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ERIC Number: ED532214
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 436
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-3659-1
Sexual Harassment in Public Schools: Policy Design, Policy Implementation, and the Perceptions of Employees Participating in Investigations
Bratge, Katrina
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, State University of New York at Albany
This study of two cases of sexual harassment investigates employee perceptions and organizational characteristics associated with policy and implementation procedures in two public school districts in New York State which experienced different outcomes to litigation in response to formal complaints of sexual harassment. Using documentary evidence and public records, the case histories for each district were reconstructed. Thirty-one employees involved in the investigative and litigation proceedings responded to interview questions and questionnaires. The sexual harassment policies for each district were also evaluated. In both cases under study, sexual harassment was claimed as a retaliatory response. In one case it appeared to be in response to complaints of sexual harassment while in the other case it was seemingly used as a preemptive measure to facilitate the firing of an undesired employee. An additional finding suggests the possible retaliatory use of sexual harassment claims by those with executive power. The findings indicate how employee expectations of personal and organizational consequences affect their interpretation of district and school leader responses to sexual harassment claims. Employees revealed substantial anxiety and frustration along with numerous adverse organizational and personal consequences. Contributing factors included the degree of training and policy awareness, level of administrative response to complaints, extent of communications to involved parties, pervasive fear of retaliation, influence of job status and power, influence of a "Good Old Boy" network, and amount of media attention. Both cases showed significant weaknesses in the consistent application of policy by district administrations in response to initial complaints of harassment. Legal risk was elevated due to the lack of a neutral officer to handle complaints, power differentials between victims and harassers, vague policies, and deficient oversight by government authorities. The insufficient separation between those holding investigative authority and executive power had a chilling effect on the willingness to voice concerns in one district and facilitated retaliatory behavior in both districts, underscoring the importance of a clear separation of executive from investigative power. Based on the findings, specific policy and training recommendations are suggested to establish a culture where employees are encouraged to report concerns without fear of retaliation. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
ProQuest LLC. 789 East Eisenhower Parkway, P.O. Box 1346, Ann Arbor, MI 48106. Tel: 800-521-0600; Web site:
Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: New York