After years of sexual misconduct complaints, the school district signed a gag order allowing Matthew Bissell to quietly resign.
Changes are coming to the district’s sexual harm reporting process, the result of mounting community pressure to better protect survivors.
A Berkeley High student gave a harrowing account of what happened when she tried to report her sexual assault in 2019, hoping to spur action.
Mardi Walters resigned as Title IX coordinator in February 2020 after trying to fix how the Berkeley school district handles sexual misconduct. Now she’s speaking publicly for the first time about why she left.
Matthew Bissell was finally served on Aug. 19, two months after the lawsuit was initially filed.
Last March, Genevieve Mage saw a 2003 yearbook photo of her colleague Matthew Bissell inappropriately hugging a 17-year-old student. She couldn’t let it go.
Shortly before the suit was filed, a district Title IX investigation found that former chemistry teacher and football coach Matthew Bissell engaged in a years-long pattern of inappropriate behavior.
The students hope that the lawsuit, if successful, could pave the way for more safeguards for survivors in the future.
Board members acknowledged, “The buck stops here.”
Superintendent Brent Stephens said the students have identified real structural issues with how the district handles sexual assault reports.
Students shared candid, emotional and angry accounts of trauma, as well as pleas for students and administrators to take these issues more seriously.
Campus culture and safety issues have bubbled to the surface at Berkeley High School this week, with students publicly accusing their classmates of sexual assault and their administration of failing to prevent it.