L.A. Unified Board Orders of Review Sexual Harassment Policies

By EGP Staff Report

Los Angeles Unified School District board members voted Tuesday to review the District’s sexual harassment policies and to immediately implement “best practice” procedures aimed at protecting employees.

Acing on a resolution introduced by Board Vice President Nick Melvoin, L.A. Unified will immediately set up a hotline for reporting, conduct a comprehensive review of current policies, and implement a centralized tracking system for complaints.

Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Nick Melvoin

Los Angeles Unified School District Board Member Nick Melvoin

“The recent exposure across the country of a pervasive culture of work-related sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behavior across several industries was the impetus” for Melvoin’s resolution, according to a statement released by L.A. Unified.

“Sexual harassment has no place in L.A. Unified,” said Melvoin, who began his career as an L.A. Unified teacher in Watts. “Every one of our employees should have the utmost confidence that a harassment claim will be thoroughly investigated and addressed so that our schools are safe spaces—not only for kids, but for our teachers and employees as well.”

School Board President Mónica García, who co-sponsored the resolution, said the school board is dedicated to ensuring a culture of respect and accountability for all employees.

“L.A. Unified can learn, too. We can and must continue to exercise respect for all,” García said. “We must build a culture of learning and excellence that requires all individuals to be part of the solution.”

Commissioner Maryam Zar from the Los Angeles City’s Commission on the Status of Women spoke in support of Melvoin’s resolution. She said creating a hotline and a central system to track complaints will help make sure women newly empowered to share their experiences are heard and feel supported. Zar is also a parent of three L.A. Unified students.

Multiple experts point to a reporting hotline as “the most effective method for prevention, victim support, and accountability.” The District said it hopes to have the hotline up and running by Jan. 2.

Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Monica Garcia

Los Angeles Unified School District Board President Monica Garcia

The Superintendent’s office, with the help of internal and external experts and advocates, will conduct a review of District policies and report back to the board within 120 days.

Its report should include the number of complaints reported in the past five years school- and district-wide; timelines for victims to report their claims and investigators to investigate; and guidelines, tools, and resources for best practices in harassment prevention, investigation, treatment of victims, tracking of harassment claims, and anti-retaliation protections for victims and whistleblowers.

Melodie Kruspodin, Prevention and Policy Manager of Peace over Violence, said sexual harassment is pervasiveness and detrimental.

“Ninety percent of women in California have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime,” she said. “We all need to look inward to codify the values that we wish to model for students in L.A. Unified.”



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December 14, 2017  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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