MVLA paid $80k to settle student's rape case claim

High school student said she was raped at off-campus party, alleges district should have done more to keep assailant away from her

The Mountain View-Los Altos High School District paid a $80,000 settlement to the family of a former student who claimed the district failed to properly respond when she was allegedly raped off-campus.

The settlement, made in March, comes nearly three years after the victim, a female student who attended the district's Middle College alternative school program, said she was sexually assaulted by a Los Altos High School student at a party in San Jose. She told the San Francisco Chronicle in a lengthy investigative report last year that the rape occurred at a drug- and alcohol-fueled party hosted by a student's father in multiple hotel suites.

The victim filed the claim seeking $2 million from the district, according to Superintendent Jeff Harding.

The victim filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in June 2016 following the incident, claiming that the district failed to take a proactive approach in informing her family of its rights under Title IX, did not investigate the alleged rape and did not provide accommodations that should have been afforded to her under the civil rights law.

Despite the $80,000 payout, Harding maintains that the district did not misstep in handling the case. District officials say they did not receive requests for accommodations until graduation, when the family asked that the alleged perpetrator be prohibited from attending the graduation ceremony, and were in close communication with the family after being notified of the alleged rape.

The district's legal counsel also concluded that no investigation was needed, given that the reported sexual assault occurred at an off-campus weekend party in San Jose and that there was no "nexus" between the two students, who attended different schools. Harding told the Voice in Feb. 2017 that the district had no legal authority to discipline the alleged perpetrator, given the circumstances.

The decision to pay the $80,000 settlement on March 30 was based on recommendations by the district's insurance company, Harding said, and is not an admission of wrongdoing.

"We thought we handled this situation appropriately and felt that, given the circumstances, this was the best decision in the interest of the school district," he said.

The Office for Civil Rights is responsible for ensuring school districts follow federal civil rights laws, including Title IX, which protects students from gender discrimination at school. The law specifically calls on districts to provide safeguards for student victims of sexual harassment and sexual assault, including providing accommodations to prevent victims from encountering their assailants while on campus.

The OCR requested information on the district's response to the alleged off-campus rape shortly after the former student filed a complaint with the federal agency in 2016, but there has been no follow-up, Harding said.

"They requested facts and we have not heard from them since," he said.

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47 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2018 at 2:26 pm

Were criminal charges filed against the student's father? Certainly this is child endangerment. Name the father and the rapist.
This seems like a misuse of public funds to pay this claim.

11 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of North Bayshore
on Jun 11, 2018 at 2:55 pm

@Robyn. The father's name appears in the SF Chronicle article linked within the article.

10 people like this
Posted by RoxieK
a resident of Slater
on Jun 11, 2018 at 3:13 pm

Our tax dollars at work. What a crock ....

17 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 11, 2018 at 4:33 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Raped off campus by a student and not an MVLA employee??? That's not the responsibility of the School District. That's the responsibility of the police and the student!!! The moral responsibility belongs with her father, who hosted the stinking party. This whole thing is just politically correct feel-good legal ckkkrapp. Tort law in the USA needs to be revised to the British System of tort law. No fishing for deep money pockets, just sue the bad actors --- the rapist and her parents.

4 people like this
Posted by Addison F
a resident of another community
on Jun 11, 2018 at 7:37 pm

Addison F is a registered user.

The victim's father did not host the party - it was the father of another LAHS student. The wellbeing of a sexual assault victim who also happens to be under the partial protection of our (very well-off) school district is not "feel-good legal ckkkrapp." It is important to do what we can, especially as a school community, to support people who experience these traumatic events.

7 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jun 11, 2018 at 8:49 pm

Gary is a registered user.

I read the story to report that the father of the alleged student rapist arramged the party in San Jose hotel rooms. He was probably guilty of at least contributing to the delinquency of his son and other then-minors. But the matter was not reported to the police for too long. The statute of limitations for misdemeanors in CA is one year (suspended or "tolled" for any time the perpetrator is out-of-state). Still, if I were a San Jose police detective, I would look into that father even now to see what else he has done.

2 people like this
Posted by Rossta
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jun 12, 2018 at 3:47 pm

Rossta is a registered user.

@ Addison F "(very well off) school district" ?
We just voted to tax ourselves so they would have the money to accommodate repairs and expansion of facilities to house all the students. Paying off the bad deeds of other people doesn't fall under the school district's responsibility when it is outside school hours and off campus.
Maybe you should start a Go Fund Me and chip in as you are equally responsible.

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