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SEXUAL HARASSMENT

The Puyallup School District is committed to a positive and productive education free from discrimination, including sexual harassment. This commitment extends to all students involved in academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs or activities of the school, whether that program or activity is in a school facility, on school transportation, or at a class or school training held elsewhere.

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical contact, or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment is the submission to unwelcome sexual behavior as a condition of employment, assignment, promotions, or educational decisions regarding grades and participation in district programs or activities. Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination and, therefore, a violation of district policy and regulations and may also be a violation of criminal and other state and federal laws. Sexual harassment can occur adult to student, student to adult, student to student, adult to adult.

Sexual harassment occurs when:

A.  Submission to the conduct or communication is either explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of an individual’s employment, education, grades, work opportunity, or other benefit;

B.  Submission to or rejection of the conduct or communication is used as a factor for employment, academic, or other school-related decisions affecting an individual; and/or

C.  Such conduct or communication interferes with an individual’s work/school performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working/school environment.

As part of the information on the recognition and prevention of sexual harassment, employees, volunteers, students, and parents will be informed that sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:

A.  Demands for sexual favors in exchange for preferential treatment or something of value;

B.  Stating or implying that a person will lose something if he or she does not submit to a sexual request;

C.  Penalizing a person for refusing to submit to a sexual advance, or providing a benefit to someone who does;

D.  Making unwelcome, offensive, or inappropriate sexually suggestive remarks, comments, gestures, or jokes; or remarks of a sexual nature about a person’s appearance, gender, or conduct;

E.  Using derogatory sexual terms for a person;

F.  Standing too close, inappropriately touching, cornering or stalking a person; or

G.  Displaying offensive or inappropriate items of a sexual nature on school property or school sponsored activities.


Confidentiality

• If a complainant requests that his or her name not be revealed to the alleged perpetrator or asks that the district not investigate or seek action against the alleged perpetrator, the request will be forwarded to the Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator for evaluation.

• The Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator should inform the complainant that honoring the request may limit the district’s ability to respond fully to the incident, including pursuing disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.

• If the complainant still requests that his or her name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator or that the district not investigate or seek action against the alleged perpetrator, the district will need to determine whether or not it can honor such a request while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, staff and other third parties engaging in district activities, including the person who reported the sexual harassment.

• Although a complainant’s request to have his or her name withheld may limit the district’s ability to respond fully to an individual allegation of sexual harassment, the district will use other appropriate means available to address the sexual harassment.

 

Retaliation

Title IX prohibits retaliation against any individual who files a complaint under these laws or participates in a complaint investigation. When an informal or formal complaint of sexual harassment is made, the district will take steps to stop further harassment and prevent any retaliation against the person who made the complaint, was the subject of the harassment, or against those who provided information as a witness. The district will investigate all allegations of retaliation and take actions against those found to have retaliated.

 
Informal Complaint Process

Anyone may use informal procedures to report and resolve complaints of sexual harassment. Informal reports may be made by any staff member. Staff will notify complainants of their right to file a formal complaint and the process for same. Potential complainants should be directed to the building principal and/or the district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator. Staff will also inform an appropriate supervisor or building principal when the complaint is beyond the staff member’s training to resolve or the complaint alleges serious misconduct.

During the course of the informal complaint process, the district will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment and to correct any discriminatory effects on the complainant. If an investigation is needed to determine what occurred, the district will take interim measures to protect the complainant before the final outcome of the district’s investigation (e.g., allowing the complainant to change academic or extracurricular activities or break times to avoid contact with the alleged perpetrator).

Informal remedies may include:

• An opportunity for the complainant to explain to the alleged harasser that his or her conduct is unwelcome, offensive or inappropriate, either in writing or face-to-face;

• A statement from a staff member to the alleged harasser that the alleged conduct is not appropriate and could lead to discipline, if proven or repeated;

• A general public statement from an administrator in a building reviewing the district sexual harassment policy without identifying the complainant;

• Developing a safety plan;

• Separating students and/or staff; or

• Providing staff and/or student training.

Informal complaints may become formal complaints at the request of the complainant or parent/guardian, or because the district believes the complaint needs to be more thoroughly investigated.

The district will inform the complainant and their parent/guardian how to report any subsequent problems. Additionally, the district will conduct follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or instances of retaliation, and to promptly respond and appropriately address continuing or new problems.


Formal Complaint Process

Level One – Complaint to District

Anyone may initiate a formal complaint of sexual harassment, even if the informal complaint process is being utilized. At any level in the formal complaint process, the district will take interim measures to protect the complainant before the final outcome of the district’s investigation.

The following process will be followed: 

Filing of Complaint

All formal complaints will be in writing and will set forth the specific acts, conditions or circumstances alleged to have occurred and to constitute sexual harassment. The building principal (or designee) or the district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator may draft a complaint based on the oral report of the complainant for the complainant and his or her parent/guardian to review and approve.The district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator may also conclude that the district needs to conduct an investigation based on information in his or her possession, regardless of the complainant’s interest in filing a formal complaint.

• The time period for filing a formal complaint is one year from the date of the occurrence that is the subject matter of the complaint. However, a complaint filing deadline may not be imposed if the complainant was prevented from filing due to:

   1.  Specific misrepresentations by the district that it had resolved the problem forming the basis of the complaint; or

   2. Withholding of information that the district was required to provide under WAC 392-190-065 or WAC 392-190-005.

• Complaints may be submitted by mail, fax, e-mail or hand delivery to the district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator, at 302 2nd Street SE, Puyallup, WA 98372 or fax (253) 435-0169. Any district employee who receives a complaint that meets these criteria will promptly notify his/her supervisor or the district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator.

Investigation and Response

• The Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator will receive and investigate all formal, written complaints of sexual harassment or information in the coordinator’s possession that he or she believes requires further investigation. The coordinator will delegate his or her authority to participate in this process if necessary to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

• Upon receipt of a complaint, the coordinator will provide the complainant a copy of this regulation.

• Investigations will be carried out in a manner that is adequate in scope, reliable and impartial. During the investigation process, the complainant and accused party or parties, if the complainant has identified an accused harasser(s), will have an equal opportunity to present witnesses and relevant evidence. Complainants and witnesses may have a trusted adult with them during any district-initiated investigatory activities. The district and complainant may also agree to resolve the complaint in lieu of an investigation.

• When the investigation is completed, the coordinator will compile a full written report of the complaint and the results of the investigation.

Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator Response

• The Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator will respond in writing to the complainant, his or her parent/guardian, and the alleged perpetrator within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the complaint, unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant or if exceptional circumstances related to the complaint require an extension of the time limit. In the event an extension is needed, the district will notify the complainant in writing of the reason for the extension and the anticipated response date.

• At the time the district responds to the complainant, the district will also send a copy of the response to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

• The response of the Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator will include:

1)    A summary of the results of the investigation;

2)    A statement as to whether a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the complainant was sexually harassed;

3)    If sexual harassment is found to have occurred, the corrective measures the district deems necessary, including assurance that the district will take steps to prevent recurrence and remedy its effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate;

4)    Notice of the complainant’s right to appeal to the School Board and the necessary filing information; and

5)    Any corrective measures the district will take, remedies for the complainant (e.g., sources of counseling, advocacy and academic support), and notice of potential sanctions for the perpetrators(s) (e.g., discipline).

• The district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator’s response will be provided in a language the complainant and his or her parent/guardian can understand and may require language assistance for complainants with limited English proficiency in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. If the complaint alleges discriminatory harassment by a named party or parties, Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator will provide the accused party or parties with notice of the outcome of the investigation and notice of their right to appeal any discipline or corrective action imposed by the district.

• Any corrective measures deemed necessary will be instituted as quickly as possible, but in no event more than thirty (30) days after Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator’s mailing of a written response, unless the accused is appealing the imposition of discipline and the district is barred by due process considerations or a lawful order from imposing the discipline until the appeal process is concluded.

The district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator will inform the complainant and his or her parent/guardian how to report any subsequent problems. Additionally, the district will conduct follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or instances of retaliation, and to promptly respond and appropriately address continuing, or new problems.


Level Two – Appeal to Board of Directors

Notice of Appeal and Hearing

• If a complainant and his or her parent/guardian disagree with the district Title IX or Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator’s written decision, the complainant may appeal the decision to the School Board, by filing a written notice of appeal with the secretary of the Board within ten (10) calendar days following the date upon which the complainant received the response.

• The Board will schedule a hearing to commence by the twentieth (20th) calendar day following the filing of the written notice of appeal, unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant and the superintendent or for good cause.

• Both parties will be allowed to present such witnesses and testimony as the Board deems relevant and material.

 

School Board Decision

• Unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant and his or her parent/guardian, the Board will render a written decision within thirty (30) calendar days following the filing of the notice of appeal and provide the complainant with a copy of the decision.

• The decision will be provided in a language that the complainant and his or her parent/guardian can understand, which may require language assistance for complainants with limited English proficiency in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

• The decision will include notice of the complainants right to appeal to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and will identify where and to whom the appeal must be filed.

• If the allegations regard a specific student, the complaint must also include the name and address of the student, or in the case of a homeless child or youth, contact information.

Level Three – Complaint to the Superintendent of Public Instruction

Filing of Complaint

• If a complainant and his or her parent/guardian disagree with the decision of the School Board, or if the district fails to comply with this regulation, the complainant may file a complaint with the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

• A complaint must be received by the Superintendent of Public Instruction on or before the twentieth (20) calendar day following the date upon which the complainant received written notice of the School Board’s decision, unless the Superintendent of Public Instruction grants an extension for good cause. Complaints may be submitted by mail, fax, electronic mail, or hand delivery.

• A complaint must be in writing and include:

1)  A description of the specific acts, conditions or circumstances alleged to violate applicable anti-sexual harassment laws;

2)  The name and contact information, including address, of the complainant;

3)  The name and address of the district subject to the complaint;

4)  A copy of the district’s complaint and appeal decision, if any; and

5)  A proposed resolution of the complaint or relief requested.

• If the allegations regard a specific student, the complaint must also include the name and address of the student, or in the case of a homeless child or youth, contact information.

 

Investigation, Determination and Corrective Action

• Upon receipt of a complaint, the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) may initiate an investigation, which may include conducting an independent on-site review. OSPI may also investigate additional issues related to the complaint that were not included in the initial complaint or appeal to the superintendent or School Board.

• Following the investigation, OSPI will make an independent determination as to whether the district has failed to comply with RCW 28A.642.010 or WAC Chapter 392-190 and will issue a written decision to the complainant and the district that addresses each allegation in the complaint and any other noncompliance issues it has identified. The written decision will include corrective actions deemed necessary to correct noncompliance and the documentation the district must provide to demonstrate that corrective action has been completed.

• All corrective actions must be completed within the timelines established by OSPI in the written decision unless OSPI grants an extension.

A complaint may be resolved at any time when, before the completion of the investigation, the district voluntarily agrees to resolve the complaint. OSPI may provide technical assistance and dispute resolution methods to resolve a complaint.

Level Four – Administrative Hearing

A complainant or school district that desires to appeal the written decision of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction may file a written notice of appeal with OSPI within thirty (30) calendar days following the date of receipt of that office’s written decision. OSPI will conduct a formal administrative hearing in conformance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Chapter 34.05, RCW.

Other Complaint Options

Office for Civil Rights (OCR), U.S. Department of Education OCR enforces several federal civil rights laws, which prohibit discrimination in public schools on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and age. File complaints with OCR within 180 calendar days of the date of the alleged discrimination.206-607-1600-TDD:1-800-877-8338

OCR.Seattle@ed.gov-www.ed.gov/ocr

Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) WSHRC enforces  the Washington Law against Discrimination (RCW 49.60), which prohibits discrimination in employment and in places of public accommodation, including schools. File complaints with WSHRC within six months of the date of the alleged discrimination. 1-800-233-3247 - TTY: 1-800-300-7525 - www.hum.wa.gov

 

Mediation

At any time during the complaint procedure set forth in WAC 392-190-065 through 392-190-075, a district may, at its own expense, offer mediation. The complainant and his or her parent/guardian and the district may agree to extend the complaint process deadlines in order to pursue medication.

The purpose of mediation is to provide both the complainant and the district an opportunity to resolve disputes and reach a mutually acceptable agreement through the use of an impartial mediator. Mediation must be voluntary and requires the mutual agreement of both parties. It may be terminated by either party at any time during the mediation process. It may not be used to deny or delay a complainant’s right to utilize the complaint procedures.

Mediation must be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who may not:

1.  Be an employee of any school district, public charter school, or other public or private agency that is providing education related services to a student who is the subject of the complaint being mediated; or

2.  Have a personal or professional conflict of interest. A mediator is not considered an employee of the district or charter school or other public or private agency solely because he or she serves as a mediator.

If the parties reach agreement through mediation, they may execute a legally binding agreement that sets forth the resolution and states that all discussions that occurred during the course of mediation will remain confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent complaint, due process hearing or civil proceeding. The agreement must be signed by the complainant and his or her parent/guardian and a district representative who has authority to bind the district.