School board to discuss findings from legal report

Isabella Marcus, Benjamin Huang, and Marvin Zou

The Palo Alto Unified School District Board of Education will hold a special meeting at 4 p.m. this afternoon to discuss the findings of law firm Cozen O’Connor’s investigation into the PAUSD school district’s response to an alleged sexual assault case on campus in October 2016.

Ahead of the school board meeting, Cozen O’Connor officially released its draft report of its investigation on Wednesday afternoon.

In the fall of 2016, a Title IX sexual assault incident on campus was reported to the Palo Alto Police Department. As details of the case came to light and it was released that the perpetrator of this alleged incident was still on campus, the Palo Alto community raised questions of whether the District handled the complaint properly. The school board later hired Cozen O’Connor in May to independently investigate the district’s handling of the alleged incident.

The 68-page report states that the District’s response to the incident did not “comport with key aspects of Title IX, state law, and Board policy and the District’s administrative regulations”. Although the District responded quickly in a timely fashion to reports of Title IX misconduct, it did not maintain sufficient documentation or record keeping of the incident, in fact, “a common practice was to communicate by telephone or text message to avoid creating documentation that could potentially be publicly released.”

The report also mentions that “the District did not maintain written or formally developed protocols at the site level for a consistent institutional response to each Title IX report.”

Many students are concerned by the details of the report. According to senior Tyler Marik, better oversight could have been exercised in the admininstration’s response to the alleged assualt.

“It sounds like admin as a whole could’ve handled the situation a lot better,” Marik said. “It’s a very difficult situation and there were things they did that could’ve been handled better. I think that Ms. Diorio doesn’t deserve to take full responsibility for the mistakes of the administration.”