Discrimination/Harassment Grievance Procedures

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

The Needham Public Schools does not discriminate against students, parents, employees, or or the general public based on race, color, sex, homeless status, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or age.  Discrimination or harassment by administrators, teachers, certified and support personnel, students, vendors and other individuals at school or at school-sponsored events in unlawful and is strictly prohibited.  The Needham Public Schools requires all employees and students to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner  with respect to their fellow employees and students to conduct themselves in an appropriate manner with respect to their fellow employees, students and all members of the school community.

This Grievance Procedure is adopted to assist school staff in responding to claims of discrimination and/or harassment based on race, color, sex, homeless status, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or age, including those claims brought under to Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ("Title IX"), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, M.G.L c. 76, § 5: M.G.L c. 151B and 151C; and 603 C.M.R. § 26.00 and the Age Act, provided that claims of sexual harassment that fall within the parameters of Title IX will be processed under the District's Title IX Grievance Procedure.  This policy applies to all students, and staff, as well as members of the general pubic.

Definitions
For the purposes of this procedure:

A. A "Complaint" is defined as an allegation that a student, employee or other individual has been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of race, color, sex, homeless 
status, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation,,disability, or age by which an individual is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of the school.

B. "Discrimination" means discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, homeless status, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or age by which an individual is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of the school.

C. "Harassment" means unwelcome conduct on the basis of race, color, sex, homeless status, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or age that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to create a hostile environment for the individual at school.  Harassment may include insults name-calling, off color jokes, threats, comments, innuendos, notes, display of pictures or symbols, gestures, or other conduct which rises to the level of a hostile environment.

D.  "Sexual Harassment" means unwelcome, sexually offensive or gender-based conduct which is sufficiently severe, persistent to create a hostile environment for the individual at school.  Specifically, under regulation promulgated under Title IX, sexual harassment includes three types of misconduct:

1.  Any instance of "quid pro quo" conduct (conditioning an educational benefit or service upon a person' participation in unwelcome sexual conduct) by an employee.
2.  Any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access.
3.  Any instance of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking (all as defined by federal laws.)


Additionally, under M.G.L. c. 151C, § 1, the term "sexual harassment" may also include, but not limited to, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (i) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the provision of the benefits, privileges or placement services as a basis for the evaluation of academic achievement; or (ii) such advances or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's education by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive education by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive educational environment.  Under M.G.L c. 151B , § 1, the term "sexual harassment" shall mean sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (i) submission to or rejection of such advances requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment or as a basis for employment decisions; or (ii) such advances or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

When determining whether an environment is hostile, the school district examines the context, nature, frequency, and location of the sexual or gender-based incidents, as well as the identity , number and relationships of the persons involved.  The school district must consider whether the alleged harassment was sufficient to have created an environment for a reasonable person of the same age, gender, and experience as the alleged victim, and under similar circumstances.

Harassment and Retaliation Prohibited

Harassment in any form or for any reason is absolutely forbidden.  This includes harassment by administrators, certified and support personnel, students, vendors and other individuals in school (1) on school grounds, (2) at school related events and (3) at all locations and events where the exercises substantial control of the context of the harassment and the person accused of it.  The District will also address circumstances in which conduct took place in other locations but may nevertheless have a significant impact on the school environment, with the understanding that such circumstances do not fall within the parameters of Title IX.  Retaliation against any individual who has brought harassment or other inappropriate behavior to the attention of school officials or who has cooperated in an investigation of a complaint under this policy is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the Needham Public Schools.

Persons who engage in harassment or retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action, including, but not limited to reprimand, suspension, termination/expulsion or other sanctions  determined by the school administration and/or School Committee, subject to applicable procedural requirements.

How to make a complaint

A.  Any student, employee or other individual who believes that he/she has been discriminated against or harassed should report their concern promptly to the school principal, or to the District's Civil Rights Coordinator.  If the school principal receive the report, he or she will notify the Civil Rights Coordinator of the complaint.  Students, employees, or other individuals who are unsure whether discrimination or harassment has occurred are encouraged to discuss the situation with the school principal.

The District's Civil Rights Coordinator is:

For employees:
Alex McNeil Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources
[email protected]
781-455-0400 x11208

For students and families:
Mary Lammi
Assistant Superintendent for Student Support Services
[email protected]
781-455-0400 x11213

B.  All employee of the Needham Public Schools including, but not limited to principals, teachers, school counselors coaches, paraprofessionals, school bus drivers, administrative assistants, custodians, food service staff who observe harassment or who receive a report of harassment relating to a student or another staff member are required to immediately report such conduct.  All employees must recognize that under the Title IX regulations, the District is deemed to have actual knowledge of an alleged incident of sexual harassment (and must thus address it) when any employee has knowledge of such conduct. thus, all employees who have knowledge of sexual harassment must report it and do not have the option of ignoring it.  Parents and other adults are also encouraged to report any concerns about possible discrimination or harassment of students, employees or other individuals which have allegedly occurred on school grounds, at school related events, or actions which occurred outside of school but possibly create a hostile environment for a student or employee while he/she is at school.  

C.  Students, employees and other individuals are encouraged to utilize the District's Complaint Procedure.  However, individuals are hereby notified that they also have the right to report complaints to the United State Department of education;  Office og Civil Rights, 5 Post Office Square, 8th floor; Boston, Massachusetts 02110-1491, Telephone:  617-289-0111, Fax: 617-289-0150, TDD:  877-521-2172; or Program Quality Assurance Services, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA. 02148-4906, Telephone: 781-338-3700, TTY; N.E.T. Relay: 1-800-439-2370, FAX: 781-338-3710. Employees also have the right to seek a remedy at any time at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), JFK Federal Building, 15 New Sudbury Street,Room 475, Boston, MA. 02203-0506; 1-800-669-4000 or 1-800-669-6820 (TTY) and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD) at One Ashburton Place, Suite 601, Boston, MA. 02018; 617-994-6000 or 617-994-6196 (TTY),   mass.gov/orgs/massachusetts-commission-against-discrimination. 

Complaint Handling and Investigation

A.    The school principal or designee shall promptly inform the relevant Civil Rights Coordinator and the person(s) who is the subject of the Complaint that a Complaint has been received.

 


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