Dear SVUSD Students, Parents and Community Members,
Student safety and wellbeing is a top priority at the Sierra Vista Unified School District. Recent concerns raised by our community has provided us the opportunity to review the policies we have in place to ensure that they are effective in protecting our students. I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of those policies and procedures and to share our plans for additional resources and training for our staff.
SVUSD is a member of the Arizona School Boards Association like many school districts in Arizona. As members, we have adopted many of the same policies of other Arizona school districts. A section of those policies is the G policies that guide personnel matters. Within this section, I would like to highlight the following policies and regulations that SVUSD has had in place for years:
● Policy GBEBB- Staff Conduct with Students
● Policy GBEA - Staff Ethics
● Regulation GBEA-R Governing Board Expected Behaviors for Employees
● Policy GBEG- Staff Conduct
● Regulation GBEB-R- Staff Conduct
● Exhibit GBEB-E - Staff Conduct: Notification Concerning Non-Appealable Offenses
These policies, regulations and exhibits lay out the expectations of our employees regarding their conduct with students and stakeholders. They also outline how those policies are used in the daily activities of the district and what consequences exist if they are violated. If you would like to review these policies, you can find all of them in our District Policy Manual on our website: https://www.svusd68.org/page/governing-board.
In addition to these policies, each and every year all SVUSD staff are required to take online trainings covering a wide range of topic including:
● Policy GBEB - Staff Conduct
● Bullying: Recognition and Response
● Child Abuse: Mandatory Reporting
● Discrimination Awareness (including sexual harassment)
My expectation is that we will continue to follow these policies and regulations and will continue to require our employees to attend these training sessions.
In October 2020, the Governing Board adopted Policy ACA - Sexual Harassment, along with its regulation and exhibit, and Policy ACAA - Title IX Sexual Harassment. Over the last few weeks, we have identified additional training that is now being required for all staff members regarding Title IX Sexual Harassment. Our administrative leadership participated in a training on September 28, 2022 and the rest of our instructional staff will receive Title IX Sexual Harassment training on October 7, 2022. This new training provides staff with additional knowledge and tools to help report and investigate sexual harassment claims. This training also outlines new roles to help facilitate complete and timely investigations into sexual harassment claims. SVUSD has appointed two Title IX Sexual Harassment Coordinators; Bonnie Gomez, Chief Human Resources Officer, and Lisa Wright, Human Resources Manager. These coordinators will be responsible for organizing and communicating with all parties regarding Title IX Sexual Harassment claims. They will assign Investigators to gather evidence and conduct interviews. All of our principals and assistant principals have received training and tools on how to be Investigators. Principals and assistant principals will never investigate a claim at their own school. Another role that is important in this process is the Decision Maker; these individuals will review all of the evidence and documentation and will give the determination as to which disciplinary action is needed, if any. I have made the determination that the Decision Maker will be an outside, third party agency in order to maintain transparency.
Together with our secondary principals, I have also begun the process of creating a working group at Buena and Joyce Clark Middle School that includes administration, social workers, counselors and student government leadership. The purpose of this committee will be to create plans to educate our students about recognizing and reporting sexual harassment. Involving students is the best way to reach students and I thought it was extremely important to include them in the process. Student to student learning is a proven method to engage students in difficult conversations.
Our Governing Board policies are important in creating and maintaining a healthy, safe and secure learning environment for our students. These policies set the bar high for our staff to cultivate and maintain a professional relationship with our students and parents. My expectation is that everyone at the Sierra Vista Unified School District will not only meet, but also exceed that bar. This district is committed to providing our students the best possible educational experience in an environment safe from harm.
If anyone has information regarding alleged unlawful conduct by a SVUSD staff member, there are several ways to make a report by voice message at 520-515-2772 or by sending an email to ReportInfo@svps.k12.az.us. Please be sure to include your contact information so we may reach out to you.