Montgomery College Takoma Park / Silver Spring Facebook page
New York: A college professor in the USA has been removed from the USA after he allegedly asked female students to remove their shirts.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) said it has resolved a sexual harassment investigation of the Takoma/Silver Spring Campus of Montgomery College in Maryland.
OCR determined that the college complied with the applicable requirements of Title IX by conducting a prompt and equitable investigation of harassment allegations against a professor, US Department of Education said in a statement.
However, OCR’s investigation identified a Title IX compliance concern based on the college not having provided all affected students with notification that the college had completed the investigation, that the college’s investigation confirmed the existence of a hostile environment based on sex, and that the college had taken steps designed to end that hostile environment for students impacted by the professor’s harassing conduct.
OCR’s investigation established that a college professor engaged in sexual harassment of female students during a class he taught by requiring the students to remove their shirts and wear only their bras – and then commenting on their bodies – ostensibly to demonstrate a medical assessment, despite the fact that the assessment did not require the clothing removal, or the bodily commentary.
In response to student reports of the harassment they experienced, including targeted harassment after class from the professor, the college immediately placed the professor on paid administrative leave and notified him of the allegations.
Consistent with Title IX obligations, the college’s Title IX Coordinator emailed all students in the professor’s class to advise them that the college would be conducting a formal investigation, and that he was available to assist any student in reporting the incident to the police.
He also offered to interview all students in the class, or, alternatively, to accept written statements.
In addition, he provided all students in the class with a copy of the college’s Title IX Policy and information about available college and community resources, services and interim remedies.
The college interviewed students from the professor’s class, students from another section of the class taught by the professor, the department chair, and other student witnesses.
Within approximately three months of the initial report of the professor’s harassment, the college’s investigation confirmed that the professor’s conduct created a hostile environment on the basis of sex.
The college terminated the professor’s employment and the college provided written notice of the outcome of its investigation to the student in the class who initially reported experiencing sexual harassment.
The college also offered supportive services to affected students and coordinated counseling within days of the incident for at least one student in the class and provided academic assistance and tuition reimbursement for several other students in the class.
Despite these effective Title IX steps, the college did not notify all affected students regarding the conclusion of its investigation.
This lack of notification raises a concern that the college may not have taken necessary steps to ensure that a hostile environment did not persist for affected students.
The resolution agreement requires the college to notify in writing all students in the professor’s class that the college completed its investigation of the sexual harassment complaint against the professor.
The agreement also requires the college to provide OCR with the results of its 2022 Title IX climate survey and provide for OCR’s review a narrative summary of the steps it has taken in response to any concerns raised by that survey in order for OCR to determine whether the college needs to take any additional steps to ensure college students are able to access their education free from discrimination.
“The shameful underlying facts in this investigation – of a college professor subjecting his entire class to sexual harassment as a condition of instruction – are galling and categorically unacceptable under Title IX,” said Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “I am deeply grateful to Montgomery College for swiftly responding with a thorough investigation and action to address the effects of the hostile environment created by the professor on the students in his class, and I appreciate the additional commitment Montgomery College made to fulfill its remaining obligation under Title IX to ensure that the discriminatory effects end for all its students.”
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