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Court orders high school in Plymouth to take action on sex harassment, bullying by students

The high school in Plymouth was being sued for ignoring complaints of sexual harassment.

A high school in Plymouth has been ordered to take action on sexual assault, harassment and bullying after it was sued by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights.

consent decree filed by the department and approved in district court on Thursday orders the West Lutheran High School to enact "significant system changes."

The decree settles a lawsuit that the department had brought against the school last year, alleging the school had violated the Minnesota Human Rights Act by failing to act after a student reported she was being sexually harassed and assaulted multiple times by other students.

The victim spoke to KSTP last year, and said the school's then principal had accused her of making it up.

The settlement requires the school to take immediate steps to develop and distribute written policies to prevent bullying, harassment and discrimination, which includes on social media.

It also requires it to implement a mandatory protocol to investigate every complaint of harassment, discrimination and retaliation, add bullying and harassment topics to the curriculum, and require students to sign a Code of Conduct Pledge every year that specifically references bullying and harassment.

All staff responsible for investigating complaints will be required to undergo "trauma-informed investigation training," and the number of complaints made about bullying, harassment and discrimination must also be reported to the Department of Human Rights

"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."

If the school violates the decree over the next three years, the department has the option to seek civil penalties to ensure the terms are followed.

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