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429P - Sexual Harassment/Harassment/and Any Other Discrimination Based on Race, Color, National Origin, Age, Religion, Political Affiliation, Sex, Disabilities, or Veteran Status

It is the policy of the School Board of Frederick County to maintain an environment free from sexual harassment, any other harassment, and any other discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status.

The School Board of Frederick County prohibits sexual harassment, any other harassment, and any other discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status; therefore, it is a violation of this policy to harass a student or school personnel sexually, or based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status. Further, it is a violation of this policy for any school personnel to tolerate sexual harassment, any other or harassment, and any other discrimination based on a student’s or employee’s race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status by students, school personnel, or third parties participating in, observing, or otherwise engaging in school-sponsored activities.

For the purpose of this policy, school personnel means school board members, school employees, agents, volunteers, contractors, or other persons subject to the supervision and control of the school division.

The school division will (1) promptly investigate all complaints, written or verbal, of sexual harassment, any other harassment, and any other discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status; (2) promptly take appropriate action to stop any harassment or other discrimination and (3) take appropriate action against any student or school personnel who violates this policy and take any other action reasonably calculated to end and prevent further harassment of school personnel or students.

I. Definitions

A. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical conduct or other verbal or physical conduct, or communication of a sexual nature when:

(i) submission to that conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of obtaining or retaining employment or education; or

(ii) submission to or rejection of the conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting that individual’s
employment or education; or

(iii) that conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s employment or education, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive employment or educational environment (i.e., the conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to limit a student’s or employee’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program or work environment.).

            Examples of conduct which may constitute sexual harassment include: 

    • unwelcome, sexually motivated or inappropriate patting, pinching, or other physical contact (other than necessary restraint of students by school personnel to avoid physical harm to people or property); 
    • unwelcome sexual flirtations or propositions; 
    • sexual slurs, leering, epithets, threats, verbal abuse, derogatory comments, or sexually degrading descriptions; 
    • graphic verbal comments about an individual’s body, or overly personal conversation of a sexual nature; 
    • sexual jokes, notes, stories, drawings, gestures, or pictures; 
    • spreading sexual rumors; 
    • touching an individual’s body or clothes in a sexual way; 
    • displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters; and 
    • impeding or blocking movement.

B. Other Harassment and Other Discrimination Based on Race, Color, National Origin, Age, Religion, Political Affiliation Sex, Disabilities, or Veteran Status

Other harassment and other discrimination based on race, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status consists of physical or verbal conduct relating to an individual’s race, color, national origin, age religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status when the conduct:

(i) has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment;

(ii) has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance; or

(iii) otherwise adversely affects an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.
 
Examples of conduct which may constitute harassment or other discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status include:
  • graffiti containing racially offensive language;
  • name calling, jokes, or rumors;
  • physical acts of aggression against a person or his property because of that person’s race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status;
  • slurs, negative stereotypes, and hostile acts which are based on another’s race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status; and
  • written or graphic material containing ethnic comments or stereotypes which is posted or circulated and is intended to degrade individuals based on their race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status.

II. Complaint Procedure

A. File report
Any student or school personnel who believes he or she has been the victim of sexual harassment, harassment, and any other discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status by a student, school personnel, or a third party participating in, observing, or otherwise engaging in school-sponsored activities, should report the alleged harassment as soon as possible, generally within 30 (thirty) days of the alleged harassment or other discrimination, to one of the compliance officers designated in this policy. Further, any student who has knowledge of conduct which may constitute prohibited harassment should report such conduct to their school administrator, guidance counselor, or one of the compliance officers designated in the policy. Any school personnel who has noticed that a student or other school personnel may have been a victim of harassment and/or other discrimination must immediately report the alleged harassment and/or other discrimination to a supervisor or one of the compliance officers designated in this policy.

The reporting party should make complaints using the “Complaint of Harassment/Discrimination” form in Regulation 506R, Personnel-Sexual Harassment. However, oral reports will also be accepted. The complaint should be filed with either the building principal or one of the compliance officers designated in this policy. However, a complaint may be filed with any administrator. The principal/administrator must immediately forward any report of alleged prohibited harassment and/or other discrimination to the compliance officer. Any complaint that involves the compliance officer must be reported to the superintendent. Any complaint that involves the superintendent must be reported to the chairperson of the school board or other member of the school board.

The complaint and identity of the complainant and alleged harasser will not be disclosed except as required by law or policy, as necessary to fully investigate the complaint or as authorized by the complainant. A complainant who wishes to remain anonymous will be advised that such confidentiality may limit the school division’s ability to fully respond to the complaint.


B. Investigation

Upon receipt of a report of alleged prohibited harassment and/or other discrimination, the compliance officer shall immediately authorize or undertake an investigation. The investigation may be conducted by school personnel or, if appropriate, a third party designated by the school division. The investigation shall be completed as soon as practicable, which should generally be not more that 14 (fourteen) calendar days after receipt of the alleged harassment or discrimination by the compliance officer. Within 3 (three) school days of receiving the complaint, the compliance officer shall send written notice that the complaint has been received to the complainant and the person or persons allegedly responsible for the harassment or discrimination. If the compliance officer determines that more than 14 (fourteen) calendar days will be required to investigate the complaint, he or she will notify the complainant and the person(s) allegedly responsible for the harassment or discrimination of the reasons for the extended investigation and the date by which the investigation will be concluded. If the alleged harassment and/or other discrimination may also constitute child abuse, then the complaint must be reported to the Department of Social Services in accordance with law.

The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the complainant, the alleged harasser, and any others who may have knowledge of the alleged harassment and/or other discrimination or the circumstances giving rise to the complaint. The investigation may also consist of the inspection of any other documents or information deemed relevant by the investigator. The school division will take necessary steps to protect the complainant and others pending the completion of the investigation.

In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes a violation of this policy, the division will consider at a minimum: (1) the surrounding circumstances; (2) the nature of the behavior; (3) past incidents or past or continuing patterns of behavior; (4) the relationship between the parties; (5) how often the conduct occurred; (6) the identity of the alleged perpetrator in relation to the alleged victim (i.e., positions of authority); (7) the location of the alleged harassment; (8) the ages of the parties; and (9) the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a case-by-case determination based on all of the relevant facts and circumstances following a complete and thorough investigation.

The compliance officer will issue a written report to the superintendent upon completion of the investigation. If the complaint involves the superintendent, then the report will be sent to the school board. The report will include, to the extent possible, a determination of whether the allegations are substantiated, whether this policy was violated, and recommendations for corrective action, if any.

All employees will cooperate with any investigation of alleged harassment and/or other discrimination conducted under this policy or by an appropriate state or federal agency. 


C. School division action

Within 5 (five) days of receiving the compliance officer’s report, the superintendent will issue a decision regarding (1) whether this policy was violated and (2) what action, if any, should be taken. This decision must be provided in writing to the complainant and the alleged perpetrator. If the superintendent determines that prohibited harassment occurred, Frederick County Schools shall take prompt, appropriate action to address and remedy the violation as well as prevent any recurrence. Any decision about a report of harassment and/or other discrimination against the superintendent will be made by the school board. Such action may include discipline up to and including expulsion or termination of employment.

D. Appeal

If the school division determines that no harassment and/or other discrimination occurred, the employee or student who was allegedly subjected to harassment may appeal this finding to the school board within 5 calendar days of receiving the decision. Notice of appeal must be filed with the superintendent who will forward the relevant portions of the record to the school board. The school board shall make a decision within 30 calendar days of receiving the record. The school board may ask for oral or written argument from the aggrieved party and the superintendent and any other individual the school board deems relevant.

Employees may choose to pursue their complaints under this policy through the relevant employee grievance procedure (509P, Personnel - Grievance Procedures) instead of the complaint procedure in this policy.


E. Compliance officer and alternate compliance officer

The Frederick County School Board has designated the assistant superintendent for administration as the compliance officer responsible for identifying, preventing, and remedying prohibited harassment and/or other discrimination. Complaints may also be made to the alternate compliance officer, the executive director of human resources, Frederick County Public Schools Administration Building, 1415 Amherst Street, Winchester, VA 22601.

The compliance officer will:

1. receive reports or complaints of harassment and/or other discrimination;

2. oversee the investigation of any alleged harassment and/or other discrimination;

3. assess the training needs of the school division in connection with this policy;

4. arrange necessary training to achieve compliance with this policy; and

5. ensure that any harassment and/or other discrimination investigation is conducted by an impartial investigator who is trained in the requirements of equal employment/education opportunity, including the authority to protect the alleged victim and others during the investigation.

III. Retaliation


Retaliation against students or school personnel who report harassment and/or other discrimination or participate in any related proceedings is prohibited. The school division will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment, against students or school personnel who retaliate against any student or school personnel who reports alleged harassment or participates in related proceedings.

IV. Right to alternative complaint procedure

Nothing in this policy denies the right of any individual to pursue other avenues of recourse to address concerns relating to prohibited harassment and/or other discrimination including initiating civil action, filing a complaint with outside agencies, or seeking redress under state or federal law.

V. Prevention and notice of policy

Training to prevent sexual harassment, and harassment, and any other discrimination based on race, color, national origin, age, religion, political affiliation, sex, disabilities, or veteran status will be included in employee and student orientations as well as employee inservice training.

This policy will be (1) displayed in prominent areas of each division building in a location accessible to students, parents, and school personnel; (2) included in the student and employee handbooks; and (3) sent to parents of all students within 30 calendar days of the start of school. Further, all students and their parents/guardians, and employees will be notified annually of the names and contact information of the compliance officers.

VI. False charges

Students or school personnel who make false charges of harassment and/or other discrimination will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion or termination of employment.

 

 

 

 

Cross Reference: Policy 509P, Personnel - Grievance Procedures


Legal Reference:

Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, 42 U.S.C. Sections 2000e-z; Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972; Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX, 8 VAC 20-81-100(N),

28 CFR 35.149, 34 CFR 104.4.

 


Adopted:         June 27, 1994

Amended:       September 4, 2001

Amended:       December 15, 2009

Amended:       October 18, 2011