the teacher resign without conducting a Title IX investigation.

The OCR also detailed 88 student-to-student assault sexual assaults at 35 schools that were not listed. They involved different acts such as unwanted touching, forcible hugging, and kissing.

“It’s not enough to simply say, ‘Hey, we referred it to law enforcement and they dealt with it and the teacher left,'” said KSL Legal Analyst Greg Skordas. “The school has to deal with it also for the benefit of the victim, and the victim’s families so that they feel like they were heard, that the school took some steps to make sure it didn’t happen in the future.”

The district entered a “resolution agreement” to fix the violations and make sure they’re in compliance.

The district must “coordinate all of the efforts to comply with Title IX moving forward,” revising policies, review the cases from 2017 to 2020 to determine if further action needs to be taken, as well as other steps.

By November 2023, the district must submit documentation to the OCR to review and approve district policies.

The district is also being asked to conduct age-appropriate climate surveys with respect to sexual harassment throughout the district.

By January 2024, “the District will submit to OCR a draft plan for conducting the school climate surveys for OCR’s review and approval.” Those surveys are to be submitted in July.

When asked what could happen if the district is not in compliance, Skordas said there could be sanctions like withholding federal funding.

“Nobody wants that to occur,” Skordas said. “I would anticipated the district is going to take this seriously and that we won’t have any problems going forward.”

The Alpine District sent this statement to KSL TV:

“On Wednesday evening, the Alpine School District received results of a compliance review conducted by the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) which was initiated in 2020, specific to events occurring between 2017 and 2020. Since the initiation of the review, the district has been cooperating with OCR by providing documentation to their office as requested.

While OCR was conducting its review, Alpine School District began taking steps to resolve self-identified compliance issues that came to our attention during the documentation-gathering process. Many of these steps align with the resolution that has just been entered into between OCR and ASD. Some of these steps included updating Title IX related policies, ensuring more thorough training of the Title IX coordinator and school administrators, and improving documentation of Title IX issues.

We continue to address these specific violations and compliance concerns identified by OCR as outlined on September 20, 2023. Alpine School District is committed to ongoing improvement and adherence to Title IX regulations.”

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Alpine School District accused of failing to respond to reports of sexual assault