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Classes on Harassment Sought for Employees : Education: The president of the Ventura County Community College District board wants instructors and others to take courses on sex-based offenses.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The president of the Ventura County Community College District board said he wants instructors and all other employees at Oxnard, Moorpark and Ventura colleges to attend mandatory classes on avoiding sexual harassment.

Board President Pete Tafoya said a workshop or seminar is needed to clarify the district’s policy against sexual harassment, and plans to suggest the idea at Tuesday’s trustee meeting.

“The definition is not really clear-cut,” Tafoya said. “I think you have to get into situational examples in order for people to understand.”

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Tafoya said his idea stems partly from the fact that the district was found liable earlier this month for about $186,000 in civil damages because school officials had bungled a 1989 investigation of a sexual harassment claim.

A suit has also been filed by a woman contending that the district kept Moorpark College instructor Alex Paredes on staff although officials knew of “his propensity for sexually molesting young female students"--an allegation that the district has denied.

Paredes was convicted in February on two counts of sexual assault.

About two weeks ago, Tafoya himself completed an all-day, mandatory workshop about sexual harassment that was sponsored by the Navy. Tafoya is a civilian manager at the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory at Port Hueneme, and all employees were required to attend the workshop because of the Navy’s Tailhook sexual harassment scandal, he said.

“In terms of society, we’re in a real climate change,” Tafoya said. “We’re having more and more women enter the work force and . . . sexual harassment cannot be tolerated.”

Jerry Pauley, the vice chancellor of personnel, said all administrators and other employees who are not instructors completed a mandatory sexual harassment workshop in June.

Pauley said professors and instructors are not required to take classes about how to recognize and avoid sexual harassment, but many of them attended voluntarily.

Tafoya’s proposal would extend such training to all employees, including all full- and part-time faculty members.

Larry Miller, chief negotiator for the teachers’ union, said he did not think that mandatory workshops would be a solution. “Those who are going to practice sexual harassment are not going to stop because of a workshop,” Miller said. “It’s going to take peer pressure.”

Miller, who teaches biology at Moorpark College, said instructors are probably more conscious of the issue than other district employees. “I, for instance, never shut my door when I have a female student visit my office. I used to hug my students and now I don’t touch male or female students at all.”

Last month, Moorpark College officials received notice that they will get a $14,876 federal grant to make a 20-minute videotape to educate students and faculty about sexual harassment, said Moorpark College President James Walker. School officials applied for the grant before the two lawsuits involving the district were filed, Walker said.

The trustees are expected to vote at Tuesday’s meeting on whether to accept the grant. Then Tafoya is scheduled to outline his concept for classes on avoiding sexual harassment.


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