Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives for an event in the State Dining room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. A federal judge allowed the Education Department to move forward with new rules governing how schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual assault. DeVos said the ruling is “yet another victory for students and reaffirms that students’ rights under Title IX go hand in hand with basic American principles of fairness and due process.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos arrives for an event in the State Dining room of the White House, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020, in Washington. A federal judge allowed the Education Department to move forward with new rules governing how schools and universities respond to complaints of sexual assault. DeVos said the ruling is “yet another victory for students and reaffirms that students’ rights under Title IX go hand in hand with basic American principles of fairness and due process.” (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

School district crafting Title IX policies

The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District will hire a new staff member and codify a process for handling allegations of sexual misconduct.

The move is aimed at bringing the district into compliance with federal changes governing how instances of sexual harassment and discrimination are handled by administration.

The district is expecting to implement a series of about six policies describing its Title IX personnel and Title IX process, which will bring KPBSD into Title IX compliance. Changes will include hiring and training new Title IX personnel, training teachers and staff and modifying parent and student handbooks. Four of those policies were discussed by the KPBSD Board of Education’s Policy Committee on Monday.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protects people from discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs or activities that receive financial assistance from the federal government, according to the U.S. Department of Education. The statute is enforced by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Title IX states that “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.”

Betsy DeVos, who served as the U.S. Secretary of Education under Donald Trump, announced new Title IX regulations that included defining sexual harassment to include things like sexual assault and dating violence as unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex, holding colleges responsible for off-campus sexual harassment at houses under the control of school-sanctioned fraternities and sororities and implementing a new adjudication process the department said was more “fair” and “reliable.”

DeVos’ new regulations, which were announced last May, were supposed to be implemented last August by institutions that fall under Title IX. However, KPBSD has not implemented those regulations. To bring themselves into Title IX compliance, KPBSD will hire a new Title IX and Human Resources Coordinator for the first time and formalize a process for handling allegations of discrimination on the basis of sex, including sexual harassment, in its code.

Patty Burley, who serves as a deputy attorney for the Kenai Peninsula Borough and also provides legal services to KPBSD, said during the meeting that the administration of President Joe Biden is supportive of some of the new Title IX regulations, but that work is already underway to make “more stringent” changes.

“We were supposed to be already compliant and we were supposed to already have had this policy in place, rolled out [and] people educated and everything in the paper and on our website by Aug. 15,” Burley said Monday. “We’ve missed that deadline going on a lot of months.”

KPBSD Communications Director Pegge Erkeneff said Tuesday that the district was unable to implement the new policies prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year because it was focused on responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. To the district’s knowledge, Erkeneff said, no school district in Alaska has put a Title IX policy in place as of Tuesday.

KPBSD Superintendent of Instructional Support Dave Jones said Monday that the district’s goal is to have a Title IX coordinator hired and able to respond to complaints prior to the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year.

Applications for a Title IX coordinator position are currently being accepted and people are encouraged to apply, Erkeneff said.

Ultimately, the board must vote on all proposed policy changes. Board of Education meetings can be viewed on the district’s media website at media.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

A boat is lifted out of the water at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard on Kachemak Drive. (Photo by Sarah Knapp/Homer News)
Northern Enterprise Boat Yard expands business

Northern Enterprises Boat Yard, Inc., the largest privately owned dry dock marina… Continue reading

Krista Schooley (left) testifies before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Education on Monday, June 7, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Screenshot)
A ‘groundswell’: Conservative coalition seeks to expand influence on school policy

The vision of KPCCC is to “restructure and build the foundation of the 7 Mountains of Influence in our society through conservative action.”

Setnetters make their way back to the beach near a site on July 11, 2016 near Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Elizabeth Earl/Peninsula Clarion, file)
Personal-use setnetting opening Tuesday on Kasilof

The hours for fishing in the restricted area of the Kasilof River on Tuesday are from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
‘A lot of work to do’: Officials hope for summer bounce in vaccinations

Zink said just six months ago she didn’t think the state would have as much vaccine stock as it does now.

A map shows the location of the Loon Lake Fire. (Photo from AK Fire Info).
Flight restriction issued over Loon Lake Fire, now 15% contained

The fire was first reported on Saturday evening.

Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, talks during an interview in the Empire's offices. During the conversation, Young discussed ongoing infrastructure bill negotiations, the Arctic's strategic importance to the U.S. and why he's seeking a 26th term in the U.S. House of Representatives. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
The Empire sits down with Rep Young

We hit some of the wavetops of Young’s recent work.

The Alaska Grown logo.
Homer Farmers Market: Don’t forget Wednesday market

Food Hub also is an option for locally grown food.

A sign and road blocker at the head of the Hidden Creek Trail on Skilak Lake Road warns people about bear activity on Sunday, June 13, 2021 in Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Campers kayak to safety after Skilak bear attack

They were at the mouth of Hidden Creek along the shoreline of Skilak Lake

Most Read