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A Case Study of K-12 School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Lessons Learned from Title IX Policy Implementation

Authors:
  • Magnolia Consulting, LLC

Abstract and Figures

An estimated 10% of K–12 students will experience sexual misconduct by a school employee by the time they graduate from high school. Such misconduct can result in lifelong consequences for students including negative physical, psychological, and academic outcomes. To prevent incidents from occurring, school districts are tasked with complying with Title IX, a federal law that provides guidelines for prevention efforts and responses to school employee sexual misconduct in K–12 schools. Key elements of Title IX guidance include requirements for 1) comprehensive policies and procedures, 2) prevention efforts, 3) training for staff, students, and parents, 4) timely reporting, 5) thorough and coordinated investigations, and 6) effective response. Taken together, these six elements are intended to reduce the risk of school employee sexual misconduct and eliminate mismanagement of cases when misconduct does occur. The purpose of this study is to examine Title IX policy implementation in school districts that experienced a case of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014. After experiencing incidents of school employee sexual misconduct school district participants in this study reported reformulation of some policies and procedures to address gaps highlighted by the incidents and improvements in awareness, communication, and district leadership. Although participants reported improvements, a lack of understanding and various challenges and fears continued to affect school district policy development and implementation in spite of Title IX requirements. Districts in this study lacked one or more of the key elements of Title IX; the study identified gaps in policies with regard to 1) having comprehensive policies and procedures, 2) providing trainings for staff, students, and parents, and 3) properly responding to and investigating cases. Participants reported various challenges that affected their implementation of the key elements of Title IX, including district budget limitations, low parent engagement, fear of the consequences of reporting, and poor responses by criminal justice and child welfare agencies. To prevent or respond effectively to incidents, participants recommend that districts 1) be proactive, 2) develop clear and comprehensive policies and procedures, 3) improve communication about policies and procedures, 4) offer annual in-person staff, student, and parent trainings, 5) have clear guidance for reporting procedures, 6) develop protocols and checklists, 7) establish accountability measures, 8) have strong leaders communicate and enforce policies and procedures, and 9) develop collaborative relationships with criminal justice and child welfare agencies. Researchers recommend that school districts review their policy and implementation efforts to determine if they are compliant with the key elements of Title IX guidance. Researchers also recommend that the federal and state departments of education establish accountability measures to track policy implementation and ensure school districts comply with Title IX guidance and provide high-quality low-cost training options. Further examination of prevalence data, victim and offender characteristics, effects on victims and school communities, criminal justice responses, and the effectiveness of prevention efforts are also recommended.
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A CASE STUDY OF K–12
SCHOOL EMPLOYEE
SEXUAL MISCONDUCT
Lessons
Learned from
Title IX Policy
Implementation
September 15, 2017
cultivating learning and positive change
www.magnoliaconsulting.org
An estimated 10% of K–12 students will experience sexual misconduct by a
school employee by the time they graduate from high school. Such misconduct
can result in lifelong consequences for students including negative physical,
psychological, and academic outcomes. To prevent incidents from occurring,
school districts are tasked with complying with Title IX, a federal law that provides
guidelines for prevention efforts and responses to school employee sexual
misconduct in K12 schools. Key elements of Title IX guidance include
requirements for 1) comprehensive policies and procedures, 2) prevention efforts,
3) training for staff, students, and parents, 4) timely reporting, 5) thorough and
coordinated investigations, and 6) effective response. Taken together, these six
elements are intended to reduce the risk of school employee sexual misconduct
and eliminate mismanagement of cases when misconduct does occur. The
purpose of this study is to examine Title IX policy implementation in school
districts that experienced a case of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014.
After experiencing incidents of school employee sexual misconduct school district
participants in this study reported reformulation of some policies and procedures
to address gaps highlighted by the incidents and improvements in awareness,
communication, and district leadership. Although participants reported
improvements, a lack of understanding and various challenges and fears
continued to affect school district policy development and implementation in spite
of Title IX requirements. Districts in this study lacked one or more of the key
elements of Title IX; the study identified gaps in policies with regard to 1) having
comprehensive policies and procedures, 2) providing trainings for staff, students,
and parents, and 3) properly responding to and investigating cases. Participants
reported various challenges that affected their implementation of the key elements
of Title IX, including district budget limitations, low parent engagement, fear of the
consequences of reporting, and poor responses by criminal justice and child
welfare agencies.
To prevent or respond effectively to incidents, participants recommend that
districts 1) be proactive, 2) develop clear and comprehensive policies and
procedures, 3) improve communication about policies and procedures, 4) offer
annual in-person staff, student, and parent trainings, 5) have clear guidance for
reporting procedures, 6) develop protocols and checklists, 7) establish
accountability measures, 8) have strong leaders communicate and enforce
policies and procedures, and 9) develop collaborative relationships with criminal
justice and child welfare agencies.
Researchers recommend that school districts review their policy and
implementation efforts to determine if they are compliant with the key elements of
Title IX guidance. Researchers also recommend that the federal and state
departments of education establish accountability measures to track policy
implementation and ensure school districts comply with Title IX guidance and
provide high-quality low-cost training options. Further examination of prevalence
data, victim and offender characteristics, effects on victims and school
communities, criminal justice responses, and the effectiveness of prevention
efforts are also recommended.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
A CASE STUDY OF K12 SCHOOL EMPLOYEE SEXUAL MISCONDUCT:
LESSONS LEARNED FROM TITLE IX POLICY IMPLEMENTATION
About this Study
This qualitative case study
includes a purposeful sample
of five geographically and
demographically diverse
districts that experienced an
incident of school employee
sexual misconduct in 2014.
The six major goals for this
study included: 1) identifying
formal and informal district-
and school-level policies and
prevention efforts, 2)
determining how education
actors and county officials
defined, interpreted, and
implemented school
employee sexual misconduct
policies before and after
incidents, 3) identifying
loopholes in districts’ current
policies, 4) determining
challenges and limitations of
current policies, 5)
determining best practices for
school employee sexual
misconduct prevention and
reporting, and 6)
disseminating findings to
school administrators,
community members,
policymakers, and legislators.
Findings were generated from
92 participants through 41
interviews, 10 focus groups,
and document and policy
review; the study was
executed from January 2016
to September 2017.
This project was supported by
Award No. 2015-CK-BX-0009,
awarded by the National
Institute of Justice, Office of
Justice Programs, U.S.
Department of Justice. The
opinions, findings, and
conclusions, or
recommendations expressed
in this publications/programs
/exhibition are those of the
authors(s) and do not
necessarily reflect those of
the Department of Justice.
iii
This report would not have been possible without support from employees
and county officials in the five participating school districts. We greatly
appreciate the time each interview and focus group participant took to
participate. We would also like to thank the three advisors for their guidance,
support, and review of this project, including Terri Miller, President of Stop
Educator Sexual Abuse, Misconduct and Exploitation (S.E.S.A.M.E.); Charol
Shakeshaft, Professor of Educational Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth
University; and Roger Collins, former K12 Superintendent in four Virginia
school divisions. We are also grateful to the Department of Justice for funding
this very important study.
The authors,
Billie-Jo Grant, Ph.D.
Stephanie B. Wilkerson, Ph.D.
deKoven Pelton, Ph.D.
Anne Cosby, M.S.W.
Molly Henschel, Ph.D.
Magnolia Consulting, LLC
5135 Blenheim Rd.
Charlottesville, VA 22902
(ph) 805.550.9132
magnoliaconsulting.org
This project was supported by Award No. 2015-CK-BX-0009 awarded by the
National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of
Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations
expressed in this publications/programs/exhibition are those of the authors(s)
and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
iv
Table of Contents
Introduction ................................................................................................................................... 1
What We Know About School Employee Sexual Misconduct .................................................. 1
Federal and State Laws ............................................................................................................ 3
Challenges in Keeping Students Safe ...................................................................................... 5
The Study ................................................................................................................................. 6
Findings ........................................................................................................................................ 8
Policies and Procedures ......................................................................................................... 11
Prevention ............................................................................................................................... 15
Training ................................................................................................................................... 19
Reporting ................................................................................................................................ 24
Investigations .......................................................................................................................... 30
Response ................................................................................................................................ 36
Study Limitations ........................................................................................................................ 38
Conclusions ................................................................................................................................ 39
References ................................................................................................................................. 41
Appendix A: Key Elements of Title IX ......................................................................................... 44
Appendix B: Resources for Consideration ................................................................................. 45
Appendix C: Study Sample ........................................................................................................ 48
Appendix D: Protocols ................................................................................................................ 54
Appendix E: Title IX Codes ........................................................................................................ 72
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 1
September 15, 2017
estimated 1 in 10 students will experience school employee
Parents send their children to school relying on school employees to serve in loco parentis
taking on the physical and legal roles of the parent while the child is at school (Hogan &
Mortimer, 1987). Further, the federal Title IX law requires that schools protect children from
sexual discrimination and harassment by school employees. However, school employee sexual
misconduct, the sexual abuse and misconduct of K12 students by school employees, is
estimated to affect 10% of our nation’s students (Shakeshaft, 2004).
While media reports and studies on sexual misconduct in all youth-serving organizations
support this finding (see, for instance, Cameron et al., 1986; Google Alerts, 2014, 2015; Irvine &
Tanner, 2007; Shattuck, Finkelhor, Turner, & Hamby, 2016; Stein, Marshall, & Tropp, 1993;
Wishnietsky, 1991), the empirical research base for sexual misconduct in schools is very limited,
in part due to the sensitive nature of the topic.1 In addition, no national surveys currently collect
incident data on school employee sexual misconduct and there is no comprehensive,
searchable national database to manage and track reported incidents (Government
Accountability Office [GAO], 2014.
What We Know About School Employee Sexual Misconduct
Definitions of school employee sexual abuse and misconduct of students, and the terms used to
describe it, vary.2 For this study, researchers use the term school employee sexual misconduct
to encompass sexual abuse or misconduct with a child (contact or noncontact, criminal or
ethical violations) by any K–12 school employee, including teachers, coaches, administrators,
volunteers, and staff members, while caring for that child in a K12 school setting. Sexual abuse
may include sexual activities with a child that are considered crimes3; sexual misconduct is a
broader term that includes abuse but also encompasses acts that are not criminal but may
violate ethical codes (i.e., sexual contact with a student who is over the age of consent16 in
many statesis not a crime, but is typically prohibited by school policy).
1 Sensitive research involves topics that “potentially pose for those involved a substantial threat, the emergence of
which renders problematic for the researcher and the research collection, holding and or dissemination of research
data” (Lee & Renzetti, 1993, p. 5). Examples of such topics, provided by Lee and Renzetti, include illegal activities,
drug use, sexual topics, and homosexuality. Such topics may be emotionally painful for the research subject or, in the
case of educators, the information might lead to litigation or criminal action.
2 Additional terms include educator sexual abuse (Shakeshaft, 2004), adult sexual misconduct (REMS, 2017), and
sexual abuse by school personnel (GAO, 2014).
3 Sexual abuse as defined in statute [18 U.S.C. § 2242] is when a person knowingly “causes another person to
engage in a sexual act by threatening or placing that other person in fear . . .” or “engages in a sexual act with
another person if that other person is(A) incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct; or (B) physically
incapable of declining participation in, or communicating unwillingness to engage in, that sexual act. . . .” It comprises
sexual crimes such as indecent liberties with a child, sexual abuse, rape, and child pornography, among others.
INTRODUCTION
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 2
September 15, 2017
Victims of school employee sexual misconduct span most demographic characteristics, though
students who are low income, female, and in high school are most likely to experience sexual
misconduct by a school employee (Cameron et al., 1986; Fazel, Sjostedt, Grann, & Langstrom,
2010; Finkelhor, 1984; Gallagher, 2000; Hendrie, 1998; Moulden, Firestone, Kingston, & Wexler,
2010; Shakeshaft, 2004). Research has shown that offenders target victims who appear needy,
may be picked on by others, or do not have a happy home life because it is easier to gain the
friendship of these vulnerable children (Salter, 2003). Similarly, students with disabilities are
more likely to experience school employee sexual misconduct than students without disabilities
(Caldas & Bensy, 2014; Shakeshaft, 2004; Sullivan & Knutson, 2000;).
Contrary to common conception, school employee sexual misconduct offenders are typically
popular and they often have been recognized for excellence. Offenders include all types of
school employees, such as teachers, school psychologists, coaches, principals, and
superintendents (Hendrie, 1998; Shoop, 2004; Shakeshaft, 2004). Offenders are most
frequently male (Hendrie, 1998; Jennings & Tharp, 2003; Moulden et al., 2010; Shakeshaft,
2004). Beyond these general statistics, very little is known about offenders’ characteristics, as
they span all ages, ethnicities, and income levels (Shakeshaft, 2004).
Ironically, the same characteristics of teacher-student relationships that help create a successful
educational environment can also create a potentially exploitative situation. Research has
shown that school employees whose jobs include individual, isolated, or alone time with
students (such as music teachers, coaches, and counselors) are more likely to engage in sexual
misconduct (Gallagher, 2000; Jennings & Tharp, 2003; Shakeshaft, 2004; Willmsen & O’Hagan,
2003). Close contact with students, who are often eager to please their teachers, allows
offenders the opportunity to “groom”4 students for eventual misconduct, by giving special
attention and rewards while slowly increasing the amount of touching or other sexual behaviors
(Robins, 2000; Salter, 2003; Shoop, 2004). In this way, offenders exploit students’ need to
please and take advantage of the power they have over grades, discipline, playing time, and
other rewards students may covet (Van Dam, 2001).
While studies of the effects of school employee sexual misconduct on victims are limited, we do
know that victims of sexual abuse by any adult suffer serious psychological, physical, academic,
and behavioral consequences that can last a lifetime (AAUW, 2001; Dube et al., 2014; Felitti et
al., 1998; Hornor, 2009; Kendall-Tackett, 2002; Macmillan, 2001; Monnat & Chandler, 2015; US
DOE, 2014). Victims of sexual abuse are more likely to have problems with drugs, alcohol, or
4 Grooming involves activities intended to establish an emotional connection with a student and normalize sexual
behavior.
One teacher
offender can
have as many
as 73 victims,
according to a
2010 GAO
report.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 3
September 15, 2017
substance abuse (Ford et al., 2011; La Fond, 2005; Shakeshaft, 2004), and they often struggle
with long-term symptoms such as chronic headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbance, recurrent
nausea, decreased appetite, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, suicide attempts, fear,
anxiety, depression, anger, hostility, and poor self-esteem (Kendall-Tackett, 2002). Sexual
abuse also impairs victimsability to trust other people, potentially destroying their chances to
develop close personal relationships and especially healthy sexual relationships (La Fond,
2005).
Federal and State Laws
Various federal and state laws and agencies govern the protection of children from sexual
misconduct by all adults, not just school employees. One federal law, the Child Abuse
Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974, requires states to comply with a set of requirements
intended to protect children, such as establishing state mandatory reporting laws and screening
processes and promptly investigating reports.5 A second federal law, the Adam Walsh
Protection Act of 2006, mandates that states establish sex offender registries and requires the
Department of Justice to conduct criminal history checks for employees who work around
children at the request of public or private schools.6 State laws vary but may include mandatory
reporting laws, background check requirements, and versions of what is known as Erin’s Law
laws prohibiting sex offenders from being at schools.7 While these laws prohibit sexual abuse by
all adults, they do not focus on the prevention of and response to school employee sexual
misconduct. One federal law does address this issue specifically: the Every Student Succeeds
Act (ESSA), passed in 2015, includes a provision that bans the aiding and abetting of school
employee offenders and requires states to implement language and laws prohibitingpassing
the trash”—allowing a known sexual predator to quietly leave a school district without record,
allowing the offender to seek work in another school setting.8
Multiple government agencies are charged with protecting children from sexual misconduct,
collecting data, or providing services in the event of an incident, including the Department of
Education and the Office of Civil Rights, the Office of Safe and Healthy Students, the National
Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state child welfare agencies (e.g., Child
Protective Services), and the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Despite the number of agencies
charged with protecting children from sexual abuse and collecting data on sexual abuse, there
continues to be very limited prevention, research, or data collection on school employee sexual
misconduct specifically, making it difficult to gather the information needed to shape prevention
efforts and extrapolate prevalence rates (GAO, 2014; Shakeshaft, 2004).
5 As a condition of receiving federal funding under the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as
amended, states must comply with certain requirements, including establishing mandatory reporting laws (42 U.S.C.
§ 5106a(b)(2)).
6 H.R. 4472109th Congress: Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006; see
https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/109/hr4472.
7 Erin’s Laws have been passed in 31 states; see www.erinslaw.org.
8 Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-95 § 114 Stat. 1177 (20152016).
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 4
September 15, 2017
Title IX
The primary law that establishes criteria for the prevention of and response
to school employee sexual misconduct is Title IX of the Educational
Amendments of 1972. The law prohibits sexual discrimination and sexual
harassment in all public and private educational institutions that receive
federal funds (including, but not limited to, elementary and secondary
schools, school districts, proprietary schools, colleges, and universities).9
The law applies to any education program or activity that is part of any
school operation; thus, schools must also protect students engaged in all
academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic and other school programs.
The Department of Education and the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) have
issued multiple documents that include guidance or recommendations for
the protection of students against sexual misconduct by school employees
under Title IX (see Key Title IX documents table to the left).10 The
documents are intended to provide schools and other stakeholders policy
guidance to assist them in meeting their obligations and members of the
public with information about their rights under the civil rights laws and
associated regulations enforced by the OCR.
Taken together with the law, these documents lay out key elements of Title
IX requirements that schools and districts must implement, including 1)
comprehensive policies and procedures, 2) prevention programs, 3)
training for staff, students, and parents, 4) processes to ensure timely
reporting, 5) thorough and coordinated investigations, and 6) effective
response procedures. Comprehensive implementation of the six elements
of Title IX guidance is intended to reduce the risk of school employee
sexual misconduct and the mismanagement of cases and ensure a safe
environment in which all students can learn.11 The 2014 document,
“Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence,” is considered a
“significant guidance document” according to the Office of Management
and Budget’s Final Bulletin for Agency Good Guidance Practices.12 Further,
case law has established that school districts that do not comply with Title
IX can be liable for civil damages in cases of school employee sexual
misconduct.13 For an overview of the key elements of Title IX and relevant
references, see Appendices A and B.
Districts and schools do have other resources to turn to in establishing
9 Pub. L. No. 92-318, tit. IX, 86 Stat. 235, 373-75 (codified as amended at 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-88). See also 34 C.F.R.
pt. 106.
10 See Sexual Harassment: It’s Not Academic. US DOE, Office of Civil Rights, 2008,
https://www2.edu.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ocrshpam.pdf; See Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance:
Harassment of Students by School Employees, other students or third parties. US DOE, Office of Civil Rights, 2001;
See Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence. US DOE Office for Civil Rights, 2011
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201104.pdf ; See Questions and Answers on Title IX and
Sexual Violence. US DOE, Office of Civil Rights, 2014, https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-
title-ix.pdf;
https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.pdfhtts://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/qa-201404-
title-ix.pdf
11 See footnote 10.
12 72 Fed Reg 2432
13 Smale, 2014; Franklin vs. Gwinnett County Public Schools (1992); Gebser v. Lago Independent School District
(1998); Doe v. School Administration District N. 19 (1999).
Key Title IX Documents
Sexual Harassment: It’s
Not Academic (US DOE,
Office of Civil Rights, 2008),
https://www2.edu.gov/about/
offices/list/ocr/docs/ocrshpa
m.pdf
Revised Sexual
Harassment Guidance:
Harassment of Students
by School Employees,
Other Students or Third
Parties (US DOE, Office of
Civil Rights, 2001),
https://www2.ed.gov/about/o
ffices/list/ocr/docs/shguide.p
df
Dear Colleague Letter:
Sexual Violence (US DOE
Office for Civil Rights, 2011),
https://www2.ed.gov/about/o
ffices/list/ocr/letters/colleagu
e-201104.pdf
Questions and Answers
on Title IX and Sexual
Violence (US DOE, Office
of Civil Rights, 2014),
https://www2.ed.gov/about/o
ffices/list/ocr/docs/qa-
201404-title-ix.pdf
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 5
September 15, 2017
policies and practices for preventing and addressing school employee sexual misconduct.
Researchers who work on the issue have offered recommended best practices for preventing
and responding to school employee sexual misconduct, including various model policies,
procedures, and practices (see, for instance, Hobson, 2012; Shakeshaft, 2013; Shoop, 2004). In
addition, entities such as United Educators, a risk management organization, and the American
Association of University Women (AAUW), a nonprofit organization that promotes equity in
education for girls, have also offered checklists and guides for school districts (AAUW, 2001;
EduRisk, 2016). However, it is important to note that none of these recommendations have been
formally studied or empirically tested. Thus, the primary guidance for school districts in
preventing and responding to school employee sexual misconduct is grounded in the key
elements of Title IX guidance.
Challenges in Keeping Students Safe
Despite state and federal laws requiring prevention efforts, prompt reporting, thorough and
coordinated investigation, and prompt, effective response, researchers have identified a number
of common loopholes that may hobble school districts’ implementation of policies and
requirements.
School staff lack knowledge and awareness about school employee sexual misconduct
Many states have adopted policies that appear on their websites, in their handbooks, or in
school board policies, but studies have shown that school staff remain unaware of what school
employee sexual misconduct is, what the warning signs are, and how and to whom to report it
(Grant, 2011). Because educational actors lack awareness about school employee sexual
misconduct, they fail to recognize it or to properly report it to child welfare and law enforcement
personnel (Grant, 2010; Grant, 2011; Jennings & Tharp, 2003; Kenny, 2001; Shakeshaft, 2004;
Shakeshaft & Cohan, 1995; Shoop, 2004; Willmsen & O’Hagan, 2003).
Schools fail to report sexual misconduct
As of 2014, 46 states had mandatory reporting laws that require school employees to report
suspicions of child abuse, including sexual abuse, by any adult (parents, family members, and
school employees) or other students; 43 of those states have defined penalties for not reporting
(GAO, 2014). Despite these laws, school employees are apprehensive about reporting school
employee sexual misconduct to authorities for a variety of reasons, including the potential
stigma and loss of reputation for the school or district, as well as fear of legal repercussions and
liability for monetary damages (Grant, 2011; Hendrie, 1998; Shoop, 2004). Thus, despite clear
policies and laws requiring reporting and potential legal consequences for failing to do so, only
an estimated 5% of school employee sexual misconduct incidents known to school employees
are reported to law enforcement or child welfare personnel, (Corbett, Gentry, & Pearson, 1993;
Finkelhor, Hotaling, & Yllo, 1988; Kenny, 2001). A 1994 study in New York State found that only
1% of the 225 cases superintendents disclosed to researchers were reported to law
enforcement or child welfare and resulted in license revocation (Shakeshaft & Cohan, 1995).
Many of the unreported cases were handled in unofficial ways; school administrators sometimes
seek to avoid the consequences of reporting by entering into confidentiality agreements or
negotiating private settlements with offenders (Shakeshaft & Cohan, 1994; Shoop, 2004; Stein,
1999). Furthermore, collective bargaining clauses often allow for scrubbing of personnel files, so
no record is left once an offender leaves the system. These practices, allowing known sexual
predators to quietly leave the district, potentially to seek work elsewhere, have become known
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 6
September 15, 2017
as "passing the trash" or "the lemon dance" (Hobson, 2012). With no criminal conviction or
disciplinary record, predators can obtain new jobs—and move on to other victims. On average,
a teacher-offender will pass through three different districts before being stopped, and one
offender can have as many as 73 victims in his or her lifetime (GAO, 2010).
Many state policies do not require schools to train staff, students, and parents
According to a 2014 GAO report, 18 states required school districts to provide awareness and
prevention training to school employees. No states required training for parents; it is unknown
how many states require training for students. Of the 18 states that require training, fewer than
half require training for nonlicensed employees such as Title IX coordinators, cafeteria and
janitorial personnel and bus drivers, and 10 of the 18 states require training for coaches.
Investigations may be compromised
When an incident of sexual misconduct is reported, school administrators may conduct their
own internal investigations, which can result in administrative action against an offending school
employee. Although these investigations are usually well intentioned, district administrators
often do not have the training to conduct investigations effectively and do not have the authority
or knowledge to confiscate and protect key evidence. As a result, these internal investigations
can interfere with child welfare or law enforcement investigations. For instance, administrators
investigative efforts can tip off an offender to likely law enforcement actions, prompting him or
her to destroy important evidence or intimidate victims to keep them from providing testimony.
The resulting loss of critical evidence can affect the ability of law enforcement to prosecute a
case, potentially allowing the offender to escape criminal consequences. Further, the
proliferation of separate investigations and offender attempts to intimidate victims may require
victims to be interviewed multiple times, potentially exacerbating their trauma.
The Study
This study was designed to examine how districts that experienced an incident of school
employee sexual misconduct in 2014 defined, interpreted, and implemented key elements
of Title IX before, during, and after the incident. The study investigated district strengths and
challenges in the dealing with an incident, analyzed what policies districts have in place, and
examined what steps they are taking to prevent and respond to cases of school employee
sexual misconduct.
The study used a qualitative case study design (Yin, 1982, 2004) with a purposeful sample of
five districts, each of which experienced a case of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014.
A purposeful sample was selected for this study because of 1) the sensitive nature of the topic,
A teacher-offender can be transferred to three different schools before
he or she is reported to the police, according to a 2010 Government
Accountability Office Report. This practice is called passing the trash.”
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 7
September 15, 2017
2) the anticipated difficulty of randomly recruiting sites for participation, and 3) the need for
participants to have been directly or indirectly involved with a case of school employee sexual
misconduct. Each of the five districts were recruited from a database of 459 districts who
experienced a case of school employee sexual misconduct in 2014. See Appendix C for
complete sampling methodology and description of the sample.
The study was conducted between January 2016 and September 2017. Data collected included:
1) various district documents, 2) 41 interviews with primary actors (school employees and
county officials directly involved in responding to the incident), and 3) 10 focus groups with 51
secondary actors (school employees who were not directly involved with the incident but who
might have been indirectly affected by it). Documents reviewed included written policies and
protocols, training materials and handbooks for staff and students, case documents, and other
guiding documents as applicable. Researchers applied a document review checklist to each of
the documents gathered for this study which included items on policy type, scope, purpose,
definition, enforcement, and procedures. In a few select instances researchers collected and
reviewed versions of documents from before and after the incident, but for the majority of
documents collected and reviewed there were no changes from before or after an incident. In
interviews and focus groups, participants were asked to discuss their knowledge of district
policies and procedures, to describe the dissemination of and any changes to these policies and
procedures, and to provide recommendations for improvement (see Appendix D for interview
protocols and document review checklist).
To protect the confidentiality of study participants, the study was approved by the New England
Institutional Review Board. All district and participant identifying information is confidential and
has been removed from any reporting. Sites and participants are not identified by name and are
referred to by unique site or participant numbers. Participants were offered $25 Amazon gift
cards to compensate them for the time required to participate.
To analyze data from the interviews and focus groups, researchers applied the technique of
analytic induction (Erickson, 1986) using the qualitative analysis software program Atlas.ti. This
technique was deemed most appropriate for this multiple-case study because it allows for a
systematic and exhaustive examination of limited cases in order to generate cross-case themes
supported by confirming evidence (Erickson, 1986). Using Atlas.ti, researchers divided data into
segments, attached codes to the segments, and found and displayed all instances of similarly
coded segments for analysis (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Researchers began the coding
process by reviewing a sample of interview and focus group transcripts to identify common
themes relevant to the research questions. Once preliminary codes had been determined,
researchers independently coded data and then engaged in a process to establish inter-rater
agreement in which the codes were compared for consistency. Codes fell into several
categories, including policies and practices, trainings, implementation, reporting, investigations,
perceptions, and other challenges.
Preliminary coding revealed a strong alignment to the Title IX guidance documents referenced
on page 4. Thus, researchers synthesized the guidance from these Title IX documents into the
“Key Elements of Title IX Guidance” including six overarching areas 1) comprehensive policies
and procedures, 2) prevention programs, 3) training for staff, students, and parents, 4)
processes to ensure timely reporting, 5) thorough and coordinated investigations, and 6)
effective response procedures (see Appendix A). Codes addressing each of the six key
elements of Title IX were applied to the collected documents, interviews and focus groups. For
each of the codes, sites were rated as “yes” = fully meeting Title IX guidance requirement,
“somewhat” = meeting some parts of the guidance but not all, or “no” = not meeting the Title IX
guidance requirement (see Appendix E for Title IX guidance codes).
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 8
September 15, 2017
FINDINGS
This section describes the findings generated from interviews, focus groups, and document
review across five K12 school districts that experienced a case of school employee sexual
misconduct in 2014. Findings are organized according to the six key elements of the Title IX
guidance; a summary of findings, challenges, and recommendations is provided in Table 1
below.
Table 1. Study Findings, Challenges, and Recommendations, by Key Elements of Title IX Guidance
Key Element of Title IX
Guidance
Finding
Challenges
Participant
Recommendations
POLICIES AND
PROCEDURES
School district policies and
procedures did not address
all key elements of Title IX
guidance.
Challenges include a lack of
model policies, difficulties
addressing technology use,
and ill-defined boundaries
around physical contact.
Have clear, written
policies, especially
around technology and
social media use, and
provide guidelines for
appropriate behaviors.
PREVENTION
All districts experienced an
increase in awareness of
school employee sexual
misconduct and behaviors
that can help prevent it in
the wake of an incident.
Participants were reluctant to
believe an incident had
occurred in their districts, and
school employees and
administrators were
uncomfortable and hesitant to
discuss the topic.
Be proactive in reporting
suspicious behavior,
encourage accountability,
and improve district
leadership.
TRAINING
Four of the five school
districts had various
trainings for staff, one
offered a training to
students, and none offered
training to parents.
Training programs face a
variety of challenges, including
limitation in budget, time, and
parental engagement, and a
greater training need for
younger teachers.
Offer annual, in-person
staff, student, and parent
trainings and include real-
world examples.
REPORTING
Participants indicated being
more likely to report future
incidents due to improved
awareness of reporting
requirements, and
increased use of technology
to facilitate reporting.
Reporting may be stifled by a
number of factors, including
fear of community and media
response, student and staff
reluctance to report, and
difficulty identifying warning
signs.
Have clear guidance for
reporting and encourage
staff, students, and
parents to make reports.
Three of the five school
districts improved their
investigation processes and
strengthened collaborations
with criminal justice and
child welfare agencies after
experiencing an incident.
Challenges in executing
investigations included poor
communication, competing
roles, interference between
internal and external
investigations, and challenges
with technology.
Proactively develop
collaborative relationships
with criminal justice and
child welfare and consider
the use of school safety
officers on school
campuses.
RESPONSE
Districts took various
actions to respond to
incidents, but none of the
five districts engaged in all
of the responses
recommended by Title IX
guidance.
Some administrators struggled
with how to provide support to
staff, students, and parents and
how to respond to community
and media requests in the
wake of an incident.
Provide support to staff,
parents, and students;
develop protocols for
proper responses to an
incident; and establish
accountability measures.
INVESTIGATIONS
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 9
September 15, 2017
Policies & Procedures
Findings
Key policy elements of Title IX are not well implemented and school employees, students,
and parents are unaware of Title IX requirements
All five districtspolicies, examined after the district had experienced an incident of school
employee sexual misconduct, did not contain one or more of the key policy elements outlined in
Title IX, as shown in Table 2. Three of the districts had policies that covered school employee
sexual misconduct specifically and grievance procedures, but only one district provided
examples of boundary-crossing behaviors and only one included a notice of nondiscrimination in
its policy. Two districts had implemented only one key policy element, the designation of a Title
IX coordinator. In the two small, rural districts, some participants noted that staff generally know
what to do in a small community and therefore do not need written policies, although larger
communities might need written procedures.
Awareness of requirements, and of the district’s implementation of those requirements, was
inconsistent. Some employees said during interviews they were aware of their district’s Title IX
policy, slightly more than half (58%) of staff interviewed did not know who their Title IX
coordinator was. In addition, staff said that students would not know who the Title IX coordinator
is. At one site, district administrators could identify their district-level Title IX coordinator, but no
school-level employees could.
Across the five participating districts, policies and updates to policies were made available in
staff and student handbooks and communicated via email, websites, and teachersunion
materials. In three of the five districts, participants also reported relying on principals or human
resources personnel to discuss the policies at staff meetings and meetings held at the beginning
of the school year. Participants reported that these in-person meetings included verbal
examples of boundary-crossing behaviors, such as “being alone with a student” or “driving a
student home.
POLICIES AND PROCEDURES
Study Finding
School district policies and procedures did not address all key elements of Title IX guidance.
Description of Challenges
Challenges include a lack of model policies, difficulties addressing technology use, and ill-defined
boundaries around physical contact.
Participant Recommendations
Have clear, written policies, especially around technology and social media use, and provide
guidelines for appropriate behaviors.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 10
September 15, 2017
Table 2. Presence of Key Elements of Title IX Guidance by Site After an Incident of School Employee Sexual
Misconduct
Key Title IX Policy Elements
Covers school
employee sexual
misconduct
Provides example
of boundary-
crossing
behaviors
Includes
grievance
procedures
Includes a
Title IX
coordinator
Includes notice of
nondiscrimination
District 1
!
District 2
!
District 3
!
!
District 4
!
!
!
District 5
!
!
!
!
Note: = element included in policy, = element missing from policy
District policy changes after an incident varied from extensive to none
Two of the five districts implemented policy changes as a result of the
incident, including introducing policies on boundary-crossing
behaviors and technology use. One district adjusted its policies for
after-school activities (for example, requiring that students not be
alone in a classroom without a tutoring pass and forbidding one-on-
one tutoring). Prior to the incident, the participant said, “It was normal
for kids to be in and out of classrooms. I don’t think people thought it
was weird.After the incident, student activities after school became
“highly monitored.”
In another district, administrators developed a comprehensive technology use policy to guide
and monitor use of the districts network or technology. The policy, which was the result of
multiple revisions and incorporated elements of other policies from state and national searches,
prohibits private student/teacher contact via technology (i.e., cell phone, social media, email).
To communicate with students, staff must use the district-sponsored learning platform, so that
administrators and parents can see all communication.
In the other three districts, participants stated they have not noticed any changes to policies or
practices since the incident.
Challenges
There is a lack of model policies around school employee sexual misconduct
Participants noted that there was “surprisingly little out there right now” in regard to model
policies around school employee sexual misconduct. They indicated it would be helpful if the
“Before the incident, we
were much more
haphazard about how we
did this. We are much
more thorough and formal
now about how to
implement policies.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 11
September 15, 2017
state department of education assisted districts with developing or identifying model policies for
school employee sexual misconduct. One participant said, “We looked at a lot of policies inside
the state, and there wasn’t much . . . There wasn’t a model that people were using. We did our
best to pull from those the things we liked [and] outlined what was important.
It is difficult to keep policies current with ever-changing technology
Participants in all five districts discussed how it is difficult to address boundary-crossing
technology use through policies as technology evolves continually. Participants discussed 1)
challenges and difficulties in developing a comprehensive technology policy, and 2) the positive
and negative aspects of technology monitoring.
First, participants in all districts mentioned the challenges and difficulties in attempting to
address technology use through school policies. One participant said, “[Technology/social
media is] definitely [a challenge] because they’re ever-changing and [we have to make] sure
that we’re on top of that so that we know what kids are using and how they’re using that and
how teachers and perpetrators can use it as well.Other participants noted, “This is evolving
technology that none of us had experience with,” and “it is definitely a challenge.” Another
participant indicated that overall, district policies are outdatedand do not account for the tools
provided by smartphones. Multiple participants discussed the difficulty of establishing a policy
that encompasses all potential inappropriate technology use.
Second, participants were mixed on whether districts should have technology monitoring
systems (such as Internet or application-based monitoring) and whether those systems would
be effective. Multiple participants talked about their fear of social media and continually
developing technology. As one said, “We can’t police social media. That is the scariest
part.” Further, many participants discussed difficulties in monitoring social media use, especially
when accounts are private: “Someone to monitor social media would be helpful, but drama and
feuds, while a lot of that is public, a lot is private, unless it is reported by another student. Even if
you have an appointed person in the district, there will be a big road block.” Participants were
also concerned about parent reactions to constant monitoring of technology and social media.
It is difficult to maintain boundaries with students while also providing personalized
support
Participants said that it is difficult to maintain strict boundaries in teacher-student interactions,
yet also provide emotional support for students who need it. As an example, teachers are
cautioned against a variety of behaviors, such as giving students rides home, closing classroom
doors, tutoring students one on one, and being alone with students. One interviewee noted that
the boundaries between inappropriate behavior and being a caring, emotionally supportive
teacher “can be a little confusing.” The interviewee continued, “We have a lot of students who
need attention or who need extra support, who want to come and give you a hug.The
interviewee noted that there was a “grey area” between inappropriate behavior and just being
cold to students. Many participants discussed the possible consequences of being afraid to
interact with students, including not providing enough support to students, especially those with
special needs. Some participants feared the loss of connection with students: “You don’t want
teachers who are robots.” One teacher said, “Some [students] don’t have an adult advocate who
cares and loves in appropriate ways. [We] love them like they are our own.” Fear of crossing
boundaries, these teachers feared, could interfere with those important relationships.
Participants also mentioned being fearful of being accused of sexual misconduct and limiting
their interactions and “connections” with students as a result. Some teachers discussed being
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 12
September 15, 2017
“scared you will be labeled as somethingas a result of being alone with a student after school
or after a school-related event. Overall, participants reported that policies limiting physical
contact may not be realistic and can be offensive to teachers.
Some participants (15%) did not believe that policies would make a difference in preventing
school employee sexual misconduct. One participant said, “If someone is determined to do
something wrong, having the policy won’t stop them. It will help prosecute them but not stop
them.” Another participant said, “If someone really wants this to happen, it will happen. They are
sick and will be sick no matter what.”
Recommendations
Participants recommended having clear, written policies, including around technology and social
media use, and providing guidelines for appropriate behaviors.
Clear, written policies are needed
Many participants remarked on the need for “a simple bulleted
policy,” that is “multifaceted,” “longitudinal,” and “detailed.” One
participant recommended that districts “start with a written policy
that everyone has access to, so there is something to refer to.”
A policy should be “simple [and] explicit. We want people to
read it and understand what’s going on. This is our commitment
to preventing harm to your children. These are the
consequences.” Another participant suggested making all
policies available on the website so parents are aware of them,
saying there is no excuse when this information is out there
and available.” In addition, some participants believe that using
example model policies would be a good strategy for creating a
policy; as one stated, “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Look to share
information and policies.”
Boundaries for technology use and social media use need to be established
Participants recommended various components be included in a technology use policy for staff
and student interactions, including:
Expectations for social media use and for specific applications, such as Instagram,
Snapchat, and Facebook;
Clearly outlined expectations for phone and text messaging contact between students
and staff;
Clearly outlined guidelines for appropriate school and personal use of email (for
example, school employees only emailing students through school-sponsored systems
or applications); and
Never sharing personal email or passwords with students.
As an example, one participant stressed that “there needs to be a formal policy in place [for text
messaging]. There should be a window of time for texting, to limit communication as much as
possible.” Another said, “Never text only one kid. Everything has to be a group message and
that group message should include the parents.” Participants recommend that social media
“When we are talking about
student safety…The policy
should not be lodged between
internet policy and lunch
program policy. It needs to be
at the forefront and
addressed.”
- Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 13
September 15, 2017
expectations be made very clear: “You have to be incredibly clear on how we don’t cross the
social media line.”
Guidelines for behaviors need to be defined
Providing clear guidelines for teacher-student relationships and appropriate behaviors was
highly recommended. Participants acknowledged that the boundary between caring
engagement and inappropriate behavior can be a “blurry line.” Participants said that teachers
and other staff may struggle with that boundary and said having guidelines would help, focusing
on the importance of “cleaning up the grey lines” andclearly defining the boundaries between
teacher and students, through a professionalism or ethics policy” that provides steps on how to
recognize inappropriate behavior and what to report. Additionally, participants suggested the
possibility of having a separate, more in-depth policy for coaches, mentors, and tutors, who may
be in closer contact with students.
To mitigate this uncertainty, participants recommended that boundaries be defined in the policy.
At one district, participants made a list of suggestions for what to tell staff, including: 1) do not
put yourself in a situation where you and a student are alone, 2) do not friend students on social
media, 3) keep all communication to email, and 4) do not use a personal cell phone to
communicate. One interviewee noted, “Your job is not [to] socialize out of school. [There is] no
reason to be one-on-one. Put yourself in safe situations.” Specifically, participants addressed
the importance of never driving students home, although some participants noted that a rural
district with limited transportation options may have more challenges with this.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 14
September 15, 2017
Prevention
Findings
All districts experienced heightened awareness as a result of the incident
Staff in all five districts mentioned that, as a result of the incident,
they are more aware of what school employee sexual misconduct is
and pay closer attention to the behaviors of staff and students. Some
participants noted that after experiencing an incident, they realized
their school or district is not immune to school employee sexual
misconduct. Participants also said that they have become more
aware of “the little things” as a result of the incident and pay closer
attention to behaviors that just don’t feel right.
Participants also described changes to staff behaviors and generally
noted being more careful with staff-student interactions that involve
what could be considered boundary-crossing behaviors. Participants
mentioned being careful about, for instance, keeping doors open,
always having more than one adult in the room, not interacting with
students on social media, only using group text messages, watching
body language, being reluctant to enforce the dress code, and being
more careful about the types of conversations they have with
students. Administrators reported additional behavioral changes,
such as watching staff, students, and coaches more closely, being
more likely to have conversations around the issue, and being more
likely to follow up on inappropriate behaviors.
PREVENTION
Study Finding
All districts experienced an increase in awareness of school employee sexual misconduct
and behaviors that can help prevent it in the wake of an incident.
Description of Challenges
Participants were reluctant to believe an incident had occurred in their districts, and school
employees and administrators were uncomfortable and hesitant to discuss the topic.
Participant Recommendations
Be proactive in reporting suspicious behavior, encourage accountability, and improve
district leadership.
There’s more of an
awareness. Something
you wouldn’t think twice
about, now, they [the
staff] are aware if
situations look
questionable.”
Study Participant
“People are a lot more
cognizant of what they
say and how they say it
and what they are doing.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 15
September 15, 2017
Participants also reported that students had a “heightened
awareness.” According to one participant, “In the past, they [students]
might not think anything about it. But now, if they saw someone in a
room alone with a teacher they might tell their parents. It takes an
incident like that to be aware.”
At one district, a new superintendent led the district to make
improvements in prevention and communication of the topic,
suggesting that a strong leader can help change the culture so that
there is a “spirit of cooperation and team approach to all of this.”
Despite heightened awareness for most participants, some participants believed it would never
happen again and that no changes needed to be made. One participant commented, “They are
isolated. Anomalies, if you will. We are all shocked. It was highly abnormal for this environment.”
This sentiment was shared in two school districts classified as rural; it may be more common in
small, close-knit communities, where sexual misconduct incidents come as a particular shock.
Challenges
Staff and community members were reluctant to believe an incident occurred
All of the districts included in this study had a documented incident of
school employee sexual misconduct in 2014. Despite these reported
incidents, some participants reported that staff, parents, and
students were still reluctant to believe it had happenedor could
happen againmaking it difficult to take steps toward prevention. At
all five sites, participants reported widespread shock and disbelief
when the incident came to light. One participant noted the difficulties
communities can have coming to terms with such incidents: “People
just can’t believe it. What are our tendencies when something
happensto withdraw, denyhow do you train someone to push
against that?” At one site, two participants shared that parents who
had interacted with the offender tended to side with him or her
because they didn’t want to believe that their children could have
been victimized. Another participant pointed to challenges related to
parents and students posting on social media about the incident,
which generated rumors and speculation around the incident.
This kind of denial is detrimental to prevention efforts. If staff and parents are in denial that
school employee sexual misconduct can occur, they will likely be unwilling to take steps to
prevent it. In our sample, the smaller, rural districts were more likely to deny that school
employee sexual misconduct could happen in their communities; participants from these
districts were more likely to express a belief that these kinds of incidents happened only in
larger districts.
Administrators and staff were uncomfortable discussing sexual misconduct
Administrators discussed challenges with training or communicating with staff and students
about sexual misconduct because discussing any sexual topic is uncomfortable for
administrators, teachers, and students. One participant said, “We can’t even say the word sex.
“It has made me talk
about safety and security
for anything more than I
ever had before it
happened.”
Study Participant
“Nobody wants to believe
a teacher is doing these
things. We don’t need to
believe it; we know it
happens.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 16
September 15, 2017
People get wigged out by that. I think as a whole culture we don’t really know how to talk about
that.” Another participant reported that the district administrators and staff did not use the
terminology school employee sexual misconductbecause “we are uncomfortable.” Another
participant said, “I think anytime the word sex or sexual is brought up, it makes people
uncomfortable, uneasy.This difficulty discussing the issue inhibits the development of
preventive measures.
District leaders were hesitant to address school employee sexual misconduct
Administrators were hesitant to address school employee sexual misconduct because they felt
they did not have the proper training, they were concerned about staff time, or they were fearful
of what they might uncover. Most administrators said they had not received training on how to
prevent school employee sexual misconduct. One participant said, “I don’t think we have been
trained . . . we don’t have something that tells you about what you should be doing.” Another
administrator was worried about staff time: “The number of things staff deal with is
overwhelming. So it’s another thing we have to deal with.” Others reported being worried about
the public image of the school and feared “shining a light” on their community for fear of what
they might find. One participant said, We tend to scoot it under the rug and hope we can move
on quietly.” Another participant said, “I think we live in a day and age where people don’t want to
be bothered. Easier to turn your cheek and ignore it.These kinds of attitudes make it difficult, if
not impossible, for administrators to engage with prevention efforts or to encourage staff and
school communities to do so.
Recommendations
Be proactive
All participants emphasized the need to be proactive in preventing and responding to school
employee sexual misconduct. For these participants, being proactive included 1) having a
prevention plan, 2) discussing the issue before an incident occurs, and 3) having a process for
managing media and other issues when an incident occurs. Participants stressed that districts
should not delay in implementing a prevention plan and should not cling to the naïve idea that
sexual misconduct could not happen in their districts. One participant
put it bluntly: “Drop the notion that it can’t happen to your colleague
or your district.” Another offered, “My advice would be you have to
address school employee sexual misconduct proactively. [Other
issues are] not as life-altering as a sexual relationship with a young
person. Probably does not cut as many scars and wounds. This has
to be at the top. It affects the whole community . . . it takes years to
heal. I would advise others to make sure it is addressed and in a very
aggressive manner.” Many participants remarked on the need for
staff and students to openly discuss the issue, and not to be afraid to
talk about school employee sexual misconduct. One participant said,
“Bring it fully to the table. That keeps it from being shameful.” As
many participants concluded, “The big message is: have the urgency
before it happens [and] be proactive” and “don’t waste time being
afraid.”
“Make sure you have
something in place so
that if you have to use it,
it’s there.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 17
September 15, 2017
Hold staff accountable for knowing and implementing policies
Another recommendation participants made repeatedly is the need
for accountability for administration and district personnel.
Participants recommended holding school employees to high
professional standards. As an example, one participant said, “In
every case, there was something that was unprofessional. Don’t be
afraid to address it.” Overall, administrators called for districts to hold
everyoneboth teachers and administratorsto high professional
standards and for every staff member to be more aware and
observant of unprofessional behaviors.
Identify champions for change to support policy awareness and implementation
Participants said leadership or “top-down support” is a key both to preventing school employee
sexual misconduct and to implementing policies and practices that enact cultural change.
Participants said leadership from administration is necessary to create an atmosphere where it
is safe for both students and staff to discuss their concerns around school employee sexual
misconduct and related policies. That leadership is needed at several levels. Leadership from
the Board of Education is as important as school leadership for changing culture, as the board
must take the lead in building collaborations with other agencies and conveying mandatory
reporting requirements to all personnel, as well as spreading conviction about the need to
prevent, identify, and stop sexual misconduct. Leadership from district-level human relations
functions is critical in establishing policy across schools and also for providing more informal
support, by “making a point of knowing each person in all the schools by name” and providing
the opportunity for informal conversations about the issue. Finally, having a champion who can
highlight the issue beyond the schools can help to increase community attention and ensure
offenders are prosecuted.
“We need to be aware of
this like we are aware of
common core standards
and our curriculum and
give it the same level of
importance. These kids
are here on our watch.
That is the biggest pill for
me to swallow, that it
happened on my watch.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 18
September 15, 2017
Trainings
TRAININGS
Study Finding
Four of the five school districts had various trainings for staff, one offered training for students,
and none offered training to parents.
Description of Challenges
Training programs face a variety of challenges, including limitation in budget, time, and parental
engagement, and a greater training need for younger teachers.
Participant Recommendations
Offer annual, in-person staff, student, and parent trainings and include real-world examples.
Findings
Most districts lack adequate and frequent school employee sexual misconduct trainings
for staff, students, and parents
While four of the five districts offered some training for licensed school employees, especially in
the wake of the incidents, training for other relevant parties, including nonlicensed staff,
students, and parents, was limited.
Table 3. Availability of Training at Each District
Training
Licensed staff
training
Nonlicensed
staff training
Student
training
Parent
training
District 1
District 2
!
District 3
!
!
District 4
!
!
District 5
!
Note: = yes, = some, = unknown, = no training
Four of the five districts implemented specific school employee sexual misconduct trainings for
licensed school employees as a result of the 2014 incident. One district offered a one-time, in-
person training and another created a 30-minute online training course to be completed each
year. In two districts, participants had informal discussions about the issue at the start of the
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 19
September 15, 2017
year. One district indicated they still offered no formal training around school employee sexual
misconduct. For nonlicensed staff, one district offered a specific training and another covered
sexual misconduct as part of another training. Only one of the five districts reported having a
formal student program and none had a parent training program other than website materials or
information included in the student handbook (see Table 3).
Professional development programs for staff met with a range of reactions. In the school district
that implemented a formal, in-person professional development program, many participants
were enthusiastic about the program and believe it is helping to reduce the number of incidents.
One participant said, “The general self-awareness was more so the goal of the training. I had a
lot of teachers come out [and] say, I never thought about that.’” Overall, staff found the training
effective” and “very beneficial”; most believe it should be done every year. Other districts used
a 30-minute, online professional development program, offered by their insurance agency, that
can be taken multiple times. Participant reactions to this program were mixed; some said it was
effective and others suggested the need for an in-person training. One participant said online
trainings are “effective and quick,” and “you can do [it] in [the] comfort of own home or office.”
On the other hand, participants indicated the training was “a snoozer,” “not serious or effective,
and that participants can listen in the background and easily pass the quiz. Additionally, one
participant noted that the training may not rigorously assess participantsunderstanding of the
issues: “I do not think it’s effective. If you don’t pass the test the first time, you just retake it.”
Other school districts used a form of informal discussion for their training. One school district
now holds a preseason coaches meeting to cover proper boundaries with coaches and students.
However, one participant said, “They don’t get into particulars, because people know what we
are talking about.” In another school district, staff shared real-life stories to show how situations
could appear to be inappropriate, to highlight that staff should consider the perception of others
as they interact with students.
Finally, nonlicensed employees were largely overlooked. Most participants said nonlicensed
employees such as office staff or bus drivers receive no orientation or training at all on what
employee sexual misconduct is or how to identify it. One participant said, “I’ve been here a long
time, I can’t identify a specific training.”
School employees lacked understanding and awareness of school employee sexual
misconduct laws and policies
Across the five districts, many participants (83%) could not directly identify a policy specific to
school employee sexual misconduct, said the district did not have a policy in place, or omitted
policies from their definition. For example, one participant said that there is “virtually nothing.”
Many participants said that the policy was never discussed: “We are not aware of one.” “We are
not provided a copy of it if there is one.”
Of those participants who could not identify a specific sexual misconduct policy, 14% believed
the topic might be covered under sexual harassment policies but could not say if those policies
specifically cover school employee sexual misconduct. Another participant said that the district’s
sexual harassment policy is “vague,” “too general,” and would need clarification to define where
“the line” is. Other participants could not describe how they became aware of their districts’
policies and procedures. One participant assumed,the school has a policy,” but could not recall
what was in it. Some participants noted the student or staff handbook, but said it might not
contain an explicit policy on this issue. A few participants referenced more general policies that
did not cover school employee sexual misconduct.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 20
September 15, 2017
Not everyone felt a policy was needed; 34 participants said a policy
is not necessary because the issue can be addressed by “common
sense.” One participant remembered administrators discussing ways
to avoid boundary-crossing behaviors, such as not giving students
rides home, avoiding being alone with students, and leaving
classroom doors open, but the policy was not written down . . . Just
something you do. Something you understand.” Another participant
said, “In my mind . . . it was so unimaginable . . . never felt anyone
needed to say it to me directly.”
Parents and students may be unaware of policies
The majority of participants responded that the policies were either
not communicated or communicated only somewhat well to parents
(82.35%) and students (72.22%). Some participants referenced
student handbooks, but said they only covered sexual harassment in
general, as opposed to school employee sexual misconduct in
particular. One participant said, “Overall, I don’t think we do a good
job of sharing information with parents or students in terms of how
you prevent or what you do if it occurs.”
Challenges
Districts face various challenges in training school employees
Participants reported that it is challenging to deliver effective training programs on school
employee sexual misconduct for a number of reasons. Two districts said finances are a barrier
to providing effective professional development. Other districts highlighted the many competing
requirements for teachers’ professional development and the limited time for additional
professional development. Others wanted to avoid addressing an “uncomfortable subject.”
Parents are difficult to engage
Many participants discussed challenges with engaging parents in trainings or discussions about
school employee sexual misconduct. These challenges were both logisticalparents not having
access to technology to receive electronic information or had difficulty scheduling in-person
meetingsand affective with parents. As one participant said, “It’s hard to get them in and
people don’t like to talk about this stuff.” Participants said there is a delicate balance in informing
parents because people may be offended or upset if you talk about child abuse by a teacher.
One participant said, “You don’t want to hype it too much but you want to inform . . . You don’t
want to bring alarm but you have to enlighten people.
Information overload was also an issue. As one participant said, “A handout that you can give
during registration is good, but they get so much paperwork they don’t read half of it. All of this
is in there, they just sign it and give it back.” Other participants mentioned extreme poverty and
lack of access to technology among many parents as a barrier to establishing meaningful
communication with parents.
“Many of us don’t know
[the policies] the way we
should, we don’t have
anything concrete. If you
ask teachers what it
covers, I don’t think they
would be descriptive and
I can’t either.”
Study Participant
“Unfortunately, until
things happen we don’t
talk about it, we don’t
address it. We dust off
[the policy] as need be.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 21
September 15, 2017
Younger teachers need more training
Other participants discussed the particular challenges associated with younger teachers and the
importance of providing targeted training for these new teachers. Participants said younger
teachers may have more difficulty establishing boundaries with students, as they may be as
comfortable with such applications as texting and social media as their students are and they
may not have much age differential from students. One participant said, “It is generational. They
don’t really see the boundary like we do. The more social media part, they may not see the
threat or boundary as much as we would because they figure everyone does it.” The lack of
boundaries may be intensified in cases where the teacher previously attended the school.
Participants also noted that teachers do not receive training on school employee sexual
misconduct during undergraduate teaching/counselor training and often arrive at the district
without any previous training.
Recommendations
All five school districts offered recommendations for training staff, students, and parents as well
as suggestions for the frequency and methods of training for each of these stakeholders.
Provide annual training for all school employees
Participants in all school districts noted the importance of training and education on school
employee sexual misconduct for staff; many recommended specific discussion of “what it looks
like and what it is and why [it is] not appropriate.” Additionally, participants emphasized the need
for training for all staff and administration, not just licensed employees. As one interviewee said,
“[It is] not just [for] teachers. [You] have to reach out to janitors, secretaries, cafeteria workers,
everybody should be trained.” Another noted the need for administration “to be trained as much
as teachers.”
Many participants emphasized the need to conduct training on a “frequent basis.” One
participant said, “Yes, you might hear it one hundred times but better to hear it over and over
than not to hear it at all.” Due to high turnover, one participant said, “It needs to be on the radar
every year.” Another interviewee emphasized that there needs to be ongoing training: “It’s not a
one-time deal. It’s multiple times throughout the year. It’s in different avenues and different
venues, different people doing the same training . . . doing it over and over again is the key.”
Several participants had recommendations about training venues and methods for staff. Some
participants felt in-person training is more effective than online. In-person trainings were
commended for their ability to spur engagement and discussion amongst staff. Online training
programs were praised for being quick, affordable, and trackable. Participants also suggested
video trainings and engaging presentation, such as interactive exercises or training delivered in
collaboration with other agencies such as child welfare or law enforcement.
Provide annual training and education for all students
Overall, participants felt that districts needed a mechanism to educate students on what school
employee sexual misconduct looks like and how to file a report. Generally, interviewees felt that
high school and middle school students are mature enough to handle training or discussion
about this topic: “I think juniors and seniors in high school, its very age-appropriate. With social
media now, there’s nothing kids haven’t seen or heard, so let’s talk about it.” Participants
suggested methods of training that would get students’ attention, such as “a video with
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 22
September 15, 2017
someone like Taylor Swift to engage them” or a video with “scenarios of proven cases where
things went wrong.” Some participants noted the need for continued training for students as “the
student body is constantly changing. We are a few years along [from the incident] and half of
the students who were here when it happened are gone.” Overall, participants stressed the
need to reach students on this issue.
Provide annual training and education for all parents
Several participants remarked on the need to educate parents about school employee sexual
misconduct and get them involved in some capacity. One participant said, “I am a proponent of
educating parents to protect students. I think we need to help parents keep their kids safe. I
think it’s an area we need to address more.” One recommendation was to communicate
intentionally and conscientiously to all parents, “not to scare them that this is happening all the
time, more of an awareness, deliver it in such a manner that they are not on guard but more in
terms of support from school and security officers.” Some participants thought it would be a
good idea to go over with parents such areas as grooming behaviors and warning signs.
Several suggested having links on school websites to resources for parents. One interviewee
noted the importance of being open about the issue, asking parents about it and answering their
questions rather than being scared to address it.
Use real examples
Participants emphasized the need to make sure that training is meaningful and thorough by
using real examples in trainings. One district administrator described that district’s expanded
trainings. [We] step[ped] up aggressiveness and [are] blunt about it. At orientation, we are very
honest with [staff].Another school district interviewee said that “the topic should be point blank.
It needs to be said.” In addition, participants stressed that training needs to be thorough,
addressing “how to recognize warning signs and educating staff and students on the issue and
what the boundaries are.Another participant suggested:
We found that talking about real scenarios works best. What would you do in this
situation?And, Here’s what the real answer is of what you should do.Maybe looking
at cases that are not particular to our district but from other areas and dissecting those.
Is there something that could have been prevented? Something where we didn’t act the
way we should have? Having those kinds of conversations with administrators and
teachers and even bringing in some students.
One interviewee wondered about opening training with presentations by offenders: “We need a
professional development where a teacher that went to prison and got out [speaks] and says, ‘It
will affect your life.’ They [teachers] need to see it more in your face. I want someone to see
them [offenders] and know it can happen to you and we have the technology to catch you doing
it.”
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 23
September 15, 2017
Reporting
REPORTING
Study Finding
Participants indicated being more likely to report future incidents due to improved awareness of
reporting requirements, and increased use of technology to facilitate reporting.
Description of Challenges
Reporting may be stifled by a number of factors, including fear of community and media response,
student and staff reluctance to report, and difficulty identifying warning signs.
Participant Recommendations
Have clear guidance for reporting and encourage staff, students, and parents to make reports.
Findings
Participants were more likely to report incidents
Participants said they were more likely to report questionable or inappropriate behavior after the
incidents occurred. Some participants said they used to “sweep things under the rug” or “handle
on the down-low” but now “the atmosphere of protection is gone.” For example, one participant
said, “People are more sensitive to anything that is even questionable” and staff understand “not
to investigate” and to report immediately.” Participants also reported that there was more
awareness of mandatory reporting and a higher likelihood that incidents would be reported to
law enforcement immediately. They also noted a decrease in the occurrence of school-level
investigations; staff were, participants said, more likely to “err on the side of cautionand “would
rather be overboard than under board” with regard to reporting. Participants also mentioned that
it may be easier for teachers in smaller districts to report because they may have a better
relationship with their administrators, which would make them more comfortable reporting than
employees in larger districts.
One participant said “now there is a huge leap in the right direction.
We are not sitting on a child’s disclosure for two or three days.”
Another participant said, “We do a better job of reporting now than
we’ve ever done.In another district, a participant said, “School
employees have a really good understanding of what and when to
report. I don’t think they understood before.”
“We used to hear that
somebody knew and
didn’t report. But that’s
not the case now. If they
get a whisper of anything
they call.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 24
September 15, 2017
Districts also looked for new avenues for reporting. One district implemented an anonymous
student survey that is delivered to athletes at the end of each season. One participant told
interviewers, “That is one avenue for people to report after the fact. I think they are trying to
communicate to students, this is how you can report it, and to whom.” For instance, one of the
questions asks about comfort level with coaches. However, to date, no one has used the survey
to report issues and the participation rate is low. Also, some administrators mentioned concerns
about implementing the survey because the surveys could potentially be public record and
people may use them inappropriately (for instance, to get a coach fired if they aren’t getting
enough playing time). Others were concerned that asking students about a coach’s behavior
was “planting seedsand could increase the potential for false reports.
Increased use of technology both facilitates reporting and
hinders discovery
Although findings show that technology facilitates private
communication between school employees and students,
participants also mentioned that technology has also made it easier
for staff, students, and parents to report misconduct. One
participant said that students may be “more apt to tell us [of an
interaction] because in their minds they’re not getting somebody in
trouble they’re just telling us how they communicated.Other
participants said technology makes it easier for parents to identify
issues. For example, one participant said, “I think people are
reporting more because of social media. A lot of things that occur,
either photograph or sexting or texting. And that may tend to get
discovered more by parents or guardians.” In contrast, one
participant said they thought incidents are not reported as often as
they occur because some technology makes it easier to hide
communication: “There are probably still incidents floating out there.
I think that is because they [staff] are finding more ways to hide it. It
would be easy when you had home phones to check records. Now
people have cell phones. It’s just not caught.”
Challenges
Mandatory reporting laws are difficult to enforce
Criminal justice participants reported challenges enforcing mandatory reporting laws. County
officials were unaware of anyone who had been charged with or prosecuted for failing to report
an incident. One participant said, “I’ve never known it to actually be enforced. I’ve never seen
the commonwealth’s attorney waste their time with that.” When asked about the consequences
for not reporting, one participant said that no one has been formally prosecuted but that will
likely happen in the future.
Students are reluctant to report
Twenty-one participants noted the many challenges around student reporting, including that
many victims don’t realize they are victims. Participants also noted that students may not view
sexual misconduct by a school employee as inappropriate. As two participants said, “They did
not see this as sexual abuse” and, “They don’t understand what sexual abuse is.” Even when
students know they are being abused, participants noted, they may not want it to stop.
“With technology, cell
phone and video
capability . . . they don’t
get away with it anymore.
Things come to light . . .
they think they are having
a private conversation but
they aren’t. It’s a whole
different ball game. I think
it’s much harder for people
to get away with sexual
misconduct now than 20
30 years ago.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 25
September 15, 2017
Often, students who are being groomed or abused receive gifts,
money, rides home, and attention; particularly if their home
circumstances are difficult, they may welcome the attention.
Children who are being abused may also be reluctant to rupture the
relationship. As one participant said, “Teenagers perceive [abuse]
as a sincere relationship with teacher” and, “They believe that these
people care about them,so, “they don’t want to hurt that person.”
Participants also mentioned that students may be fearful to report
incidents, seeing such a report as a violation of the student “code of
silence; student attitudes about talking to law enforcement,
participants said, can make it difficult to catch incidents. One
participant explained, “I think they understand how and when to
report. The biggest problem we encounter is students not wanting
to be known as snitches. . . . It’s very unfortunate because this is
going on and there are innocent victims that do not report something.” Another participant said,
The pressures of adolescence sometimes make students hesitate about coming forward. I think
at this age, people are worried about being liked, being a starter on the team, and being
accepted.” There is also a reluctance of students and teachers to report due to embarrassment
or shame.
Administrators may hesitate to report out of fear of community and media response
Participants also discussed the challenge of managing community and media response to
incident. Seven participants noted the fear of dealing with the media and the public perceptions
or judgments about the school. In general, participants worry that these incidents make their
schools or districts look bad in the media; that fear creates a disincentive to report incidents to
law enforcement, where they become public record. In order to keep the media out, several
participants noted that incidents were handled internally or offending teachers were given an
opportunity to resign.
Participants described how incidents were minimized to protect the school or district. One
participant noted that the message was, “Keep your mouths shut so you don’t add to [the] mix of
things.” Another said the main goal was to “protect the school’s reputation,” “cover up/save face,”
and “don’t create drama in your school.” One administrator listed personal reasons for “keeping
the dust down,” including not wanting “another parent screaming at me,” “the Internet blazing
away,” and “people leaving and going to home school.”
It can be difficult to identify warning signs
Participants also discussed the challenges of identifying warning
signs. Often warning signs are recognized only in hindsight. As one
participant said, looking back at the incident, there were
“little things here and there,” and, “now [we are] a little more aware
that there were signs that I just didn’t see.” Another participant said,
The student was regularly given a pass by [the perpetrator]
excusing her from class. This is not normal protocol and should have
been looked at closer.
Administrators discussed the challenge of knowing when to
investigate inappropriate behaviors and acknowledged the difficulty
of telling the difference between teachers who are providing support
for students who need it and those who are grooming students.
“Personally, I am sure
there are things that
happen that we don’t
know about, simply
because there wasn’t a
way to know about unless
a student comes forward.
A high percentage of
children, things happen
and they don’t report it.”
Study Participant
“Some of these cases,
Stevie Wonder could
have seen it. A lot of
these things could have
been stopped or
challenged.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 26
September 15, 2017
Participants reported struggling with how to tell if the teacher was helping the student or
“crossing the line.” Administrators said they struggle with immediately reporting boundary-
crossing behaviors, because “it could be a teacher you really respect and you would never
expect it. That’s the tough part.” Another participant admitted, “It is often a challenge to know
when to report an incident as inappropriate”; incidents that fall into the “grey area,” the
interviewee said, rarely get reported.
School employees fear the impact to their reputation and retribution
Another challenge that creates a barrier to reporting is school
employees’ reluctance to report colleagues due to fear of retribution,
a desire to protect colleagues, and fear of being wrong.
In interviews, 11 participants discussed being fearful to report an
incident due to fear of retribution.One participant said, “It’s going to
bring a spotlight on you, people are fearful of getting fired although I
don’t think we have ever fired someone for reporting it. There’s a
general reluctance from people. It’s the Sandusky thing, where you
wish you didn’t see it but you did.” Other participants discussed the
fear of getting sued for reporting something that ends up being false.
Other participants mentioned being reluctant to get colleagues “in troubleand not wanting to
create waves at the school or for the profession. One participant said there is a “natural
tendency to protect your own, your colleague or people that you trust.” Another participant
agreed, “There is always a certain sense of self-preservation of teachers protecting each
other. . . . It is more of a not wanting to rat my friend out or maybe we can work through this
without getting law enforcement involved . . . there is that sense of camaraderie between
coworkers that they are going to try to help them get through.Another participant said, “[The]
hardest part is you need to be jaded enough to think that your friends and colleagues could be
capable of something like that.”
Finally, 12 participants noted the challenge of false accusations,
stating they do not believe incidents are reported as often as they
occur and staff may be hesitant to report because false
accusations can “ruin a teacher’s career or reputation,” “are very
damaging”, and are “grossly unfair to the teacher.” One participant
said, “Once there is an investigation, people judge you completely.
A lot of people are hesitant to bring that against a person or risk
the liability of slander.” Another participant remarked, “I did have [a
false report] at an old district. I watched that teacher go through
hell for a month and eventually it came out that the student lied.
You have to be so careful. I’m on board about protecting kids, but
until we know what is going on, it’s going to stay with the teacher
forever. Everybody in his district knows.” Another participant said
that people may rationalize not getting involved, saying,She’s a
good teacher, he’s 17. What’s the harm?
“They only suspect so
they are racked with
guilt about messing up
this teacher’s and
student’s life. The
information is so unsure
and the costs are so
high.”
Study Participant
“I think there is protection
of our colleagues. We
don’t want to be the one to
snitch or tell on our
colleagues and cause
them to lose their jobs or
families. We turn our face
or shield ourselves from
that information, for fear of
harming that individual or
for retaliation from their
colleagues.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 27
September 15, 2017
Recommendations
Encourage staff and students to report
With regard to school staff, participants recommended stressing the importance of proper
mandatory reporting protocol, communicating who to report an incident to, and offering
education around the importance of reporting. One critical piece is emphasizing the correct
reporting process, so that suspicions or knowledge of an inappropriate interaction are reported
to Child Protective Services rather than investigated at the school level. One county official said
that school staff should “let CPS decide”: “It isn’t your decision to determine if it is or isn’t
[abuse].” Another official added, “If something doesn’t look right, report it. Don’t worry about the
teacher getting in trouble.”
Participants also stressed the importance of having someone to report to who teachers and staff
are comfortable with. For example, one participant said, “I know I can go to my administrator
with anything, but in larger districts [teachers] might not be as comfortable reporting.” Some
focus groups noted a need for teachers to have a safe person to report to. “Need to have
teachers know who is a safe adult to go tell what you have seen. There are some adults I would
not tell.”
Participants also recommended educating students, providing them information about who to go
to with an issue and making available multiple avenues for reporting. One participant said, “I
think with students I would highlight that they need to report any kind of suspicion right away. . . .
It is essential to communicate to students that they have to speak up if they are uncomfortable.
One participant noted that students are usually aware of incidents before anyone else, in large
part due to social media: “I think its communicating properly to the students, they have an
avenue to say something if they see something inappropriate.” Participants in one district
mentioned the importance of developing a school culture where there is at least one adult every
kid can feel comfortable going to for any reason. Participants also mentioned the importance of
educating students about the consequences of false reporting.
To encourage reporting by both staff and students, several participants discussed reporting
mechanisms and the potential of an anonymous reporting process. One participant said, “At
some point, we need to put an anonymous tip process in place for students, staff, parents.
There are many benefits. I think a student might know their peer has crossed the line and some
kids will be more apt to report to an anonymous hotline. By not having that, we are missing
some tips that otherwise will continue to fester and grow into a bigger problem.” An
administrator felt staff would also appreciate having a confidential place to share suspicions;
such an avenue could reduce worry about unfounded claims and encourage reporting of
warning signs.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 28
September 15, 2017
Investigations
INVESTIGATIONS
Study Finding
Three of the five school districts improved their investigation processes and strengthened
collaborations with criminal justice and child welfare agencies after experiencing an incident.
Description of Challenges
Challenges in executing investigations included poor communication, competing roles,
interference between internal and external investigations, and challenges with technology.
Participant Recommendations
Proactively develop collaborative relationships with criminal justice and child welfare and
consider the use of school safety officers on school campuses.
Findings
School districts, criminal justice, and child welfare agencies have different roles and
requirements in responding to cases of school employee sexual misconduct
There are three primary entities involved in a school employee
sexual misconduct investigation: 1) school districts, 2) criminal
justice, and 3) child welfare. Each of the entities has different
requirements for conducting its investigation, different timelines for
completing its work, and different thresholds for pressing charges or
pursuing sanctions.
School districts need to evaluate whether a school employee’s
behavior violates their code of conduct, and, to protect other
students, they need to make immediate decisions about whether
and how to remove a teacher from the classroom. Criminal justice
agencies, on the other hand, must meet strict requirements with
regard to levels of evidence and the presumption of innocence. Law
enforcement personnel are trained investigators whose goal is to
collect enough evidence to prosecute the offender successfully.
They do not have a defined timeline for action; the investigative
process can be lengthy, as they must prove the case “beyond a
reasonable doubt.” Child welfare agencies such as CPS, by
contrast, must only show that a “preponderance of evidence”
supports their finding, or in other words, that it is more likely than
not that abuse occurred. Child welfare agencies generally have
between 30 and 60 days to process a case. All of this is made more
confusing by the fact that, as one interviewee stressed, “[law
enforcement and CPS] are doing separate investigations. They’re
We are like a wheel with
a bunch of spokes. We all
have our own spoke.”
Study Participant
You educate. [Law
enforcement agency]
investigates. I prosecute.
I am not an educator and
you are not an
investigator or
prosecutor. We all have
individual roles.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 29
September 15, 2017
just working together . . . all the contact with witnesses and victims happen at the same time but
they’re conducting separate investigations.”
Interagency relationships strengthened following an incident
Study participants discussed the different roles and responsibilities of education, child welfare
(i.e. CPS/DCFS), and criminal justice (law enforcement) with regard to school employee sexual
misconduct and the challenges of working together. After experiencing an incident of school
employee sexual misconduct, participants in all five school districts reported working in a closer
more sustained way with criminal justice; only three school districts said they work closely with
child welfare agencies. Some school districts reported going directly to criminal justice before
conducting any internal investigation and all school districts said they report criminal justice
convictions to state departments of education (see Table 4).
Table 4. School District Relationships with Criminal Justice and Child Welfare Agencies
Note. = yes, = some, = no
Participants in smaller, rural districts mentioned that they have good relationships with law
enforcement because “we are a small town.One participant said, “The nice thing about a small
district, it doesn’t take much to get people together. We have an advantage from that point, I
can call them and they show up in two minutes. Many administrators in the smaller schools
said they were comfortable calling law enforcement for guidance; at three of the five sites, the
school board of education office was located near the police department or sheriff’s office.
Interagency Relationships
School district
employees work
closely with
criminal justice
School district
employees work
closely with child
welfare
School district
employees coordinate
with law enforcement
prior to conducting
internal investigations
School districts
report convictions to
state DOE
District 1
!
!
!
District 2
!
!
District 3
!
!
!
!
District 4
!
!
District 5
!
!
!
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 30
September 15, 2017
Some districts implemented Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with criminal justice
and child welfare agencies in the wake of incidents
As a result of school employee sexual misconduct incidents, two
districts reported improved relationships and the development of
memoranda of understanding (MOUs) between CPS, law
enforcement, district officials, and the commonwealth attorney’s
office to help manage a coordinated response to incidents. One
participant explained, “When we really started looking at how much it
was occurring, that’s when the community got together and said we
need to do something together to stop this.” In the first district, when
the incident was reported, county officials were not notified
immediately of the allegations and an administrator was legally
charged with failing to comply with mandatory reporting laws. This
action resulted in a change of administration and improved
relationships and cooperation between school employees and county
officials. The second district experienced improved relationships
between the board of education, the sheriff’s office, the Department
of Children and Families, and the district attorney’s office. One
participant noted the change: “Years ago there was a feeling that
people handled things within the school. I would investigate and I might even meet with the
child’s parents. But, now, incidents are reported to law enforcement right away. That is
yesteryear in our district.” Overall, participants reported that now (after the 2014 incidents), “we
cooperate fully with CPS and the police department, and we want their investigations to be good
and thorough” and, “as a result of everything that has happened, we have all pulled together
more to work on it. There have been times when people were unsure, but now we are much
more of a team and have clarity about how to prevent it.
Challenges
The need to coordinate and collaborate across investigating agencies can create
challenges
Participants reported that the multiple roles and agencies involved in an investigation of school
employee sexual misconduct can introduce substantial challenges. Participants said
investigating an allegation can be “difficult and painful” and “patience is important because the
school, legal, and human resources world all have their own timelines resulting in challenges for
working together.” In one district, a participant said, “Everyone here is so much in their own
silo . . . People need to work in conjunction with everyone.” School district administrators were
frustrated by being required to hand over investigations, noting that “allowing outside agencies
to come in isn’t easy.”
A lack of trust of other agencies, particularly CPS, also made coordination and collaboration
difficult. Multiple participants said that CPS is underfunded, understaffed, and overburdened,
resulting in poor response times and failure to investigate all cases; 11 participants indicated
that CPS is “very overwhelmed,” “takes too long,” or doesn’t take cases that it doesn’t consider
serious. Another participant said she doesn’t have a lot of faith in CPS and is “reluctant to turn
this hypersensitive issue to someone who really didn’t handle it so well last time.”
“We were getting such a
large number of sexual
abuse allegations
involving teachers, and
that was the major thing
that pushed for change in
saying we all need to
work together. It’s all of
us, looking at a
community approach
rather than everybody
just working it
separately.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 31
September 15, 2017
Competing roles and timelines among the various actors in an
investigation can make it difficult to coordinate efforts and outcomes.
Law enforcement personnel focused on the importance of maintaining
the integrity of the investigation and keeping evidence “pure and
uncorrupted.” One law enforcement participant explained that
educators are “not trained on what questions to ask,” which can be
detrimental to an investigation and they could “spend a week or two
doing the investigation” instead of abiding by mandatory reporting
laws and making an immediate report to law enforcement or child
welfare. In one district, an active teacher union primarily concerned
with protecting the teachers’ rights worked to make much information
confidential, keeping it from being shared with law enforcement and
thus hampering investigations.
School districts were frustrated by responses from criminal justice and child welfare
agencies
School districts found it frustrating to work with criminal justice and child welfare agencies for a
number of reasons, primarily the time required for those bodies to bring an investigation to a
close. When an allegation is made, districts are focused on removing an offending school
employee as soon as possible, to save the district money spent on paid leave and substitute
teachers. The length of time required to carry out the legal process, and, sometimes, the lack of
visible results in terms of punishment, particularly when evidence doesn’t rise to the level
needed to support legal action, can interfere with this goal. As one participant said, “We wish we
could resolve things sooner but legally it is hard to do.” Some administrators discussed their
frustration with CPS and the legal process: “We have sometimes gotten frustrated with the legal
end of it because it takes two or three years to go to trial but we can’t worry about that. That is
on the system itself.” These frustrations contribute to districts’ tendency to conduct their own
investigations. A participant said his or her district “would prefer to handle [investigations] in-
house” because, the participant noted, “It can take months or years before they are finalized [in
the legal system].” Participants also vented frustration with plea bargains and low sentences; in
one district “neither [offender] served at all.” Administrators saw these low or nonexistent
punishments as a challenge for reporting. As one participant said, “If they feel like nothing is
going to happen anyway then people might think why should I bother to say anything.”
School district investigations can compromise legal investigations
On the other side of the coin, criminal justice and child welfare personnel noted that a school
district investigations can present difficulties for the legal investigation because school
administrators are not trained to conduct investigations and do not have the proper resources.
One participant expressed challenges associated with principals starting a school-level
investigation that alerted the offender: “Unfortunately, by getting everyone to write a statement
and tipping the person off, it can tamper with the evidence and ruin the ability to prosecute an
offender.Another interviewee said, “People deny it, get rid of evidence, tell the victim to be
quiet, etc. That was a part of the problem.”
Furthermore, county officials pointed out, they can conduct more thorough investigations and
preserve records such as emails, phone logs, and social media data, which is something school
districts cannot do. This means, as one participant said, “The quicker we are involved the better.”
County officials said there are challenges gathering evidence and almost never any DNA or
witnesses to use as evidence when prosecuting a case. County officials also noted that internal
investigations can be harmful for the victims as well. One participant said, “In the past, agencies
“We are educators, not
police.
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 32
September 15, 2017
did not work together during investigations. This meant the victim was interviewed more than
once and information was not shared among all parties.
In some cases, participants acknowledged, the school district is the only one who can
investigate. In cases where the victim is over the age of consent, law enforcement cannot get
involved, and in cases where the student is over the age of 18, CPS cannot get involved. These
circumstances leave the school district as the only investigating party.
Evolving technology use presents new challenges for investigations
Some participants noted how the growing ubiquity of social media
has changed the investigatory process, presenting both challenges
and opportunities. One participant noted that social media has made
identifying offenders easier because their communication is tracked
and archived, creating more evidence in the event of an allegation.
On the other hand, another participant stated it has made
investigations more challenging: “We’re trying to find out which social
media they have been on, their usernames, the offender’s
usernames and the social media is ever-changing. Some are easier
to obtain than others.”
Recommendations
Develop collaborative relationships with criminal justice and child welfare agencies
The school districts in our sample recognized the benefits of having support and a coordinated
response from criminal justice and child welfare agencies. Collaborative relationships built on
good communication, regular meetings, and immediate reporting to each other allows schools to
draw on agencies’ ability to act (e.g., by pulling social media accounts, phone records, and other
kinds of evidence not available to districts). Building relationships between teachers and law
enforcement is recommended as a starting point for building trust. One participant said, “[We]
need to gain trust and build bridges.” District administrators suggested that “being transparent
with law enforcement is a must.”
Participants stressed the importance of making sure all agencies are on board with how to
handle cases; this coordination can be established, participants suggested, in a “collaborative
meeting”: “Bring all the parties to the table, have a sit down, this is how we are going to do it.”
Participants suggested having “open lines of communication” and “getting to know each other
really well” before an incident arises. Participants described the benefits of this kind of
interagency collaboration, such as reducing the need for the victims to tell their story more than
once and being able to prosecute cases in the courts.
Mostly, participants saw this kind of ongoing, open collaboration as critical to stopping school
employee sexual misconduct. One interviewee made the point vividly:
I would be fearful if a district is not proactive. If you are not following the protocol and
involving CPS and law enforcement you are not going to find out what is really going on
and you are letting some things that are really bad continue to happen. You are putting
yourself at risk with liability with what you are supposed to be doing. I would be so
“The danger isn’t as
apparent with technology.
Technology, cell phones,
and social media have
changed how
relationships themselves
develop. It’s made it
easier to happen yet
easier to prosecute.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 33
September 15, 2017
concerned if you treated it the other way. I would be. There are problems that are life-
altering for people if you don’t.
Use school resource officers
Several districts that had school resource officers in their schools recommended the practice of
having law enforcement active in schools, to facilitate communication between agencies and to
provide a visible law enforcement presence. One participant stated, “When you hit obstacles
then information is delayed getting to you but having an officer readily right there is key.” A
school resource officer noted, “We’re really active in the schools. . . . We’re very much a
presence in the schools, we very much go into the schools, talking about bullying and sexting
and all of those things. I definitely think we make the effort.Additionally, as a participant noted,
having a school resource officer or police officer who is known to the school community can
help build trust among staff and students, increasing the likelihood that someone will be
comfortable making a report.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 34
September 15, 2017
Response
RESPONSE
Study Finding
Districts took various actions to respond to incidents, but none of the districts engaged in all
of the responses recommended by Title IX guidance.
Description of Challenges
Some administrators struggled with how to provide support to staff, students, and parents and
how to respond to community and media requests in the wake of an incident.
Participant Recommendations
Provide support to staff, parents, and students; develop protocols for administrator responses
to an incident; and establish accountability measures.
Findings
Some school districts took action to respond to an incident but none engaged in all Title
IX recommendations for response
Response is a key element of Title IX; effective response includes taking steps to end the
harassment, prevent its reoccurrence, and remedy its effects. Title IX recommendations for
response include 1) providing victim services, 2) training and retraining employees, 3)
developing materials on sexual violence, 4) conducting prevention programs with students, 5)
issuing updated policy statements, 6) conducting a climate check, and 7) developing a protocol
for working with law enforcement.
While some school districts took action to respond to an incident, none engaged in all of the
recommended response activities; Table 5 shows what responses districts made. None of the
five districts reported providing victim services, which would include providing needed services,
such as counseling, and protecting victims and their families from future harassment and
retaliation. Three of the five sites developed materials on sexual violence, issued updated policy
statements, or developed a protocol for working with law enforcement. Two districts
administered limited prevention programs with students and four of the districts reported training
school employees. Only one district conducted a climate check by administering a student
survey to a limited student population; this was the district’s only response that aligned with the
Title IX recommendations.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 35
September 15, 2017
Table 5. Title IX Recommendations for Responding to Incidents
Recommended Responses
Providing
victim
services
Training
and
retraining
employees
Developing
materials
on sexual
violence
Conducting
prevention
programs
with
students
Issuing
updated
policy
statements
Conducting
a climate
check
Developing a
protocol for
working with
law
enforcement
District 1
District 2
!
District 3
!
!
!
!
District 4
!
!
!
!
District 5
!
!
!
!
Note: = yes, = some, = no
Challenges
Administrators struggled with how to respond to staff, students, and parents in the wake
of an incident
School district participants said administrators struggled to
understand how to support staff, students, and parents in dealing
with inquiries from outside the affected school (for instance, from
teachers from other schools, media, and others). Participants noted
a lack of response or slow responses from district leaders and
highlighted their desire for leadership and guidance in dealing with
the incident. One participant said, “To be at an event the next day
with other districts where people were making comments and not
knowing what can and cannot be said, felt very squashed.” Many
participants said the administration did not give talking points and
staff were simply told not to discuss it.
School employees struggled with responses to media reports
Participants struggled with how to respond to media reports. Many participants described the
media involvement in negative terms, with one participant indicating it was “very inappropriate”
and another describing media involvement as “sensationalist.Others noted that the media
portrayal of an incident can greatly affect the public image of the school. One administrator said,
“It’s a feeding frenzy, [the media] love it. Especially with this school system with so many
incidents. It looks bad on the system, and it makes the teachers and faculty feel ashamed to
work here.”
“I think they [school staff]
were eager for . . . some
movement in the right
direction. A response:
This is what we are going
to do about this.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 36
September 15, 2017
Cases of school employee sexual misconduct can negatively affect school culture
Ten participants described how the stigma associated with an incident of school employee
sexual misconduct affected school culture long after the incidents were resolved. One
participant said, “Honestly, it is devastating. It makes you so mad. Even after years gone by it is
still there. It will always be that way. It split the community and school, some believed it and
some didn’t.” One participant noted that information about the incidents was readily available
online, which presents ongoing challenges as the case can continue to reflect poorly on the
school and impact student and staff morale. Another district participant added how challenging
the incidents had been for the community, saying, “99.9% of teachers go way above and
beyond. They took a black eye for what was being said about our county.”
Recommendations
Many sites described ways to respond effectively to an allegation by supporting the staff,
students, and parents involved.
Provide counseling and support for staff
Participants recommended providing support for staff after an incident by offering counseling
services. One participant said, “Regardless of how you feel about the situation, there is a sense
of loss. This happened in my building . . . how did I not know or see? . . . Having that support for
people to talk about it and share their concerns so that they can heal and move on and be a
support of one another.” Another district administrator emphasized the importance of offering
counseling or discussion groups for teachers following an incident: “I think there were a lot of
staff members that were shaken up by this.
Develop a coordinated response for parents and student victims
Along with support for teachers and administrators, some interviewees focused on parents and
how to help them and student victims through re-entry after the incident. One suggestion was to
have a policy on how to handle the student’s education after the incident and create an
individualized plan to protect the family and the student. For example, one participant said,
“Counseling and therapy and many things [for the family and victim]. There was no discussion.
Even all the teachers should have been meeting after school and discussing [how to handle it].”
!
Address media coverage proactively
!
Another essential area of recommendation was managing community response. Participants
suggested being proactive around media coverage of an incident. One participant said,Learn
to deal with the media directly, get out in front of it, give them facts, and do it right away.”
Another participant suggested providing talking points to school employees and offering
employees a chance to ask questions so they are equipped to respond if students or parents
ask questions about a case.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 37
September 15, 2017
Develop checklists for responding to an incident
Participants also noted the lack of formal guidelines for responding
to allegations of school employee sexual misconduct and
recommended developing a checklist. One participant suggested
“having a packet of information to refer to. Steps you need to
follow.” One participant noted, “We need an easy-to-understand
protocol. For example, a fire drill or a bomb drill: we have a list of
questions you should ask [for those]. We don’t have that kind of
thing for this.Another suggestion was a booklet similar to the
handbook on lockdown procedures. Some participants felt that a
checklist would serve as a way to assure that appropriate action
has been taken: “My concern is that there is a breakdown. That we
go to an administrator and it is not being addressed or investigated
or if it is we don’t know. [We need] a paper trail.” One focus group
participant suggested possible steps for such a checklist, including
communicating with staff promptly in a face-to-face meeting in
which staff receive talking points and information about the incident,
have a chance to ask questions, and are reassured that “We are
family, we are going to support each other and get through this
together.Other participants recommended providing classroom
teachers with guidance on how to talk to students after an incident.
As one remarked, “Our kids want to talk about it.”
“I mean when you leave
grey area in something
like this, it allows for
interpretation and
personal judgment; if the
protocol is not very clear
1, 2, 3 . . . and [the
administrators] don’t
make a good decision,
the ramifications are
huge, enormous. It needs
to be step one, step two.”
Study Participant
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 38
September 15, 2017
While this study provides an in-depth look at policy implementation in five K12 school districts
before and after an incident of school employee sexual misconduct, the results from this study
are not generalizable to all K12 schools and should be interpreted with caution. The five
districts that participated in this study represent a purposeful sample of schools from different
geographic locations, district sizes, and demographics that were willing and able to participate in
the study. Findings do not represent policy implementation in schools that did not have cases of
school employee sexual misconduct, districts that did not formally report cases to law
enforcement or districts that had reported cases, but could not participate because of pending
lawsuits against the offender and the school district.
Samples sizes for each district varied depending on the number of primary and secondary
actors identified by the coordinating administrator and unanticipated circumstances during the
time of site visits. At one site, a focus group was canceled because of a school lockdown and at
another site, some interviews were canceled because of staff absences. In another district, the
sample size was reduced to only interviews with the administrative team and county officials
because of concerns about the study affecting the morale of school employees. These
instances resulted in final sample sizes that were smaller than originally proposed. However, the
final sample sizes for interviews and focus groups were sufficient to allow researchers to reach
a point of saturation in the analyses (that is, having enough data for themes to emerge with
smaller sample sizes, thus ensuring the research questions can be answered) (Guest, Bunce &
Johnson, 2006; Morse, 1995).
In addition to the generalizability of findings due to sample size, it is important to note a few
other study limitations related to conducting interviews and focus groups on sensitive topics.
Responses to some interviews were inconsistent, which suggests that participants may be
unable to recall policies and procedures from two to three years ago or may have been
concealing information during interviews. Participants were less likely to share information at the
start of the interview or focus group and more likely to share information towards the end of the
session, which could indicate an initial reticence to share sensitive information about
themselves or colleagues that they might have perceived as hurtful, stigmatizing, or
incriminating. Participation was confidential and voluntary to allow participants to feel
comfortable sharing details about themselves, their colleagues, and their schools’ policies and
procedures. However, focus groups consisted of participants in various school roles, including
members of the administrative team and both licensed and nonlicensed employees. Due to the
heterogeneous dynamic of the group, participants often looked to the leadership team to
respond first and administrators tended to dominate focus group conversations. Thus, some
focus group participants might not have fully expressed their experiences.
Lastly, access to relevant district policy and procedure documents was limited to what
information was available on district websites and documents district representatives were
willing to share with the research team. Although the research team asked to see copies of
student and staff handbooks, policies, and procedures, district staff shared publicly available
documents, but might not have shared other internal documents. Researchers had no way to
verify if district staff shared all existing documents relevant to this study.
STUDY LIMITATIONS
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 39
September 15, 2017
Given that an estimated 1 in 10 students experience the potentially detrimental life-long
consequences of school employee sexual misconduct, it is critical that school districts
implement all key elements of Title IX guidance. Proper implementation of key elements of Title
IX guidance are intended to reduce the risk of school employee sexual misconduct and ensure
a school districts’ proper response when it does occur. Thus, the purpose of this qualitative case
study was to examine Title IX policy implementation in five districts that experienced a case of
school employee sexual misconduct in 2014.
Although districts in this study took some positive steps in response to incidents, the changes
did not address many of the key elements of Title IX guidance, which include 1) policies and
procedures that address school employee sexual misconduct, 2) prevention efforts, 3) training
for staff, students, and parents, 4) timely reporting, 5) thorough and coordinated investigations,
and 6) effective response. Districts made some changes to policies and procedures in response
to the reported incident, such as defining boundary-crossing behaviors, documenting grievance
procedures, identifying a Title IX coordinator, or displaying notices of nondiscrimination, but
none of the five districts addressed all of the recommended responses. Districts reported
improvements to their awareness of and communication about school employee sexual
misconduct, as well as in the frequency of reporting, but they continued to experience various
challenges that precluded some responses, including budgetary concerns, low parent
engagement, fear of reporting, and poor responses by criminal justice and child welfare
agencies. All of these issues hindered districts’ implementation of the key elements of Title IX
guidance.
Despite the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights regulation and guidance for
implementing Title IX, representatives from all five districts in this sample remained unclear
about how to apply Title IX requirements. The requirements are comprehensive, but as district
representatives noted and a review of the literature and resources confirms, model policies and
procedures to guide local policy development and implementation are rare. Based on study
findings and the limited level of Title IX implementation across participating districts, and the
need to further study and understand the extent of the problem, researchers offer several
recommendations for stakeholders, which are enumerated in Table 6.
CONCLUSIONS
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 40
September 15, 2017
Table 6. Recommendations for Key Stakeholders
Stakeholder
Recommendation
SCHOOL DISTRICTS
Access and review the key elements of Title IX to ensure
district and school policies and procedures are compliant with
Title IX guidance; review policies and procedures on an
annual basis.
FEDERAL EDUCATION
LEADERS
Require state departments of education and legislators to
establish legislation and accountability measures to address
the key elements of Title IX guidance.
Provide state departments of education with high-quality, low-
cost trainings for school employees, students, and parents.
Allocate funding for tracking of and research about school
employee sexual misconduct cases.
STATE EDUCATION
LEADERS
Distribute Title IX guidelines to school districts each year and
require an annual evaluation of school district implementation.
Provide high-quality, low-cost trainings for school employees,
students, and parents.
Establish accountability measures for background checks,
employee screenings, and mandatory reporting.
POLICYMAKERS AND
LEGISLATORS
Review and apply key elements of Title IX guidance and issue
parameters for state education leaders to guide
implementation.
Advocate for evaluation, accountability, and funding for school
employee sexual misconduct research.
RESEARCHERS
Collect student-reported prevalence data.
Study victim and offender data from court documents.
Study the effects of school employee sexual misconduct.
Collect and study criminal justice responses to school
employee sexual misconduct.
Study the effectiveness of prevention strategies.
INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER
EDUCATION
Include school employee sexual misconduct training curricula
in teacher and administrator preparation programs.
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 41
September 15, 2017
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School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 44
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Table A-1. Key Elements of Title IX Guidance with Regard to Preventing School Employee Sexual Misconduct
Elements of Title IX Guidance
Description
References
POLICIES AND
PROCEDURES
Develop a clear school employee sexual misconduct
policy that includes 1) discussion of grooming
behaviors, 2) clear guidance on appropriate and
inappropriate behaviors, 3) description of grievance
procedures, 4) designation of a Title IX coordinator,
and 5) notice of nondiscrimination.
A pp. 1618
B pp. 4,14,1921
C pp. 6–9
D pp. 913
PREVENTION
Take proactive measures to prevent sexual
harassment and violence, such as developing
preventive education programs, hosting orientation
programs, and distributing rules and resources.
B pp. 19
C pp. 1415
D pp. 3841
TRAINING
Provide trainings to school employees, students, and
parents regarding what school employee sexual
misconduct is and ensure everyone understands
what types of conduct are prohibited and how to
respond when problems arise.
B pp. 13, 21
D pp. 45, 16, 3842
REPORTING
Ensure that all employees know their reporting
obligations and how to respond to reports of school
employee sexual misconduct. Establish procedures
to protect the identity of the complainant and victim.
Develop procedures to comply with state and local
mandatory reporting requirements.
A pp. 15
B pp. 1314
C pp. 13
D pp. 4,1419, 38
INVESTIGATIONS
Designate an experienced, trained individual to
conduct investigations. Conduct investigations
promptly and coordinate efforts with criminal
investigations. Consider entering into an MOU with
law enforcement or victim service providers. Notify all
parties in writing of the outcome of a complaint.
A pp. 912
B pp. 1319
C pp. 9–14
D pp. 2428
RESPONSE
Take immediate and effective corrective action to
end the harassment and prevent any further
harassment, including 1) providing victim services, 2)
training and retraining employees, 3) developing
materials on sexual violence, 4) conducting
prevention programs with students, 5) issuing
updated policy statements, 6) conducting a climate
check, and 7) developing a protocol for working with
law enforcement.
A pp. 1314
B pp. 10,1517,42–43
C pp. 1519
D pp. 4, 20, 3437, 42
A- Sexual Harassment: It’s Not Academic, US DOE, Office of Civil Rights, 2008
B- Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students or Third Parties, US
DOE, Office of Civil Rights, 2001
C- Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence, US DOE Office for Civil Rights, 2011
D- Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, US DOE, Office of Civil Rights, 2014
APPENDIX A: KEY ELEMENTS OF TITLE IX
School Employee Sexual Misconduct: Title IX Policy Implementation 45
September 15, 2017
Table B-1. Notable Documents and Literature
Resource
Agency/Author
Date
Link
A Training Guide for Administrators
and Educators on Addressing
Adult Sexual Misconduct
Readiness and
Emergency
Management for
Schools (Department
of Education)
2017
https://rems.ed.gov/docs/ASMTrain
ingGuide.pdf
Considerations for School District
Sexual Misconduct Policies
White House Task
Force
2016
https://www.justice.gov/ovw/file/90
0716/download
Educator Sexual Misconduct: A
Policy and Audit Guide for
Protecting Children
EduRisk by United
Educators
2016
https://www.icmec.org/wp-
content/uploads/2016/05/Policy-
and-Audit-Guide-for-Protecting-
Children.pdf
Title IX Resource Guide
Department of
Education, Office for
Civil Rights
2015
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/lis
t/ocr/docs/dcl-title-ix-coordinators-
guide-201504.pdf
Title IX and Sexual Harassment in
K–12 Public Schools:
Key Steps to Compliance
EduRisk by United
Educators
2015
https://www.ue.org/uploadedFiles/T
itle%20IX%20and%20Sexual%20H
arassment%20in%20K-
12%20Public%20Schools.pdf
Sexual Abuse Safe-Child
Standards in Massachusetts
Mass Kids
2015
http://www.enoughabuse.org/for-
schools-ysos/safe-child-
standards.html
Questions and Answers on Title IX
and Sexual Violence
Department of
Education, Office for
Civil Rights
2014
http://www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/qa-
201404-title-ix.pdf
Child Welfare: Federal Agencies
Can Better Support State Efforts to
Prevent and Respond to Sexual
Abuse by School Personnel
Government
Accountability Office
2014
http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/660
375.pdf
A Practical Guide to Making
Your Organization Safer
Mass Kids
2013
http://www.enoughabuse.org/imag
es/stories/yso/yso_booklet.pdf
Know the Warning Signs of
Educator Sexual Misconduct
Shakeshaft
2013
http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support
/prevention/child_abuse/sexual_mi
sconduct_warning_signs_shakesh
aft.pdf
Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual
Violence
Department of
Education, Office for
Civil Rights
2011
http://www.ed.gov/ocr/letters/collea
gue-201104.pdf
K-12 Education: Selected Cases of
Public and Private Schools That
Hired or Retained Individuals with
Histories of Sexual Misconduct
Government
Accountability Office
2010
http://www.gao.gov/assets/320/313
251.pdf
Notice of Nondiscrimination
Department of
Education, Office for
Civil Rights
2010
http://www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/nondis
c.pdf
APPENDIX B: RESOURCES FOR CONSIDERATION