D200 concludes investigation into alleged sex assault

The district is revamping its policies and procedures regarding sexual assault

March 7th, 2017 1:50 PM

By Michael Romain

Staff Reporter

Oak Park and River Forest High School is currently in the process of strengthening its policies and procedures related to sexual misconduct, harassment and bullying, according to a statement released in late January by Superintendent Joylynn Pruitt-Adams.

The statement, addressed to students, families, faculty and staff members, also announced that the district had concluded its 6-week investigation into an allegation of sexual assault at an off-campus party last August. 

The alleged incident happened at the home of assistant wrestling coach Mike Powell, who was out of town at the time. Powell had given some wrestlers the keys to his home in order to watch his dogs. According to the attorney for one of the accused athletes, an OPRF student told school officials that she was allegedly sexually assaulted. 

Powell, who was briefly placed on administrative leave following the incident, was eventually reinstated. In addition, numerous student-athletes were suspended. The Oak Park police had launched an independent investigation of their own, the outcome of which is unknown. Numerous attempts to contact police were unsuccessful. 

Pruitt-Adams wouldn't release the specific findings of the investigation, citing student confidentiality laws, but added that the inquiry "included interviews with many students, parents and staff, as well as a review of relevant documents and information shared with the investigation team."

Pruitt-Adams added that the process was "detailed, fair, and thorough and that the district has taken appropriate actions as a result of the investigation." 

In the wake of the sexual assault allegation, district officials have collaborated with the non-profit Rape Victim Advocates and created the Sexual Misconduct and Harassment Policy Revision Committee in order to review and revise a series of board policies and procedures relating to sexual misconduct, bullying, intimidation and harassment. 

In addition, on Jan. 9, the district held a Title IX training for faculty and staff so that they can strengthen "their understanding of the law and the school's obligations." District officials said the new policies and procedures could be approved by June.