Report on PAUSD sex assaults is due to be released

Daily Post Staff Writer
An internal investigation into the Palo Alto Unified School District’s botched response to a string of student sexual assaults has wrapped up with a new report from Cozen O’Connor, the national law firm that the district contracted with in May.

“We don’t even have a copy of it yet,” Superintendent Max McGee told the Post on Friday. “We’ll get it out as soon as we can.”

McGee said the report, with students’ names redacted, would be released this week. The board is set to discuss the findings in a closed-session meeting on Wednesday afternoon with a public meeting to follow on Sept. 20.

The district hired Cozen O’Connor after Channel 2 reported in May that a Palo Alto High School junior had been allowed to remain at the school despite a sexual assault conviction.

The boy was convicted in juvenile court in December of sexually assaulting a girl in a Palo Alto church bathroom. He had also been accused of sexually assaulting two other girls on separate occasions, one of which took place in a boys’ bathroom on Paly’s campus.



Why the boy was allowed to remain at Paly for five months after his conviction hasn’t been disclosed by McGee or other district officials. McGee said the report details “if and how and where processes broke down and systems should have been in place and weren’t.”

The Office for Civil Rights had already opened investigations on the district in 2013 and 2014, ultimately finding in March that the district had repeatedly failed to investigate sexual harassment complaints.

The district is in the process of hiring a coordinator to oversee the school’s adherence to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which bans gender discrimination in public schools.

“We need to have better systems of communication,” McGee said. “We need to have somebody who’s highly trained, for example, in Title IX compliance issues. I think it’ll be very helpful in the long run,” McGee said.