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Harassment policy goes beyond school grounds

The Red Wing School Board got its first look at proposed changes to the district's policy on harassment and violence at a quarterly workshop Monday afternoon.

As part of a complaint filed against the district with the Office of Civil Rights in 2009, the district agreed to make several changes, including updating its policy on harassment.

The proposal includes language that explicitly states that the policy applies to "off-campus conduct that foreseeably will cause or does cause disruption" of the district's activities.

"If you have a sporting event, and something happens (off-campus) and it's part of a school sponsored event, that's your responsibility," said Craig Morris, who works for the University of Wisconsin System and is helping the district review its policy.

"You have that same responsibility today, you just don't have it embedded in your language today," he continued. "What OCR is suggesting is that you have language for that."

The district had until April 5 to send the proposed policy to the OCR for review. Supt. Karsten Anderson said he sent it last week. The OCR will now read through the policy and may propose changes.

The 2009 OCR complaint was filed on behalf of former student Quera Pruitt, who also filed a federal lawsuit against the district alleging racial discrimination during homecoming week. That lawsuit was settled out of court in July 2012.

Updating the harassment policy is one of the district's last requirements set in place by the OCR. Morris suggested that district officials stress to the OCR that they would like feedback as soon as possible.

"I think we want to make sure OCR knows that this is a high priority case. (We want to) bring closure to the case," he said.

The board also looked at policies related to wellness and promotion, retention and program design.

All policies will be read again at the April 15 board meeting and approved thereafter.

Sarah Gorvin
Sarah Gorvin has been with the Republican Eagle for two years and covers education, business and crime and courts. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in 2010 with a  journalism degree.