Settlement Requires West Lutheran HS to Address Sexual Harassment, Bullying
The Hennepin County District Court has approved a settlement between the Department of Human Rights and West Lutheran High School in Plymouth, requiring the school to make “significant system changes” to prevent sexual harassment and bullying in the future.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights had sued the school last year, accusing it of failing to stop harassment of a ninth-grade girl. The suit claimed multiple incidents of sexual harassment and assault that the school failed to act on during the 2014-2015 school year.
Court documents reveal the girl’s father tried to show school leaders what he considered “incriminating social media posts,” but officials declined to look at them. According to the suit, the school made initial attempts to address the allegations, but eventually accused the student of lying and barred her from attending the school the following year.
Minnesota Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero says the court order and consent decree “will create immediate, positive change for the students and families at West Lutheran High School. This case also sends a message to other schools across the state that they have an obligation to actively address and prevent bullying and sexual violence.”
West Lutheran Settlement Required to Take Immediate Steps
According to the Department of Human Rights, the consent decree requires West Lutheran High School to take immediate steps to:
- develop, adopt and publicly distribute written policies, including a social media policy, that address and prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination;
- implement a comprehensive protocol for investigating every complaint of harassment, discrimination and retaliation;
- require all students, faculty, staff and members of its Board of Regents sign a Code of Conduct Pledge each school year that specifically addresses bullying, harassment and discrimination;
- add bullying and harassment as topics to the curriculum for a required class;
- train all faculty, staff, students and members of the Board of Regents annually on the school’s obligations to create a school environment that is free of discrimination, harassment and bullying;
- train all staff and officials responsible for conducting investigations with trauma-informed investigation training;
- report to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights the number of complaints made related to bullying, harassment and discrimination, the steps took to investigate the complaint, the outcomes of the investigation, and other information necessary.
The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will monitor the consent decree for three years. If West Lutheran High School violates the decree, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has the authority to seek civil penalties and other relief through the court to ensure the terms are followed.
To see the full West Lutheran consent decree: click here