According to the first complaint, in April 2015, an eighth grade student at Spring Creek Community School in East New York was attacked and raped by a classmate while waiting for the bus home from school. The assailant "surreptitiously used his cell phone to record himself penetrating [her] anus and mouth," according to the complaint. In the weeks after the attack, the complaint alleges, the victim refused to eat, suffered from panic attacks, and "experienced excruciating pain in her body and genitals."Later that month, the complaint states, the video started circulating around the school, and the student who had been assaulted on camera faced sustained taunting and harassment from her classmates. Although the circulation of the video functionally amounted to the distribution of child pornography, school administrators allegedly declined to fully investigate or bring in experts to determine how and when the videos had been shared—they simply deleted the videos as they came across them in students' phones. Per the complaint, school administrators also instructed the survivor to stay home until the video got "under control."
In a third complaint, a 13-year-old student at Granville T. Woods Middle School was sexually assaulted in a hallway by a peer who had a previous record of engaging in similarly abusive conduct; the assault allegedly took place in November 2015. The school administration did not accommodate the student's requests from the student's mother that the offender be removed from the survivor's classes and lunch period, so the student's family requested a transfer—but it took the DOE weeks and weeks to arrange this alternate placement, according to the complaint.
The New York City Department of Education has a rape crisis, especially when it comes to young black girls who live in poverty.
The NYC DOE employs only one Title IX coordinator for the approximately 1.1 million students it serves; this individual is charged with ensuring that administrators and teachers know how to fully comply with Title IX, as well as with addressing any patterns or systemic problems that pertain to sex discrimination.According to a survey by the American Association of University Women, in the 2010-2011 school year, 48 percent of students experienced some form of sexual harassment at school.The singular Title IX coordinator underlines that this is a top-down problem at NYC DOE, according to Goldberg, who wants to see one coordinator in every school. "We can't really put the blame on single administrators," said Goldberg. "This is a Chancellor problem. Someone is refusing to prioritize sexual assault."In an email to Broadly, the city strenuously denied the allegations made by Goldberg. "Our legal team is reviewing these deeply troubling complaints and will respond to the Office for Civil Rights regarding any pending matters," said DOE Deputy Press Secretary Toya Holness. "Nothing is more important than the safety of all students and staff, and we have policies in place that ensure that incidents are reported, investigated and appropriately addressed."One of the three cases is already under investigation by the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. Goldberg hopes the Department of Justice will join the investigation to send a message that "this demographic of victim is worth protecting."For Goldberg, however, the question is not whether the DOE failed these students, but rather why the city appears to have so egregiously failed those it was charged to protect. "Whether by official act or omission, the end result is that sexual assault victims suffer twice in NYC DOE," she wrote in the third complaint. "Once at the hands of the individual that attacked them, and again under the heel of a bureaucracy that is required to act in their best intent."