Metropolis Pledges To Change Insurance policies Investigating Sexual Misconduct In Colleges In Settlement With College students
The New York Department of Education has settled a case involving four students who claim the school system failed to protect them from sexual harassment and assault, according to a settlement letter filed with the East New York District Court on Friday. In addition to a $ 700,000 split among plaintiffs, the Department of Education also agreed to reform the investigation and response to allegations of sexual assault.
“I want justice for all,” said the mother of Jane Doe, a student with autism who claimed to have been raped by a classmate on the stairwell of a school in the Bronx in 2018.
“My child suffers every day from this traumatic event,” said the mother in an interview with WNYC / Gothamist. She added that the settlement will not “cure” what happened to her child, but it could save others from suffering.
Legal Services NYC filed the lawsuit in spring 2019 representing four black students with disabilities. Their names have been withheld due to their age and the nature of the incident. At the time of the assault, the students were between 12 and 18 years old.
Jane Doe and another plaintiff alleged they were raped by classmates after intensifying for months. Two other plaintiffs alleged that they were mocked, groped and attacked by other students.
The lawsuit alleges that although students were repeatedly harassed by their classmates in the lead-up to the assaults, the schools were not effectively intervened, adequately investigated or parents were notified in a timely manner. The Department of Education’s “indifference and inaction” denied students their right to education under Title IX and the Disabled Persons Education Act (IDEA), the lawsuit said.
The Ministry of Education had already tightened some guidelines. In the fall of 2019, new rules were introduced that broaden the definition of sexual harassment, explain how administrative authorities should conduct investigations, and outline some offers of support for students who come forward. New York City Council increased the 2020 city budget to pay for additional Title IX connections charged with overseeing district-level investigations. Education has also ramped up training for thousands of employees, including school-based “Sexual Harassment Prevention Links”.
The new regulation is intended to further strengthen these regulations. They would make it easier for parents to escalate complaints. They describe the steps school staff must take to notify parents when an alleged incident occurs. They allow students to be transferred from school for alleged sexual harassment. And they provide more specific information on how schools should support survivors, including considering trauma when creating a student’s individualized education program (IEP).
“Every student deserves to feel safe, welcome and validated in their school, and there is no tolerance for sexual and gender-based harassment of any kind,” said Katie O’Hanlon, spokeswoman for the Department of Education, in a statement. “We have made it easier to report harassment and have provided more robust training for staff to ensure that all students, especially our students with disabilities, have the strongest security in place.”
The plaintiffs’ attorneys praised the changes.
“We believe this settlement will enable school staff to better respond to the trauma of bullying and sexual violence and provide students and families with critical information about their legal rights,” said Amy Leipziger, Senior Staff Attorney at Queens Legal Services.
“These groundbreaking political reforms will finally force the DOE to recognize that students who experience the disabling effects of sexual violence, bullying and trauma are protected by the Federal Disability Act and are entitled to special educational support and other interventions,” said Katrina Feldkamp, a personnel attorney with Bronx Legal Services.
Jane Doe’s mother said her daughter, now 17, was still traumatized.
“It has its breakdowns,” said the mother. “She can no longer concentrate as she did before. She has lost interest in many things, she is depressed, she has nightmares. “
“Money will not bring peace to our lives,” she added. “We need measures”
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