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FCPS passes sexual misconduct resolution

Braddock+District+Represntative+Megan+McLaughlin+speaks+at+the+FCPS+Board+meeting+about+sexual+misconduct+and+the+new+policy+being+implemented.
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FCPS passes sexual misconduct resolution

Braddock District Represntative Megan McLaughlin speaks at the FCPS Board meeting about sexual misconduct and the new policy being implemented.

Braddock District Represntative Megan McLaughlin speaks at the FCPS Board meeting about sexual misconduct and the new policy being implemented.

Courtesy of FCPS School Board

Braddock District Represntative Megan McLaughlin speaks at the FCPS Board meeting about sexual misconduct and the new policy being implemented.

Courtesy of FCPS School Board

Courtesy of FCPS School Board

Braddock District Represntative Megan McLaughlin speaks at the FCPS Board meeting about sexual misconduct and the new policy being implemented.

Shafuq Naseem, Oracle Editor

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Sexual harassment is a widespread concern that affects high school students across the country. Fairfax County is, unfortunately, not exempt from this issue. According to the 2017-2018 Youth Survey, 20.8% of females and 7.3% of males have experienced sexual harassment in Fairfax County Public Schools. As a result of these numbers and cases of misconduct across the county, the Fairfax County School Board has passed a resolution in order to spark discussion and recognition of this concern as well as that condemning such behavior throughout FCPS.
“I am hopeful that there will be far more emphasis placed on these issues in the classroom for students and in professional development for staff,” said FCPS School Board member-at-large Ryan McElveen.
McElveen introduced this resolution at the school board meeting in September and was seconded by Lee District Representative Tamara Derenak Kaufax. The meeting began with McElveen and Kaufax presenting their statements on the issue, and additional statements were presented by the rest of the school board. When the time came to vote, all members voted for this resolution, except for Springfield District Representative Elizabeth Schultz, who voted to abstain.

Following the vote, there was a portion of the meeting dedicated to citizen representation where FCPS residents gave the school board their input. This resolution caused a disagreement between certain members in the audience and the board as there were citizens who believed that the board must, instead of proposing a resolution, act on individual cases of misconduct and enforce policies that focus more on holding individuals accountable. Some believe that this resolution was unnecessary, and instead of talking, the board must take action.

“It hasn’t actually accomplished what we need to accomplish,” said Schultz.

Taking action is a responsibility that the board recognizes, and they have made it clear that they will take the measures necessary to prevent any inappropriate behavior.

“We need to inform perpetrators of sexual misconduct that their behavior will not be tolerated. And to our victims and survivors of sexual misconduct, you need to know that as policy makers and as a system we will listen to you and you should not fear coming forward. We are committed to do our part to make sexual misconduct stop,” said Kaufax.

When faced with this concern, it’s important for students to know that at WS there are many resources available for them in a time of need. This includes school counselors, the school social worker, Anne Marie Colligan (whose office is located near the Student Services wing), and Wendy Segar, the school psychologist. Students should also think about notifying the administration so proper actions against the perpetrator can take place.

Not only are there resources for affected students at WS, but there are some outside the FCPS system as well.
“The Office for Women actually has a specific program–there is an opportunity for kids [who have experienced sexual or domestic abuse] to be able to receive up to twelve counseling sessions for free with somebody who specializes in treating students who have been victimized. If it happens to be a situation where there is a dating relationship involved then the county also has resources because that has become very much a concern as well,” said Colligan.
The Office for Women is located in Fairfax, Virginia. They provide counseling services, and a 24 hour hotline, as well as support groups for anyone, men or women, experiencing sexual abuse. Not only does The Office for Women provide an extensive amount of resources for students in need, but they provide ways that students can be involved in order to combat this concern. (For more information, visit: https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/familyservices/domestic-sexual-violence)

While these resources are always available for students, it is not always easy to ask for help.

“In those situations sometimes the best way to reach out is to do it with someone you trust. It’s just really important to get someone else’s input and they will help you make that next step or give you the strength to reach out,” said FCPS Student Representative Benjamin Tignor.

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FCPS passes sexual misconduct resolution