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Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
President's Message
You Are Personally Invited to Great Falls
Jim Carroll, CAA
Conrad High School
I hope your summer is off to a good start and you have plans the next couple of months to get “refreshed” from the busy school year just concluded! If you are like most of us, you no doubt will have AD projects you are working on throughout the summer.

As you reflect back on the past year and make plans for the upcoming school year, I would like to personally invite you to attend the Montana Coaches Association (MCA) Clinic August 2-4 in Great Falls. Under the leadership of Dennis Murphy (Havre) and others, we have another great program planned for AD’s that you won’t want to miss. The AD workshops continue to grow and provide each of us the opportunity to get better at what we do. Encourage your coaches to attend their sport specific workshops as well. By now, you should have seen registration materials and a schedule of the Clinic. If you have not, check out the MCA website.

I encourage you to also read through this issue of the “Montana Athletic Administrator” newsletter. Many of the articles included will cause you to rethink what we do in our daily assignments and hopefully provide you with some ideas you can utilize. A special thanks to Del Gray of All-American Publishing in helping to put all this together for us.

Again, I hope to see you soon at the MCA Clinic. If I can assist you in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Have a great summer!

Jim Carroll,
MIAAA President
Conrad High School
215 South Maryland
Conrad, MT 59425
406-278-3285 (school)
406-289-0208 (cell)

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Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
2016 Summer Clinic
Administrator Workshops During Clinic
Dennis Murphy, CAA
Havre High School
The MIAAA (Montana Activities Administrators Association) would like you to join us in conjunction with the MCA (Montana Coaches Association) on August 3-4 in Great Falls for a series of workshops designed to enhance your position as an administrator in Montana.

This is an opportunity to learn and share with fellow Activities Directors for a day and half. We hope you can attend some or all of the sessions that we offer or any others that the MCA will offer during this time.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

8:00 a.m.
Session 1: MHSA Presentation
Joanne Austin and Mark Beckman (MHSA)

9:00 a.m.
Session 2: MHSA Presentation.
Joanne Austin and Mark Beckman (MHSA)

10:00 am
Session: Legal Issues Athletic Directors Encounter
Kris Goss
Montana School Board Association Attorney

11:00 am
Session: Event Planning and Management
Pat Lynch (Manhattan)
Montana AD of the Year 2015

Afternoon Sessions
Jim Perry – (Huntington Beach, CA)

1:00 pm
Session 1: Coaching Coaches
Shaping Our Schools Culture By Building Our Relationships

2:00 pm
Session 2: Leading Successful Coaches Meetings

3:00 pm
Session 3: Working with Sport Parents to Improve Your Program

Thursday, August 4, 2016

8:30 am
Session: “Getting through to your Coaches.”
Sherry Winn

9:30 – 11:30 am
Session 1-2: Roundtable
Dennis Murphy (Havre) – Gary Degooyer (Great Falls)


If you have questions feel free to call me or contact my office in Havre. My telephone number is 265-6731. If we are not in please leave a message I will get back to you shortly.
Hope to see you in August.


Dennis Murphy, CAA
Havre High School

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Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
2016 Coaches Clinic
Great Falls to Host Annual Event Again
The 49th Annual Multi-Sports Clinic hosted by the Montana Coaches Association is set for August 3-5 in Great Falls. Among the keynote presenters will be college and NFL coaching legend Dick Vermeil.

Almost all activities will be held at Great Falls High School. The Clinic sessions will run Wednesday & Thursday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm and Friday, 8:00 to Noon.

Check out the jam-packed schedule of motivational and instructional speakers here.

For MCA Membership and Clinic Registration online go here.

Don';t wait to make your housing arrangements. The TownHouse Inn will be closed this year, which will make housing pretty tight in Great Falls. We have secured several room blocks. Ask for the MT Coaches Clinic block. Please book early.

O’Haire Motor Inn
17 17th St S.
15 single rooms @ $78 + tax.

Holiday Inn
1100 5th St South
60 rooms @ $109+tax
Holiday Inn/MCA Clinic
or 406-727-7200

Crystal Inn
by Airport exit
40 rooms w cont. bkfst @ $109

220 Central Ave
15 Q, 15 Q+F
Cont. Bkfst @ $79 or $89 +tax

For more information contact:
Don or Marian Olsen, Clinic Director
375 Ramble Inn Rd.
Fort Shaw, MT 59443
P: 406-439-5250- OR 406-264-5435

Kathleen Howard, Assistant Clinic Director

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Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
2016 Winter Conference
Lynch Named State Athletic Director of the Year
The Montana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association met in January in Billings for its annual meeting and to honor outstanding performances among our professional colleagues.

State Athletic Director of the Year
Pat Lynch

Class AA Athletic Director of the Year
Gary DeGooyer
Great Falls

Class A Athletic Director of the Year
Mike Ryan
Miles City

Class B Athletic Director of the Year
Don Paulson

Class C Athletic Director of the Year
Paula Molyneaux

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Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
NIAAA Membership
Navigating the Online Community
Are you using the membership portal and tools available through the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA)? To aid in your navigation of the Online Community the NIAAA has produced a brief video tutorial to the NIAAA member portal. You will learn how to:

  • log in
  • update your profile
  • view and pay outstanding invoices
  • manage your events
  • find a list of your completed LTI courses

  • To view the video in your web browser, click this link.

    If you have any questions, feel free to call our office at 317-587-1450 or email Nellie Crocker.

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    Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
    New ADvice
    Using Your Summer Effectively
    Kevin Bryant, CMAA
    I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do. - Leonardo da Vinci

    For most athletic administrators, the summer is not a contracted period of time for your work. That doesn’t mean that you are out of the office between June 15-August 15 does it? Our head coaches are active in football camp, seven on seven football competitions, summer league basketball for boys and girls, fitness work, American Legion baseball, volleyball team camp, or cross country camp. Our coaches and student athletes are active and invested in the coming year, as a result so are we. We come in a couple of days a week, we manage our field preparation and watering, we have ongoing projects around our facilities, we might even have hiring to manage during the summer months and then there is the fall preparation for fall sport sign ups to organize and booster club folks to help plan with.

    We could easily be busy every day and without pay to boot! No different than what our head coaches must do to maintain a quality sport season, the summer work is critical to their success in technical and tactical work,, fundraising and year-long planning. We have things to do and yet we are most likely exhausted and need to find some significant time to detach and withdraw to recover. To have uninterrupted time to get things done, plan and relax is critical to our long term mental and physical health.

    I would encourage each of you to make a commitment to get time away for yourselves for an extended period of time. You might have a family vacation that can take you away for some disconnected time or to have periodic respite with some hobbies (golf, tennis, running, painting, drawing, photography, reading, biking) on a weekly basis. Your recovery time will not magically appear and you are not selfish for taking time to focus on your needs. Please make a commitment to prolong your influence in this great profession by planning some significant time out of the office, 2-4 weeks in total minimum. Usually I tried to get critical work wrapped up by the last day of June so I could take July off, guilt free.

    Using your late spring to make a list of things you want to accomplish is a great way to be focused as you approach the “year-end” and new academic year beginning. Many Oregon districts have financial years that end the last day of June, with the next fiscal year starting July 1. We did all we could to push fall purchases for payment until July 1 so we had new monies to spend on new items.

    The OSAA (Oregon Schools Activity Association) has had progressively more influence in the summer months even though the OSAA year ends after Memorial Day each year. We have now adopted a “moratorium week” meant to protect coaches, student athletes and family vacations. The last week of July/first week of August is usually set aside for the moratorium week where no high school facilities can be open for use in any form. Fall tryout dates are set as well by the OSAA as well as first competition dates. There have been restrictions put on certain sports as well as to how much contact can take place in football in the summer and when that can take place. In many ways this has been a way to protect people who have a hard time protecting themselves in terms of time away from their coaching duties, these decisions even out the playing field by allowing everyone to take the same time off therefore taking the advantage argument away from coaches.

    I enjoyed having the freedom to attend some summer events where I was not responsible for setting up or taking down the gym or facility. I would regularly attend varsity summer league contests to watch both the boys and girls basketball teams, take in a couple of 7 v. 7 football scrimmages, stop in on camps briefly and watch the summer baseball program play. These were fun for me because I was not responsible and yet it kept me in touch with my coaching staff and our student athletes. I was not responsible for staying for the entire game and that made it even more fun.

    Some key work for the summer could revolve around the following topics. The key is to plan your time out wisely, take care of yourself and use some of the summer for vision casting and planning for the coming year:

  • State association requirements

  • Facility needs o Basketball floor resurfaced o Watering fields o Deep cleaning facility o Facility Repairs

  • Summer competition viewing

  • Order and check in equipment

  • Budget finalizing and starting over

  • Shore up hiring for any open positions

  • Vision casting and planning

  • Booster Club check in

  • Staff activity either midsummer or preseason

  • While I have described what are some of the normal things you might think about during the summer months, I hope you have heard me loud and clear, that this is a chance for you to rest and rejuvenate and get ready for the next year. Please make sure this is your top summer priority.

    Reflection Questions:

    1. What is your favorite thing about the summer?

    2. What are you doing to rejuvenate and get prepared for the next academic year?

    3. What are your top five summer priorities for the coming summer?

    Editor's note: The New ADvice column is a serialization of some of the chapters of Kevin Bryant's "The Athletic Director Survival Guide". You can obtain more information about the survival guide here.

    Kevin Bryant, CMAA, brings over 20 years of successful athletic administration experience to this task which he describes as his "passion and lifes best work". Bryant's career has encompassed work in both the high school and collegiate athletic environments and the relationships between those two domains is invaluable and insightful as an athletic director meets the growing challenges and opportunities of the job.

    "The job of athletic director in today's challenging environment requires courage, vision, energy and perspective. Our mission is to equip, encourage and challenge every possible interscholastic athletic administrator with the goal of assisting each to be the best they can be." says Bryant.

    You can read more about Bryant here. He can be reached at:

    Thrive Athletic Consulting, LLC
    4715 NW Kahneeta Drive
    Portland OR 97229

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    Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
    Professional Development
    Summer LTI Courses Available Online
    Summer is a great time to enhance your professional training with LTI Online Webinars from the NIAAA.

    NIAAA Online Courses & Webinars

    Webinar Classes

    In an effort to meet the needs of individual who desire to enhance their knowledge of interscholastic athletic administration and cannot attend the national conference or state conference, the NIAAA offers selected courses utilizing the internet through webinars. This offers the opportunity to take Leadership Training courses from the comforts of the office or home and receive the same quality instruction, ability to ask questions and interact with peers as is provided in the classroom setting. The cost for a webinar class is $125 for member and $155 for non-members which includes the course manual and a certificate of completion.

    It would be suggested to use a computer that is connected to the greatest bandwidth (DSL, Cable or T-1 line) which could be at your school if you do not have high-speed at home. Slower speeds take longer to load pictures/power points. Students should also have a sound card, speakers and a microphone (for purposes of asking questions). A chat room is also available so students can ask questions by keystroking questions to the instructor.

    Summer 2016 Schedule

    501 – Tuesdays – July 26 & August 2

    502 – Mondays – July 25 & August 1

    611 – Mondays – July 11 & 18

    626 – Thursdays – July 14 & 21

    630 – Wednesdays – July 13 & 20

    700 – Tuesdays – July 12 & 19

    Registration deadline for 611, 626, 630 and 700 will be June 27, 2016

    Registration deadline for 501 and 502 will be July 11, 2016

    Classes are limited to a maximum of 25 students – no exceptions. Course manuals will be mailed to you prior to the first class.


    Course Times

    The courses will be taught by trained and experienced faculty. Each class will be a 120 minute session, taught on two consecutive Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday evenings. Time for classes, will be 7:30-9:30 p.m., EST./

    For additional information, go to the NIAAA LTI website and click on “2016 Summer Webinars” under the Calendar link on the right side of the page.

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    Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
    Title IX
    Sports Fundraising and Gender Equity: Clearing Up the Confusion
    David Kelley, Ph.D. CAA
    High School Today - April 2016
    The topic of gender equity as it relates to Title IX has been precarious at best primarily due to its misinterpretation. Even though Title IX legislation has existed for 40 years, it is amazing that confusion still exists with respect to gender equity.

    The origin of this misinterpretation may start with an understanding of the words equity and equality. Equity involves fairness and impartiality in which people are treated justly. Equality, on the other hand, involves equal quantities. For example, if you have $500 and you split it evenly so that one person gets $250 and the other gets $250, this is equality. Each person is getting equal amounts of money.

    Title IX legislation, however, does not require male and female fundraising or budgets to match equally dollar for dollar. Rather, it means that the quality of fairness and impartiality must be carried out justly. It is impossible to have equal spending on male and female athletic programs based on the dynamics of the sport as well as the equipment needed to operate. As such, equity is the intent of Title IX as it pertains to sports fundraising and finances.

    The following example may present a clearer illustration. If the boys basketball team gets new uniforms, the girls basketball team should also get new uniforms in order to be equitable. If these new uniforms – both home and away with warm-ups and practice gear – cost $4,000 for the boys and $3,250 for the girls, this still falls within the parameters of being equitable.

    Both teams, however, should receive comparable items in terms of quality. If this occurs, both genders are being treated fairly even though more money was spent on the uniforms for boys. Consequently, if the boys basketball team chooses to purchase uniforms from one of the top manufacturers, then the girls basketball team must be provided uniforms of “comparable quality.”

    When a school accepts money from outside sources such as booster groups, corporate sponsors or even private contributions from alumni, the overall amount of money raised and the source of the funds is not relevant. What is important is if the money from these private sources creates an obvious and flagrant discrepancy and appears that the athletes of one gender are treated unfairly and as inferior, then a Title IX violation is likely.

    If this occurs, the school has the legal duty to correct the possible disparity between the boys and girls athletic programs. This is a tough topic for many to comprehend and it takes sustained education of all stakeholders.

    While it is common for people to want to support individual programs in which they have an interest, educating these individuals about the mission of an athletic program from a holistic perspective is more important. Moreover, individuals interested in supporting a school’s programs need to know that booster monies and donations very definitely fall within the purview of Title IX.

    Therefore, when an athletic director is placed in an awkward position due to the requests from stakeholders of the school’s athletic programs, there are three key tips to help facilitate a reasonable solution.

    1. Advise the stakeholder of the intent of Title IX law and urge the individual to permit the gift to be used in a nondiscriminatory fashion that benefits both genders.

    2. Create a policy where all outside donations are deposited into a unified athletic fund for all teams instead of those funds being given directly to a specific team of one gender.

    3. Accept the gift and negotiate with the stakeholder a plan to publicize a challenge or matching gift to the community at large.

    In the first tip above, the objective is to create a “win-win situation” so that donors not only feel good about supporting the area/team in which they have a specific interest, but also supporting athletics holistically. As such, this requires continuous education. While it could be a difficult to persuade a baseball alumnus that his gift should support both the baseball and softball teams, it is a necessary conversation because of Title IX.

    With regard to a unified athletic fund, there are many resources that clearly indicate that this is a “best practice” in promoting and instituting equity. Therefore, it may take years before a unified athletic fund is fully integrated. However, moving in this direction ultimately reinforces the mission, goals and objectives which, in the long term, benefits everyone involved in athletics.

    A “challenge” gift is one that serves as an unconditional gift (not dependent on the gifts of other supporters) to support a sport organization with a simultaneous challenge for prospective donors to support to the same sport organization. For example, if Michael Millionaire pledges to donate $5,000 for the XYZ High School athletic program, Michael then challenges his friends and colleagues to join him.

    A “matching” gift is fundamentally different because it is a conditional gift (dependent on the gifts of other supporters) either for a specific project or during a specified period of time. In this instance, Michael Millionaire wants his matching gift to encourage others to join him in support of the athletic program during the next 30 days. Michael will match dollar for dollar up to his $5,000 offer/pledge. Therefore, in that 30-day timeframe, gifts can potentially be doubled. If these tips cannot be reasonably accommodated, it’s the legal duty of the school to remedy the disparity from its own funds.

    It is extremely important that all constituents of the athletic program understand and appreciate what gender equity actually means. There are a variety of challenges and issues relative to gender equity in athletics that go beyond fundraising and finances. However, by having a clearer understanding of the differences between equity and equality, hopefully there will be fewer misinterpretations of the law. As a result, there will be support for quality programs for both boys and girls.

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    Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
    Sharing the Truth About High School Sports
    The National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) and National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) have partnered since 2012 to produce a series of radio and print advertisements that promote the mission of high school athletics. The radio advertisements are customized for each state athletic director and activity association to offer a more immediate and common touch.

    The NIAAA/NFHS public service announcement (PSA) program has gained considerable traction since its inception. Each advertisement has been delivered to radio stations throughout the country to be played at their discretion. The radio advertisements have received significant play during the last four years, and the number of advertising dollars associated with those broadcasts has been significant.

    The NIAAA and NFHS have utilized a number of different messages over the course of the production of these PSA’s. Whereas the initial advertisements were geared towards the philosophy behind education-based athletics, more recent messages have been associated with themes such as “why I play”, the role of the parent, “giving back” through officiating, and the meaning of the high school uniform.

    Click here to listen to a 30-second example from one of the 2016 PSA's.

    Click here to listen to a 60-second example from one of the 2016 PSA's.

    The two organizations have also produced print advertisements that highlight the message of interscholastic sports. Some of these ads have been published in recent issues of Interscholastic Athletic Administration (IAA) Magazine and have been made available in poster format. NIAAA members can access copies of these print ads through the association’s Membership Portal and utilize them for game programs or other local uses. Three of the latest print messages concerning the characteristics promoted by education-based athletics are on pages 18, 20, and 21 of this newsletter. If you click your mouse on any of these ads you will receive a pdf format that is downloadable and adaptable to include in your school materials.

    Video presentations are also part of the program. You can access some of the video materials here.

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    Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
    NIAAA News
    The Latest from the National Office
    Can your football program make a difference? On the field or off, there are programs available to help all your student-athletes be the best they can. Check out these and other stories in the latest news from the National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA).

    Make a Difference in Your Football Program with USA Football

    When your school enrolls in USA Football's Heads Up Football High School, it joins 1,100 high schools across the nation that are committed to making student athlete safety their No. 1 priority. The results speak for themselves:

  • 87% Lower rate of concussion

  • 47% lower injury rates across all injuries

  • 41% Lower time-loss injury rate

  • Take the step and get your school enrolled before the 2016 season begins. This program is for middle and high school football programs. Learn more here.

    IDEALS SALT Program Helps HS Students At No Cost to the School

    SALT is a turnkey program provided by the IDEALS Foundation designed to help HS student athletes become positive role models and more effective leaders. There is no cost to the school. Schools in 19 states are using SALT. You can learn more about the program at

    Div III Student-Athletes Display Higher Graduation Rates

    Did you know that 75% of Division III student-athletes receive some form of academic scholarship or need-based grant? Or, are you aware that Division III student-athletes have a 5% higher graduation rate than the overall student body? Division III institutions create an integrated experience for their student-athletes by encouraging participation in the full spectrum of opportunities during college, while also providing a competitive athletics environment. Check out the Division III Facts and Figures to learn more about the division!

    Documentary Provides Strong Message for Parents & Coaches of Athletes

    Sports at all levels have changed over the years and a win-at-all-cost mentality has become a part of some levels of many sports. The Sandlot Journey is a film featuring notables such as George Brett, Ned Yost, Cat Osterman, Bill Hancock and others that deliver a powerful message encouraging parents to cherish every moment. View a brief video segment here. The full video is also available on DVD here.

    Why is the FREE NIAAA High School Sports App So Awesome?

    People are on the move more today than ever before and every minute counts. The NIAAA app provides them with readily available information 24 hours a day, all year round. 91% of Americans own smartphones and is the #1 method used to access information online. The NIAAA app puts you and your school on the cutting edge of mobile communications. You are provided a secure web-based Control Panel to manage your schedules, scores, sporting news, broadcasts, rosters, and more. You can also give coaches, staff, journalism teachers & students, broadcast managers and local sports writers' user accounts to help manage your school content to keep your athletes, students, parents and fans informed.

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    Montana Athletic Administrator Montana Athletic Administrator - July 2016
    Legal Issues
    Sexual Assaults in High Schools and Athletics Programs
    Lee Green, J.D.
    High School Today, October, 2015
    The Legal Issue

    In April of 2014, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) released an updated policy interpretation clarifying the legal responsibilities of colleges, universities and public schools to address sexual violence and other forms of sexual discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The guidelines supplement the groundbreaking policy guidance on the issue of sexual violence issued by the OCR in 2011.

    Although federally-funded colleges are required to report sexual assault statistics under the federal Clery Act, there is no equivalent data collection requirement for K-12 schools. Statistics compiled through research by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reveal that 30 percent of female victims of sexual assault were first attacked between the ages of 11 and 17 and that 20 percent of high school-age girls have experienced dating violence. And the trend in numerous rulings in recent years both by courts and the OCR indicate that such attacks often occur on school grounds or in association with school activities and that high schools and middle schools appear to be failing victims of sexual assault through inadequate investigatory procedures following reports of sexual violence in schools. Currently, there are 33 open OCR Title IX sexual violence investigations pending in school districts across the United States.

    An Illustrative Case

    A recent case, Jane Doe v. Forest Hills School District (Michigan), decided by a federal court in March 2015, illustrates the challenges facing school administrators with regard to sexual violence and the legal standards governing the mandated response by schools when an alleged incident of sexual assault or sexual harassment occurs.

    In November 2010, a sophomore at Forest Hills Central High School, identified in all court documents as Jane Doe because of her status as a minor, was allegedly sexually assaulted by a male classmate, identified in all court documents as MM because of his status as a minor. MM was a star basketball player at the school and he allegedly committed the sexual assault by dragging Doe, who was a star soccer player and a cheerleader for the school, into a soundproof band room where the attack took place. According to the summary of facts set forth in the court case, after pinning Doe to the floor of the band room, MM put his hand down her pants, digitally penetrated her, and then tried to rape her. She was able to escape only because her cell phone rang and distracted him, at which point she forcefully struck his groin, momentarily disabling him and providing an opportunity for her to run away.

    After Jane Doe confided in one of her teachers that she had been sexually assaulted, the teacher immediately notified both a school counselor and the school principal. The principal then contacted the local Sheriff’s Deputy, who served as the school’s law enforcement resource officer, as well as Jane Doe’s parents. During an initial meeting with Jane Doe and her parents, according to the complaint filed with the OCR and the pleadings in the later-filed lawsuit, the principal allegedly discouraged the filing of a police report and advised the family that things would be difficult for Doe at school if they pursued legal action in the matter. The resource officer, who did not attend that initial meeting, met the next day with the principal and the family, at which time Doe was taken to get a “rape kit” performed and a police report was filed concerning the incident.

    The principal, along with the district superintendent and an assistant superintendent who was the district’s federally-mandated Title IX Compliance Officer, handled all aspects of the investigatory process in the days, weeks and months after the initial report of the sexual assault. During the two weeks immediately following the incident, Doe and MM shared a class, a lunch period and other settings where their paths crossed on school property. Doe’s parents requested that the school take steps to remove MM from any settings where he might interact with their daughter, but the school officials offered only to shift Doe’s classes and not MM’s because, allegedly, they didn’t want to inconvenience the alleged perpetrator of the sexual assault. Although school officials told MM to stay away from Doe, he followed her around school, blocked her exit from bathrooms and classrooms, called her ugly and a liar, hissed at her in common areas of the school, keyed her car, and repeatedly pushed other students into her in school hallways. Doe reported the harassment to school officials, who merely told her to ignore MM and try to avoid him. MM was not immediately disciplined in any way.

    Complicating the matter was the fact that Doe became the target of intense in-person bullying and cyberbullying by students who blamed Doe for the potential negative repercussions against the school’s star basketball player and the fear by those students that if MM was eventually suspended, the team’s success on the court might be affected.

    Then, two weeks after the alleged assault against Doe, the principal was notified that MM had sexually assaulted another female student in a car in the school parking lot.

    MM was eventually charged with felony criminal sexual conduct for the attack against Doe and he pleaded guilty to lesser juvenile charges. The school imposed on MM a one-year suspension from the basketball team and five-day suspension from school to be served at the beginning of the following academic year, during which he transferred to another school to play basketball. Doe switched schools at the end of the academic year in which the assault occurred, attended another high school in the district throughout her junior year, and then, after MM transferred, switched back to Forest Hills Central for her senior year. Eleven months after the assault against Doe, the school declared its investigation into the matter closed.

    Doe’s family pursued legal action by first filing a complaint with the OCR alleging that the school district had violated its obligations under Title IX by failing to respond appropriately to a report of sexual assault and then by filing a civil lawsuit against the school district and various school officials.

    The Court’s Ruling

    In the federal court’s written decision, issued on March 31, 2015, the judge refused to grant summary judgment to the school district on the issue regarding the alleged mishandling of the sexual assault investigation, ruling that the Forest Hills School District failed to adequately train staff members regarding the legally mandated investigatory procedures required under Title IX of schools attempting to respond to claims of sexual violence or harassment on campus.

    The judge found that district personnel did not act with intent or malice to avoid fulfilling their legal obligations to Doe, but instead simply did not seem to fully understand the requirements imposed by Title IX on schools in such situations, stating “[h]ere, there is no indication that the school administrators acted with bias or ill-will, but rather their testimony shows that they were acting as they thought was reasonable. Thus, their shortcomings appear to be the result of inadequate training; if they had known about the guidance from the Department of Education on how to thoroughly handle complaints of harassment, there is no indication that the Defendants would not have substantially followed those guidelines.”

    The judge also concluded that based on the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1999 decision in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, a school district will be liable for student-on-student harassment when school officials in a position to take remedial action have knowledge that harassment is occurring and exhibit deliberate indifference to correcting the situation. In cases such as Jane Doe v. Forest Hills School District, “knowledge plus deliberate indifference” is the legal standard governing the extent of liability for the school and its personnel. The written opinion in the case stated that “deliberate indifference” could be inferred from school officials not taking action to protect Doe from having to interact with MM in class and other school settings, from school officials continuing to merely talk to MM when they knew he was repeatedly harassing Doe, from the limited investigation following the initial report of the sexual assault, and from allowing the investigation to drag on for 11 months.

    In a statement that sets forth important recommendations for any school dealing with a report of sexual assault or sexual harassment, the judge in the Forest Hills case ruled that “the school clearly did not comply with the Title IX Guidance in its investigation. The Department of Education suggests a maximum 60-day investigation, opportunities for the parties to present witnesses and evidence, a determination based on a preponderance of the evidence, a written notice of the outcome, the opportunity to appeal the finding, and measures to protect the complainant during the pendency of the investigation, all criteria that Forest Hills School District failed to fulfill.”

    The bottom-line implication of the Forest Hills case is that districts need to develop and implement policies based on all of the detailed requirements set forth in the U.S. Department of Education’s Title IX policy guidance.

    Final Resolution of the Case

    On June 17, 2015, the Forest Hills School District agreed to pay Jane Doe $600,000 to settle the case. Under the resolution agreement, the district agreed to sponsor extensive Title IX training programs both for its Title IX Compliance Officer and for all district personnel regarding the reporting, investigatory and adjudicatory procedures mandated by Title IX in situations involving sexual assault, sexual violence and sexual harassment.
    Lee Green is an attorney and a professor at Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, where he teachers courses in sports law, business law and constitution law. His is a member of the High School Today publications committee. He may be contacted at Lee.Green@BakerU.Edu

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