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Sexual Assault/Harassment Reporting

Note from the authors:
After all of the engagement and subsequent confusion around sexual assault during the fall of 2021, we decided to work together to collaborate on information surrounding sexual assault. We consolidated what we had learned into an intuitive website so we could share it with the whole Washburn community. Our goal is to make sure students and staff are being held accountable for their actions so we can avoid that kind of situation in the future. We hope that you find this resource useful. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact us through the “who to call” section of the site.  We are always happy to help whenever we are able.
-Ryan Rowell, Abby Peterson, and Paige Selberg

Acknowledgments:
There are so many people to thank for the extra help and chipping in on the research process but here are a few of them: Naomi Marshall, Ms. Dobson, Mikki Coleman, Dr. Palmer, Jackie Faust, John Norvell, and Geneva Enz.

Overview

  1. Context: This overview helps to explain Federal Title IX law and MPS policies which were created to ensure that all complaints of sexual harassment are addressed. They state that when any MPS student experiences sexual assault or sexual harassment, the school has an interest in supporting that student. Students may choose to report it just to get help and support from school staff or may choose to report it so there is a consequence for the person who assaulted or harassed them.The following information is here to help students navigate the process if it happens to you or a friend. 

  2. Reporting: Any employee of the district can serve as a reporter for a case of Sexual Harassment/Assault, so feel free to go to any adult you are comfortable with. We suggest going to your social worker or your grade-level assistant principal if you are comfortable because the social workers have the most resources readily available and if you do report it to another employee, it will make its way to the principal anyway. 

    1. For a Title IX complaint, the responsible authority is the site administrator. At Washburn, this is Dr. Palmer and the 3 Assistant Principals. At the district level, it is the Director of the Office of Equality and Civil Rights. In Minneapolis, the principal works with the district Title IX coordinator in all relevant situations.

    2. Go to the Definitions page to learn how to categorize your experiences.

    3. We also have linked Who to Call so that way you can get in contact immediately. Feel free to use the student-provided contacts at the bottom. 

    4. Online Reporting Form to the MPS Office of Equality and Civil Rights. If you would like to get started filing a formal complaint immediately, the staff can walk you through the process, or you can read more about it below. 

  3. Supportive Measures: Supportive Measures are actions that the school can take to help support either party before, during, or after an investigation. They can be taken WITHOUT a formal complaint or the approval of a guardian. They can and should be implemented as soon as possible. 

    1. The District Title IX coordinator or the principal can discuss supportive measures as soon as someone reaches out to them (A formal complaint is not required).

    2. Examples of supportive measures include, but are not limited to: The offer of changing classes or classwork, counseling, a leave of absence, and a general mutual limitation on contact between the parties. 

    3. The principal/assistant principals can implement measures and are the most likely staff to do so. Students may contact the District Title IX coordinator directly for support as well. Measures “may not unreasonably burden the other party” (5050A.5) so some options may not be allowed if they would fall under retaliation, (ie. forcing a victim to miss out on activities in the name of avoiding their abuser).

    4. The Principal and the District Title IX Coordinator have the authority to take emergency measures if it is deemed there is an immediate threat to anyone’s safety based on the report (5050A.5).

  4. Incomplete Investigation : At any point during a formal investigation prior to Finding of Responsibility, the investigation may not start or if started may be paused in the following circumstances: 

    1. If Respondent is a student and is not or no longer enrolled in the District. If the student re-enrolls, the investigation may then continue or start. 

    2. If the misconduct “did not occur in the District’s education program or activity” or on District property.

    3. If it does not constitute sexual harassment as defined by district [policy.

    4. Investigations are always completed when the Respondent was or is an employee of the District and the Complainant is a student. 

  5. Confidentiality:  

    1. There are some things a student can tell school staff and staff may keep confidential, and others that trigger mandated reporting. School staff are all mandated reporters for child maltreatment, abuse, or neglect. If a student tells a staff member that an adult has hurt them, or the staff member sees evidence of harm, they must make a report to the appropriate authority. This could apply to harmful actions by other students if it resulted from neglect by district staff. School staff cannot maintain confidentiality if there is any evidence of a threat of suicide or potential harm to others. 

    2. Sexual assault/harassment between students is not always required to be reported as maltreatment, but it all complaints must be investigated. There may be times when students share information about a sexual assault or harassment that does not happen on school grounds or there is no connection to school or school programs, and school staff can tell you what they can and cannot keep confidential. School counselors and social workers are experienced in having these conversations. It is not always required that the school staff must report to caregivers. If there are questions, it is important to ask. If a student chooses to file a Title IX complaint about sexual harassment or sexual assault, the staff member must alert the principal. The principal will determine if the investigation will be done by the school, or the principal may reach out to the Office of Equality & Civil Rights to conduct the investigation.

    3. Adults employed by the district cannot keep a case of Sexual Assault confidential if it involves another adult employed by the District. 

    4. Required reporting to the MN Dept. of Education: There are five types of maltreatment that are required by Federal law to be reported. The categories are: Neglect, Physical abuse, Sexual abuse, Mental injury, and Medical neglect. For Sexual Abuse: “Sexual abuse means the subjection of a child to sexual contact by a person responsible for the child’s care, a person with a significant relationship to the child, or a person in a position of authority.” Sexual contact is defined as “touching intimate parts or sexual intercourse”. It could be consensual, but still requires reporting if the child was exploited for money, grades, or another benefit to the child. District staff MUST report to the Minnesota Department of Education if they have knowledge of the situation and they will review the situation and determine if they will conduct an investigation. Anyone may report if they have knowledge. The number is 651-582-8546. Source

  6. Retaliation: Title IX prohibits retaliation, meaning harassment or violence toward the complainant, perpetrator, or witnesses during the investigation. The definition of retaliation is very similar to bullying but it is in the presence of an investigation. Supporting the victim should not involve speaking negatively to, or publicly about, the accused. “Retaliation includes but is not limited to, any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment”(5050.3). Students and staff can be accused of retaliation and receive discipline from the District.