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1420 Sexual Harassment

1420 Sexual Harassment

Personnel Washington County School District - Adopted 3-10-98, Revised 12-11-12

1. Purpose

The purpose of this policy to preserve an educational and employment environment free from unlawful sexual harassment.

2. Policy:

2.1. Reference:

2.1.1. 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII. Prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of sex. 

2.1.2. 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) Regulations Implementing Title VII. Provides guidelines on sexual harassment in the workplace.

2.1.3. Utah Code Ann. §§ 76-5-401 through 76-5-407. Criminal Code provisions regarding unlawful sexual intercourse, rape, rape of a child, object rape, object rape of a child, sodomy and forcible sexual abuse, sexual abuse of a child, and aggravated sexual assault.

2.1.4. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Sexual harassment of a student can deny or limit, on the basis of sex, the student's ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the school's program.

2.1.5. Utah Code Ann § 62A-4a-402 Et Seq.  When any person has reason to believe that a child has been subjected to abuse or neglect, that person shall immediately notify the nearest peace officer, law enforcement agency, or office of the Division of Child and Family Services.

2.1.6. Utah Administrative Code R277-515. Utah Educator Standards, The professional educator shall familiarize himself with professional ethics and is responsible for compliance with applicable professional standards.

2.2. Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment shall not be tolerated. Employee violations shall be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment and referral for criminal prosecution.  Student violations shall be subject to corrective action to include the possible loss of privileges, community service, suspensions, expulsions, and referral for legal prosecution.  Employees or students affected by sexual harassment shall be afforded avenues for filing complaints, which are free from bias, collusion, intimidation, or reprisal.

2.3.  In accordance with Utah Educator Standards for Professional Conduct employees shall:

2.3.1.  take prompt and appropriate action to prevent harassment or discriminatory conduct towards students or school employees that may result in a hostile, intimidating, abusive, offensive, or oppressive learning environment; and

2.3.2. not use or attempt to use school district or school computers or information systems in violation of the school district's acceptable use policy for employees or access information that may be detrimental to young people or inconsistent with role model responsibility; and

2.3.3. not knowingly possess, while at school or any school-related activity, any pornographic material in any form; and

2.3.4. Use appropriate language, eschewing profane, foul, offensive, or derogatory comments or language; and

2.3.5. maintain a positive and safe learning environment for students; and

2.3.6. maintain a professional and appropriate relationship and demeanor with students, colleagues and school community members and parents.

3. Procedure:

3.1. Definition:

3.1.1. Sexual harassment includes any gender-related unwelcome written or verbal slurs, vulgar jokes, derogatory statements or actions. Sexual harassment also includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:

3.1.2.  As an employee:

3.1.2.1. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment; or

3.1.2.2. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment; or

3.1.2.3. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting him/her.

3.1.3.  As a student:

3.1.3.1. The harassment is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it can be said to deprive the victims of access to the educational opportunities or benefits provided by the school. (Ref: Supreme Court decision: DAVIS v. MONREO COUNTY BD. OF ED. (97-843) 120F.3d 1390) and such harassment takes place in a context subject to the School District's control.

3.1.3.2. Sexual harassment of a student can also deny or limit, on the basis of sex, the student's ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities in the school's program.  Sexual harassment of students is, therefore, a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

3.1.3.3. It is important to recognize that Title IX's prohibition against sexual harassment does not extend to legitimate nonsexual touching or other nonsexual contact.  For example, a high school athletic coach hugging a student who made a goal or a kindergarten teacher's consoling hug for a child with a skinned knee will not be considered sexual harassment.  Similarly, one student's demonstration of a sports maneuver or technique requiring contact with another student will not be considered sexual harassment.  However, in some circumstances, nonsexual conduct may take on sexual connotations and rise to the level of sexual harassment.  For example, a teacher's repeatedly hugging or putting his or her arms around students under inappropriate circumstances could create a hostile environment.

3.2. Complaint Procedures

3.2.1 Employee:

3.2.1.1 Complainants first are encouraged to verbalize disapproval of the action(s) to the harasser. Complainants should document the occurrence(s), noting such information as time, date, place, what was said, witnesses, and other relevant circumstances surrounding the event. 

3.2.1.2. If the complainant's concern(s) are not resolved satisfactorily through a discussion with the harasser, or if the complainant feels that he/she cannot discuss the concern/s with the harasser, the complainant must directly inform the immediate supervisor regarding the complaint and should clearly indicate what action he/she wants taken to resolve the complaint. Although complainants may convey the complaint orally to the immediate supervisor, they are strongly encouraged to submit the complaint in writing. In situations where the immediate supervisor is the alleged harasser, the complainant should submit the complaint directly to the principal, District department head, director, or the Human Resource Director. The complainant may request to submit the complaint or to have the complaint investigated by a representative of the same gender.

3.2.1.3. Confidentiality will be protected to the extent practical under the law, but under the necessities of investigating the complaint and taking appropriate disciplinary action it cannot be guaranteed.

3.2.2 Student:

3.2.2.1 If a student believes he/she is subject to harassment, the student should first consider telling the person that they do not like what is happening, that they consider it a violation of the school district policy on harassment, and that they want it stopped. In many cases, a clear statement that the student wants something stopped will be enough to take care of the situation. Students are not required, however, to confront the person in this way. 

3.2.2.2 The student has the right and is encouraged to report the problem immediately to the principal, school administrator, teacher, parent, and/or the school resource officer.  Students should not feel embarrassed, intimidated, or reluctant to file a valid harassment report.

3.2.2.3. When any person has reason to believe or who observes a child being subjected to sexual exploitation or sexual abuse that person shall immediately notify the nearest peace officer, law enforcement agency, or office of the Division of Child and Family Services.

3.2.2.4. Any teacher, counselor, administrator receiving a report of harassment from a student must report the incident to the school principal or designated administrator or/supervisor.  Once a school has notice of possible sexual harassment of students whether carried out by employees, other students, or third parties it should take immediate and appropriate steps to investigate or otherwise determine what occurred and take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment, eliminate a hostile environment if one has been created, and prevent harassment from occurring again.  These steps are the school's responsibility whether or not the student who was harassed makes a complaint or otherwise asks the school to take action.  What constitutes a reasonable response to information about possible sexual harassment will differ depending upon the circumstances.

3.3. Initial Investigations Procedures:

3.3.1.  Students:

3.3.1.1.  If a student or the parent of an elementary or secondary student provides information or complains about sexual harassment of the student, the school should initially discuss what actions the student or parent is seeking in response to the harassment.

3.3.1.2.  The school must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.  In all cases the inquiry must be prompt, thorough, and impartial.

3.3.1.3.  It may be appropriate for a school to take interim measures during the investigation of a complaint.  For instance, if a student alleges that he or she has been sexually assaulted by another student, the school may decide to place the students immediately in separate classes.  If the alleged harasser is a teacher, it may be appropriate to offer a transfer to a different class or place the teacher on administrative leave pending an investigation into the allegations.

3.3.1.4.  In cases involving potential criminal conduct, school personnel must immediately notify appropriate law enforcement authorities.  In all cases, schools should make every effort to prevent disclosure of the names of all parties involved - the complainant, the witnesses, and the accused -- except to the extent necessary to carry out an investigation or comply with the law.

3.3.1.5.  If following the investigation administration concludes that sexual harassment has occurred, it should take reasonable, timely, age-appropriate, and effective corrective action, including steps tailored to the specific situation.

3.3.1.6.  Appropriate steps must be taken to end the harassment.  For example, school personnel may need to counsel, warn, or take disciplinary action against the harasser to include the possibility of termination of employment or suspension, expulsion, or temporary disciplinary transfer of the student in accordance with the District's Safe School Policy, depending on the severity of the harassment or any record of prior incidents or both.

3.3.2.  Employees:

3.3.2.1. Whenever a sexual harassment complaint is made, the supervisor or administrator must take action to investigate the complaint or to refer the complaint for investigation even if the victim does not request action. 

3.3.2.2. Where a complaint has been made, interview the complainant and document the conversation (Attachment 1). Instruct the complainant to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the alleged harasser. Ask the complainant specifically what action he/she wants taken in order to resolve the complaint.

3.3.2.3. Interview the alleged harasser regarding the complaint/concern and inform the alleged harasser that, if the objectionable behavior has occurred, it must cease. Document the conversation.

3.3.2.4. Instruct the alleged harasser to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the complainant and to not take any retaliatory action against the complainant.

3.3.2.5. Report back to the complainant, notifying him/her regarding the action taken. Instruct the complainant to report immediately if the objectionable behavior occurs again or if the alleged harasser retaliates against him/her.

3.3.2.6. If the alleged harasser admits all or part of the allegations, issue a written warning/reprimand to the harasser and submit a copy to the Human Resources Department for inclusion in the harasser's District personnel file and District sexual harassment file.

3.3.2.7. If the alleged harasser denies the allegations, promptly conduct a further investigation including interviewing witnesses, if any. If there is reason to believe the allegation is sufficiently serious, involve the District as per paragraph 3.4.1.

3.3.2.8. Investigations should commence as soon as possible, but not later than five (5) workdays following receipt of the complaint.

3.3.2.9. Submit a copy of all investigation and interview documentation involving employee harassment to the Human Resources Department.

3.3.2.10. If the investigation finds reason to believe disciplinary action is justified, determine the level of action to be taken and proceed with the action or forward the recommendation for Superintendent action as appropriate (District Policy 1450). Report back to the complainant, notifying him/her in person and in writing regarding the action taken. Instruct the complainant to report immediately if the objectionable behavior occurs again or if the alleged harasser retaliates against him/her.

3.3.2.11. If the initial investigation results in a determination that sexual harassment did occur, and the harasser repeats the wrongful behavior or retaliates against the complainant, the supervisor will take prompt disciplinary action and will notify the Human Resource Director immediately.

3.3.2.4.3. Notify the complainant that if he/she desires further investigation and action, the complaint will be forwarded for a District-level investigation. Also notify the complainant of his/her right to register a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.

3.4. District-level Investigation

3.4.1. The supervisor must sometimes exercise discretion as to the severity or pervasiveness of the conduct in determining whether a District-level investigation or intervention is necessary regardless of the complainant's desires. If a blatant violation occurs involving criminal touching, quid pro quo (e.g., offering a job-related reward or punishment as an inducement for sexual favors), or acts which shock the conscience of a reasonable person; the complaint should be referred promptly to the appropriate Assistant Superintendent, Superintendent, or Human Resource Director.

3.5. Retaliation Prohibition

3.5.1. Any act of reprisal against any person who opposes sexually harassing behavior, or who has filed a complaint, is prohibited and therefore subject to disciplinary action. 3.5.2. Likewise, reprisal against any person who has testified, assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing of a sexual harassment complaint is prohibited and therefore subject to disciplinary action.

3.6. False Complaints:

False, malicious, or frivolous complaints of harassment will result in corrective or disciplinary action taken against the accuser.

3.7. Records

3.7.1. Separate confidential records of all investigations shall be forwarded to the District Office and maintained with records of District-level investigations in the Human Resources Department. 

3.7.2. Records will be maintained in the District Office under State Schedule 14-24, classified as private under UCA 63-2-302(2) and retained for a period of four years after resolution of case.

3.8. Training

3.8.1. All new employees shall receive information about this policy at new employee orientation. All other employees shall be provided information on a regular basis regarding this policy and the District's commitment to a harassment-free learning and working environment.

3.8.2. Administrative employees who have specific responsibilities for investigating and resolving complaints of sexual harassment shall receive training on this policy and related legal developments.

3.8.3. Principals in each school and program directors shall be responsible for informing students and staff of the terms of this policy, including the procedures established for investigation and resolution of complaints.

3.9.  Professional Boundaries:  School teachers, administrators, and staff members are encouraged to establish clear professional boundaries in all interactions with students.  The following boundary standards are recommended to avoid allegations of sexual harassment:

3.9.1.  Never remain alone with a student in a classroom outside of the regular school day without informing the principal.

3.9.2.  Never remain alone with a student behind a closed door.

3.9.3.  Do not cover classroom windows in a way that restricts viewing from the outside.  Classroom, library, guidance and other office windows should be unobstructed and allow clear views of the room.

3.9.4.  Do not make a habit of meeting students outside of the school for a meal, a soft drink, as special activity, etc.

3.9.5. Do not counsel students in non-academic matters.  If an educator believes a student is in some type of trouble the student should be referred to the school's counselor.

3.9.6. Do not regularly transport students in your own vehicle.  Never allow students to have access to your personal vehicle.

3.9.7.  Never engage students in conversations regarding their romantic or sexual activities.

3.9.8.  Never entertain students in your home unless it is a school sponsored activity.

3.9.9.  Never make sexual comments, remarks about a student's body, tell sexual jokes, or share sexually-oriented material with students.

3.9.10.  Never touch a student in a manner that a reasonable person could interpret as inappropriate.

3.9.11.  Do not become a "friend" of students on social networking web sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Friendster, or Bebo.

3.9.12. Do not follow students or have them "follow" you on Twitter or other interactive/social networking services.

3.9.13.  Avoid texting students.

Attachments:

District Form 555 Investigation Form

District Form 126 Initial Investigation Questions