School Board Discusses Naming of New Middle School, Title IX Overview Addressing Sexual Harassment

On Feb. 28, before acknowledging the celebration of National Professional Social Work Month and Social Emotional Learning day, the LCPS school board sat down to discuss naming a new middle school and reviewed policies on Title IX violations in the form of sexual harassment.


Amelia Chen

At the fourth annual Tuesday school board meeting, members discussed the representation of African American leaders with regard to the naming of the new middle school and how to report sexual harassment in terms of Title XI violations. The school board also voted on celebrating National Professional Social Work Month and Social Emotional Learning day this school year.

At the fourth Tuesday school board meeting on Feb. 28, the LCPS school board discussed the naming of the new middle school (MS-14), addressed sexual assault and harassment by going over Title XI violation report filing, and voted to celebrate National Professional Social Work Month and Social Emotional Learning day this March. 

(MS-14) Naming Recommendations with African American Representation

With the construction of a new LCPS middle school, currently known as (MS-14), the rising need for a name has garnered many options presented by the committee appointed to name it in September 2022. As of Feb. 28, the committee created four options. Two of the four include naming the school after a prominent figure in the fight for African American rights and representation in the late 19th century. “William H. Ash Middle School” is derived from the first African American from Loudoun County to be elected to the House of Delegates. 

Another option,  “Watson Freedmen Middle School,” came from the community of Watson, a commonplace settlement for freed slaves during the Civil War time period. The name also pays homage to John Watson, a member of the House of Delegates who voted in favor of the ratification of the 14th and 15th amendments. 

The other two recommendations are location-based, one being “Watson Mountain Middle School,” and the other “Crossroads Middle School.” Watson Mountain originates from the school’s location, which runs along the ridge of a hill commonly known as Watson Mountain. “Crossroads” is derived from the school’s proximity to the intersection of Evergreen Mills Road, Ryan Road, and Red Hill Road. The committee also has said that the crossroads represents middle school as a place where “many students begin to make important decisions in life,” the recommendation claims. 

Overview of Title XI

The Human Resources and Talent Development department provided an overview of Title XI and the process of filing complaints to report potential violations of this law. Title XI refers to a federal civil rights law that requires educational programs to respond to incidents of sexual discrimination or harassment within their sphere. At LCPS victims have the ability to report an incident in which they felt a Title XI violation happened, by filing a complaint or report for the situation to be further investigated.

Revisions to the Title XI violation report process were submitted for public comment in September 2022 and over 200,000 comments were received. Among the considered amendments are an extension on the definition of sexual harassment to decrease the threshold of what schools have to investigate, and added protection for transgender and non-binary students, as well as pregnant or parenting students and employees. Another amendment addressed the investigation into reports filed of Title XI violations that happened outside the US or off school campus if the individual case would meet certain requirements. 

A Title XI team has been set up of coordinators, case reviewers, and administrators that have been trained by the Association of Title XI Administrators to help students and employees in reviewing Title XI violation reports. More information on the process of filing Title XI reports or complaints and other resources can be found on the LCPS website under the Human Resources and Talent Development folder. 

National Professional Social Work Month

The School Board unanimously motioned for March 2023 to be “National Professional Social Work Month.” The month celebrates the Loudoun County social workers. Student Services Committee chair, Harris Mahedevi, discussed the assistance that social workers provide. “School social workers are employed in schools to enhance the academic mission by providing the services to address barriers to learning and help students reach their full potential,” Mahedevi said. “School social workers help parents focus on ways to further their educational, personal, and social growth [for] the children, by settling the link between school, family, and the community.” Mahedevi also stated how the social workers impact the students academically and mentally, as they provide consultation for students to discuss.

Social Emotional Learning Day

The school board proclaimed March 10, 2023, “Social Emotional Learning Day.” Legislative and Policy Committee chair, Atoosa Reaser, believes that Social Emotional Learning (SCL) is the process by which people obtain essential skills and attitudes for healthy identities, managing emotions, feeling and showing empathy for others, etc. “SCL competencies develop throughout our lives and are essential to our successes in our schools, workplaces, homes, and communities,” Reaser said.

The next school board meeting will take place on March 14.