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Sexual harassment draft agreement continues to be discussed

Today is Valentine's Day, but it's not all about chocolate and roses for many people in the Palo Alto Unified School District.

In fact, the focus today is -- as it has continued to be for several months now -- squarely on troubling reports of sexual harassment in district schools and the formal game plan that will eventually unfold to provide strategies for better protecting young people against frightening and hurtful behavior.

There is a meeting today pursuant to which the Palo Alto school board will continue discussions regarding its protracted focus on a so-called "draft resolution agreement" drawn up last year by the U.S. Department of Education that addresses sexual harassment.

What prompted the department's concern and involvement in local affairs was this: multiple allegations of sexual harassment inside Palo Alto schools in recent years, coupled with formal complaints filed against the school district.

Federal regulators are closely scrutinizing reported incidents. As noted in a recent media article spotlighting the cases, investigation and agreement, the draft resolution outlines changes "the district should make to its policies, procedures and investigative responsibilities to comply with federal Title IX laws."

One especially notable case involves claims directed at a former Palo Alto High School principal. Officials state that about 10 students were either victimized by that ranking school official or knew something material about alleged incidents.

The district has until March 7 to finish its consideration of the draft agreement. It must notify federal authorities by that date of any changes/clarifications it seeks to the pact, as well as whether it will sign off on the document.

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