Four years ago, around the very time you’re reading this issue of Verde, a story of rape culture arrived in the hands of Palo Alto High School students. The release of the fourth issue of Verde’s 14th volume was a bulletin on the wall that spoke frankly about sexual assault and harassment in our town.
Four years later, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has released their report on their investigation into Palo Alto Unified School District’s procedures around dealing with instances of sexual harassment.
With the release of the OCR investigation on March 16, Paly and other PAUSD schools have a thorough and exact tool with which they can properly deal with cases of sexual harassment. The report is, by any terms, an unflinching indictment of PAUSD’s mishandling of these cases. The principal complaint is that PAUSD provided inconsistent procedures for reporting complaints of sexual harassment. Reading it elicits feelings of confusion and perhaps even anger as to why cases outlined in the report were handled like they were.
But ultimately, going forward, the OCR investigation must be commended as providing a constructive answer to the past four years. We hope that you, the reader of this editorial, will feel empowered as this report will provide you with a process for reporting cases of sexual harassment — a mechanism that others before you, regretfully, didn’t have.
We support the school district’s efforts to implement proper training sessions on dealing with sexual harassment and to create a consistent procedure for reporting incidents of sexual harassment. More so, Verde’s support for the continued confrontation of issues concerning sexual assault stands strong.
Finally, we want to express our deep gratitude to the Volume 14 Editors-in-Chiefs, editors and staff writers who worked incredibly hard to bring stories of injustice to the public, and left a lasting impact. The entire staff who worked on this story exemplifies what investigative, conscious, and effective reporting should be, and their efforts in reducing incidents of sexual assault is a model to every student journalist who believes in the power of reporting.
Verde hopes that progress in dealing with these issues will continue long after the class of 2020 graduates and long after this report has been published, much like the effects of the rape culture cover package continue to live on, four years later.