White House issues proposed consent decree following Anoka-Hennepin bullying settlementBreaking News, Top Highlights Tuesday, March 6th, 2012
The Anoka-Hennepin School District settled a federal civil rights investigation Monday stemming from a lawsuit filed last summer, closing a long legal battle in the district’s anti-discrimination policies for students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. Following the district’s pledge to improve the treatment of LGBT students, the White House released a proposed consent decree on behalf of the settlement which would enable all students the opportunity for safety on campus within the district.
“Bullying cannot be a rite of passage in our nation’s schools. Instead, our schools must be safe and nurturing environments that promote learning and full participation by all students,” said Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez. “As a parent of three students in public school, I realize how important it is for children to be free from fear so that they can learn and thrive in school every day.”
Perez added: “The consent decree is a comprehensive blueprint for sustainable reform that will enhance the district’s policies, training and other efforts to ensure that every student in the district is free from sex-based harassment. The consent decree will build on the district’s existing anti-harassment efforts to help to create an environment where all students feel safe in school, are free from harassment, and can be themselves.”
As a part of the proposed consent decree, the district will adhere to a set of anti-discrimination guidelines, namely the district’s policies as it pertains to enhancing and improving its training of faculty, staff, and students on sex-based harassment, retaining an expert in the field of mental health to address the needs of students who are victims of harassment, and ongoing monitoring and evaluations of its anti-harassment efforts.
The 5-1 school board vote passed the consent decree Monday. The announcement was received by cheers and hugs among the lawsuit plaintiffs and friends and family supporters the Minnesota Star Tribune is reporting.
“Our gay students deserve to feel safe and be safe, just like everyone else in our public schools,” said Superintendent Dennis Carlson. “When we have finished this process, we believe we will have developed a model that all school districts can follow.”
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