Education Department launches probe of Fairfax County school

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The U.S. Department of Education investigates a Fairfax County faculty’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against a former train of the women’s basketball crew. A figure of one of the players filed a complaint with the Department of Education in July that accused administrators at Lake Braddock Secondary School in Burke of failing to correctly look at accusations leveled towards the previous varsity coach, who parted methods with the faculty district closing yr.

The parent, William Park, accused the college district of violating federal, state, and local regulations and doing “nothing to defend the women.” “I simply want comprehensive, objective, and unbiased research,” Park stated. “The amount of emails and proof we’ve is astonishing.” In line with the grievance, school directors and district officers allowed the instructor, John Giannelli, to “sexually harass, bully, verbally and bodily abuse more than one teenage woman player” throughout his three years on the faculty. Players accused Giannelli of remarking on crew participants’ sexual sports and their bodies.


Giannelli denies the allegations and said he retired from training due to travel needs.

The Office for Civil Rights wrote in a November letter to Park that it had launched an investigation, in step with a copy of Park’s supplied letter. An Education Department spokesman showed the organization commenced an investigation on Nov. 2 that concerned alleged sexual harassment within the Fairfax college district; however, it declined to pick out schools or human beings affected due to federal privacy laws. The Office for Civil Rights enforces federal Title IX rules, which prohibit discrimination based on sex in applications and activities that get hold of Department of Education investment.

John Torre, Fairfax County Public Schools spokesman, stated in an assertion that the district “takes seriously any allegations of sexual harassment, bullying or different allegations of irrelevant behavior reported by using staff or college students.” The Lake Braddock educate, whom Torre did no longer identify via name but became diagnosed in Park’s criticism and earlier insurance through The Washington Post, was eliminated from the school device in February 2016 and has no longer labored for the district when you consider that, he said. The district’s account of Giannelli’s departure conflicts with a model of activities furnished by mother and father, who say the train resigned in March 2016. Park provided an email from a former sports director to another parent indicating that Giannelli left in March.

The federal research is contemporary in a tangled saga that has stretched years, considering December 2015 when a grievance was first made, ensnaring coaches, administrators, mother and father, and players. Parents alleged that their daughters had been subjected to offensive conduct for months after lawsuits were raised because college directors did not directly or effectively cope with allegations against Giannelli. The faculty district researched from a formal criticism that Dad and Mom filed approximately the district’s dealing with the allegations.

The district concluded the educate engaged in “flawed behavior”; however, that parents’ court cases about the district’s management of the allegations have been “without benefit,” consistent with a July 2017 summary of the findings signed with the aid of Superintendent Scott Brabrand and obtained via The Post. Giannelli’s departure did little to ease worries about what Park regards as a systemic failing.

Park alleged school device investigators did not conduct a radical investigation. The school device, he stated, did not interview all the group players. Three basketball gamers had been pulled from elegance in June 2016 and puzzled by a person who stated he was with human sources, said Kathy Taylor, the mother of one of the players who changed into puzzled. The students were not instructed if the interview was part of proper research, said Taylor, who said she discovered the discussion in a telephone name because it happened.

Giannelli stated in an email that he “finished speak me approximately this.” He noted the faculty district never spoke with him while a “so-called research” befell. “I never had to address something this loopy in my 33 years of coaching,” Giannelli said. In the federal grievance, Park requested the organization overviews more than a dozen modern-day and previous Fairfax faculty officers’ behavior.

Park alleged that Lake Braddock principal David F. Thomas and the previous director of pupil activities, Michael Clark, violated federal and national laws by failing to investigate the allegations and permitting the teacher to surrender. Clark, who changed into located on leave after a faculty district research and later retired, did now not reply to messages in search of comments. Thomas additionally did currently not respond to a message searching for the remark. The Department of Education inquiry is not the most effective outdoor investigation stemming from the harassment allegations at Lake Braddock.

Jim Poythress, a physical education teacher and the college’s longtime soccer educate, filed a whistleblower complaint in May with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, claiming he became eliminated from both jobs retribution for being named as a witness inside the dad and mom’ criticism. A participant the team designated to meet with Clark in December 2015 defined a couple of occasions where Giannelli insinuated the gamers engaged in oral sex and commented on players’ breasts and buttocks; the athlete advised the Post earlier this yr.

In recurring surveys disbursed to athletes’ families after the sports season, parents mentioned sexual harassment claims. One survey reaction described Giannelli “as making sexual references to a player who became blowing up a balloon, suggesting she had her lips on a condom.” Another survey read, in element: “Two teammates were discussing the size of leg rollers (to work out cramps), and the pinnacle train connected with the girls comparing the scale in their boyfriends’ penis. And then the ast yr while the player was stretching out her leg, the educate commented on her ‘swollen’ chest instead of her swollen knee.”

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