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In North Carolina: OCR Resolves Sexual Discrimination and Harassment Investigation of Nash County Public Schools

Last week, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) announced Nash County Public Schools in North Carolina entered into a resolution agreement to ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 with respect to responding to reports of sexual harassment and when enforcing its dress code.

The complaint alleged that during the first week of the 2022-23 school year, an individual posted on social media an anonymous threat of sexual violence against freshman girls at a district high school and that the district was aware of the posting but did not respond consistent with Title IX. Additionally, OCR’s investigation discovered the school held an assembly only for girls, without holding an assembly for boys, to address dress code compliance. During that assembly, the district communicated to the girls that they were “opening the door” to harassment with their manner of dress and then “wonder why they [boys] disrespect you.”

In a press release issued through the Department of Education, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine Lhamon said:

“The nondiscrimination guarantee in Title IX promises that girls not be blamed for their own sexual harassment as well as that students will not be subjected to differential school rule enforcement based on sex stereotypes… Consistent with that guarantee, Nash County Public Schools commit now to ensuring that all students can fully participate in school without discrimination based on sex.”

As reported by the Department, the resolution agreement provides that the district will

  1. review and, as necessary, revise its dress code to ensure it does not discriminate on the basis of sex and inform students, parents, and staff that they may contact the district’s Title IX coordinator if they believe the dress code has been administered in a discriminatory manner;

  2. train staff at the high school about their Title IX obligations, including with respect to responding to reports of sexual harassment, enforcing the dress code in a non-discriminatory manner, and not separating students based on sex except as permitted by Title IX; and

  3. review reports of sexual harassment at the high school, investigate the reports as required by Title IX and the district’s grievance procedures, assess the need for supportive measures for students, and notify students and parents at the high school about how to file Title IX complaints.

For more information, read the letter to Nash County Public Schools and the resolution agreement.

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