WEST CONTRA COSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT 1108 Bissell Avenue Richmond, CA 94801-3135 Bruce Harter, Ph.D. Telephone: (510) 231-1101 Superintendent FAX: (510) 236-6784 WCCUSD Statement in Response to OCR Resolution Agreement November 6, 2013 While everyone in the West Contra Costa Unified School District regrets the circumstances and incidents that have led us to the resolution agreement with the Office of Civil Rights, we’re pleased with the progress that we’ve made since 2009 in addressing the issues and school culture that existed then and to a lesser degree exists today. Since the gang rape on the Richmond High campus in October 2009, our staff, students and community have made significant efforts to make Richmond High and all our schools safer places to learn -- physically, socially and emotionally. Our partnerships with key community organizations such as Community Violence Solutions and Stand For Families Free of Violence have resulted in training, counseling and changing key conditions that contributed to the sexual violence, sexual harassment and gender-based harassment that occurred. Through the efforts of our staff and community partners, we’ve also dramatically reduced the behaviors such as bringing weapons to school, selling drugs and sexual assault that result in expulsion from school. Expulsions have decreased from more than 180 in 2009-10 to five in 2012-13. Richmond High was our first school to adopt Restorative Justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused or revealed by criminal or inappropriate behavior. Students at Richmond High now lead the restorative circles and training at school. With the success at Richmond High these restorative practices are now part of all our middle and schools. The results have been substantial with a 27% decrease in suspensions at secondary schools between 2011-12 and 2012-13. Another reason for the reductions in crime and inappropriate behavior has been the introduction of surveillance cameras as part of our district construction standards. Since 2011, Richmond High has more than 100 cameras that have helped in reducing graffiti, vandalism and inappropriate conduct in the halls and open areas of the school. Cameras are now operational at Helms Middle, Ford Elementary, El Cerrito High School and Pinole Valley High. As schools are renovated or reconstructed surveillance cameras are being installed and will be placed in all of our schools. Although greatly diminished, the problems of sexual harassment and gender-based harassment still exit. Our commitments in the Resolution Agreement with OCR will help WCCUSD take the next steps in improving the conditions and climate in and around our schools. Sexual harassment and gender-based harassment can be significant impairments to student learning and can leave scars that last well beyond the years our students spend in school. So we’re undertaking the Resolution Agreement with a spirit of full commitment not only to the individual steps that are in the agreement but also to changing the culture in our schools and communities. We will meet each milestone in the agreement as we move forward. We welcome the partnership with the Office of Civil Rights, community organizations as well as our students, staff, parents and residents in eliminating sexual harassment and gender-based harassment and creating the conditions under which they can no longer exist in our schools.
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