Two students have been awarded $1.2 million as part of a settlement with the school they sued for failing to respond to sexual assault complaints.
The lawsuit was filed by two former students last year against Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District and Fairview High School Principal Donald Stensrud.
The complaint claimed Fairview High School has an “extensive history of cultivating a sexually hostile environment, failing to respond to reports of sexual assault, failing to adequately train students, teachers, and administrators on sexual assault and Title IX, and failing to even commence Title IX investigations.”
Under Title IX, federally funded schools must investigate and fix educational environments that are hostile, including adequately handling cases of sexual assault and violence.
One of the plaintiffs reported she was raped by her then-boyfriend, a student-athlete at Fairview. She met with a school counselor and a school resource officer, but the complaint alleges there was no investigation into the assault.
The complaint further alleges the school’s “policy of indifference was a proximate cause of [the student-plaintiff] being subjected to ongoing sexual harassment in the form of (1) a hostile educational environment; (2) ongoing harassment perpetrated by [the student-athlete] and his classmates; and (3) vulnerability to future harassment by being forced to interact with [the student-athlete] and his friends in daily life at Fairview.”
Additionally, the suit claims the school’s behavior contributed to the student-athlete’s rape of the second student-plaintiff, which occurred after a third student had made accusations about the same individual.
Sometime after the second student-plaintiff’s abuse, she made a report, which led to a police investigation that discovered a fourth student victim. The perpetrator was arrested and charged with two counts of domestic violence as well as eight counts of sexual assault.
According to the complaint, the school district did not provide adequate training to staff regarding Title IX, sex discrimination and handling and stopping sexual harassment among and against students.
The suit accused the principal of an indifference toward assault claims and “repeated determination that Fairview would not open a Title IX investigation or take action to address sexual misconduct unless a victim pursued charges with police or sought a restraining order…”.
Other Fairview athletes also have reportedly been involved in criminal cases over the last several years.
As part of the settlement the district must conduct Title IX training for all staff, as well as additional training for high school teachers. The district must also issue a statement expressing a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment.
In a Colorado Public Radio report, a statement from the district claims it has already taken steps such as adding a Title IX coordinator position.