Equal Rights Advocates Demands Answers From SF Bay Area Schools Following Investigative
Report Revealing Widespread Ignorance of Title IX Requirements
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Noreen Farrell, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Work (415.575.2398); cell (510.701.8243)
Equal Rights Advocates Demands Answers From SF Bay Area SchoolsFollowing Investigative Report Revealing Widespread Ignorance of Title IXRequirements
SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – November 1, 2012 – Equal Rights Advocates, a national non-profit group with a long history of enforcing civil rights laws in schools and workplaces,announced today its filing of formal information requests with dozens of school districts in the San Francisco Bay Area, requesting information about the school districts’ compliance with Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination by schools.
The action follows on the heels of a troubling report by the investigative unit of NBC Bay Area on October 30, 2012, which revealed widespread ignorance of and non-compliance with basicrequirements of Title IX among 200 Bay Area schools, including its requirement that schools designate a “Title IX coordinator” to receive and investigate and act upon sex discrimination and harassment complaints. The investigation reveals that principals at some Bay Area schoolswere unaware of Title IX and could not identify the school’s Title IX coordinator or if theschool even had one. See the complete NBC Bay Area video report: “Bay Area SchoolsIgnoring Title IX?”
Equal Rights Advocates Executive Director Noreen Farrell commented: “Ignorance of Title IX’s basic requirements by school leaders forty years after its passage is shameful and it is hurtinggirls. Equal Rights Advocates hears from students and parents across California and the country who don’t know their rights, and have no idea where to turn when they face sexual harassment or other discriminatory treatment at school.”
In response to the disturbing results of the NBC investigation, Equal Rights Advocates is filing formal Public Records Act requests with dozens of school districts in the Bay Area requestingdocuments that evidence or describe their efforts to comply with Title IX, including the identityand contact information for their Title IX coordinators, any written policies and proceduresrelating to compliance with Title IX, documents relating to Title IX training programs, and the districts’ responses to any Title IX complaints that have been filed over the last three years (redacting any personal information to protect the privacy of those who are involved.)
“Our goal in collecting this information will be to identify gaps in Title IX compliance and to encourage San Francisco Bay Area school district officials to take immediate steps to bringtheir districts into compliance,” said Farrell. ERA Legal Director Jennifer Reisch added: “ERA intends to enforce Title IX. Millions of girls depend on it.”
About ERA: Equal Rights Advocates (ERA), founded in 1974, is a national civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women and girls. Through its campaign approach—incorporating publiceducation, legislative advocacy, and litigation—ERA seeks to assist women and girls throughout a life-long continuum: ensuring equality in their educational experience, combating sex discrimination in the workforce, and advocating for workplaces hospitable to working families. To learn more about ERA’s work, visit www.equalrights.org.
For the NBC video of their investigative reports please go to:
A team of investigative reporters from the Bay Area NBC News affiliate reported this week that few area schools comply with Title IX’s requirement that districts appoint a Title IX Coordinator to oversee compliance and receive and handle complaints about discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. It is one of the law’s most simple and straightforward requirements, yet, school officials seem almost intent on ignoring it, as the results of the journalists’ investigation reveal. The news team sent this email to over 200 principals in California’s Bay Area:
Most of the principals did not even respond. And most of those who did had no idea.
Here are some of the responses:
“We don’t have a title ix coordinator”
“I think that would be me….???”
“I’m not sure who you would need to talk to.”
“I have no idea who it is. Try labor relations they should know.”
“i have no idea what title nine is, sorry.”
“I need to know who I am talking to before I send that information.”
In a follow up meeting with a spokesperson for one of the districts, the San Francisco Unified School District, the reporters found out the name and position of the district’s Title IX Coordinator, but confirmed that her name and contact information does not appear in writing in any place accessible to someone with a grievance, as the law requires.
A national nonprofit, Equal Rights Advocates, followed up on the news team’s report by adding pressure on school districts to comply. ERA sent 100 schools a request for confirmation that they have a Title IX Coordinator, and that the person as well as the procedures for filing harassment and discrimination complaints are published and available to the public. I suspect that they plan to use any non-response as the basis of a complaint to the Department of Education.