Michelle Sutherlin and Kristin Atchley have been hired to support student victims of sexual assault and harassment at Norman North and Norman High School. 

Norman Public Superintendent Dr. Joe Siano announced the district had hired Sutherlin and Atchley during regularly scheduled meeting Monday evening. Sutherlin will be employed at Norman North and Atchley will serve Norman High students.

They will both fill the new Student Advocacy Coordinator positions the district announced last December. Siano developed the job descriptions for the new positions with input from members NPS Gender-based Violence & Bullying Prevention & Response Task Force, which formed in response to the handling of reported bullying of alleged rape victims at Norman High School. 

Yes All Daughters, a student-led movement supporting the three female Norman High students who were allegedly raped and bullied at the school, included the creation of the positions as part of its demands prior to the protest on Nov. 24, 2014. 

Sutherlin is the current counselor at Longfellow Middle School and has been employed at NPS as a counselor for more than five years. She earned her master’s degree in Human Relations from the University of Oklahoma and also is a former journalist and director of emergency services for the American Red Cross. She is involved with the United Way of Norman as its Destination Graduation Committee Chair and is a former board member of the Center for Children and Families.

 Atchley joined NPS in December as a counselor at Adams Elementary. She has been a therapist for the Moore Youth & Family Services organization and as a school counselor in Moore, Guthrie, and Mustang. She earned her master’s in Human Development and Family Science from Oklahoma State University.

 Siano said he was pleased the Board of Education approved the new positions because counseling positions dedicated to serving students who are victims of trauma, violence, harassment and bullying is a necessity for schools in this current day and age.

 “Unfortunately, social issues significantly impact our schools and students, and these issues have become increasingly complex in recent years,” he said. “Our district’s student advocacy coordinators will be an asset to the teachers and administrative teams at each of our high schools as they will be the certified staff member that is accountable and solely dedicated to students who have been victimized, providing them and their families the support and information they need and being the point-person for school-related responses when appropriate.”

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