Barriers to Reporting Sexual Harassment at Palo Alto High School


by : 
Alexa A.


In March of 2017, Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) received a Letter of Findings from the Department of Education detailing their violations of Title IX (a law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex), including failure to provide “a prompt and equitable response to notice of peer sexual harassment” (ED, 2017). A survey was administered to high school students in the spring of 2017, 2018, and 2019 as part of a resolution agreement with the Office of Civil Rights (OCR). In 2019, 15.8% of students reported they “experienced sexual harassment in a school setting during the previous 12 months” (Kolar & Kuhbach, 2019). While the survey-reported rate of harassment increased from 10.5% in 2017 to 15.8% in 2019, the rate of reporting incidents to school officials has decreased, from 12.1% in 2017 to 7.8% in 2019. How might the Palo Alto High School improve their Title IX reporting process and address discrepancies in reporting?

Personal Statement

After an interview my sophomore year with Captain Perron of the Palo Alto Police Department regarding the reporting process for victims of sexual harassment/assault, I became fascinated with perceptions of the reporting process. Through my research, I hope to identify the barriers to reporting and address discrepancies.