Complaints Allege NYC Schools Fail on Sexual Assault Cases

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

New York City's Department of Education has been accused of failing when it comes to sexual violence and harassment prevention within the public school system.

Attorney Carrie Goldberg recently filed two complaints requesting that an investigation be opened by federal officials with the US Department of Education and Department of Justice into the city's DOE. The complaints allege that schools throughout the city continuously discredit and punish students who are victims of sexual assault.

A previous complaint had been filed by Goldberg in November 2015 on behalf of a third girl. The complaint is currently being investigated by the Office for Civil Rights.

"It is our strong belief that these incidents are indicative of institutionalized deliberate indifference to the needs of black female victims of sexual assault ‘educated' by the New York City Department of Education," Goldberg wrote to the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

According to Goldberg, all three girls she is representing were "formally or informally suspended' from the Brooklyn public school system, reports Andrea Cavallier for PIX11.

Title IX, the federal gender equity law, requires those schools that receive federal funding to conduct a thorough investigation of all claims of sexual assault and harassment. In addition, such schools must ensure that its students receive a fair education regardless of their sex, as is their right.

"Whether by official act or omission the end result is that sexual assault victims suffer twice in [New York City Department of Education]; once at the hands of the individual that attacked them, and again under the heel of a bureaucracy that is required to act in their best interest," the complaint filed on June 4 reads.

The complaint filed last year was the result of a story that had been reported by Buzzfeed News stating an eighth grader at Brooklyn's Spring Creed Community School had been dragged from the bus stop she was waiting at to an alleyway where she was forced to perform anal and oral sex in April 2015. A video of the occurrence was recorded and shared by the male student involved, writes Kate Taylor for The New York Times.

Goldberg, who filed the complaint on behalf of the female student and her family, said that the school had simply told the girl to stay away from the school after the video of the incident went viral, writes Mary Ann Georgantopoulos for Buzzfeed.

In a separate incident, two boys forced a tenth grade girl with an IQ of 71 to perform oral sex in a Brownsville high school while five other boys watched. While one boy was arrested and charged, the girl was suspended by the school for having consensual sex on school grounds.

Goldberg said by the time she received word of the third case, she realized that it was no longer a coincidence, but rather "a pattern and practice of mishandling."

She went on to say that the entire New York City Department of Education has just one Title IX coordinator for all 1.1 million students that it serves.

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