U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Reaches Agreement to Resolve Sexual Harassment Compliance Review of New London Public Schools in Connecticut

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U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights Reaches Agreement to Resolve Sexual Harassment Compliance Review of New London Public Schools in Connecticut

October 17, 2023

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) today resolved a compliance review of New London Public Schools in Connecticut with a resolution agreement to address the district’s handling of sexual assault cases, including those involving student and staff misconduct.

OCR found that the district violated Title IX by not ensuring adequate Title IX coordination and oversight during the 2020-2021 and 2021-2022 school years, failing to adopt and publish Title IX grievance procedures that complied with Title IX, and failing to respond equitably to complaints of employee-involved sexual harassment during the review period.

Notably, the district abdicated its Title IX responsibilities when it did not independently investigate allegations of sexual harassment of students by two employees while the matters were being investigated by the police and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families. These actions did not comport with the district’s obligation under Title IX to investigate whether sex discrimination occurred and, if so, to provide appropriate support to the victims and school community, and adopt measures to prevent recurrence especially where one or more employees may have been aware of the employee misconduct but failed to report it.

OCR also had concerns regarding the adequacy of district Title IX coordination and oversight during the 2020-2021 school year, recordkeeping practices with regard to Title IX complaints, and district responses to complaints of student-involved sexual harassment, including that the district may not have taken sufficient action to end harassment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects such as considering and providing interim measures and remedial measures, where appropriate.

The resolution agreement commits the district to take the following steps needed to resolve this investigation:

  • Revise the district’s Title IX grievance procedures to ensure compliance with the Title IX regulation and consistency across related policies and procedures.
  • Modify the district’s current recordkeeping procedures to comply with the Title IX regulation.
  • Provide OCR with the district’s response to all reports and formal complaints of sexual harassment between the 2021-2022 and the 2024-2025 school years.
  • Prepare a written description of the Title IX Coordinator(s)’s responsibilities to ensure compliance with the Title IX regulation and overall coordination of Title IX responsibilities.
  • Conduct annual Title IX training for all district administrators, staff, Title IX Coordinator(s), investigators, decision-makers, and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process. And,
  • Issue a student climate survey to district students in grades 6-12 to assess a need for additional changes.

“New London Public Schools’ agreement today addresses serious noncompliance with Title IX that had left district students vulnerable to unredressed – and sometimes serial – sexual harassment from employees as well as other students,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon.

The letter to New London Public Schools is available here and the resolution agreement is available here.