Tigard-Tualatin School District adopts new sexual assault measures

Ava Bruce, Staff Writer

The recent changes to the to the Title IX law at the federal level have led to new sexual assault measures within the Tigard-Tualatin School District. The code was revised on Jan. 27, 2020, and officially readopted on Sept. 14, 2020. These district changes were made in compliance with the new Title IX changes and had nothing to do with the recent sexual assault investigation within the Tigard-Tualatin School District according to Human Resources Director Debbie Ebert. 

These new measures will ensure that victims and their families receive more updates during investigations. It also provides victims with many supportive measures to help with trauma and reparations.

“The deans, teachers, counselors- they are also working with some outside resources… An outside resource that will pair up a counselor with the victim/survivor that would be outside of the school investigation to just help with some of that trauma,” Ebert said. “We’re looking at trying to make sure that we notify people about these extra resources that will be outside of just the school and law enforcement. We will also give notification of all of the supportive measures that we will be putting in place at the school for both the victim/survivor and the respondent.”

These new measures ensure an appeals process if necessary and also provide an opportunity for a restorative meeting.

“That’s a part of the new Title IX federal law… [It] gives both sides the opportunity to come together and have a well trained facilitator to run that meeting,” Ebert said.

A new process also included in these measures embeds trainings and discussions centered around sexual assault for both students and staff.

“I think that is part of the conversation we’re having now, … where are places that it can be embedded?… How does that show up in the SDL, like advisory pieces that we’ve now built into school-wide time, how can it show up there, and… what is that proactive education piece at each of the different levels and how does that show up thoughtfully? So that’s part of the work that we’re doing right now in partnership with some of our community-based organizations that are well-versed in sexual assault and sexual violence and have some really good curriculum around that already,” Director of Secondary Education Amber Fields said. “I think there are conversations that currently exist in health classes. I think what we’re doing now, though, is kind of going back over everything with 1. a fine-tooth comb and 2. with really clear purpose, with deeper intentionality, with new and improved information through partnerships with community-based organizations.” 

Students and staff will receive training to handle sexual assault cases. For the students, these trainings will most likely take place within their health classes and should be ready to begin during the 2021-22 school year. 

Because the district is required to follow both the federal law and Oregon’s law, handling allegations can be difficult as the laws don’t always merge. That being said, the district has implemented and is currently implementing many new procedures and providing tools to help with the process as much as possible.

“This is an opportunity to be much better. To better serve and to better provide,” Fields said.