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Little Elm ISD releases report following investigation into student protest over sexual assault claims

Investigators said the district meets Title IX requirements and that there was not a systematic failure. However, they issued several recommendations.

LITTLE ELM, Texas — Little Elm Independent School District released the results of an independent investigation Friday into the sexual assault claims that sparked a massive student protest, in which four students were arrested last month.

The district said the investigation was focused on Title IX compliance, which is a civil rights law that prohibits educational entities that receive federal funds to discriminate on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. 

Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion. 

On Nov. 19, a student walkout was planned after an alleged sexual assault, in which students felt the administration was not protecting the victim and ignoring claims. 

The protest quickly spiraled out of control and resulted in police using tasers, pepper spray and other use of force on teens -- which was captured on video that circulated online. Following the incident, four students were arrested. 

Parents were outraged and shocked by the actions of both police and the district's response, calling for clarity and answers during a listening session on Nov. 30.  

RELATED: Little Elm parents lay into district officials at listening session after student protest evolved into chaos

Little Elm ISD Superintendent Daniel Gallager pointed out during the listening session that he supports student protests, but said school officials were in genuine fear for their lives after students tried to break into the administrator's office on campus. 

Gallager also addressed the sexual assault allegation alongside Mayor Curtis Cornelius in a video to parents, saying there was insufficient evidence to lead to formal charges and the allegation was investigated thoroughly. 

Gallager promised to launch the independent investigation into the district's actions and policies. 

RELATED: Little Elm ISD superintendent, mayor issue joint video statement about student-led protest and police use of force

As part of the report released Friday, the district said Little Elm students were interviewed by Title IX investigators and asked why they were protesting the day of the incident. Most answered, according to the report, with different examples of sexual assault incidents against students and claimed the administration was failing in protecting students. 

Most of those claims of sexual assault involved reports of inappropriate touching on school grounds and buses, but also included a report of an alleged rape off campus.

While in its conclusion, investigators determined the district met Title IX requirements and there was not a systematic failure, they did issue several recommendations for changes. Those included hiring a Title IX coordinator, more training for district staff and better communication with parents and students throughout any student misconduct investigation.  

Also in an after-action review, investigators said Little Elm ISD needs to have a crisis management structure, create a student protest procedure and develop plans for counseling services. 

A final report will be submitted to the Little Elm Board of Trustees in the coming weeks, the district said. 

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