April 30, 2019 - Update to Community High Parents
Community High School
Tuesday, April 30th, 2019
Thank you for attending today – I will begin by sharing remarks, initial clarification statements first and then review the additional supports we will ensure are in place for students. Secondly, we will hear from our AAPD Officers who have information to share. The AAPD will be followed by Jonathan Stern, AAPS Social worker, who will share thoughts for parents as they consider how best to interact with their students around these topics at this time. I want to thank our partners from SafeHouse who have joined us today to offer support.
We will hopefully wrap up in time for a few questions, and we have excellent AAPS counselors on hand who will be available following this meeting if anyone feels any need to connect with them.
To be clear, I have carefully reviewed the allegations included in the complaint made by a parent to the Office for Civil Rights of which we became aware last week. While I cannot comment on individual cases, I wanted to expand on my public remarks from last Friday.
At the outset, I want to note that there are a number of material factual inaccuracies contained in the proposed complaint. In the event that OCR chooses to investigate this matter, we will correct the record.
To the extent that there is factually correct information in the proposed complaint, nothing it contained alerted us to situations that we were not already aware of. Rather, in each situation that the complaint describes, the District took the following steps:
- Filed what is known as a DHS-3200 report with Child Protective Services. We are mandated to file such a report under state law and have done so in every instance.
- Fully cooperated with the Ann Arbor Police Department in the course of all investigations.
- Provided copies of our Title IX Grievance Procedures to parents which afforded them an opportunity to file a complaint if they so chose to do so.
- When a complaint was filed, we fully investigated pursuant to our Grievance Procedures and where required by our procedures we generated a written investigation report.
It is important for us all to recognize that all students, including potential victims and alleged perpetrators, have rights to due process and to privacy. Moreover, in the case of potential victims, they have the right to decline to participate in an investigation or to file a formal complaint if they so choose. As a District, we respect those wishes as well. In such cases we nonetheless work to put into place measures to protect the safety of the students involved.
No administrator suppressed or discouraged any report of an incident described in the complaint. I know this because I have confirmed that all of the situations included in the complaint were reported to our staff and investigated pursuant to our AAPS procedures.
As I shared on Friday, I am confident that the District is in compliance with Title IX procedures both with regard to individual cases and with regard to the systems in place to protect our students.
Supports in Place for Students and Staff, Parents and Community
AAPS Hotline for Complaints of Sexual Harassment or Sexual Violence
If any student, parent, staff member or community member feels that any concern or report has not been properly shared, heard, processed or addressed, we are opening today the AAPS Hotline for Complaints of Sexual Harassment or Sexual Violence at 734-545-2321, which will be hosted by Dr. Eaddy-Richardson, a highly competent, long-serving, and respected counselor and advocate in the Ann Arbor community. In this way, we will be sure that all have access to a professional who will listen in confidence and support with concerns that may need to be heard. This hotline is a safe place where individuals can reach out for support beyond the school.
Additional Counseling Support
We will continue to have additional counselors in the school today and for as long as may be needed. I want to encourage any students who feel any need or distress to please reach out, as members of our AAPS team are here to support you today and every day.
We have distributed a list of resources for our students and parents to reference in order to ensure that all are connected to help that is available at school and in the community. If you feel a need for help, please make someone aware today. These references will be posted to our AAPS website.
I will be meeting with the CHS teaching, leading and support staff later today to communicate my support for their work in service to our students; I have never known of any more caring, competent and supportive staff, and the CHS team has my full backing as they continue to work in support of our amazing students every day.
While there may be media coverage, and while individuals may want to share information they have heard, all are encouraged to be responsible with how they communicate information related to this situation. It is important to remember that our students and their needs come first; we have students all along the continuum of involvement and need in this situation, and our top priority is supporting our students and keeping them safe. The focus of our engagement with students will remain on the important priorities of supporting those who may have specific needs, and, importantly, ensuring that as much as possible, teaching and learning and a quality educational experience continue for all our students.
Finally, if there should be any additional instances that emerge from any additional reporting at Community or at any AAPS school, according to our procedures, those issues will receive the same full process listed above: a report to Child Protective Services, contact with the AAPD and support of a police investigation, the provision of Title IX grievance information to parents, and a full and substantive school investigation. This is our commitment to ensure student safety in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. Though it is not true in these situations that were recently shared publicly, if information should be confirmed that members of the AAPS team failed to take these definitive steps in a reported situation, that matter will be addressed and corrected straight away.
I want to ensure the Community High School family that student safety remains our top priority in the Ann Arbor Public Schools, we are here to support our students and staff, parents and community as we move forward, and we will remain in communication as may be needed.
Jeanice K. Swift