Nonprofit Demands Answers Over Title IX

Equal Rights Advocates is calling the results of an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit report "disturbing" and is demanding answers from Bay Area Schools

By Jenna Susko, Julie Putnam and Jeremy Carroll
|  Friday, Nov 2, 2012  |  Updated 9:59 AM PDT
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Equal Rights Advocates is calling the results of an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit report

Equal Rights Advocates is calling the results of an NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit report "disturbing" and is demanding answers from Bay Area Schools

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Bay Area Schools Ignoring Title IX?

The NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit uncovers some Bay Area schools overlooking an important federal law - Title IX- set up to protect students. Jenna Susko reports.
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The national nonprofit Equal Rights Advocates is demanding answers from Bay Area schools after the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit  exposed that some were not complying with Title IX.

To view original report, click here.

The group is asking 100 Bay Area schools to provide proof of compliance with the federal law that is set up to protect students from sexual harassment and abuse.

A lesser known part of Title IX requires schools to have a system in place to handle sexual harassment and abuse complaints. It also mandates schools designate a Title IX coordinator and publish this individual's contact information.

ERA is asking for proof of a coordinator and procedures to file complaints that are published.

"We are very very focused on Title IX and why its important and it's troubling that 40 years after it’s passage we are still seeing these kinds of problems," Noreen Farrell, ERA's Executive Director, said.

To view ERA's press release, click here

This comes after NBC Bay Area sent an email, using a standard email address, to over 200 principals at Bay Area schools asking them to identify the Title IX coordinator or person who handles sexual harassment complaints.

Responses ranged from principals not knowing who the coordinator was, to never having heard of Title IX.

Some were able to identify a coordinator.

"I was shocked by some of the responses revealed in the report," Farrell said. "I think it shows the real story of what’s happening in schools."

ERA hopes to identify gaps in compliance and encourage districts to take steps to fix the problem, which Farrell calls "widespread."

"It's not surprising because we hear from students that tell us that but to see it in black and white in emails that principals don’t know what Title IX is, that kind of ignorance isn’t just against the law, it really sends this message to girls that protecting you and protecting you from sexual harassment isn’t important enough to us," Farrell said. 

The Office of Civil Rights within the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. told NBC Bay Area it responds to complaints filed, but does not systematically check if schools are compliant with Title IX.

A spokesperson for the Office of Civil Rights said the office occasionally conducts proactive investigations, but it has not done any in the past four years.

"I think that what’s critical and what came out in NBC’s investigation is that there really isn’t proactive enforcement and monitoring of whether or not schools are complying with Title IX," Farrell said.

If you have a tip for the Investigative Unit, email us: theunit@nbcbayarea.com

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