A counselor from Berkeley High School faces a seven-day suspension this summer because of alleged sexual harassment of a student. He also must work under specified restrictions, say school officials. The alleged incident occurred during the 2009-2010 school year, according to reports.
Under terms of the settlement reached with the girl who leveled the allegations, the counselor will serve his seven-day suspension after school is out this summer. Perhaps worse is that he will now be required to keep his office door and blinds open while counseling students in his office, except under very specific conditions that require confidentiality. He will also be prohibited from calling students out of class without previous administrator approval.
Another part of the settlement requires the school to review and update its sexual harassment policy for adults and students.
The settlement of the case announced by the Berkeley Unified School District board appears to end a matter that was filed during the past year with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The student also filed a federal sexual harassment suit that will be considered separately.
The girl who filed the claims said that the counselor had touched her inner thigh, asked her whether she slept naked and asked other questions. She said the activity occurred a number of times during the 2009-10 school year. She was 16 at the time.
A professional review committee did rule that the man had acted unprofessionally and inappropriately. But the man's lawyer says that the short duration of the suspension shows officials' uncertainty about the charges. He says that had they been certain that the man had harassed or abused the student, they would have sentenced him to harsher punishment.
Source: Berkeley Patch, "Seven-day suspension for counselor named in sexual misconduct suit," Rebecca Rosen Lum, May 8, 2012