A review of how Santa Clara County K-12 schools and colleges are complying with Title IX rules and regulations is moving forward following a unanimous vote by the Board of Supervisors—the first review of its kind in the nation.
The Tuesday vote came after dozens of sexual assault survivors and advocates urged supervisors to review Title IX policies and procedures following changes made by U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos in May.
“The Trump administration gutted protections in Title IX and increased the likelihood that sexual assaults and harassment will occur and watered down the responses that administrators at schools and universities should take,” said Supervisor Dave Cortese. “This review is needed now more than ever.”
Title IX, a federal civil rights law, prohibits sex discrimination in educational institutions and outlines procedures to protect students from sexual violence.
Cortese proposed this review in September but it was delayed so that a report could come back to the county outlining the approach to work and estimated time and cost.
Now that the report is approved, the county can proceed with the study.
“This matter is urgent,” Stanford University law professor Michele Dauber said at a virtual presser Monday. “Students are returning to school and college right now.”
Dauber led the successful 2018 campaign to recall Superior Court Judge Aaron Persky over his lenient sentencing in 2016 of Stanford student Brock Turner on sexual assault and attempted rape charges.
Dauber said that at Stanford, 40 percent of female undergraduate students will experience sexual assault by the time of their senior year, while the percentage of those women who report it is under 3 percent.
She also said that the statistics are similar at other college campuses.
Maia Brockbank, a Stanford student and a sexual assault survivor, said that the county and campuses needed to do more to protect their students and called the review is a step in the right direction.
“Nothing can change with only survivors as watchdogs,” Brockbank said.
County administration recommended that the audit be divided into seven phases, with a focus on ease of access to information, prevention and education on campus safety, and gaps, if any on campuses.
The audit will initially use publicly available information from campuses, starting with universities, and request any missing data to help complete the final report.
Before the process begins, however, county administration will need to select a vendor with legal expertise and a sizable staff to conduct the review.
The review is estimated to take 12 to 18 months and cost at least $500,000, likely to come from the county Office of Gender-Based Violence Prevention.