Letter: SSSD task force offers culture, climate update
Last year, a Culture and Climate Task Force was formed by the Steamboat Springs School District after an investigation into the handling of allegations of sexual assault and misconduct at the high school. This is a progress update.
Due to pandemic restrictions, advancement was slower than desired but progressed nonetheless. We know that an update to the community is long overdue, and we commit to more frequent updates.
To those that feel not enough has been done (especially the students that were directly affected by the issues reported to the BOE in December 2019), your voices matter. We hear you, your input has been critical to this process, and you have had an impact. We are sorry for your pain and your experience, and we will solicit direct student input on a regular basis to improve and focus the impact of our efforts.
Over the past year, the task force met routinely. We researched, debated, listened to professionals and built trust. We then conducted in-person focus groups with more than 100 students to refine and adjust our perspective before presenting to the district administration staff. Our suggestions were well received.
We will next present to the Board of Education in August. Here is a general overview of our task force suggestions:
• Adjustments to the culture and climate must start in kindergarten, continue to grade 12 and be districtwide.
• Processes are needed for the district to assess and then annually review the specific issues each school faces.
• Changes to district policy are necessary to remove barriers that inhibit student reporting of sexual assault and misconduct.
• Empowering students through a peer-lead program will improve culture and climate.
• Proposal of a new high school class focused on discussion, education and tools for dealing with difficult issues and social interactions.
Fortunately, the district was able to make several changes in the past year, which the task force monitored and contributed to. A few of the district changes are highlighted here.
• Hired a new principal at the high school with an expressed desire to improve culture and climate.
• Revised district policies on reporting of sexual assault and misconduct aligning with new federal requirements.
• Added a district coordinator for reporting, review and processing of all sexual harassment allegations.
• Provided additional teacher and staff training, at every school, on the proper handling of reporting.
We look forward to providing more updates.
Shelby DeWolfe, Katherine Brunk, Jammie Sabin, Meghan Hanson-Peters, Lisel Petis, Otto Kucera, Lauran Burns, Kelly Mangus, Daisy Wilson, Jay Hamric
Steamboat Springs School District Culture and Climate Task Force
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