File:  JFHA-R1/GBA-R1

 

HARASSMENT:  COMPLAINT PROCEDURE

 

A.                 Formal Procedure

 

                     1.                     File Report

 

Any student or school personnel who believes he or she has been the victim  of harassment based on sex, gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin, disability, , religion, ancestry, age, marital status, or genetic information or any other characteristic protected by law or based on a belief that such characteristic exists by a student, school personnel or a third party should report the alleged harassment as soon as possible to one of the compliance officers designated in this policy or to any school personnel.  The alleged harassment should be reported as soon as possible, and the report generally should be made within fifteen (15) school days of the occurrence.  Further, any student who has knowledge of conduct that may constitute prohibited harassment should report such conduct to one of the compliance officers designated in the policy or to any school personnel. Any school personnel who has notice that a student or other school personnel may have been a victim of prohibited harassment must immediately report the alleged harassment to one of the compliance officers designated in this policy.

 

The reporting party should make complaints of harassment in writing on GBA-R – Report of Harassment.  However, oral reports and other written 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  A principal or any administrator must immediately forward any report of alleged prohibited harassment to the compliance officer.  Any complaint that involves the compliance officer must be reported to the Superintendent. 

 

The complaint, and identity of the complainant and alleged harasser, will be disclosed only to the extent necessary to fully investigate the complaint and only when such disclosure is required or permitted by law.  .

 

                     2.                     Investigation

 

Upon receipt of a report of alleged prohibited harassment, the compliance officer will immediately authorize or undertake an investigation.  The investigation may be conducted by school personnel or a third party designated by the school division.  The investigation will be completed as soon as practicable, which generally should not be later than 15 school days after receipt of the report by the compliance officer.  Upon receiving the complaint, the Compliance Officer shall acknowledge receipt of the complaint by giving written notice that the complaint has been received to both the person complaining of harassment and the person accused of harassment.  Also upon receiving the complaint, the Compliance Officer shall determine whether interim measures should be taken pending the outcome of the investigation.  Such interim measures may include, but are not limited to, separating the alleged harasser and the complainant and, in cases involving potential criminal conduct, determining whether law enforcement officials should be notified. If the Compliance Officer determines that more than 15 school days will be required to investigate the complaint, the complainant and the accused shall be notified of the reason for the extended investigation and of the date by which the investigation will be concluded.  If the alleged harassment may also constitute child abuse, then it must be reported to the Department of Social Service in accordance with Policy JHG, Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting.

 

The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the complainant, the alleged harasser, and any others who may have knowledge of the alleged harassment or the circumstances giving rise to the complaint.  The investigation will consider witnesses and evidence from both the alleged harasser and the person allegedly harassed.  The investigation may also consist of the inspection of any documents or information deemed relevant by the investigator.  The school division will take all reasonable precautions to protect the complainant and others from retaliatory conduct pending the completion of the investigation.

 

In determining whether alleged conduct constitutes a violation of this policy, the division shall 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. whether the alleged perpetrator was in a position of power over the alleged victim); (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 facts and circumstances revealed after 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 are expected to cooperate with any investigation of alleged harassment conducted under this policy or by an appropriate state or federal agency.

 

3.                     School Division Action

 

Within 5 school days of receiving the Compliance Officer’s report, the superintendent or designee shall issue a decision regarding whether this policy was violated. This decision must be provided in writing to the complainant and the alleged perpetrator.  If the Superintendent or designee determines that it is more likely than not that prohibited harassment occurred, the Winchester Public School Division shall take prompt, appropriate action to address and remedy the violation as well as prevent any recurrence.  Such action may include discipline up to and including expulsion or discharge.  Whether or not the Superintendent or designee determines that prohibited harassment occurred, the Superintendent or designee may determine that school-wide or division-wide training be conducted or that the complainant receives counseling.

 

4.                     Appeal

 

If the school division determines that no prohibited harassment occurred, the employee or student who was allegedly subject to harassment may appeal this finding to the Winchester School Board within five (5) school days of receiving the decision.  Notice of appeal must be filed with the Superintendent, who will forward the information to the Winchester School Board.  The School Board will make a decision within thirty (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. Written notice of the School Board’s decision will be given to both the alleged harasser and the person allegedly harassed.

If the Superintendent or designee determines that prohibited harassment occurred and discipline is imposed, the disciplined person may appeal the disciplinary sanction in the same manner as any other such sanction would be appealed.

 

            Employees may choose to pursue their complaints under this policy through the relevant employee grievance procedure instead of the complaint procedure in this policy.

 

                     5.                        Compliance Officer and Alternate Compliance Officer

 

The Winchester Public School Board has designated the Director of Personnel as the Compliance Officer responsible for identifying, investigating, preventing and remedying prohibited discrimination.  Complaints of discrimination may also be made to the Alternate Compliance Officer.  The Superintendent has designated the Alternate Compliance Officer as the Director of Special Education and Related Services 

The Compliance Officer will:

·                     receive reports or complaints of harassment;

·                     conduct or oversee the investigation of any alleged harassment;

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

·                     arrange necessary training to achieve compliance with this policy;

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

 

The designated Compliance Officer and Alternate Compliance Officer are as follows:

 

Compliance Officer                             Alternate Compliance Officer

Director of Personnel                           Director of Special Education & Related Services

Winchester Public Schools                   Winchester Public Schools

12 N. Washington Street                      12 N. Washington Street

Winchester, VA  22601                                   Winchester, VA  22601

(540) 667-4253                                               (540) 667-4253

 

A.              Informal Procedure

 

            If the complainant and the person accused of harassment agree, the student’s principal or designee may arrange for them to resolve the complaint informally with the help of a counselor, teacher, or administrator.

 

            If the complainant and the person accused of harassment agree to resolve the complaint informally, they shall each be informed that they have the right to abandon the informal procedure at any time in favor of the initiation of the Formal Procedures set forth herein.  The principal or designee shall notify the complainant and the person accused of harassment in writing when the complaint has been resolved.  The written notice shall state whether prohibited harassment occurred.


 

B.              Retaliation

 

           Retaliation against students or school personnel who  report harassment or participate in any related proceedings is prohibited.  Winchester Public Schools will take appropriate action against students or school personnel who retaliate against any student or school personnel  who reports alleged harassment or participates in related proceedings. The Compliance Officer will inform persons who make complaints, who are the subject of complaints, and who participate in investigations, of how to report any subsequent problems.

 

C.              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 including initiating civil action, filing a complaint with outside agencies, or seeking redress under state or federal law.

 

D.                 Prevention and Notice of Policy

 

Training to prevent  harassment based on sex, gender, race, color, national or ethnic origin, disability, religion, ancestry, age, marital status, and genetic information  should be included in employee and student orientations as well as employee in-service training.

 

This policy shall 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 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 shall be notified annually of the names and contact information of the Compliance Officers

 

Further, all students, and their parents/ guardians, and employees will be notified annually of the names and contact information of the compliance officers.

 

E.               False Charges

 

            Students or school personnel who make knowingly make false charges of harassment will be subject to disciplinary action as well as any civil or criminal legal proceedings.

 

Adopted:

January 20, 2003; Revised March 21, 2005, September 8, 2009,  August 26, 2013, January 10, 2014_

 

Legal Refs:      20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688.

            29 U.S.C. § 794.

            42 U.S.C. §§ 2000d-2000d-7.

            42 U.S.C. §§ 2000e-2000e-17.

            42 U.S.C. § 2000ff-1.

            34 C.F.R. 106.9.

            Code of Virginia, 1950 as amended, §§ 2.2-3900, 2.2-3901, 2.2-3902.

           

Cross Refs:      AC                               Nondiscrimination

                        AD                               Educational Philosophy

                        GB                               Equal Employment Opportunity/Nondiscrimination

                        GBA-/JFHA-R2           Report of Harassment

                        GBM                            Professional Staff Grievances

                        GBMA                                     Support Staff Grievances

                        JB                                Equal Educational Opportunities/Nondiscrimination

                        JFC                              Student Conduct

                        JFC-R                          Standards of Student Conduct

                        GCPD                          Professional Staff Discipline

                        JHG                             Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting

                        KKA                            Service Animals in Public Schools