Santa Clara Unified School District (SCUSD) is planning the launch of its Step Up and Stop Harassment Task Force — a group of adults and students working together to fight the issue of sexual misconduct in the school community.
According to its application, “The task force will identify areas of improvement in harassment reporting and investigation, as well as find ways to combat a culture of silence around these issues.”
SCUSD Superintendent Dr. Stanley Rose says that he hopes the committee will be empowering people, along with spreading information on how to properly make reports and follow up on harassment investigations. Additionally, he would like to let people know what is and that it isn’t okay.
“I want the task force to help inform us a little bit,” Rose said. “It’s about creating a culture.”
According to Rose, the district’s administration had been working on the task force over the course of last year. He says that current politics and movements such as #MeToo influenced the creation of the group.
While the district has always had policies regarding anti-harassment, Rose says that the new task force will be more about enforcing and spreading awareness of what is already in place.
“Short term, I hope it sheds lights on the policies that we have and helps us create vehicles to better use those policies,” Rose said. “Long term, I hope it helps us achieve a broad awareness of how to treat each other.”
The task force will be comprised of four high school students and a wide array of adults, including administrators such as Rose and Assistant Superintendent Andrew Lucia.
Both Lucia and Rose say that diversity will be kept in mind as much as possible while deciding on personnel in order to get a fair and accurate representation of the community.
“We have such a diverse community here,” Rose said. “We have something like 50 languages that are spoken in this district. There’s so many different cultures.”
While the task force’s initial mission is to deal with sexual harassment, Rose says that he would be open to expanding the conversation to include other student issues.
Lucia says that he views the task force as a part of building a foundation; not only will SCUSD be adding more trainings, but also focus groups and a Title IX coordinator.
“It’s not a one-and-done,” Lucia said. “We want to expand on this.”
More information about the task force can be found on the district’s website, along with the application that is due by Aug. 30.
Vincent Nguyen is a 16-year-old junior at Santa Clara High School and contributed this article to the Santa Clara Weekly.