A Wisconsin school district is under investigation for allegedly failing to properly respond to a sexual harassment complaint following an incident where an 18-year-old trans-identifying student exposed his genitalia to four freshmen girls in the girls’ locker room.
In a Monday statement to The Christian Post, a Sun Prairie Area School District spokesperson explained that they intend to cooperate with an investigation being carried out by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights.
“While the specific complaint that is the subject of OCR’s investigation is unclear, we anticipate the complaint relates to an incident the District previously investigated and addressed,” the spokesperson stated.
“We have already communicated as much as we can concerning that incident due to student confidentiality laws.”
The incident occurred in March when the four girls encountered the male student in the locker room after gym class. The boy was a senior and not in their class, and after telling the girls that he identified as trans, the upperclassman stripped in front of them.
The OCR informed the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) last week that it had opened a Title IX investigation into the school district. The announcement of the investigation comes after WILL filed a complaint in June about the district’s response to the incident.
“OCR enforces Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 – 1688, and its implementing regulation at 34 C.F.R. Part 106, which prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex in any program or activity operated by a recipient of federal financial assistance from the Department,” the OCR’s letter states. “As a recipient of federal financial assistance from the Department, the District is subject to this law.”
OCR indicated that it would investigate whether the district followed Title IX requirements for responding to a sexual harassment claim. The office added that its decision to conduct an investigation does not automatically mean the school district is guilty, as it intends to remain neutral as it conducts its analysis.
Cory Brewer, WILL Associate Counsel, applauded the OCR’s decision to review the complaint in a press release last week. However, he warned that time will tell whether the DOE takes the complaint seriously.
“Parents and students should be able to feel confident that their school is complying with federal laws like Title IX, but right now in Sun Prairie, parents do not have that confidence,” Brewer stated.
“We hope this results in answers for parents and families at the Sun Prairie Area School District, but we won’t know until we see the results of the investigation.”
In WILL’s June letter to the DOE, the legal organization explained that one of the girls involved in the incident told another student what happened, who proceeded to alert the assistant principal.
As WILL noted, the assistant principal was required to tell the Title IX coordinator about the incident, but she reportedly did not take this action.