LO district staff undergo mandatory training following Title VI civil complaints

Kyla Schmitt, Copy Editor, Columnist

“Coaching Peace” speaker Diana Cutaia led LOHS staff members through mandatory training on Wednesday, Dec. 4 following Title VI (pertaining to race, color or national origin) civil complaints that were filed against the Lake Oswego school district.

There were two complaints, the first being that the district “permitted a hostile environment based on race and national origin (including perceived shared ancestry or ethnic characteristics) to exist at Lake Oswego High School by failing to respond appropriately to reports of harassment.” The second was that the district had “discriminated against an 8th grade student at Lake Oswego Junior High School and other African American students based on race, when it did not respond appropriately to complaints of race-based harassment during the 2017-2018 school year.”

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) wrote that “the complainants and reviewed documents provided by the district… [raise] a concern that the district was aware of possible harassment based on both race and shared ancestry, including the display of graphic images, Facebook posts, hand-written notes and comments made by students” and failed to adequately respond to these incidents.

The LOSD voluntarily agreed to resolve the claims by implementing mandatory staff training before the OCR reached a final verdict; had it not done so, it would have faced federal sanctions. On Wednesday, all licensed and classified staff, including kitchen staff and custodians, were required to attend an hour-long training session or watch a videotape of the session.

LOHS Principal Rollin Dickinson said that during the training the staff built, “a common vocabulary of terms like racism, harassment, microagressions and institutional and interpersonal prejudice and discrimination. We reviewed district policies regarding harassment and our reporting requirements as employees.”

“As we know, harassment, discrimination and microagressions do occur,” Dickinson continued. “Sometimes these actions happen unconsciously; sometimes they happen with the intent to harm. In any case, our role is to be critically aware of our own attitudes and behaviors, to be an upstander rather than a bystander and to take appropriate positive action when harmful incidents may occur.”

Dickinson concluded, “The training was certainly worthwhile. Though we were mandated to have this training based on a district agreement with the Office of Civil Rights based on incidents which occurred at the junior high two years ago, the learning opportunity was welcome and beneficial.”