Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Legal controversy over Gunn sexual harassment claim


conflict between two Henry M. Gunn High School robotics students appears to be headed for court, where lawyers will pit two competing parts of federal law against each other.

The case, most recently detailed in a Feb. 8 hearing at Santa Clara County Superior Court, revolves around a 16-year-old male student who was found to have sexually harassed a female student.

According to the Palo Alto Online, lawyers revealed the male student is in special education in the hearing, adding a legal wrinkle to the justification of his being temporarily banned from the school robotics team, which the girl is also a member of.

The confusion is between Title IX law and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

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PAUSD Board of Education member and attorney Shounak Dharap said the school board’s final decision must follow both laws.

“If there is a breakdown in these processes, it’s incumbent on me and my fellow board members to exercise oversight to make sure we are complying with the law and keeping students safe,” he stated in an email. “Likewise, when these processes work as they should, it’s important for us to communicate that to the community.”

Dharap noted the challenge confidentiality laws pose.

“In these times, I hope I can earn the community’s trust that I am doing everything I can to ensure that the district protects the rights and safety of our students,” Dharap stated.

The hearing before Superior Court Judge Helen Williams is scheduled for March 8.