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5149 Bias Harassment of Students

Adoption Date: 2/17/2000 Revised: 10/16/2008, 02/15/2007
5000 - Students
5149 Bias Harassment of Students
Regulation Info: 5149R

The Board of Education is committed to safeguarding the rights of all students within the school district to learn in an environment that is free from all forms of bias discrimination, including bias harassment. Therefore, the Board, consistent with law, condemns all forms of bias discrimination and harassment (e.g., based upon race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin including, but not limited to, discrimination or harassment based upon anti-Semitism).

Bias harassment of students consists of different treatment on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin (including, but not limited to, discrimination or harassment based upon anti-Semitism) and is recognized in two different forms:

1. when the district’s employees or agents, acting within the scope of official duties, treat a student differently than other students solely on the basis of race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin; or
2. when the education environment is not kept free from discrimination because the harassing conduct is so severe, pervasive or persistent that it interferes with or limits the ability of a student to participate in or benefit from the services, activities or privileges provided.

The Board recognizes that bias harassment of students can originate from a person of the same or different race, color, religion, ethnicity or national origin of the victim, including peers, officers, employees, agents or other individuals who foreseeably might come in contact with students on school grounds or at school-sponsored activities.

Complaint Procedure:

Any student who believes that he or she has been subjected to bias harassment or any person who believes that s/he has witnessed an incident(s) of bias harassment shall report all incidents of such conduct to any staff member with whom the complainant feels comfortable (e.g., a teacher, the building principal, school nurse, guidance counselor, designated Title VI Complaint Officer). The staff member to whom the complaint is made shall promptly report the complaint to the Complaint Officer who shall make a determination as to who will investigate the complaint (e.g., building principal in the case of an elementary student, high school principal in the case of a high school student, Complaint Officer, outside investigator) through informal and/or formal complaint procedures developed by the District. Any staff member who fails to report a bias harassment complaint may be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with law and any applicable collectively negotiated agreements.

All complaints of bias harassment will be held in confidence to the extent practicable to enable the District to conduct a thorough investigation and as permitted by law. While the District respects the privacy and anonymity of all parties and witnesses to complaints brought under this policy, it cannot guarantee absolute confidentiality. At the conclusion of the investigation and at such time when the written report is issued and becomes a final agency determination (30 days after the issuance of the report if no appeal is made or after the issuance of the appeal determination), the report may become public.

If the District has knowledge of or reason to know of the occurrence of any alleged bias harassment, the District shall, even in the absence of a complaint, cause a prompt and thorough investigation of any such incident to be made.

Upon receipt of any complaint of bias harassment, the District will cause a thorough, prompt and impartial investigation of the charges to be conducted within 30 calendar days of receipt of a complaint. It is the policy of the District that all complaints of bias harassment shall be taken seriously and that an investigation shall be conducted to the extent possible. The investigator shall prepare a written summary report of the investigation. The report shall be filed with the Complaint Officer. The outcome of any investigation of a bias harassment complaint shall be related to the student and his/her parent/guardian, as well as to the accused.

If the results of the District’s investigation indicate that bias harassment or other inappropriate behavior has occurred, immediate and appropriate corrective action will be taken. It is the policy of the District to appropriately discipline the offending individual in accordance with law, District policy and any applicable collectively negotiated agreements. If the alleged behavior constitutes or may constitute a crime, the police authorities or District Attorney’s office, or any other appropriate agency shall be immediately notified.

If the student, or his/her parent/guardian, or the accused is not satisfied with the results of the investigation, an appeal of the findings may be made to the Board of Education within 30 calendar days from receipt of the investigation report, for its review and action. Such review shall occur promptly, within 30 calendar days of the filing of the appeal.

The Board prohibits any retaliatory behavior directed against a complainant for the good faith reporting of an incident pursuant to this policy, as well as against any witness who testifies in a bias harassment investigation. Follow-up inquiries by Complaint Officer shall be made to ensure that the complainant and/or witnesses have not suffered retaliation.

The District shall establish appropriate training programs for staff and students to raise awareness of and sensitivity to issues involving bias harassment, including condemnation of such conduct, the sanctions for harassment and preventive measures to help reduce incidents of bias harassment.

The Superintendent of Schools is directed to develop and implement specific procedures for reporting, investigating and resolving bias harassment complaints.

A copy of this policy and its accompanying regulations shall be distributed to all personnel, students and parents/guardians and posted in appropriate places within the District.