GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) — A local court approved a settlement between Guilford County Schools and a student who alleged she was the victim of sexual misconduct on a GCS school bus.
The settlement between the minor and Guilford County Schools was reached on Dec. 12, 2022 and on Feb. 20, 2023 a local court approved the settlement, which “ensured financial compensation” for the girl and her mother.
Guilford County Schools paid $90,000 to resolve the allegations of physical injuries and emotional distress after the student said she was the victim of “school bus-based student-on-student sexual misconduct” on Nov. 1, 2021.
The student who allegedly assaulted the girl transferred schools during the investigation, but an attorney who works as a campus sexual assault advocate, Laura Dunn, still advocated that the district continue investigating. Despite his “refusal to participate” in the investigation, he was found responsible.
“It was important to ensure the assailant could not transfer back into the district and harm more students,” said Dunn.
As part of this settlement, GCS will implement annual Title IX training for middle and high school students starting in the 2023-2023 school year, to teach students about sexual harassment, “prohibited Title IX conduct” and how to report such things, with “age-appropriate” examples.
Staff will also be trained on trauma-informed responses to sexual assault reporting, among other things. “GCS will also maintain an express, written policy on its communication channels with local law enforcement to better coordinate investigations into campus crimes as part of the Title IX grievance process,” a release from Dunn stated.
By the end of the month, Dunn and the school district will have developed a joint letter to send to the Child Advocacy Center to propose a new Title IX district policy in order to ensure that Title IX investigators can observe forensic interviews and consult with interviewers, which could help avoid subjecting young victims to additional interviews.
“If successful, in my opinion, this proposal would set the gold standard for how K-12s should respond to campus sexual assault nationwide,” said Dunn in her release.
Guilford County Schools confirmed the resolution of the Title IX claim “to the satisfaction of all parties.” A representative with the school district said that the district’s Title IX worked with the student and legal counsel to find a solution that supports both this student and “aids in improving the practices and policies that guide the district.”
“Currently, all employees are required by the state to undergo child sex abuse training,” the district said. “The district is also in the process of working with social workers, counselors and community agencies to develop consent, welcomeness and Title IX training for middle and high school students as well as staff.
“Title IX policy revisions will be presented to the Board of Education Policy Committee this summer, pending the release of updated federal Title IX laws.”