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Bay Area School Failed to Follow Law Meant to Protect Students from Sexual Abuse

The elementary school at the center of a sexual abuse scandal in San Jose, OB Whaley Elementary, allegedly failed to follow Title IX—a law that aims to protect children and others by requiring schools to report complaints of sexual abuse, employ a trained Title IX coordinator who can properly process complaints, and have the coordinator’s contact info readily available online. Investigations uncovered that, while the school had an employee listed as a Title IX coordinator at the time one of their teachers was accused of sexual misconduct, the employee had received no sexual abuse training and did not have any contact information listed online.

One of The Matiasic Firm’s co-founding attorneys, Paul Matiasic, is representing an alleged victim and working to hold the Evergreen School District accountable for its alleged negligence.

In a report by NBC Bay Area, Matiasic stated that, Title IX is in place to prevent these types of occurrences… I do firmly believe more kids were abused [at OB Whaley] by virtue of the fact that they failed to comply with Title IX.

Several alleged counts of sexual abuse by teacher Craig Chandler were brought to light when local police were contacted by a parent. According to reports, a second grader told then-principal Lyn Vijayendran about a “Helen Keller lesson” in which Chandler blindfolded the student and put something in her mouth while the two were alone in a classroom. Vijayendran later testified that she brought this account to the attention of the district’s Human Resources Director—and supposedly the district’s Title IX Coordinator—Carole Schmitt. Vijayendran claims Schmitt told her to handle the report herself, but Vijayendran did not contact authorities or report the alleged incident to Child Protective Services.

Attorney Matiasic insists that, had the school been properly following Title IX protocol, this failure to report the incident would not have happened. Although Schmitt is the Title IX Coordinator, she testified that she had not been trained on sexual abuse or harassment, and her contact info was not available online for parents or guardians. Attorney Matiasic strongly believes that the district is at least partially at-fault for the breakdown in Title IX compliance.

Further investigations found that OB Whaley Elementary and Evergreen School District are not the only Bay Area educational institutions ignoring Title IX regulations. In fact, of more than 200 principals emailed by the Investigative Unit in the case, less than half responded and even fewer were able to name the Title IX Coordinator of their school. Questions regarding the district’s plan—if any—to address this rampant issue went unanswered.

Attorney Matiasic hopes to secure justice for the family of the alleged victim. In a case filed against Evergreen, Vijayendran, and Chandler, he is seeking damages for the minor and her family.