Berkeley High School introduces new sexual harassment prevention plans, again

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Amanda Ramirez/Staff

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Berkeley High School, or BHS, is planning to initiate sexual harassment and prevention lessons for students in 10th, 11th and 12th grades in spring 2018.

According to Heidi Goldstein, a member of Berkeley Unified School District Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee and adult advisor to BHS Stop Harassing, harassment occurs primarily in high schools and online. Students have previously complained about the district’s handling of Title IX investigations.

Goldstein explained the need for a program that differentiates between types of students rather than a “one-size-fits-all” solution.

“Differentiated instruction (is) really important (because) a 10th-grader’s experience is different from a 12th-grader’s experience,” Goldstein said.

The new lessons will be implemented this spring, and they will be additions to the school’s efforts in providing better sex education and a safer environment.

The school will collaborate with Robin Mills, a UC Berkeley health educator with University Health Services to better educate and empower students to take proactive steps in improving the school environment. For the new program, Mills will visit students during their English classes and speak to them about sexual harassment, healthy relationships, consent and online harassment.

The school district policy regarding sexual harassment was last updated in 2015 to address how the district handles sexual assault complaints and issues disciplinary action, including giving sexual harassment prevention training to school staff.

In March 2017, Dana Clark, BHS’s Title IX coordinator and compliance officer, was appointed to report related incidents.

“The High School has been implementing Green Dot-type training for students and teachers on how to respond in situations of harassment and on how to be an upstander,” said BUSD spokesperson Charles Burress in an email. “We are also addressing cyber safety. …  And we are working to make our focus on cyber safety more robust.”

The Sexual Harassment Advisory Committee holds monthly meetings at BHS, Burress said, where they discuss issues of concern, conduct trainings and raise awareness.

Contact Andreana Chou at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @AndreanaChou.