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Park City School District’s first steps to remediate findings of harassment investigation OK’d by federal monitors

Row of blue school lockers.
Helistockter - stock.adobe.com

The Park City School District got its first positive report card from federal officials monitoring its progress toward responding and resolving harassment and discrimination complaints.

The district signed a joint resolution agreement with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in March to resolve an investigation that found over 180 harassment incidents in the district. The agreement set steps the district must take to comply with federal laws, including reviewing harassment incidents from the 2022-23 school year, developing a standard reporting form and revising Title IX policies and practices, which is now complete.

During its investigation, the OCR found the district knew about alleged student-to-student sexual harassment in its schools. However, the Title IX Coordinator — the staffer responsible for managing reports of sex-based discrimination — failed to tell students about support resources and their right to file a formal complaint. Further, the coordinator for the district told the federal agency she hadn’t received any Title IX concerns.

Under the Park City district’s revised rules, the Title IX Coordinator job description has been changed and a new “compliance flow chart” clarifying procedural steps is in place. Superintendent Jill Gildea told the board of education June 18 the OCR approved the changes.

Next, Gildea said the district will submit data it’s gathered on harassment incidents involving 29 students, along with new policies regarding harassment and the new reporting system for OCR review by June 24.

The new reporting system is already in use and it has been used to submit new harassment and bullying complaints. Gildea said she has looked through some of the reports.

“Some of the words that kids use are unkind and not nice, and we don't want to hear these kinds of words and when we talk with parents, they say we don't speak this way at home,” she said. “So we gotta figure out right the social impact of what kids are hearing and seeing.”

Gildea said a lot of the unkind language is also shared on social media platforms, which has led to the parents' conversationswith the district about a no-cellphone policy.

The district will also submit new training materials in July and educational materials for parents, teachers, and students in August.

Gildea said a “We All Belong” campaign will be rolled out this fall as part of the parent, teacher and student educational materials. The district also partnered with the Western Educational Equity Assistance Center to help with education.

“They will help to inform that ongoing education and training, especially at the different levels, because one of the requirements is like, explain to a third grader what harassment and discrimination is. That’s different than a 12th grader,” Gildea said.

Also Tuesday, Gildea shared results from a Park City High School Climate Survey. It found 88% of students felt safe at school this year. An average of 83% of students felt safe in 2023 and 89% felt safe in 2021. But, 58% of students this year reported all students felt welcome at the school while 73% reported a sense of welcome in 2023 and 77% reported a sense of welcome in 2021.

Board Vice President Wendy Crossland thought the 30% difference of students feeling safe versus feeling all students are welcome this year might be a perception issue.

Gildea said changes in feelings of safety and a sense of welcome over the years are impacted by global, statewide and local events.

“So if there is a school shooting, you do all of a sudden see physical safety: we're worried. If you hear about a fight all of a sudden physical safety: we’re worried,” she said. 

Gildea said there was one physical altercation at the high school this year, which could have impacted kids who witnessed or were involved in it.

The district expects to be in full compliance with the terms of the OCR resolution by the summer of 2026.