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

December 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

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.”



Special Election to Replace Bocanegra Set for April 3, 2018

December 14, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Monday that a special primary election for the 39th Assembly District, which became vacant upon the resignation of Raul Bocanegra, will he held on April 3, 2018, with the general election for the seat to be held on June 5.

Bocanegra, who represented part of the San Fernando Valley, resigned on Nov. 27 in response to sexual harassment allegations against him. When the allegations first surfaced he announced his intention not to seek re-election but to serve out the remainder of his term to ensure his district continued to be represented in Sacramento and to avoid the cost of a special election.

But Bocanegra eventually gave in to calls for his immediate resignation, including from City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who was a close political ally and whose husband had worked for the assemblyman.

“Upon further reflection during the recent holiday weekend, and conversations with family, friends, supporters, I have decided to resign earlier from the state Assembly effective immediately, which was my original intention,” Bocanegra said when announcing his immediate resignation.

“By doing so I hope the community will have a new representative sooner rather than later,” he said. “Furthermore, it is my hope that in taking this action we can help clear the path so that women and men who have been truly victims of sexual assault and workplace harassment can step forward
and get justice for any crimes committed against them. While I am not guilty of any such crimes, I am admittedly not perfect.”

Bocanegra’s announcement in November that he would not seek re-election came just before the Los Angeles Times published allegations of sexual harassment against him by six women.

No date has been set for a special election to fill the seat of Assemblyman Matt Dababneh, D-Woodland Hills, who said last week that he will resign at the end of the month from his seat representing the 45th Assembly District after an allegation of sexual misconduct.

Metro Urges Public to Report Harassment

April 17, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Responding to a survey that found that nearly one-fourth of riders were victims of unwanted sexual behavior on buses and trains, Metro introduced a public-information campaign Thursday aimed at combating such harassment.

The “It’s Off Limits” campaign will encourage victims and witnesses to report sexual harassment to sheriff’s officials using a hotline or a smartphone app.

Several Metro board members — including county Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Sheila Kuehl — took part in a news conference at Union Station to unveil the campaign, which will include advertisements on buses and trains and on transit video monitors. The ads encourage people to report sexual harassment to the sheriff’s (888) 950-SAFE (7233) hotline or by using the LA Metro Transit Watch safety app, which includes a feature that allows the user to snap a photo of a perpetrator.

“With a description of the suspect and the time and place of the assault, sheriff’s investigators have a better opportunity to make an arrest of a sexual criminal,” according to sheriff’s Transit Policing Division Chief Ronine Anda.

A ridership survey of 22,604 riders conducted by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and released in February found that 22 percent had been victims of unwanted sexual behavior, including touching, exposure or inappropriate comments in the previous six months.

Metro officials noted that its customer relations office and Sheriff’s Department received just 99 complaints in 2014. Of the complaints, 62 were for unwanted touching and 31 people reported indecent exposure. The complaints resulted in 20 arrests.

“The rate of reporting is woefully low and indicates that transit customers do not have faith that such behavior can be addressed,” Kuehl said.

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