Re: Changing Culture /Jonesboro

Linda Purrington (
Sat, 04 Apr 1998 11:01:13 -0800

This is a proposal about changing the sexist culture of the United
States that allows such massacres as Jonesboro. (Note that the school in
Jonesboro was aware of the threats made by the boys who killed the
girls. Note also that schools are required not just to respond, but to
respond effectively, to such threats--just "doing something" is no
longer considered acceptable in court.)
We here in Sonoma County asked the Office for Civil Rights to begin
preventive action to stop sexual discrimination and harassment in the
schools and colleges here, rather than just responding to problems that
had gotten out of hand.
We reasoned that Band-Aid solutions (1) don't work to prevent problems,
and (2) are not cost effective and efficient. We also reasoned that
education is one of the first-line deterrents to violence and
discrimination. (Penalties can also function as deterrents if the
likelihood of penalties is well publicized. In fact, researchers have
found that vicarious learning works as well as experiential learning in
regards to punishment--thank heaven for education!)
The OCR has a procedure called compliance review. It was not intended
to be used proactively, but it should be used thus--to check up on how a
district has been complying with Title IX. It can be an occasion for
public and staff and student education before sharp divisions and
resistance arise around acute problems. We estimate that 99 percent of
schools in the United States do not comply with Title IX. It is
entirely feasible to convert some of the funds OCR uses on investigation
to proactive, preventive public education campaigns. The OCR could begin
with a voluntary program, and gradually proceed to encurage more and
more comprehensive compliance. Outstanding cases of chronic
noncompliance should start to be sent to Janet Reno at the U.S.
Department of Justice for enforcement--something the OCR has never done
in the entire 25 years since Title IX was first passed.
Please contact the Ofice For Civil Rights in your area and ask for
proactive compliance reviews of your school district.
Linda Purrington
Title IX Advocates <>

t. dean wrote:
> I am a high school and elementary Principal in a rural school district. I did
> not grow up in this area; I grew up in the suburbs. I am very concerned with
> the culture in the area I work in. It is mostly a coal mining town. We
> had an incident where high school students on the way to basketball practice
> "shot up the town" with paint ball guns. I have recently found bullets in my
> hallways. Locker searches have not produced guns or bullets. Almost every
> night beer bottles are found in front of my school. I have gone by my school
> 11:00 PM to find former graduates and students as young as 9th grade in the
> parking lot. The local Sheriff's Dept. "pretends" to support me by driving by
> 1/2 hour after I report suspicious activity on school property. Parents treat
> me like I am insane when I contact them about students being out so late at
> night (even on a school night). My home and car have been vandalized. My
> neighbor boy, a "nice kid" vandalized my car because I suspended his friend
> calling a new teacher a "fag". The boy wanted to teach me a lesson about
> "suspending everyone". My school is in a big football town. A 9th grade
> turned in upper classmen( 17 & 18 year olds) for drinking and driving, but the
> Sheriff's Dept. refused to believe him. Every school I have ever worked in
> not give serious discipline to kids on sports teams. The previous two
> principals were former coaches and athletic directors before becoming
> and they have stated in writing that very few students "committed offences
> worthy of suspension". This is a crock of bull because verbal and physical
> abuse of weaker students (mostly female) has gone on unpunished for years. I
> regularly contact Children's Services about kids with bruises, they come in
> ask the kids what they ate for dinner, are they warm at night, etc. When they
> ask about being hit or touched in inappropriate places, the kids say nothing.
> So, Children's Services rarely invetigate further. I am really concerned that
> something like the masacre at Arkansas could occur in my town. "Dating"
> very early in elementary school. It is very common for 12 year olds to be
> engaging in sexual relationships. I brought in the head Sheriff to speak
> guns and safety. He brought in statistics of crimes committed by juveniles,
> teachers refused to pass them out saying tghe literature would "put ideas in
> kids' heads". I am frustrated. I know my community is not the only one like
> this in America. Does anyone have any suggestions? Thanks,Rural Principal
> "t. dean" <>

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