Cabrillo College and Instructor Sued for Title IX violations

Instructor Alex Taurke found in violation of Title IX policy, remains employed

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Trigger warning: This story contains references to sexual violence. 

A former Cabrillo College student and mathematics teaching aid is suing both Cabrillo College, for depriving her of her rights and violating Title IX, and Cabrillo mathematics instructor Alex Taurke for sexual assault and sexual battery.

According to the court claim, the student, whose name has been withheld to protect her identity, was unable to find information about Title IX and was directed to an athletics coach, whom she felt uncomfortable speaking with. Because of this, she went directly to the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) to report.

The resulting OCR investigation report states Cabrillo College was found not in compliance with OCR Title IX policy with respect to the transparency of the Human Resources and Title IX combined position. Taurke was also found in violation of Title IX policy.

“The complainant was subjected to unwanted touching and comments by a faculty member, which created a hostile environment on the basis of sex,” according to the OCR report.

Cabrillo College director of marketing and communications Kristin Fabos was unable to comment on personnel specifics, though she confirmed Taurke is currently employed and is scheduled to teach in fall 2017.

“Cabrillo [College] possessed actual knowledge of Taurke’s unfitness, putting the college on actual notice of the substantial risk of abuse to students,” the court report stated.

In accordance with OCR, there is not a minimum number of hours required for sexual violence training, but it should be provided on a regular basis. Fabos said every two years, Cabrillo staff, faculty and administrators are required to complete a sexual harassment training. But according to the suit filing document, Taurke had only one sexual harassment training in his 20 years at Cabrillo College.

“On many levels, be it [Title IX] or any particular office on campus, we have smaller staffing and resources than any of the UCs and many of the CSUs because of our funding structure,” Fabos said.

Cabrillo College did not admit to any violation of law but agreed to implement all recommendations by the OCR, including implementing a mandatory staff sexual violence training beginning next year.

“Title IX and the link for students submitting complaints is prominently featured on our website home page, and […] it has been featured in our course catalog too,” Fabos said. “In addition, every student who completes an online orientation has to complete a sexual harassment training.”

As per OCR Title IX regulations, colleges must have at least one employee to coordinate compliance with nationwide Title IX regulations. There is no Title IX director at Cabrillo College, rather there is an interim human resources director who also holds the title of Title IX officer. Cabrillo College has been in the process of hiring a Title IX coordinator to separate the position from human resources, and though it is in the “final stages” of hiring, it has yet to fill the position, Fabos said.

“At the present, Plaintiff believes the college has failed to adequately address and resolve her complaint as Cabrillo has barely, if at all, implemented any disciplinary actions toward Professor Taurke for his improper conduct against her,” the complaint said.

*Taurke was unable to be reached for comment.