The superintendent of the City Schools of Decatur, a district of metropolitan Atlanta, secretly instituted a gender identity policy in 2016 allowing students of both sexes to enter any bathroom they chose. In November 2017, a kindergarten girl was allegedly sexually assaulted in her Decatur school bathroom by a boy who was allowed to be there because of that policy.
After reporting the assault to district officials but getting little response, the girl’s mother, Pascha Thomas, filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR’s recently released findings illustrate the dangers and deception inherent in maintaining trans-promoting school policies that defy scientific reality and common sense.
On June 19, 2020, OCR concluded that the Decatur school district had violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by failing to investigate and respond appropriately to Thomas’ sexual assault complaint. OCR’s findings reveal school officials were so deeply invested in transgender ideology, they failed to investigate the assault, tried to sweep the problem under the rug, and actively misled local parents about what had happened and what it meant for their children’s safety.
Under Title IX, a school district must investigate all claims of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and assault, in its schools. This duty is non-delegable. In other words, the district can’t push it off on some other entity and wash its hands of the matter. But, as OCR found, this is exactly what the district had done.
A Flimsy Investigation
Rather than investigate the complaint, the district notified the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and the police via the school resource officer. But DFCS’s legal mandate is to investigate child abuse and neglect in the context of caregivers, not schools.
So DFCS limited its inquiry to investigating and dismissing the school’s allegations that the victim’s mother provided inadequate supervision — a shameful attempt by educrats to deflect attention from the school assault. The police also immediately declined to pursue an assault case because of the ages of the children involved.
This was the extent of the investigation the victim received. As OCR found, “The District then took no further steps to determine what occurred” and “failed to ascertain anything about DFCS’s findings concerning the alleged incident.” Nor did it even notify Thomas about the outcome of these supposed investigations: “Apart from a general public announcement [denying it happened] … the District has never communicated to the parties the outcome of any investigation” into the incident.
The district contented itself with transferring the alleged victim, not the perpetrator, from the classroom and then to a different school and declaring the problem resolved. Maybe district officials gambled that they could simply ignore the complaint, that an African-American single mom of limited means, faced with the cold intimidation of educrats with big titles and big offices, would just go away. The goal of preserving the politically correct but reckless policy was apparently worth the risk.
And what about that policy? From the beginning of this drama, the district has insisted the policy was irrelevant, that the boy was never in the girls’ bathroom. But as OCR found, even his parents told school officials he may have been there because he used the girls’ bathroom in the past, with no objection by the officials. Indeed, his parents claimed he had been harassed in both the girls’ and boys’ bathrooms but that school officials had ignored his complaints as well.
All of this suggests a Wild West approach to district schools’ allegedly private facilities that OCR found troubling:
[D]ue to the Policy, students are given leeway to select bathrooms of their choice, and there is evidence from [the boy’s] father that [the boy] was using the girls’ bathroom, albeit for reasons unrelated to the Policy. The District’s approach allows children of different biological sexes to mix in the bathrooms, an area where students may engage in misconduct out of sight of adult supervision.
In light of this danger, OCR slammed the district’s indifferent response to multiple complaints about abuse in the school bathrooms:
Given the serious nature of the reports of harassment reportedly occurring in school bathrooms, one might have anticipated the District would be extra vigilant in providing a proper response under Title IX. Instead, OCR found no evidence that the District assessed the existence of sexual harassment despite the incident reflected in the Report, the concerns of parents expressed in the aftermath of the Report, and the allegations that [the boy] had been harassed in the boys’ bathroom.
Roots of Deceit
Perhaps as troubling as the district’s non-response to the sexual assault complaints of Thomas and others was its actively misleading communications with other alarmed parents and the entire school community.
The district’s problematic bathroom policy was grounded in deception from the beginning. The superintendent conceived and implemented the policy in the dark, with no formal notice to parents and no public discussion or vote by the local school board. OCR found that when the alleged kindergarten assault occurred and parents demanded answers about their children’s safety, the district continued to mislead.
One parent was told “the rumors regarding an assault were not true.” Another parent, who was so concerned she checked her daughter out of school, was told “the ‘event’ had been investigated and ‘found to not have taken place.’” But as OCR concluded, no one — especially no school official — had even investigated the incident, much less determined it had never taken place.
The school principal’s public statement to the school community continued the mendacity. “Although an incident was alleged,” the principal wrote, “a thorough investigation involving [school] administrators, central office staff, law enforcement, and social service agencies led us to confidently determine that the allegation was unfounded.” This statement was flatly untrue.
Reacting to the OCR findings, the district still clings to its dangerous bathroom policy by saying OCR failed to substantiate the claims of the young victim. OCR never said this, however. Instead, OCR cited conflicts in determining the precise date of the incident, which it could not resolve given that the assailant’s parents could not be contacted and the incident was never investigated at the time it happened.
OCR was sufficiently persuaded of the mess in district schools, however, and mandated the district thoroughly investigate and document all “alleged incidents of sexual harassment of students in School bathrooms, including any allegations of harassment associated with the Policy” during the two-year period including and following the incident.
See You in Court
OCR’s finding of a Title IX violation will bolster Thomas’ federal lawsuit, the first suit in the nation seeking to hold a school district accountable for demonstrable harm inflicted on a girl because a biological boy was allowed into her private space. The parents of City Schools of Decatur students warned this kind of thing would happen, and now it has.
Policies founded in untruth cannot be maintained in an open and honest environment. They must be cloaked in deception to prevent backlash from parents who don’t want their children sacrificed to political correctness. Thomas has been lied to enough, and now she’s fighting for her daughter in court. School officials everywhere, take note.