POLICY: Prevention of Harassment of Employees

Personnel 4002
Procedures for Handling Complaints of Harassment of Employees

The Orange Southwest Supervisory Union is committed to providing a safe and supportive environment in which all members of the school community are treated with respect. Harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination as well as disrespectful behavior which will not be tolerated.

The Orange Southwest Supervisory Union shall provide an environment free of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct, or communications constituting harassment as defined and otherwise prohibited by state and federal law.

Harassment includes, but is not limited to, examples cited in this policy.

Definitions

  1. Adverse Action: Includes any form of intimidation, reprisal or harassment such as suspension, termination, change in working conditions, loss of privileges or benefits or other disciplinary action in the case of employees.
  2. Employee: For purposes of this policy, an employee includes any person employed directly or through a contract with another company by the School District, agents of the school, School Board members and any student teacher, intern, school volunteer or work study student.
  3. Harassment: Harassment means unlawful harassment and constitutes a form of discrimination. It is verbal or physical conduct based on an race, religion (creed), color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, age, ancestry, place of birth or disability which has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
  4. School Community: Includes but is not limited to all students, school employees, contractors, unpaid volunteers, work study students, interns, student teachers, and visitors.
  5. Sexual Harassment: Is a form of sex discrimination and means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
    • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment; or
    • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a component of the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
    • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

Examples
Harassment can include any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct which offends, denigrates, or belittles an individual because of an employee’s race, creed (religion), color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, age, ancestry or disability. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to, unsolicited derogatory remarks, jokes, demeaning comments or behavior, slurs, mimicking, name calling, graffiti, innuendo, gestures, physical contact, stalking, threatening, bullying, extorting or the display or circulation of written materials or pictures.

Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to, unwelcome touching, crude jokes or pictures, discussions of sexual experiences, teasing related to sexual characteristics, pressure for sexual activity whether written, verbal or through physical gestures, display or sending of pornographic pictures or objects, obscene graffiti, and spreading rumors related to a person's alleged sexual activities.

Racial and Color Harassment
Racial or color harassment can include unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person’s race or color such as nicknames emphasizing stereotypes, racial slurs, comments on manner of speaking, and negative references to racial customs.

Religious or Creed Harassment
Harassment on the basis of religion or creed includes unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person’s religion or creed such as derogatory comments regarding surnames, religious tradition, or religious clothing, or religious slurs or graffiti.

National Origin Harassment
Harassment on the basis of national origin includes unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person’s national origin such as negative comments regarding surnames, manner of speaking, customs, language or ethnic slurs.

Marital Status Harassment
Harassment on the basis of marital status includes unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person’s marital status, such as comments regarding pregnancy or being an unwed mother or father.

Sexual Orientation Harassment
Harassment on the basis of sexual orientation includes unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person’s sexual orientation such as negative name calling and imitating mannerisms.

Disability Harassment
Harassment on the basis of a person’s disabling mental or physical condition includes any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person’s disabling condition such as imitating manner of speech or movement, or interference with necessary equipment.

Reporting

  1. Mandatory: It is the express policy of the Orange Southwest Supervisory Union to require employee targets of harassment and employees who have first-hand knowledge of such harassment to report such claims. Employees who witness or are targets of harassment shall report the incident(s) immediately to their immediate supervisor or another administrator who is not the subject of the complaint as may be appropriate under the circumstances.
    Targets of harassment should directly inform the person engaging in the harassing conduct or communication that such conduct or communication is offensive and must stop.
  2. Privacy: Complaints will be kept confidential to the extent possible given the need to investigate and act on investigative results.
  3. Retaliation: There will be no adverse action taken against a person for making a complaint of harassment when the complainant honestly believes harassment has occurred or is occurring, or for participating in or cooperating with an investigation. Any individual who retaliates against any employee who reports, testifies, assists or participates in an investigation or hearing relating to a harassment complaint will be subject to discipline by the School District.

Administrative Responsibility and Action

  1. Reporting: An employee who receives a complaint of harassment shall promptly inform the Principal (or designee) or another administrator who is not the subject of the complaint.
  2. Investigation: The School District is responsible for acting on any information regarding harassment of which it is aware. The Superintendent shall provide for a thorough, prompt investigation of the incident; the investigation and written report shall be completed in a timely fashion in accordance with school procedures after a report or complaint, formal or informal, written or oral, has been received. No person who is the subject of a complaint shall conduct such an investigation.
  3. Final Action on Complaint: The School District shall take disciplinary or remedial action as appropriate in order to ensure that further harassment does not occur. Such action may include, but is not limited to, education, training, counseling or suspension and/or termination of an employee.
  4. False Complaint: Any person who knowingly makes a false accusation regarding harassment will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including discharge of employees.
  5. Appeal: A person judged to be in violation of this policy and subjected to action under it may appeal the determination and/or the action taken in accordance with procedures adopted under this policy. The procedures shall be consistent with the provisions of any applicable collective bargaining agreement.
  6. Dissemination: The Superintendent shall use all reasonable means to inform students, employees, and the community that the District will not tolerate harassment. A copy of this policy shall be provided employees each year and shall be included in the appropriate materials that are disseminated to the school and community.

Training: The Superintendent shall develop methods of discussing the meaning and substance of this policy with staff in order to help prevent harassment. Training may be implemented in the context of employee professional development to develop broad awareness and understanding among all members of the school community.

Orange Southwest Supervisory Union Warned (4/25/05) Adopted (5/19/05)
Braintree Elementary School Warned (5/18/05) Adopted (6/18/05)
Brookfield Elementary School Warned (5/10/05) Adopted (6/14/05)
Randolph Elementary School Warned (5/5/05) Adopted (6/2/05)
Randolph Union High School Warned (5/11/05) Adopted (6/8/05)
Randolph Technical Career Center   Warned and Reviewed (5/26/05)

Legal References: 9 V.S.A. §§4502 et seq. (Public accommodations)
  16 V.S.A. §§11(a) (26), 565 (harassment, definitions)
  21 V.S.A. § 495 (retaliation, Unlawful employment practice, sexual harassment)
  33 V.S.A. §§ 4911 et seq. (child abuse)
  9 V.S.A. §§ 4500 et seq. (public accommodations)
  20 U.S.C. §§1681 et seq. (Title IX of the Educational Amendments)
  29 C.F.R. 1604.11 (Equal Opportunity Employment Commission)
  34 C.F.R. Part 106
  42 U.S.C. §2000d (Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964)
  Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education 526 U.S. 629 (1999)
  Franklin v. Gwinnett 503 U.S. 60 (1992)
  Saxe v. State College Area School District, 240 F. 3d 200 (3rd Cir. 2001)
Cross References: Reporting Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect
  Board Commitment to Non-Discrimination
  Prevention of Harassment of Students

PROCEDURES FOR HANDLING COMPLAINTS OF
HARASSMENT OF EMPLOYEES

The Orange Southwest Supervisory Union hereby adopts the following administrative procedures to implement the School District ’s policy with respect to unlawful harassment of school district employees.

Reporting And Response

  1. To Principal (or designee): Any adult school employee who witnesses or receives a report, formal or informal, written or oral, of harassment at school or during school-sponsored activities shall report it to the Principal. If the report involves the school Principal, the reporter shall make the report directly to one of the School District Equity Coordinators or Superintendent.
  2. Principal’s duty: Upon receipt of a report of harassment, the Principal shall decide whether to retain and act upon it at the school site or to forward it directly to a School District Equity Coordinator.
    • Retained by Principal. If the Principal acts upon the report at the school site and if the matter is not resolved informally as described below, he or she shall forward to a School District Equity Coordinator, within 5 calendar days, a report of any action taken.
    • Forwarded to School District Equity Coordinator. If the Principal decides to forward the complaint to a School District Equity Coordinator, he or she shall do so immediately, without screening or investigating the report. The Principal may request, but not insist upon, a written complaint. The Principal shall forward to a School District Equity Coordinator:
      • a written statement of the complaint within 24 hours; and
      • any available supporting documentation as soon as practicable
  3. School District Equity Coordinator: The Superintendent shall designate at least two (one of each gender) individuals within the School District/Supervisory Union as a School District Equity Coordinator to receive reports of harassment. If the report involves the School District Equity Coordinator(s), the reporter shall refer the complaint directly to the Superintendent. The School District shall prominently post the name, mailing address, and telephone number of its Equity Coordinators.

Informal Inquiry and Resolution
The complainant and the alleged harasser(s) may agree to a meeting facilitated by a school employee. If all parties involved agree the situation has been resolved during such meeting, the facilitator shall report to the Principal only that the matter has been resolved informally. If any party involved does not agree that the situation has been resolved, a formal investigation shall be initiated.

Investigation

  1. Who. Unless the matter is resolved informally, the Principal or School District Equity Coordinator or designee shall conduct an investigation upon receipt of a report or complaint alleging harassment.
  2. How. The investigator will interview individuals involved and any other persons who may have knowledge of the circumstances giving rise to the complaint and may use other methods and documentation.
  3. When. The investigator shall complete the investigation as soon as practicable following receipt of the complaint. The intent of the district is to complete all investigations within twenty school days. However, additional days may be warranted given the extensiveness of the case or unavailability of people to be interviewed.
  4. Result. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator shall decide if a violation of this policy has occurred and report that decision, along with the evidence supporting it, to the Principal or School District Equity Coordinator and the Superintendent or, if the complaint involves the Superintendent, directly to the School Board, for appropriate action in accordance with School District disciplinary policy.

Appeal
A person judged to be in violation of the policy on unlawful harassment and subjected to action under it may appeal the determination and/or the action taken as follows:

Applicable collective bargaining agreement. If the person filing the appeal is an adult school employee who has applicable appeal rights under the grievance procedure in a collective bargaining agreement, the appeal shall proceed in accordance with the person’s rights as outlined in that agreement.

Other. If the person filing the appeal is an adult school employee who does not have applicable appeal rights under the grievance procedure in a collective bargaining agreement, the appeal shall proceed in accordance with school district policy governing employee discipline and with legal due process requirements.

Retaliation
Retaliation for reporting harassment or cooperating in an investigation of harassment is unlawful under 21 V.S.A. §495(a)(5) and 9 V.S.A. §4503(a)(5).

Record Keeping and Notification

  1. Record keeping: The Superintendent shall assure that a record of any complaint and investigation of harassment as well as the disposition of the complaint and any disciplinary or remedial action taken is maintained by the School District in a confidential file.
  2. Notification: The Superintendent shall assure that the complainant is notified whether allegations of unlawful harassment were found to be valid, whether a violation of the policy occurred, and whether action was taken as a result.

Notice
The Superintendent shall provide notice of the policy on unlawful employee harassment and these procedures to all school employees. Copies of the policy and procedures shall appear in the employee handbook (or other similar publication) as well as publications distributed to parents and community members and shall be posted conspicuously in each school. The notice shall:

  1. Include examples of behaviors which, if sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent to interfere with a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from school programs, would constitute unlawful harassment; and
  2. Provide the following information about additional methods of pursuing claims of harassment: