In September 2010, a 13-year-old Tehachapi Unified School District ("TUSD") middle school student committed suicide. In October 2010, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") received a complaint alleging that the student had been the victim of severe and persistent peer-on- ...
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In September 2010, a 13-year-old Tehachapi Unified School District ("TUSD") middle school student committed suicide. In October 2010, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights ("OCR") received a complaint alleging that the student had been the victim of severe and persistent peer-on-peer sex-based harassment because of his perceived sexual orientation and gender non-conformity. After receiving the complaint, the OCR initiated an extensive investigation under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 into the circumstances leading to the student's death. The OCR and the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice ("the Division") documented the findings of the investigation in a June 30, 2011 letter. The harassment for which the student was targeted for two years included ongoing and escalating verbal, physical, and sexual harassment by other students at school; was sufficiently severe, pervasive and persistent to interfere with the Student's educational opportunities; and, despite having notice of the harassment, TUSD did not adequately investigate or otherwise respond to it.
On June 30, 2011, TUSD entered into an agreement with the OCR and the Division, resolving the investigation. The agreement requires TUSD to take all reasonable steps to ensure that all TUSD students are not subject to sex-based harassment, and to respond promptly and appropriately to all reports of harassment. Specifically, TUSD must revise its policies and regulations related to sex-based harassment and retain a consultant to provide mandatory trainings on such harassment for all students, administrators, teachers, counselors and other staff who interact with students; assess the presence of sex-based harassment through annual school climate surveys; form an advisory committee of administrators, students and parents to advise TUSD on school climate issues related to sex-based harassment; take appropriate corrective action with respect to any employee who failed to respond appropriately to notice of harassment of the student whose death led to the complaint at the base of the investigation; develop a TUSD-wide monitoring program to assess the effectiveness of the district's anti-harassment efforts; and provide semi-annual compliance reports to the OCR and the Division for five years. The agreement will terminate when the district has achieved compliance with its terms, but no earlier than July 1, 2016. Heather Turner - 06/05/2014