Wild Parties, Rape, And The High School’s Troubling Response

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A series of high school parties hosted by a parent culminated last year with accusations of rape, child abuse and battery, upending several students’ lives and prompting a federal civil rights investigation into one of California’s wealthiest school districts.

The U.S. Department of Education’s investigation centers on whether the Mountain View-Los Altos High School District failed to adequately respond to allegations that a 17-year-old student had been sexually assaulted by another student at one of the parties in September 2015 — a chaotic scene that included underage drinking, psychotropic drugs and strippers.

 The former student, now 19 and attending college, has alleged that district officials did not protect her from chance encounters with the student she said raped her, leaving her in fear throughout the school year. District officials in Mountain View-Los Altos, which serves 4,200 teenagers from the two Silicon Valley cities, say they have met all their legal obligations in responding to the incident.

The federal investigation will determine whether the district violated Title IX, the nation’s bedrock law guaranteeing an education free from gender and race discrimination. Under the 1972 statute, schools are required to independently investigate complaints of sexual violence and consider campus safeguards for students who report being assaulted. Violations can result in monitoring and, at worst, loss of federal funding.

The Mountain View-Los Altos inquiry is one of 130 investigations being conducted by the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights at K-12 districts across the country following complaints of sexual violence.

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