We Need to Examine How NYC Schools Handles Sexual Assault Cases of Black Girls

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The U.S Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights endures three federal complaints after several sexual assault cases have gone "mishandled."

Three federal complaints argue that New York City Schools mishandled several cases of sexual assaults involving “economically disadvantaged black girls” between the ages of 13 to 15, HuffPost reports.

Attorney Carrie Goldberg filed complaints with the U.S Department of Educations Office for Civil Rights in November 2015, April 2016 and the third complaint, June 4, 2016. She is calling for both the U.S Department of Justice and the Education Department to investigate NYC Schools. Goldberg believes that these cases appear to present evidence of systematic racial and gender discrimination in the system.

In the copies of redacted copies of the complaints obtained by HuffPost, the complaints detail the assaults:

“In one case, a 15 year-old student at Teachers Preparatory School was forced to give oral sex to two boys in a stairwell, while five others stood guard, the complaint details. A few days after the assault, one of [the boys] told her at lunch that they were going to do it again, which prompted her to report the initial incident to a guidance counselor.

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But the girl was suspended for engaging in sexual activity on school grounds, after the school claimed the encounter was "consensual.” HuffPost then explains how a letter from the school was written to the girl’s parents stating that her behavior “constitutes a danger to the health, safety, welfare and morals of your child and others at school.” And that NYPD declined to make an arrest against the boys involved.

In the second complaint, “At M.S 584, an 8th grade girl was punched in the genitals by a boy in the hallway, then he dry humped her while another boy slapped her across the head according to the complaint.”

Her attacker was suspended for a month, but when he returned, she was forced to see him everyday in three of her classes as well as gym and lunch. When her family tried to transfer her to McKinney Secondary School of the Arts, NYC Schools forced her to audition, performing a “song and dance in order to attend a safe school,” the complaint states.

The complaint argues that under the girl’s Title IX rights for accommodations, NYC Schools should have honored the girl’s family and legal team’s request to an audition waiver.

“The third case, about an 8th grader from Spring Creek Community School who said she was sodomized, was first reported on by BuzzFeed in March,” according to HuffPost.

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“After the girl reported that a video of the incident was being shared among students, the school principal told her that she should transfer or she’d have to deal with gossip and harassment, according the complaint.”

Goldberg, the attorney who filed the three complaints told HuffPost, “I think there’s a race and class issue, in addition to a sexism issue. Teenage black girls are sexualized in society in a way that white girls are not. In these cases, there was no doubt the sex happened, no belief the girls were making up the whole stories, there was ample proof this happened. What was being disbelieved was whether or not it’s consensual.”

She also highlights the lack of education there is surrounding the rights sexual violence victims have under Title IX.

“None of my clients were told you have Title IX rights,” Goldberg said. When an assault is reported, it must “trigger Title IX protocols like stating, ‘You have all these rights under Title IX, a right not to be retaliated against, to an investigation and counseling,’ and on and on.”

HuffPost reports that The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights currently has 90 investigations open at 82 K-12 schools and school districts over the handling of sexual assault cases.

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