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K12T9: Responding to the K12 #MeToo Crisis

K12T9: Responding to the K12 #MeToo Crisis

By John Shields, PhD, MSW | September 17, 2018
Senior Research Scientist and Director, K12T9 Initiative, ETR

We need the #MeToo movement. Widespread attention to sexual and gender-based harassment is long overdue. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected in some meaningful way by this national conversation.

Here at ETR, we celebrate this opportunity for education, enlightenment and change. However, we also lament that so much of the nation’s energy is focused on post-secondary environments, the media, and Hollywood. We are not paying nearly enough attention to children and youth in our nation’s K12 schools, who are also experiencing sexual and gender-based harassment, bullying, discrimination, intimidation and retaliation.

Let’s Harness This Energy

We have a tremendous opportunity to harness the current energy of the #MeToo movement to improve our responses to Title IX requirements in the K12 environment. Think of the positive downstream effects we would enjoy if we earnestly and effectively supported victims and perpetrators before they entered the labor force or went to college.

Right now, across our nation, thousands upon thousands of K12 students are subjected to both single instances and repeated incidents of harassment based on their sex, gender, and/or sexual orientation. We have, in short, a #MeToo crisis in our K12 schools. And, unfortunately, we don’t often do a good job in response.

Of course, there are K12 schools and districts doing great things to prevent, eliminate and address discrimination based on sex. But that’s the exception. Systemwide, we face significant deficits in knowledge, experience, expertise and resources within the Title IX arena. Many schools and districts don’t know how to train staff, measure the scope of the problem, and address situations in their schools effectively.

K12T9: Join the Movement

This is why ETR has launched the K12T9 Initiative.

We have an experienced group of professionals who drive ETR’s K12T9 Initiative. Our group offers a full range of resources, services, tools and supports to K12 districts seeking to improve their efforts to eliminate, prevent and address sexual and gender-based harassment in compliance with Title IX.

We have identified nine components of exemplary Title IX programs for K12 schools and their districts (see box). We engage in meaningful partnerships with districts to address one or more of these, depending on the specific needs and interests of each district.

9 Components of Effective K12T9 programs

  1. K12T9 model with 9 components illustratedReforming & Updating Policies
  2. Strengthening Procedures to Ensure Fast, Fair and Thorough Investigations
  3. Growing Program Capacity
  4. Training Personnel Across the District on a Variety of Critical Title IX Issues
  5. Developing Clear Communication Systems Inside and Outside the School Community
  6. Building Tiered Services and Supports for Victims and Perpetrators
  7. Conducting Rigorous Evaluation of Title IX Practices and Outcomes
  8. Developing and Sustaining Transparent Reporting Systems
  9. Providing Comprehensive Complaint Management Software

Achieving excellence across these nine components can be a significant challenge. ETR’s team is prepared to help and has a demonstrated history of success. Whether our engagement is in one, two, or all nine components, ETR helps K12 institutions improve their responses to Title IX complaints and reports, significantly reducing liability and, most importantly, improving outcomes for students.

Participants from 2018 convening.For many districts, a great place to start is by participating in ETR’s K12T9 Convening, an annual two-day event for K12 Title IX Coordinators and Investigators. This year, in our second convening, we will be addressing several critical issues, including how to initiate and sustain productive conversations about implicit bias related to sex and gender in our school communities. We will also explore how to use trauma-informed forensic interviewing techniques. We will provide you the opportunity to talk about your most challenging cases with a team of distinguished guest experts.

Participant Feedback from Last Year's Convening

“You have an amazing team. The depth of experience and the ability to share knowledge in a method suitable for K12 is invaluable.”

“Great PD. Hope to attend again with a district team.”

“I appreciate all the sound pedagogical strategies used to teach and engage in a complex topic.”

The Convenings allow a significant amount of time to network with colleagues (including a free banquet event). Come join us, connect with your peers, learn new approaches, and help us continue the K12T9 Movement we launched in 2017.

Together, we will bring attention to the #MeToo movement within K12 educational environments. We are embarking on a great collective effort to continuously improve our efforts to prevent, eliminate and address sexual and gender-based harassment in our nation’s schools.


John Shields, PhD, MSW, leads ETR’s School-Based Health & Wellness portfolio, which includes a wide range of research, evaluation and information technology projects involving K12 school districts. He can be reached at

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