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North Lyon Co. School District agrees to reforms following student’s discrimination

A report from the Kansas Association of School Boards says North Lyon County Elementary School...
A report from the Kansas Association of School Boards says North Lyon County Elementary School eighth-grade student Izzy Dieker, shown here at left with her mother, Tasha Cooper, was sexually harassed after she said she was a lesbian on a bus ride home from school earlier this year.(KVOE Radio)
Published: Jul. 30, 2021 at 1:45 PM CDT
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(WIBW) - The ACLU says a Kansas school district has agreed to implement reforms following a student’s complaint she was discriminated against due to her sexual orientation.

The ACLU of Kansas says the North Lyon Co. School District notified them it will take steps to address what happened to Izzy Dieker.

A report from the Kansas Association of School Boards issued earlier this year found the 14-year-old was sexually harassed after she said she was a lesbian on a bus ride home from school. The report stated the school bus driver Kristi Gadino singled out the eighth grader for her comment when other students were using more coarse language or violating bus travel policies without reprisal, KVOE Radio reported at the time.

In a Friday news release, the ACLU said the district informed them it would provide anti-discrimination training to teachers and staff, make Title IX complaint procedures more transparent, and more clearly publicizing the district’s anti-discrimination policies.

“We were glad for the district’s willingness to engage with us to address the discrimination Izzy Dieker experienced because of her sexual orientation,” ACLU of Kansas Legal Director Sharon Brett said in a letter to the school district. “While we regret that our involvement and Izzy’s successful Title IX complaint were ever necessary, we were glad to learn that the district would take steps to ensure similar discrimination does not occur again. We understand that USD 251 leadership agrees that all students in North Lyon County should feel welcomed, respected, and safe—regardless of their sexual orientation.”

USD 251 superintendent Robert Blair confirmed the agreement to 13 NEWS.

“USD 251 has reached a mutual agreement with the goal of improving existing policies and procedures as well as augmenting training to ensure all students feel welcome and safe,” Blair said.  “Our school district is committed to providing a learning environment free from discrimination.”

In addition, the USD 251 will utilize a trainer and presenter recommended by the ACLU of Kansas for sessions with all district employees either this summer or during in-service days. The training will focus on ensuring the district is welcoming to all especially members of the LGBTQI+ community.

“We believe these are positive steps forward to both heal the harm done to Izzy and ensure North Lyon County USD 251 is an educational and positive place for all,” the ACLU’s letter states.

The KASB report also found that North Lyon Co. Elementary School principal Corey Wiltz was at fault in his decision to “double down” on disciplinary action while not reviewing video footage from the bus in a timely manner or responding to the family with initial findings, but keeping Dieker from riding the afternoon bus.

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