ACA Harassment and Discrimination Prevention

  • Overview

    The Falmouth Public Schools shall maintain a learning and working environment free from harassment. In both the education and employment environments of the Falmouth Public Schools, various laws prohibit harassment. In an education context, law prohibits harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, sex, gender identity, disability, sexual orientation, marital status, military status, homelessness, or any other class protected by federal, state or local law. In an employment context, law also prohibits harassment on the basis of age. All such harassment is unlawful and will not be tolerated in the Falmouth Public Schools.

     

    Defining Harassment

    Forms of Harassment Including Hate Crimes

    Harassment includes any unwanted physical or verbal action toward another that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive learning or working environment. Harassment of this form includes advances, requests by a student to a student, an adult to a student, an adult to an adult, student to adult, male to female, female to male, male to male, and female to female.

    Harassment can occur by face-to-face interaction or via transmission by telephone, computer, or other electronic means.

    Examples of actions that may constitute harassment include but are not limited to the following:

    • using racial slurs;
    • displaying intimidating symbols or words such as swastikas;
    • making generalizations;
    • using stereotypes;
    • telling racial or ethnic jokes;
    • leaving pictures of a sexual nature;
    • making derogatory comments of a homosexual nature; or
    • transmitting harassing remarks or pictures on the Internet, through a cell phone, or by other electronic means.

    Harassment in the Form of Bullying or Victimizing

    Bullying or victimizing (hate crimes) by any member of the Falmouth school community will be considered harassment under this policy. A student or employee is being bullied or victimized when the student is exposed to negative actions from students, Falmouth Public Schools' employees, or other third parties that have the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with the student's school performance or the employee's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive learning or employment environment for the person.

    Examples may include but are not limited to:

    • physical threatening (bullying);
    • making derogatory comments of a homosexual nature;
    • making derogatory comments about peoples' size, weight, height, disability; or
    • making derogatory comments about peoples' perceived intelligence or ability.

    Harassment can come from:

    • students;
    • administrators, teachers, coaches or other employees of the Falmouth Public Schools;
    • third parties such as vendors or contractors doing business with the Falmouth Public Schools; or
    • visitors or volunteers present within the schools with the permission of the Falmouth Public Schools.

    Statements Made Within the Context of the Academic Curriculum

    This policy is not meant to stifle or chill the free exchange of ideas in the teaching and learning environment. It should be understood that in the teaching and learning environment, in order to encourage the learning process, statements, writings or visuals may occasionally take on overtones that could be offensive to some individuals. Teachers should use professional discretion when considering whether to include potentially offensive material in the curriculum and then inform students when this is the case and assure them that it is part of the learning environment and not meant to be discriminatory or harassing.

    What to Do if You Feel You Have Been Discriminated Against or Harassed 

    Students

    Any student who believes they have been subjected to harassment should notify any teacher, guidance counselor, nurse, school or District administrator, or any central office administrator. To effectively resolve complaints of harassment, people are encouraged to file complaints soon after an incident occurs. A student may elicit the help of a parent, guardian, or other adult to accompany and assist him/her throughout the complaint procedure. Parents or guardians will be notified within 48 hours.

    Employees/Third Parties

    Any employee or other person who believes they have been subjected to harassment should promptly notify their supervisor, any administrator in their building, or any central office administrator.

    What to do If You Are Aware that Someone Has Been Harassed

    Students

    Any student who has knowledge or belief of conduct that occurred that might be harassment should contact any teacher, guidance counselor, nurse, any District administrator, or any central office administrator. A student may elicit the help of a parent, guardian, or other adult to accompany and assist them throughout the complaint procedure.

    Employees

    Any employee who becomes aware of an incident of harassment must promptly report that incident to a school administrator. Furthermore, any incident involving alleged or suspected child abuse must be reported to school administrators or to state authorities. Failure of any employee of the Falmouth Public Schools to report incidents of harassment may result in disciplinary action.

    Note: All employees are required to report suspected child abuse or neglect to their supervisors or principals. Employees must participate in training regarding the reporting requirements of MGL 119 §51A. Failure to follow District protocol will be investigated and could result in disciplinary action.

    Third Party

    Any third party such as volunteers, substitutes, visitors, vendors, or contractors who becomes aware of an incident of harassment should promptly report that incident to a teacher, school administrator, or District administrator.

    Consequences for Harassment

    Students

    Any student found to have engaged in harassment will be subject to school imposed discipline and/or legal action. Consequences imposed on any student found to have engaged in harassment may include, but are not limited to, parent/guardian conference, written or verbal statement of apology, suspension, expulsion and mandatory counseling sessions with a counselor or mandatory in-house counseling sessions with a District administrator. Parents or guardians will be notified within 48 hours.

    Employees

    Any employee found to have engaged in harassment may be subject to legal action or discipline including discharge.

    Third Parties

    Any third party such as vendors or contractors doing business with the Falmouth Public Schools found to have engaged in harassment may be subject to legal action and contract termination consistent with federal and state law.

    Filing a Complaint of Harassment or Discrimination

    All reports of harassment must ultimately be reported to the Director of Student Services who serves as the Title IX coordinator and the 504 coordinator. When regarding disability harassment such complaint must also be reported to the Equity/Affirmative Action Officer who serves as the coordinator for the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Although most complaints of harassment will be resolved at the building level with timely notification to the principal or supervisor, the complaint procedure in this policy indicates when and under what circumstances a matter covered herein shall be brought to the immediate attention of the Superintendent or designee.

    Confidentiality of the Complaint Process

    Individuals reporting harassment should know that complaints will be promptly addressed in a confidential manner to protect the privacy of all individuals involved. Information provided under these discrimination/harassment procedures will be treated as confidential. This means that such information will be shared with others on a need-to-know basis only, i.e., public school professionals, staff, or other people who are investigating or involved in the alleged incident.

    Retaliation for Filing a Complaint or Providing Information Regarding a Complaint

    Any attempt by an employee or a student to retaliate against a person who makes, or provides information regarding a claim of harassment is unlawful, strictly prohibited and will result in disciplinary action. The Falmouth Public Schools will take reasonable action to protect all parties and witnesses involved in this process from retaliation. 

     

    Your Rights and Expectations as the Person Harassed 

    When reporting the incident you have the right to:

    • have an adult of your choice present with you throughout the complaint process;
    • be listened to and taken seriously;
    • stop the interview and take your complaint to another authority if you believe your complaint is being handled inappropriately.

    You can expect the following:

    • your complaint will be taken seriously and will be appropriately investigated;
    • every effort will be made to handle the complaint discreetly and with as much confidentiality as is possible.

    You should be aware of the following:

    • the investigation will begin promptly and proceed in a timely manner;
    • you will be informed as to the progress and results of the investigation;
    • steps will be taken to stop the harassment;
    • in order for the school to take certain actions to stop the harassment, your name may have to be provided to the accused and you may have to testify in front of the accused in the presence of the appropriate authorities;
    • retaliation in any form with respect to the complaint will result in severe disciplinary action.

     

    Your Rights and Expectations as the Accused Student

    When receiving a complaint against you with respect to harassment, you have a right to:

    • be treated with respect;
    • have a parent/guardian, guidance counselor or teacher of your choice present with you when you talk to the individual managing the complaint;
    • be given the specifics of the allegation(s);
    • be given the opportunity to respond to the allegation(s);
    • identify persons you want the investigator to interview;
    • reasonable protection from retaliation while the investigation is ongoing.

    You can expect the following:

    • the investigation will begin promptly and proceed in a timely manner;
    • you will be informed as to the progress of the investigation;
    • retaliation in any form with respect to the complaint will result in severe disciplinary action;
    • if warranted, remedial steps will be taken which could include parent conferences, verbal or written apology to the victim, suspension, expulsion or required counseling;
    • the complaint and the remedial steps may become part of your school record;
    • you will be afforded due process protections appropriate to the severity of the disciplinary action contemplated against you.

     

    Your Rights and Expectations as the Accused Employee 

    When receiving a complaint against you with respect to harassment, you have a right to:

    • be treated with respect;
    • have union/association, legal or personal representation when you talk to the individual managing the complaint;
    • be given the specifics of the allegation(s);
    • be given the opportunity to respond to the allegation(s);
    • identify persons you want the investigator to interview;
    • reasonable protection from retaliation while the investigation is ongoing.

    You can expect the following:

    • the Administration will refer to and honor your rights as stated in your current contract and by applicable law;
    • the investigation will begin promptly and proceed in a timely manner
    • you and your representatives will be informed as to the progress of the investigation;
    • retaliation in any form, with respect to your conduct, relative to the complaint, will result in severe disciplinary action;
    • if warranted, remedial steps will be taken which could include suspension or termination;
    • if warranted, the complaint and the remedial steps will become part of your employment record;
    • the time-frame and procedures will be in accordance with your contract and/or applicable law;
    • the investigation will remain confidential until completed; if the complaint is unsubstantiated, all documentation related to it shall be destroyed;
    • the administration has the right to suspend, with or without pay, the accused employee(s) while the investigation is in progress subject to applicable federal and state law and collective bargaining agreements or contract covering that employee.

      

    CROSS REFS.:  JICFB, Bullying Prevention

    LEGAL REFS.:   Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964 

                           Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972 

                           Executive Order 11246, as amended by E.O. 11375

                           Equal Pay Act, as amended by the Education Amendments of 1972

                           Title IX, Education Amendments of 1972

                           Rehabilitation Act of 1973

                           Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975

                           M.G.L. 71B:1 et seq. (Chapter 766 of the Acts of 1972)

                           M.G.L. 76:5; Amended 2011

                           M.G.L.76:16

                           BESE regulations 603CMR 26.00 Amended 2012

                           BESE regulations 603CMR 28.00

Last Modified on June 30, 2020