General Policy Statement
It is the policy of the School Board to maintain an education and work environment which is free from all forms of unlawful harassment, including sexual harassment. This commitment applies to all School Corporation operations, programs, and activities. All students, administrators, teachers, staff, and all other school personnel share responsibility for avoiding, discouraging, and reporting any form of unlawful harassment. This policy applies to unlawful conduct occurring on school property, or at another location if such conduct occurs during an activity sponsored by the Board.
The Board will vigorously enforce its prohibition against harassment based on sex, race, color, national origin, religion, disability, or any other unlawful basis, and encourages those within the School Corporation community as well as third parties who feel aggrieved to seek assistance to rectify the problems. The Board will investigate all allegations of harassment and in those cases where unlawful harassment is substantiated; the Board will take immediate steps to end the harassment. Individuals who are found to have engaged in unlawful harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action.
For purposes of this policy, "School Corporation community" means students, administrators, teachers, staff, and all other school personnel, including Board members, agents, volunteers, contractors, or other persons subject to the control and supervision of the Board.
For purposes of this policy, "third parties" include, but are not limited to, guests and/or visitors on School Corporation property (e.g., visiting speakers, participants on opposing athletic teams, parents), vendors doing business with, or seeking to do business with, the Board, and other individuals who come in contact with members of the School Corporation community at school-related events/activities (whether on or off School Corporation property).
Other Violations of the Anti-Harassment Policy
The Board will also take immediate steps to impose disciplinary action on individuals engaging in any of the following prohibited acts:
A. Retaliating against a person who has made a report or filed a complaint alleging harassment, or who has participated as a witness in a harassment investigation.
B. Filing a malicious or knowingly false report or complaint of harassment.
C. Disregarding, failing to investigate adequately, or delaying investigation of allegations of harassment, when responsibility for reporting and/or investigating harassment charges comprises part of one's supervisory duties.
Pursuant to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, "sexual harassment" is defined as:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when:
A. Submission to such conduct is made either implicitly or explicitly a term or condition of an individual's status in a class, educational program, or activity;
B. Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for educational decisions affecting such individual;
C. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment; or of interfering with one's ability to participate in or benefit from a class or an educational program or activity.
Sexual harassment may involve the behavior of a person of either gender against a person of the same or opposite gender.
Prohibited acts that constitute sexual harassment may take a variety of forms. Examples of the kinds of conduct that may constitute sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
A. Unwelcome sexual propositions, invitations, solicitations, and flirtations.
B. Physical assault.
C. Threats or insinuations that a person's academic grade, promotion, classroom work or assignments, academic status, participation in athletics or extra-curricular programs or events, or other conditions of education may be adversely affected by not submitting to sexual advances.
D. Unwelcome verbal expressions of a sexual nature, including graphic sexual commentaries about a person's body, dress, appearance, or sexual activities; the unwelcome use of sexually degrading language, jokes or innuendoes; unwelcome suggestive or insulting sounds or whistles; obscene telephone calls.
E. Sexually suggestive objects, pictures, videotapes, audio recordings or literature, placed in the educational environment, which may embarrass or offend individuals.
F. Unwelcome and inappropriate touching, patting, or pinching; obscene gestures.
G. A pattern of conduct, which can be subtle in nature, that has sexual overtones and is intended to create or has the effect of creating discomfort and/or humiliation to another.
H. Remarks speculating about a person's sexual activities or sexual history, or remarks about one's own sexual activities or sexual history.
I. Inappropriate boundary invasions by a Corporation employee or other adult member of the School Corporation community into a student's personal space and personal life.
Not all behavior with sexual connotations constitutes unlawful sexual harassment. Conduct must be sufficiently severe, pervasive, and persistent such that it adversely affects an individual's education, or such that it creates a hostile or abusive educational environment.
NOTE: Sexual conduct/relationships with students by Corporation employee or any other adult member of the School Corporation community is prohibited, and any teacher, administrator, coach or other school authority, or staff member who engages in certain sexual conduct with a student may be disciplined up to and including termination and may also be guilty of the criminal charge of "sexual battery" as set forth in Indiana Code 35-42-4-8. In the case of a child under fourteen (14) years of age, the person may also be guilty of "child molesting" under Indiana Code 35-42-4-3. In the case of a child between the ages of fourteen (14) and sixteen (16), the person may also be guilty of "sexual misconduct with a minor" under Indiana Code 35-42-4-9. The issue of consent is irrelevant in regard to the latter two (2) criminal charges. Any employee accused of sexual relations with a student will be placed on leave with pay until school administrative proceedings are completed. Proven sexual relationships with a student regardless of the age of the student will initiate the termination process for the employee.
Prohibited racial harassment occurs when unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct is based upon an individual's race or color and when the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment; or of interfering with one's ability to participate in or benefit from a class or an educational program or activity. Such harassment may occur where conduct is directed at the characteristics of a person's race or color, such as racial slurs, nicknames implying stereotypes, epithets, and/or negative references relative to racial customs.
Religious (Creed) Harassment
Prohibited religious harassment occurs when unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct is based upon an individual's religion or creed and when the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment; or of interfering with one's ability to participate in or benefit from a class or an educational program or activity. Such harassment may occur where conduct is directed at the characteristics of a person's religious tradition, clothing, or surnames, and/or involves religious slurs.
National Origin Harassment
Prohibited national origin harassment occurs when unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct is based upon an individual's national origin and when the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment; or of interfering with one's ability to participate in or benefit from a class or an educational program or activity. Such harassment may occur where conduct is directed at the characteristics of a person's national origin, such as negative comments regarding customs, manner of speaking, language, surnames, or ethnic slurs.
Prohibited disability harassment occurs when unwelcome physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct is based upon an individual's disability and when the conduct has the purpose or effect of interfering with the individual's educational performance; of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning environment; or of interfering with one's ability to participate in or benefit from a class or an educational program or activity. Such harassment may occur where conduct is directed at the characteristics of a person's disabling condition, such as negative comments about speech patterns, movement, physical impairments or defects/appearances, or the like.
Reports and Complaints of Harassing Conduct
Members of the School Corporation community and third parties are encouraged to promptly report incidents of harassing conduct to an administrator, supervisor or other School Corporation official so that the Board may address the conduct before it becomes severe, pervasive, or persistent.
Members of the School Corporation community or third parties who believe they have been unlawfully harassed by another member of the School Corporation community or a third party are entitled to utilize the Board's informal and/or formal investigation and complaint process. Initiating a complaint, whether formally or informally, will not adversely affect the complaining individual's participation in educational or extra-curricular programs. Individuals should make every effort to file a complaint as soon as possible after the conduct occurs while the facts are known and potential witnesses are available.
The names and titles of the Anti-Harassment Complaint Coordinators with whom complaints of unlawful harassment should be filed are set forth in the administrative guidelines that supplement this policy. The names and titles of these individuals will be published annually:
1. in the parent and staff handbooks
2. on the School Corporation's web site
The Superintendent shall establish administrative guidelines describing both a formal and an informal process for making a charge of harassment, a process for investigating claims of harassment, and a process for rendering a decision regarding whether the claim of harassment was substantiated. This policy and the administrative guidelines will be readily available to all members of the School Corporation community and posted in appropriate places throughout the School Corporation.
Any Board employee who directly observes unlawful harassment of a student is obligated, in accordance with this policy, to report such observations to one of the Complaint Coordinators. Thereafter, the Complaint Coordinator must contact the student if age eighteen (18) or older, or the student's parents if under the age eighteen (18), to advise s/he/them of the Board's intent to investigate the alleged misconduct, including the obligation of the Complaint Coordinator or designee to conduct an investigation following all the procedures outlined for a formal complaint.
The School Corporation will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed, and the witnesses as much as possible, consistent with the Board’s legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to conform with any discovery or disclosure obligations. All records generated under the terms of this policy and its related administrative guidelines shall be maintained as confidential to the extent permitted by law.
Informal Process for Addressing Complaints of Harassment
The administrative guidelines will include an informal complaint process to provide members of the School Corporation community or third parties who believe they are being unlawfully harassed with a range of options designed to bring about a resolution of their concerns. Members of the School Corporation community or third parties who believe that they have been unlawfully harassed may initiate their complaint through this informal complaint process, but are not required to do so. The administrative guidelines will include as a requirement the prerequisite that the informal process is only available in those circumstances where the parties (alleged target of harassment and alleged harasser(s)) agree to participate in the informal process. Those members of the School Corporation community or third parties who believe that they have been unlawfully harassed may proceed immediately to the formal complaint process and individuals who seek resolution through the informal procedure may request that the informal process be terminated at any time to move to the formal complaint process. However, all complaints of harassment involving a Corporation employee or any other adult member of the School Corporation community against a student will be formally investigated.
Formal Process for Addressing Complaints of Harassment
The administrative guidelines will also include a formal complaint process. While the formal complaint process may serve as the first step to resolution of a charge of unlawful harassment, it is also available in those circumstances when the informal complaint process fails to satisfactorily resolve a concern. Because of the need for flexibility, no specific time lines are established for initiating the formal complaint process; however, once the formal complaint process is begun, the investigation will be completed in a timely manner (ordinarily, within thirty-one (31) calendar days of the complaint being received).
Members of the School Corporation community or third parties who feel they have been unlawfully harassed should file a formal written complaint with the principal of their school building or with one (1) of the Complaint Coordinators identified in the administrative guidelines. Oral complaints of harassment will be reduced to writing by the individual receiving the complaint and the Complainant will be asked to verify the accuracy of the reported charge by signing the document. Complaints received by a school building principal will be immediately reported to the appropriate Complaint Coordinator identified in the administrative guidelines.
After a complaint is filed, the Complaint Coordinator or designee shall conduct a prompt and timely investigation. The investigation may include interviews of the complainant, the individual accused of engaging in harassing behavior, and any other witness who may reasonably be expected to have information relevant to the situation. All interviewed parties and witnesses will be provided an opportunity to present any evidence that they reasonably believe to be relevant to the situation.
At the conclusion of the investigation the Complaint Coordinator or designee will prepare and deliver to the Superintendent a written report summarizing the evidence gathered during the investigation and providing his/her recommendations regarding whether or not the complaint of unlawful harassment has been substantiated. The written report must be based on the totality of the circumstances involved in the complaint, the nature of the alleged conduct, the context in which the alleged conduct occurred, and the ages and maturity of the individuals involved.
Upon review of the written report the Superintendent will either issue a final decision regarding whether or not the complaint of unlawful harassment was substantiated, or request that further investigation be conducted. A copy of Superintendent’s action will be delivered to both the Complainant and the individual accused of the harassing conduct.
The decision of the superintendent shall be final.
The Complaint process set forth in the policy and in the administrative guidelines is not intended to interfere with the rights of a member of the School Corporation community or a third party to pursue a complaint of unlawful harassment with the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
The Board reserves the right to investigate and resolve a complaint or report of unlawful harassment regardless of whether the member of the School Corporation community or third party alleging the harassment pursues the complaint. The Board also reserves the right to have the formal complaint investigation conducted by an external person in accordance with this policy and administrative guidelines or in such other manner as deemed appropriate by the Board or its designee.
Sanctions and Monitoring
The Board shall vigorously enforce its prohibitions against unlawful harassment. While observing the principles of due process, a violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including the suspension/expulsion of a student. All disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with applicable State law. When imposing discipline, the Superintendent shall consider the totality of the circumstances involved in the matter, including the ages and maturity levels of those involved. In those cases where unlawful harassment is not substantiated, the Board may consider whether the alleged conduct nevertheless warrants discipline in accordance with other Board policies.
Where the Board becomes aware that a prior remedial action has been taken against a member of the School Corporation community, all subsequent sanctions imposed by the Board and/or Superintendent shall be reasonably calculated to eliminate such conduct in the future.
Education and Training
In support of this Anti-Harassment Policy, the Board promotes preventative educational measures to create greater awareness of unlawful discriminatory practices. The Superintendent or designee shall provide appropriate training to all members of the School Corporation community related to the implementation of this policy and its accompanying administrative guidelines. All training regarding the Board's policy and administrative guidelines and harassment in general will be age and content appropriate.
I.C. 35-42-4 et seq.
42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq.
42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq.
29 U.S.C. 621 et seq.
29 U.S.C. 794
42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.
20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq.
42 U.S.C. 1983
National School Boards Association Inquiry and Analysis - May 2008