Megan Farrell, a consultant with experience in law, higher education and federal anti-discrimination law Title IX, will now oversee compliance in this area for the Palo Alto school district.
Interim Superintendent Karen Hendricks announced Farrell's appointment as the district's new full-time Title IX coordinator at Tuesday's school board meeting, which Farrell attended.
Farrell will take over for a position that has been in the community spotlight since the spring, when a report of an on-campus student sexual assault at Palo Alto High School sparked concern in the community over the district's handling of Title IX.
A national law firm, Cozen O'Connor, has since investigated the incident, identifying numerous ways in which the district failed to comply with its own policies as well as state and federal law — and many of the failures were placed at the feet of the former Title IX coordinator, Holly Wade. The law firm's report also echoed findings made by the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights in its investigations into numerous sexual misconduct cases involving students and staff at both Paly and Gunn High School.
Farrell will start on Nov. 6. She will replace John DiPaolo, a Cozen O'Connor lawyer the district hired on a temporary basis in the spring to replace Wade after she resigned.
Farrell currently performs compliance reviews, conducts Title IX investigations and coaches administrators in implementing Title IX requirements, according to the district. She describes her consulting practice online as "developing leaders, departments, and individuals in mission-driven organizations through customized training and one-on-one coaching."
According to her website, she started her consulting company in March. As a consultant, Farrell helps educational institutions to "analyze failing operations across departments, schools, and districts and create viable, cost-efficient solutions" and develop training and leadership programs, among other actions, her curriculum vitae states.
In her career, Farrell has worked in both public and private educational institutions as university counsel, faculty and Title IX coordinator. She's also served as a nonprofit director and a trainer on legal compliance topics, including Title IX, according to her website. She served as the first-ever Title IX coordinator for Notre Dame of Maryland University in Baltimore, Maryland, a position she held from 2011 to 2014.
Most recently, Farrell worked for T9 Mastered, a Sacramento firm that provides training on how to conduct Title IX investigations.
Previously, she worked for two years at Hirschfeld Kraemer LLP, a San Francisco labor and employment law firm, where she provided advice to educational institutions across the country on legal issues, according to the district.
She was also a senior consulting associate for Margolis Healy, a Vermont firm that specializes in campus safety and regulatory compliance for both higher education and K-12 schools. Cozen O'Connor acquired the firm this August, according to an online press release.
Farrell holds degrees in law, business and political science/economics.
On Tuesday, Farrell told the board that she had read the Cozen O'Connor report as well as the Office for Civil Rights' resolution agreement with the district.
"I believe I can bring a lot to the table with regard to going forward," she said.