LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) – If you remember, 6 News broke the story of a federal investigation into the school district’s handling of sexual violence cases at its schools.
At one point, the district was facing two separate lawsuits for its handling of sexual assault reports from its students.
Then in September, the U.S. Department of Education began investigating the district in relation to one of those lawsuits in which a student told 6 News she was suspended after reporting her sexual assault in 2015.
The district has continually told us that administrators have been fully cooperating with investigators and the district’s work was on display tonight where the Lansing Board of Education held a meeting to introduce the district’s new sexual violence policy in its entirety.
Back and forth discussions between the Lansing School Board members tonight as the new policy for sexual violence was talked about for the first time.
“Sexual harassment which is sexual propositions, imitations, solicians, flirtations, unwanted physical or sexual conduct, threats or insinuations, etc., etc.,” President Peter Spadafore of the Lansing School District Board of Education stated.
These are just a few topics laid out in the fresh policy, including details on compliance and sexual complaints.
“All those types of things that really were in different sections of the policy manual to begin with but we’ve brought them together in one area,” Spadafore said.
He says the changes reflect an improvement to the current policy.
“There’s been some changes in laws and reporting requirements and things like that but it’s not entirely that different from sexual violence policies that we’ve had for years including title 9 issues and harassment issues and things like that,” said Spadafore.
It wasn’t just the board that raised questions tonight, the public had a few concerns as well.
“I would like you to keep in mind that if it does not address criminal sexual conduct that may not be of a violent nature, that we definitely consider that,” Community Member Joy Gleason stated.
The board hopes this revamped policy helps clear the air for anyone who has doubts.
“We have put all of the issues concerning criminal sexual conduct, sexual violence, sexual harassment in one place so that folks don’t have to comb through a policy manual to find compliance officers, to find the processes, to find time lines, we just really wanted to summarize that process in one place so that’s everyone’s rights were well known and everyone’s processes were spelled out,” Spadafore stated.
For those of you interested at taking a look at tonight’s approved sexual violence policy, you can head to our “Seen on 6” tab.
In September the U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation into The Lansing School District for sexual violence and Title IX compliance.
Policies in the school code, regarding sexual violence, had already been expanded for the current school year.
The 2016/2017 policies on sexual harassment now include examples and scenarios, which were not found on the books the previous year.
School officials have also gone into more detail to define ‘sexual assault’, clearly explain directions for students follow if they feel threatened, and what the process will be like after making the report.
“All those types of things were in different sections of the policy manual to begin with but we’ve brought them together in one area. We just really wanted to summarize that process in one place so that’s everyone’s rights were well known and everyone’s processes were spelled out,” says School Board President Peter Spadafore.
6 News will continue to keep you updated on the federal investigation.
To take a look at the new policy, click here.