Palo Alto School District sees surge in Title IX complaints: 2 Investigates

Palo Alto Unified School District announced a surge in Title IX complaints on Friday, with the addition of ten new cases. That brings the total of sexual harassment and assault cases reported to the district up to 29, since 2Investigates first uncovered a campus sex assault scandal back in May.

The Paly school district is closed during the middle of summer, but the number of reported sexual assault cases is still growing. District board president Terry Godfrey, in a memo to the community, says there are 10 new cases now listed on the Uniform Complaint Procedure log.

Among those cases are accusations of sexual harassment, sexual comments, and inappropriate touching.

READ: Palo Alto Unified School District’s log of Uniform Complaint Procedure complaints 2016-17

"It's critical if the district is going to respond to incidents of sexual harassment or other violations of anti-discrimination law that we, that the district find out about them,” said Ken Dauber, the vice president of the Palo Alto Unified School District. “And so it's always good if these things are going to be happening for the district to know about them.”

The PAUSD registered a total of 71 complaints on its UCP log from January 2014 until June 2017.

By comparison, the Bay Area’s largest school district, San Francisco, had 112.

Fremont, which is third-largest, had seven complaints, and the San Jose USD, which is the fourth-largest, had five UCP complaints during the same period. Palo Alto is the Bay Area’s sixteenth largest school district.

Renewed scrutiny over the Paly numbers comes as the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights completed a four-year investigation into the district. It found the PAUSD failed to take prompt and appropriate steps to address cases of alleged sexual assault, dating back to 2013.

In May, a series of 2Investigates reports revealed how a Paly high school student-athlete was convicted in juvenile court of having oral sex with a minor in a school bathroom last October. But the district did not initiate a Title IX investigation as required by federal law.

"The goal of these policies, ultimately, is to protect is to protect students at school. And in order to do that, we need clear policies," said Dauber.

The district board wants to have the new policies in place before staff training begins August 1. Additionally, board members say an oral report from one of the law firms investigating its handling of at least one of on-campus report of sexual assault won't come until after summer break is over.