YSD Agrees to Stop Harassment, Investigation Shows They Violated - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

YSD Agrees to Stop Harassment, Investigation Shows They Violated Federal Civil Rights Laws

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The Yakima School District is now in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to fix many harassment issues and complaints that came up in a recent evaluation. The Yakima School District is now in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to fix many harassment issues and complaints that came up in a recent evaluation.
YAKIMA, WA-- The Yakima School District is now in an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to fix many harassment issues and complaints that came up in a recent evaluation.  

Education department staff said the results from those evaluations violated federal civil rights laws. This started after the Department of Educations saw high rates of bullying and suspensions from bullying in the district, mainly for sexual harassment.  

An investigation from the Office of Civil Rights found the district failed to provide nondiscrimination notices, and any resolutions to student or employee complaints. 

Superintendent Dr. Elaine Beraza from the Yakima School District said a lot of the violations we things faculty and staff were not aware of.

"We were not tracking our victims and we were doing that to protect the privacy of the victims, but really they want us to always indicate who the victim was and actually by name.  We were not doing that, we weren't aware that we should have done that," Dr. Beraza said.

In addition the investigation revealed flawed district record keeping that prevented the district, and the OCR from determining whether a hostile environment exists at a school for students and if so whether or not the district is taking appropriate steps towards a solution.

Now the district is working with the OCR to correct those issues with a list of things that need to happen.

Dr. Beraza said they're taking this very seriously.  

"If you look at the list of things they've asked us to do, some of it we're well on the way.  You don't have to tell us twice,” she said.

That list includes things like investigating all incidents of harassment and take appropriate action to prevent and end the harassment.

The district also plans to hire someone to assist with its implementation of the agreement from the OCR, conduct annual school evaluations related to harassment and create a task force to come up with strategies for dealing with harassment in schools

Since the school district is complying with the agreement and is working to fix their mistakes, there really is not any further consequence.

If they fail to meet deadlines for those implementations, then the Department of Education can decide to take further disciplinary action against the district.

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