One yr after a star quarterback’s arrest, plans stall for expanded sexual violence schooling in Boulder Valley Faculty District


Sporting a transparent masks and twisting her palms in her lap, a 2020 Fairview Excessive Faculty graduate testified in court docket that she hesitated to report allegations that the varsity’s standout quarterback sexually assaulted her as a result of he appeared untouchable.
Sure, he was common, she mentioned in reply to an lawyer’s questions.
Sure, college students favored him.
Sure, lecturers favored him.
These accusations in opposition to Aidan Atkinson grew to become public within the fall of 2019 — a yr after the alleged assault occurred — they usually roiled the varsity and prompted some college students, together with 2020 graduates Sophie Dellinger and Beatriz Sanchez to start a marketing campaign to reform how Fairview and your complete Boulder Valley Faculty District deal with sexual violence allegations and prevention coaching. Additionally they wish to change what they see as a tradition at Fairview that lets athletes like Atkinson play by completely different guidelines.
Final week, a former Fairview pupil testified in opposition to a faculty social employee, who had been accused of failing to report allegations of sexual assault as soon as the scholar confided in her. The social employee was acquitted. The felony sexual assault costs filed in reference to the 2018 case in opposition to Atkinson, 19, are pending.
As Fairview college students return to high school this yr, Sanchez and Dellinger are nonetheless pushing regardless that they’ve entered school. They’ve met with directors, helped the district revise its Title IX coverage, pushed for extra pupil coaching on sexual assault and launched an internet site designed to offer survivors of sexual violence within the college district a spot to anonymously share their tales.
They’ve made some progress — a brand new Title IX coverage was adopted in August — however they’re pissed off by stalled plans for districtwide coaching.
“College students are hurting, and it’s the administration’s accountability to take accountability at this level, as a result of it’s simply radio silence from them till we do one thing, till we ship them a petition we signed — they haven’t any motivation and no accountability to take these subsequent steps,” Sanchez mentioned. “We’re having to power feed them the data.”
Randy Barber, a spokesman for the Boulder Valley Faculty District, declined interview requests with district directors and as a substitute issued a press release in response to Denver Submit inquiries by which he mentioned the district has taken a wide range of steps to “enhance our procedures across the reporting of sexual violence allegations” and enhance prevention measures.
Within the spring, the district up to date its Title IX data on its web site — Title IX is a federal regulation that prohibits discrimination based mostly on gender. In August, it up to date its coverage and skilled two leaders at every college on Title IX procedures. Over the summer time, the district additionally labored native advocates to provide a video that explains sources and protocols round Title IX for workers, Barber mentioned within the assertion.
“Planning and suggestions classes have been ongoing with an area student-led coalition to get enter on methods and even ship a few of the data themselves,” the assertion mentioned.
Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostBeatriz Sanchez, 18, poses for the portrait in entrance of Fairview Excessive Faculty in Boulder on September 2, 2020.
Fairview directors sought assist after the allegations in opposition to Atkinson roiled the varsity.
They referred to as Shifting to Finish Sexual Assault (MESA), a Boulder sexual violence useful resource heart, and in January and February MESA gave a half-day coaching to college and employees at Fairview on sexual violence, rape tradition and bystander intervention, after which adopted up with a shorter presentation to about 200 mother and father.
“We acquired a very good response all throughout the board in settlement that extra of these kind of coaching have been wanted, as a result of frankly the school and employees have been probably not geared up to deal with one thing of this magnitude, or had minimal understanding of a few of the dynamics of rape tradition particularly,” mentioned Janine D’Anniballe, director at MESA.
The employees had been skilled on youngster abuse reporting, however not on sexual violence reporting, she mentioned, that are two completely different points, and there weren’t clear protocols for trauma-informed assist for victims of sexual crimes, she mentioned.
“Like if a pupil is in a category with somebody they made a report in opposition to, how can the varsity assist navigate that or make modifications to handle that?” D’Anniballe mentioned.
The district and MESA made plans to develop coaching and schooling on sexual violence to all college students within the district this fall.
In late June, MESA submitted a proposal to the district that prompt its employees conduct 792 hour-long displays to teams of 25 college students in center and excessive colleges, supply displays to oldsters at 30 completely different colleges, and provides two-hour trainings to employees at 30 colleges. The proposal additionally prompt a further program geared toward male athletic groups. Your complete plan would value the district about $79,050 for the 2020-2021 college yr.
MESA has not heard again from the district, D’Anniballe mentioned. Within the district’s assertion, Barber mentioned the MESA coaching is “on pause as a result of pandemic disaster.”
“We absolutely intend to proceed the efforts began final college yr, however we’re centered on guaranteeing that studying continues given the challenges we face, each with instruction and funding,” the assertion mentioned.
Dellinger and Sanchez mentioned each college and district directors appeared keen to place extra applications and schooling about sexual violence in place — till the novel coronavirus hit.
“We saved getting that every little thing was unsure and it most likely wouldn’t occur this yr due to finances cuts they usually most likely couldn’t match that in,” Dellinger mentioned, including that superintendent Rob Anderson mentioned the district couldn’t afford to rent a full-time Title IX coordinator. The district’s authorized counsel serves because the coordinator, based on its web site.
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“He mentioned they don’t have the funding to try this and he didn’t wish to create that place as a result of he could be taking away cash from colleges and applications inside colleges that wanted it,” Dellinger mentioned. “It’s simply irritating that they aren’t seeing sexual violence survivors as individuals who want that funding as nicely.”
She and Sanchez mentioned Fairview lecturers and employees put athletes on a pedestal, typically bending the principles round necessary attendance or self-discipline for athletes, who’re excessive on the varsity’s social ladder, or pressuring teams like pupil council to prioritize selling athletics over different college applications.
“Aidan simply unveiled a a lot bigger downside that was beneath,” Dellinger mentioned of the allegations in opposition to the quarterback.
Hyoung Chang, The Denver PostSophie Dellinger, 18, is pictured in entrance of Fairview Excessive Faculty in Boulder on Sept. 2, 2020.
Dellinger is headed to Colorado School for her first semester in January, and Sanchez has began her freshman yr at College of Colorado Boulder. However neither intends to let up on the Boulder Valley Faculty District.
“We aren’t going away anytime quickly,” Dellinger mentioned. This fall, they’re working to rally present college students and oldsters of scholars to their effort.
One mum or dad already on board is Tracy Dundon, who mentioned she was alarmed to listen to how prevalent sexual misconduct is within the district.
“Mother or father involvement goes to be essential if there may be to be any vital modifications made inside our district,” she mentioned.
Dad and mom who wish to be concerned can attain out by the brand new web site Dellinger and Sanchez created this fall, “BVSD Survivors,” she mentioned.
Sanchez and Dellinger have additionally began working with present college students to allow them to proceed the trouble from throughout the colleges. One such pupil, who requested to not be named to keep away from retaliation from the varsity district, mentioned she is within the battle for the lengthy haul, regardless that she feels directors is probably not.
“They need to have the ability to do one factor and repair the issue and be capable to transfer on,” she mentioned. “However that’s not how this situation works in any respect.”


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