How Should Schools Deal With Student Sexual Assaults?
Schools facing reports of student-on-student sexual assault long have been warned by the courts about potential monetary liabilities. The U.S. Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has offered schools guidance on how to prevent and respond to such attacks, including:
• Implement schoolwide programs that define sexual violence, encourage students and staff to report it, and clearly state the school's disciplinary procedures.
• Designate a coordinator to master the requirements of Title IX, the federal law used to help protect victims of sexual assaults in schools, and train staff on how to recognize sexual violence, investigate allegations, and ensure accusers are not harassed for coming forward.
• Take immediate steps to protect students who allege assaults, such as providing escorts when moving between classes or ensuring they do not attend the same classes as their accused attackers.
• Offer victims counseling, mental health care, or tutoring.
• Conduct periodic schoolwide "climate checks" to assess the school's prevention efforts.