Fairfax Co. schools resolve to fight sexual misconduct

File photo of the headquarters for Fairfax County Public Schools. (WTOP file photo)(WTOP file photo)
WASHINGTON — The #MeToo era has prompted a piercing look at the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct and its lasting effects. Now, Fairfax County Public Schools — one of the largest school systems in the D.C. area — has resolved to confront it.

“When I entered college, I remember getting swamped with information about sexual harassment and assault. But I don’t ever remember hearing about these things during my high school years in Fairfax County,” said Ryan L. McElveen, member-at-large of Fairfax County’s Public School board.

“Waiting until college to discuss these issues is far too late,” he added.

The school system’s resolution cites the Fairfax County Youth Survey, an anonymous and voluntary survey of middle and high school students in three grades, which shows that 14.2 percent of students reported being sexually harassed in the 2017-18 school year.

The document also contains a commitment to ensure all children feel safe and cared for while at school or participating in school activities.

It also outlines the board’s commitment to keep up its sexual misconduct prevention efforts “through our student curriculum, by training our teachers and administrators to lead this cultural change,” Lee District representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax said during the meeting.

Education, empowerment, compassion and trust are the goals, “so that ‘Me Too’ becomes a relic of our past,” she said.

The board has also resolved to continue prompt investigation of sexual misconduct incidents and follow with appropriate discipline after those investigations are complete.

Eleven board members voted to pass the resolution. There was one abstention.

“I’m in a conflicted place, because this is a very serious subject,” said Elizabeth Schultz, Springfield District representative.

“This is the policy issue that the board needs to be directing the superintendent to get what needs to be done, done. Period, end of story … This is great, but it’s fanfare.”

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