As was widely reported in the press, this past week C.A. Goldberg, PLLC, filed two new Title IX complaints with the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”), making it a total of three we have initiated against the New York City Department of Education (“NYC DOE”). All three of our clients are impoverished black girls age 13-15 who were sexually assaulted. Because of how widespread and historic we believe this problem to be, we’ve taken the bold step of requesting that the United States Department of Justice come in and co-investigate NYC DOE with OCR. the Justice Department also has jurisdiction to investigate school discrimination cases pursuant to Title IX, but also under Title IV.
Below is some information about the three Brooklyn cases:
Case 1: The victim was a then 13-year-old girl on New Lots Avenue. Black. Oldest daughter of a single mom who speaks no English. They’d just moved to the neighborhood four months ago from a battered women’s shelter. On April 2, 2015, while our client was waiting for bus after school on day before spring break, in 40 degree weather, she was dragged to alley by a classmate and anally and orally sodomized, as was reported by Buzzfeed in January. The assailant filmed the entire attack. The victim’s school found out a couple weeks later because the rape video has gone viral. The school refused to believe my client was raped. They did not investigate, destroyed evidence, convinced the police it was not rape, and told my client to just stay home because her presence was distracting and just causing kids to view the video. My client was harassed and threatened on social media. The school never followed up with her when she stayed at home for the next weeks. CURRENT STATUS: OCR COMPLAINT FILED. NYC DOE UNDER INVESTIGATION; CIVIL CASE UNDERWAY; CRIMINAL CASE CLOSED
Case 2: 15-year-old girl in Brownsville with a tested IQ of 71. Black. The sweetest and most docile person you’ll ever meet. In February of 2016, at 11:30 in the morning, she’s dragged into stairwell by 7 boys she’d had no previous relationship. The confrontation is on video. She was forced to provide oral sex to two of them. The others watched and stood guard. She told a guidance counselor. The counselor escalated it to an assistant principal who eventually concludes the sexual act was consensual. Then my client is suspended for up to 10 days. Meanwhile, NYPD is pressing charges against one of the assailants, yet NYC DOE insisted on continuing the suspension case against my client and tried to coerce her into pleading “no contest.” CURRENT STATUS: OCR COMPLAINT FILED. NO DETERMINATION ON INVESTIGATION; CIVIL CASE TO BE FILED SOON; CRIMINAL CASE PENDING
Case 3: 13 year old girl from Brownsville. Black. One of 5 kids of single mom. In November 2015 she was punched in the vagina by a boy, thrown to the ground, and humped while another hit her in the head. She reported it. The day before, the same kid had punched another girl in the vagina. This was known to the administrator. The school suspends main offender for a month but when he came back to school, they refuse to remove him from all her classes. The victim and assailant share lunch, music and PE. The school refuses to take this seriously. School makes it clear that if it’s a problem, the victim can leave. So the victim’s mother pulls her out of school and tries to transfer her, but NYC DOE keeps finding schools for the girl, but then says they won’t work out. At one point they say the girl can go to her dream school, but then makes her audition. She spends a week practicing a song and dance and is rejected. Meanwhile, the mom is being threatened with a child protective services investigation if she doesn’t bring the victim back to school with offender while a new school is being located. It is not until March 28, 2016 that she is finally enrolled in a school again. CURRENT STATUS: OCR COMPLAINT TO BE FILED 6-3-16 (PROBABLY); NO CRIMINAL CASE; CIVIL CASE TBD.
In no case were the girls provided any social supports, told they had rights under Title IX (this disclosure is required). They were victimized once by the offender(s), a second time by the NYC DOE.
At this point, we don’t know what to conclude other than that NYC DOE condones the rape of poor black girls. But even worse, they PUNISH them for it. They push them out of school.
Title IX mandates one Title IX coordinator to handle discrimination and sexual violence per district but recommends one Title IX coordinator per school BUILDING. Most districts around the country have a few thousand kids. At schools like Harvard and Yale there are Title IX staffs that are respectively 50 and 40 persons strong. So Yale has 1 coordinator for every 411 students. Harvard has 1 for every 420. Do you know how many Title IX coordinators there are employed by the NYC DOE? One. One single human being. One coordinator for 1.1 million students. Except, NYC DOE’s position is VACANT according to its staff roster. http://schools.nyc.gov/NR/rdonlyres/36FEB6B2-FDD4-45CB-92BB-7FBDE7F6EA5C/197266/51916OEOStaffContactListPortraitPDF.pdf
Laura Moser, writing on Slate, was dead on when she noted that, “even more than colleges and universities, public schools don’t seem to have figured out how to respond to very serious sex crimes that occur on their grounds. Sweeping them under the rug, as the NYC schools are accused of doing, doesn’t just threaten their federal funding; it can do indelible damage to the young victims involved. It also teaches kids that rape culture starts young.”
Title IX compliance is often discussed in terms of the undergraduate rape crisis, but OCR has been consistent that its regulations apply equally across all recipients of federal financial aid. It boggles the mind that the allegedly progressive New York City De Blasio administration would not absolutely prioritize the prevention of sexual harassment that causes astronomically adverse consequences to New York City’s female students. This is a civil rights issue.
In total, our firm has three investigations into K-12 open with OCR around the country, including one of the three described and we are waiting for responses on two more.