Response to OCR Press Release 11-6-13 by BayAreaNewsGroup


									                       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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