GREENSBORO, N.C. — Guilford County Schools recently reached a settlement of $90,000 with a teenager who alleged she was the victim of sexual assault on a GCS school bus.
As part of the settlement, GCS will implement yearly Title IX training for all middle and high school students.
The mother of the teen, Michelle, said “ultimately, our goal in the settlement was not so much the financial settlement as it was the policy change. They (Guilford County Schools) needed to recognize what was done incorrectly, and we were thankful that they were willing to make some changes.”
A Guilford County Schools teen said she experienced physical injuries and emotional distress from a school bus-related incident where she says she was sexually abused back on November 1st, 2021.
She ended up coming forward to tell her story in hopes of helping others.
"It really is hard to come forward in the situation that I went through. It really took my support system my mom and then when Laura came, it really helped me see that what I did was for the better," the teen said.
The teen said she felt as if she had no one on her side when the alleged abuse happened. "My mental health got so bad. I was out of school for a long time. It wasn’t even my choice really I was pulled out of school because it was so bad.”
For many years, much of the focus of Title IX revolved around athletics and sex discrimination, but that's not all that the title outlines.
Over the last ten years or so, there has been increasing attention to its prohibition against sexual harassment.
The teen's attorney, Laura Dunn explained, “Title IX is a federal civil right that’s existed for about 50 years that ensures gender equality within education. So a lot of people know that it ensures that female athletes have the same opportunities as male athletes but I think more importantly it makes sure that sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual abuse, and sex discrimination are not allowed and it requires schools to have a campus-level process. It’s called the Title IX grievance process and it has specialized roles governed by federal law that make sure there are equal rights for the parties so it’s fair to those accused, and makes sure those who are victimized are protected.”
An investigation into the alleged assault by GCS with help from Greensboro police found the male student responsible.
GCS will also be trained annually on trauma-informed responses to sexual assault reports.
Howard Kallem helped write Title IX years ago.
Kallem said, "it's really important for students to be able to recognize when sexual harassment occurs when they see it happening to others around them, and to know how to report it who to report it to what do you expect once it is reported, that's where the training comes in."
We asked GCS to let us speak with a Title IX coordinator who would lead the training - but GCS denied the request.