Chelsea Yogerst begins work as Title IX coordinator for Berkeley Unified School District

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Chelsea Yogerst started in September as the Title IX coordinator and compliance officer for the Berkeley Unified School District, or BUSD, succeeding Dana Clark.

Yogerst graduated from Tufts University in 2014 and then worked as an investigator for the Civilian Complaint Review Board in New York City. Most recently, she worked as a confidential investigator for the Office of Special Investigations at the New York City Department of Education.

“The Title IX coordinator is supposed to ensure that no students feel unwelcome on campus because of unwanted sexual conduct,” said Eva Boas, editor in chief of the Berkeley High Jacket —  the newspaper for Berkeley High School, or BHS — in an email. “(Sexual misconduct) has been an issue in BUSD schools forever and continues to be today.”

BUSD spokesperson Charles Burress said in an email that through Yogerst’s work as an investigator, Yogerst gained experience dealing with confidential and emotionally charged situations in high-pressure environments. He added that the district chose her for the position because it believes that her qualifications make her an “excellent match.”

According to Burress, BUSD aims to “do everything we can” to prevent harmful behavior and discrimination — including sexism, racism, ableism and transphobia — targeted toward students or employees within BUSD programs.

“Our goals include fair and comprehensive responses to violations of our anti-discrimination policies and related complaints,” Burress said in an email. “By extension, our goals also include effective operation of multiple programs and activities aimed at prevention, response and resolution.”

These programs and activities, according to Burress, include counseling, the Green Dot training program, restorative justice, education materials and protocols for addressing Title IX complaints at multiple levels in BUSD.

Burress added that Yogerst’s position in BUSD is essential to managing the district’s efforts to achieve its goals. As the Title IX coordinator and complaint officer, she is responsible for the oversight of the complaint process and the district’s compliance with anti-discrimination laws and regulations.

In 2015, the federal government’s Office for Civil Rights opened an investigation in response to complaints from BHS students, which alleged that BUSD committed a federal offense under Title IX by responding inadequately to sexual assault and harassment cases.

BHS has since updated its sexual harassment prevention policy — most recently, in February 2018, BHS introduced plans to initiate sexual harassment prevention lessons for students.

“In recent years, there has been backlash from students in regards to the way the district treats sexual harassment and assault cases and it seems like they have been trying to address those issues,” Boas said in an email. “But there is still a lot of change needed in the structure of how the district handles harassment cases.”

Contact Mariam Zagub at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MZagub.