AMERICAN FORK, Utah (ABC4) — A Title IX investigation into the Alpine School District beginning in 2020 finally came to a close on Wednesday.
The investigation, conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) was centered around the district’s response, or lack of response, to allegations of student-to-student and employee-to-student sexual assaults from 2017-2020.
On Wednesday, the OCR and the Alpine School District entered into a resolution agreement, detailing new policies and procedures for the district to put in place.
The OCR’s results said the district had eight Title IX violations and three additional concerns, which included a failure “to respond to reports of sexual assault by employees and students.” This is in reference to a claim that the district did not take investigative steps after receiving reports of sexual assault allegations in some instances.
One such instance includes several student reports of a teacher allegedly grooming and even kissing girls who came from single-parent or distressed homes. OCR said the principal wrote, “It was eerie how similar the stories were, even though most ended early with the students transferring or quitting.”
The teacher denied the claims saying the students misunderstood his teaching methods and retired at the end of the school year. OCR said there was no evidence that the district investigated whether the teacher had created a hostile environment or provided measures for the students.
According to the Office for Civil Rights, out of 88 reported student-to-student sexual assaults the district only involved the Title IX coordinator in one instance.
The Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault (UCASA) said Title IX investigations are crucial in sexual assault cases.
“If a student has been assaulted or harassed or mistreated, or discriminated against, Title IX is there to protect those students so that students have a way to report what happened to them and also access an investigation,” UCASA Executive Director Liliana Olvera-Arbon said.
Alpine School District’s representative Kimberly Bird responded to the results of the compliance review saying the district has been working to address the issues since the investigation began in 2020.
“While OCR was conducting its review, Alpine School District began taking steps to resolve self-identified compliance issues that came to our attention during the documentation-gathering process. Many of these steps align with the resolution that has just been entered into between OCR and ASD,” she said.
As part of the resolution, the district will be providing the contact information of the Title IX Coordinator to students and families, revising policies and procedures, training employees and students on what constitutes sexual harassment and how to report it, and improving its record-keeping system among other changes.
“Alpine School District is committed to ongoing improvement and adherence to Title IX regulations,” Bird said.