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Minnesota Department of Human Rights Settlement Requires West Lutheran High School to Address Sexual Assault, Harassment, and Bullying of Students

2/27/2020 11:15:00 AM

[St. Paul, MN] A consent decree filed by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and approved today by the Hennepin County District Court orders West Lutheran High School in Plymouth, Minnesota to implement significant system changes that aim at ensuring students can live full lives, free from sexual assault, harassment, and bullying.

The consent decree settles the Department’s pending lawsuit against the school. The Department filed suit in 2019 because it found the school violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act when school officials failed to act after a student reported she was sexually harassed and assaulted multiple times by other students.

“Every school is obligated to actively protect students’ civil rights and no student should have to suffer from sexual assault, harassment, or bullying,” said Minnesota Department of Human Rights Commissioner Rebecca Lucero. “Today’s court order and consent decree will create immediate, positive change for the students and families at West Lutheran High School. This case also sends a message to other schools across the state that they have an obligation to actively address and prevent bullying and sexual violence.”

The consent decree requires West Lutheran High School to take immediate steps to:

  • develop, adopt, and publicly distribute written policies, including a social media policy, that address and prevent bullying, harassment, and discrimination;
  • implement a comprehensive protocol for investigating every complaint of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation;
  • require all students, faculty, staff, and members of its Board of Regents sign a Code of Conduct Pledge each school year that specifically addresses bullying, harassment, and discrimination;
  • add bullying and harassment as topics to the curriculum for a required class;
  • train all faculty, staff, students, and members of the Board of Regents annually on the school’s obligations to create a school environment that is free of discrimination, harassment, and bullying;
  • train all staff and officials responsible for conducting investigations with trauma-informed investigation training; and
  • report to the Minnesota Department of Human Rights the number of complaints made related to bullying, harassment, and discrimination, the steps took to investigate the complaint, the outcomes of the investigation, and other information necessary.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights will monitor the consent decree for three years. If West Lutheran High School violates the decree, the Minnesota Department of Human Rights has the authority to seek civil penalties and other relief through the Court to ensure the terms are followed.

The consent decree involves the Minnesota Department of Human Rights and West Lutheran High School. It does not resolve any claims that the student or her family have against West Lutheran School.

The Minnesota Department of Human Rights is the state’s civil rights enforcement agency and enforces the Minnesota Human Rights Act. If you believe you have been discriminated against in violation of the Minnesota Human Rights Act, please contact MDHR at 651.539.1133, 1.800.657.3704, or email info.mdhr@state.mn.us. For more information, please visit mn.gov/mdhr or follow the conversation on Twitter at @mnhumanrights.

Document: 

  • /mdhr/assets/2020.02.27%20Entered%20Consent%20Decree_tcm1061-421229.pdfWest Lutheran High School Consent Decree

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Minnesota Department of Human Rights, Communications Department
540 Fairview Ave N, Suite 201, St. Paul, MN 55104
www.mn.gov/mdhr, MDHR YouTube channel

Contact MDHR
Taylor Putz, Communications Director
651.226.4615
Taylor.Putz@state.mn.us

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