In response to concerns expressed by West Linn High School students during a June West Linn-Wilsonville School Board meeting, district staff reviewed the district's complaint process and reporting procedures, and shared updated information about the 2019-20 Student Rights and Responsibilities document during the Sept. 9 board meeting.
The added verbiage in the document gives increased clarity for how students should report any concern.
The document was sent to all West Linn-Wilsonville students at the start of the school year and has been included on the school district's website and in other district-level communications.
During the school board meeting in June, some WLHS students said there were issues with the current reporting process. They said students and parents needed more information about what to do and what to expect when reporting a problem.
"What precipitated some of this were some events at the high school and also some courageous students coming to our board meeting in June," said WL-WV Superintendent Kathy Ludwig. "Then we put together an action plan … and it was going to be one that involved our students."
Audrey Lipsey, a WLHS senior who spoke at the June meeting and again at the September meeting, said she knew students who wanted to report harassment last year but said it was a challenging process. Students weren't clear on what was considered harassment and where the information on the complaint process was located. Lipsey said by making the reporting process more public and easily available to parents and students, the amount of students who report incidents would increase.
In August, WLHS administrators, counselors and district office administration met with WLHS student leaders. Students, counselors and WLHS staff worked to create materials to increase awareness of sexual harassment and reporting avenues available to students.
Students made two pamphlets explaining how to report sexual harassment, the reporting process, definititions of sexual assault and harassment, and a list of resources like hotlines, names of counselors and their contact information. Materials also include posters and other visuals that will be placed throughout the school.
"Our goal with these pamphlets is that every staff member and every student will have access to it, whether that means putting it in counselors offices, putting it in every classroom," said WLHS senior Kamerin Villagomez. "Ultimately, we hope to set a precedent for other schools in the district and maybe even other districts if that's possible and really just work toward creating a safe environment where students are educated and have access to how they can feel safe and how they can report issues."
According to a memo written by Communications Director Andrew Kilstrom and Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools Aaron Downs, a similar discussion regarding reporting practices and materials that provided clarity for students was had with administration at Wilsonville High School and Arts and Technology High School.
Lipsey, who is also president of WLHS's Feminist Club, will be part of a group of students who will present this information to teachers. The presentation will give teachers examples of harassment that's been seen in the classroom and explain how to properly address it so students feel more comfortable talking with teachers about concerns.
Lipsey said if teachers can talk with students about harassment and educate them, then it might prevent harassment from happening in the first place. Lipsey added that students will be presenting their slideshow to WLHS staff within the next couple months.
During the Sept. 9 meeting, the board also approved three updated policies as recommended by the Oregon School Boards Association around special education, and hazing, harassment, cyberbullying and other violence or intimidation, relating to both staff and students.
Board member Dylan Hydes suggested they approve all three policies with an amendment to the JFCF policy relating to students about hazing and harassment and reporting it to the principal. Hydes wanted the policy to read more broadly so it doesn't solely relate to an incident that takes place on district property, at a district-sponsored activity or in a vehicle used for district-provided transportation. He made it clear that employees should be mandatory reporters regardless of where the incident takes place. The district hopes staff members will err on the side of over-reporting rather than under-reporting.
Ludwig said she will take the amended policy to legal counsel to see if there are unforeseen implications from striking the approved verbiage.
To see the updated policies and language added to the Student Rights and Responsibilities document, visit http://bit.ly/2kFn5wb.
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