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U.S. Department of Education, Montgomery College reach agreement to resolve sexual harassment investigation

A view of Montgomery College’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. Montgomery College photo.

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights announced an agreement Wednesday to resolve a sexual harassment case at Montgomery College.

According to the Office of Civil Rights, a male professor at the Montgomery County community college required female students to remove their shirts and wear only sports bras, ostensibly to demonstrate a medical assessment.

A redacted letter about the case does not name the professor or include additional details about the course, though it states that the complaint was made against a professor who taught at the college’s Takoma Park/Silver Spring campus. It also says that when students put on lab jackets “for modesty purposes,” the professor “demanded” they remove them.

In addition, the students reported that the professor commented on their anatomy and asked the students to separate their breasts so he could conduct the assessment, which “did not require the clothing removal or the bodily commentary,” according to the Office of Civil Rights.

Although college officials conducted a “prompt and thorough” investigation and provided a letter to the professor and one of the students, the department notes it didn’t provide that same letter to two other students.

As part of the resolution agreement, the college must follow notifications and reporting requirements that include sending letters to all affected students by Aug. 15, informing them that the investigation was completed and providing proof to the department, about a month later, that letters were sent.

By Dec. 15, the college must provide the Office of Civil Rights documentation of a climate survey the school conducted last year about how students feel about the campus, the atmosphere there and whether they are learning from their professors.

“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,” Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon said in a statement. “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.”

The college released a statement about the harassment, which was reported in October 2019. The day after a report was made, the professor was placed on administrative leave and “never returned to a Montgomery College classroom.”

“We appreciate the thorough investigation conducted by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights in regards to this matter,” according to the college. “The College fully supports the determinations and resolutions outlined in its final report made public this week.”


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U.S. Department of Education, Montgomery College reach agreement to resolve sexual harassment investigation