NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — A review from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has found that New London Public Schools violated Title IX when it didn’t investigate students’ sexual harassment reports, according to an announcement on Tuesday.
The sexual harassment compliance review, which included how the district handles sexual assault cases, ended with a resolution agreement.
The review found that the district violated Title IX by not ensuring adequate Title IX coordination and oversight from 2020-22, and didn’t adopt and publish grievance procedures.
“Notably, the district abdicated its Title IX responsibilities when it did not independently investigate allegations of sexual harassment of students by two employees while the matters were being investigated by the police and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families,” an announcement from the federal agency reads. “These actions did not comport with the district’s obligation under Title IX to investigate whether sex discrimination occurred and, if so, to provide appropriate support to the victims and school community, and adopt measures to prevent recurrence especially where one or more employees may have been aware of the employee misconduct but failed to report it.”
Under the agreement, New London Public Schools must review its Title IX grievance procedures, modify recordkeeping procedures, provide responses to all reports and complaints of sexual harassment between the 2021-22 and 2024-25 academic years, conduct annual training and issue a student climate study to see if additional changes are needed.
“What happened in this district years ago was disgusting and unacceptable,” New London Superintendent Cynthia Ritchie said in a written statement. “We took swift and immediate action when these deplorable crimes came to light. These actions included working closely with law enforcement and the termination of those adults who so terribly failed our children. We have updated our policies and procedures, ensuring compliance and accountability in all areas, and every single employee receives training annually. Most importantly, we focused deeply on our students and families and built strong multi-faceted systems of support, to be sure all are always connected to trusting adults and help whenever needed.”
Ritchie said that the completed federal report was delayed a few years due to the pandemic, and that the district has “no issues collaborating with the Office of Civil Rights and sharing our best practices with them, too, as final outcomes to resolution for this situation.”