A Wisconsin-based law firm filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education on Thursday requesting an investigation into a Wisconsin school district’s alleged failure to address an incident at a local high school, where a transgender-identifying male showered naked in front of four female students.
As The Federalist previously reported, the purported incident occurred on March 3 at Sun Prairie East High School (EHS), when an 18-year-old male student, who claims to be a woman, allegedly showered unclothed in the girl’s school locker room in the presence of four female, freshmen students.
Following an allegedly lackluster response in addressing the incident from school and district officials, the Wisconsin Institute of Law and Liberty (WILL), a state-based law firm, sent a letter to the Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) on April 19 requesting any and all communications related to the matter. On May 10, the district’s special counsel informed WILL it would cost more than $11,000 to fulfill such a request.
In its complaint filed today with the Education Department, WILL documents numerous purported incidents showing how school and district officials failed to properly address the situation and abide by existing Title IX guidelines. In the case of EHS Associate Principal Heidi Walter, WILL alleges that Walter failed to inform the school’s Title IX coordinator about the disturbance after it was reported to the student services center by one of the victims’ associates.
“A few days later when the four girls gave the student permission to provide their names [to] student services, the assistant principal told the student that the girls can instead approach her if they wanted,” the complaint reads. “She admitted during a meeting with parents later on that she should have ‘dug deeper’ at that time.”
WILL’s April 19 letter to SPASD details communications between the mother of one of the female victims and EHS Principal Renee Coleman, who called to apologize about the matter but also reportedly claimed that SPASD policies “address this situation and that she would have to speak with District staff who knew the details.” According to WILL, however, no official district “policy” was identified, and “no Title IX rights were mentioned.”
An in-person meeting regarding the March 3 locker room incident, WILL alleges, didn’t take place until April 5.
In its complaint to the Education Department, WILL further claims no one at SPASD contacted the girls “to offer supportive measures or an opportunity to file a formal complaint of sexual harassment until after WILL became involved.” The law firm also asserts that when its clients kept seeking answers from the school district, “they received a response from the Title IX coordinator … who said that SPASD ‘does not condone any student of one sex being present in a state of undress in the presence of students of another sex, or a student of one sex showering in the presence of students of another sex.'”
Such an assertion, however, is inconsistent with a separate statement issued by the same coordinator, who reportedly said “transgender students will not be forced to continue using locker rooms corresponding to their sex at birth.”
The district’s Title IX coordinator allegedly went on to claim SPASD “interviewed students and reached conclusions as to what occurred,” despite failing to interview one of the purported victims. SPASD later claimed this was because “the investigation had already established the facts of what occurred” by the time it discovered the girl was involved.
“Sexual harassment under Title IX includes ‘unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access’ to an education program or activity,” the complaint notes. “Without interviewing our client’s daughter, as required by the regulations implementing Title IX, the district could not know whether she was effectively denied equal access to educational programs or activities.”
WILL has asked the Education Department to investigate the disturbance “swiftly” and remedy any potential violations of Title IX, according to the filed complaint.