LOS ANGELES (Dec. 12, 2017) – The Los Angeles Unified Board of Education voted to approve Board Vice President Nick Melvoin’s resolution to incorporate best practices into its sexual harassment policies for all employees in the second-largest school district, which is also the second-largest employer in Los Angeles County.
The past weeks have exposed a pervasive culture of work-related sexual harassment, assault, and inappropriate behavior across several industries, which was the impetus for Melvoin’s resolution to call on L.A. Unified to immediately set up a hotline for reporting, conduct a comprehensive review of current policies, and implement a centralized tracking system for complaints from school sites and central offices.
“Sexual harassment has no place in L.A. Unified,” said Melvoin, who began his career as an L.A. Unified teacher in Watts. “Every one of our employees should have the utmost confidence that a harassment claim will be thoroughly investigated and addressed so that our schools are safe spaces—not only for kids, but for our teachers and employees as well.”
School Board President Mónica García co-sponsored the resolution, affirming the Board’s dedication to a culture of respect and accountability for all employees.
“L.A. Unified can learn, too. We can and must continue to exercise respect for all,” García said. “We must build a culture of learning and excellence that requires all individuals to be part of the solution.”
Following the passage, the Superintendent’s office will begin to research and review District policies, with the help of internal and external experts and advocates, and present any necessary policy updates to the Board within 120 days.
“I applaud the resolution for calling on the District to examine policies to ensure we do everything possible to create a culture of respect where students and employees alike feel safe,” said Board Member Dr. Ref Rodriguez. “This resolution is a long-overdue step in the right direction.”
“I am heartened that perpetrators of sexual abuse are facing consequences, including elected officials in my district of the San Fernando Valley,” said Board Member Kelly Gonez, who also co-sponsored the resolution. “It is important to hold our institution to the same standard. The Board today took action to put comprehensive procedures in place to ensure all our employees are protected from sexual harassment and abuse.”
The report should also include the number of complaints reported in the past five years school- and district-wide; timelines for victims to report their claims and investigators to investigate; and guidelines, tools, and resources for best practices in harassment prevention, investigation, treatment of victims, tracking of harassment claims, and anti-retaliation protections for victims and whistleblowers.
“Mutual respect among our employees is essential to the success of this District,” said Acting Superintendent Vivian Ekchian. “This resolution underscores our commitment to ensuring that our work spaces are safe and free from any type of harassment.”
Many government bodies, agencies, and other organizations have also recently taken a meaningful look at their policies regarding workplace harassment and misconduct.
Maryam Zar, Commissioner of the Los Angeles City’s Commission on the Status of Women, spoke in support of this Resolution.
“We have seen many empowered women sharing their experiences recently, and by creating a hotline and centrally tracking complaints, we are able to make sure their voices are heard so they feel supported,” said Zar, who is also a parent of three L.A. Unified students.
A reporting hotline for employees, which should be implemented by January 2, 2018, is recommended by multiple experts as the most effective method for prevention, victim support, and accountability.
Melodie Kruspodin, the Prevention and Policy Manager of Peace over Violence, also expressed the pervasiveness and detriment of sexual harassment in our society.
“Ninety percent of women in California have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetime,” said Kruspodin. “We all need to look inward to codify the values that we wish to model for students in L.A. Unified.”
Nick Melvoin is proud to serve the dynamic communities of District 4 as the Vice President of the L.A. Unified Board of Education. Nick’s election to the Board in May of 2017 follows a career fighting for our city’s schoolchildren. He believes that together, with the right leadership, we can ensure that every student in Los Angeles has the opportunity to succeed. Los Angeles Unified Board District 4 includes the communities of Brentwood, Del Rey, East Hollywood, Encino, Hollywood, Mar Vista, Marina Del Rey, Pacific Palisades, Playa Del Rey, Playa Vista, Tarzana, Topanga, Westchester, West Hollywood, Westwood, Woodland Hills & Venice.
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