The principal of Fairview High School in Boulder received a paid administrative leave as school district officials investigate claims made in a federal lawsuit that the principal fostered a permissive sexual assault environment in the high school.
Principal Don Stensrud was named as a defendant in the lawsuit, filed Friday, along with the Boulder Valley School District. Two Fairview alumni claimed in the lawsuit that high school leaders knew during the 2016-2017 school year that a student-athlete was accused of raping at least two other students, but did not investigate and did not protect the students from confrontation. to a hostile. environment at school.
The school and Stensrud “repeatedly turned a blind eye to rampant sexual harassment and abuse,” the lawsuit says. Stensrud could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He has worked for the school district for a total of 22 years, said Randy Barber, a district spokesman.
In an email Tuesday to students and parents, Robbyn Fernandez, assistant superintendent of schools, said Stensrud’s paid leave “in no way indicates a presumption of guilt or wrongdoing.” Boulder Valley School District administrator Terry Gillach will fill the role of Stensrud during the investigation, she wrote in the email.
Sophie Dellinger, who as a student and graduate of Fairview 2020 lobbied the school to change its approach on sexual assault issues, said Wednesday that she is glad to see the investigation into Stensrud.
“From the lawsuit, it is clearly shown that he is a danger to the school community, almost, because he did not report or respond to these accusations,” he said, and then added: “This only sheds light and clarifies: something that people already knew. Fairview students have especially known that Fairview administration across the board and BVSD have not done the best job, historically, responding to cases like this. “
Dellinger is on the school district’s new Title IX Advisory Council, which was one of several changes made after former star Fairview quarterback Aidan Atkinson was charged with sexual assault in late 2019. He was acquitted of assault. sexual assault and previously pleaded guilty to harassment. this year. The case prompted Dellinger and others to ask for a change in high school.
During the 2020-2021 school year, the school district adopted a new code of student conduct and provided additional training to staff on sexual assault and Title IX, Fernandez wrote in the email. This year, the school district hired a Title IX coordinator, he added.
Title IX is a federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex and requires schools that receive federal funds to investigate and remedy hostile educational environments, among other obligations.