Policy 6121

Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the School District

Purpose

The Board of Education affirms its commitment to nondiscrimination and recognizes its responsibility to provide an environment that is free of discrimination, harassment and intimidation, including sexual harassment, as required by federal and state law. Discrimination and harassment are a violation of law and stand in direct opposition to District policy. Therefore, the Board does not discriminate in its employment and admission to programs and activities as applicable, on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, creed, gender, gender identity or the status of being transgender, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, economic status, marital status, veterans’ status, political affiliation, domestic victim status, use of a guide dog, hearing dog or service dog, disability, deny access under the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act, or other classifications protected under federal or state law.  Any employee who is found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment prohibited by this Policy may receive education, training, counseling, warnings, discipline, or other measures designed to prevent future violations of this Policy. Disciplinary action may include warnings, suspension, or discharge from employment. Any third party found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment prohibited by this policy may be barred from District property.

The Board also prohibits discrimination and/or harassment based on an individual’s opposition to discrimination or harassment, or participation in a related investigation or complaint proceeding under District policy or relevant anti-discrimination laws.  This policy of non-discrimination and anti-harassment will be enforced on School District premises and in school buildings, and at all school-sponsored events, programs and activities, including those that take place at locations off school premises or in another state.

It is intended that this policy against discrimination and harassment, including sexual harassment, applies to all employees, applicants for employment, interns, whether paid or unpaid, contractors and persons conducting business with the District.  This group is collectively referred to as employees in this policy.  As such, the policy also shall apply to the dealings between or among employees with employees; employees with students; employees/students with vendors/contractors and others who do business with the School District, as well as school volunteers, visitors, guests and other third parties who are participating in, observing, or otherwise engaging in activities subject to the supervision and control of the District.

This policy shall also constitute the Grievance Procedure required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for complaints of sex discrimination, including harassment, within educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance.

Prohibited Conduct

The characterizations and examples below are intended to serve as a general guide for individuals in determining whether to file a complaint of discrimination or harassment, and should not be construed to add or limit the rights individuals and entities possess as a matter of law.

Discrimination is, generally, the practice of conferring or denying privileges on the basis of membership in a legally protected class. Discriminatory actions may include, but are not limited to: refusing to promote or hire an individual on the basis of his/her membership in a protected class, denying an individual access to facilities or educational benefits on the basis of his/her membership in a protected class, or impermissibly instituting policies or practices that disproportionately and adversely impact members of a protected class.

Harassment generally consists of subjecting an individual, on the basis of his/her membership in a protected class, to conduct and/or communications that are sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent as to have the purpose or effect of: creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or a student’s educational performance, opportunities, benefits, or well-being; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.

Harassment can include unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct which offends, denigrates, or belittles an individual because of his/her membership in a protected class. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to: 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 in the School District

Harassment on the basis of sex is a form of discrimination and violates state and federal law. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when:

  • a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or educational opportunities;
  • b) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
  • c) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or education, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.

A sexually harassing hostile work environment consists of words, signs, jokes, pranks, intimidation or physical violence which are of a sexual nature, or which are directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex. Sexual harassment also consists of any unwanted verbal or physical advances, sexually explicit derogatory statements or sexually discriminatory remarks made by someone which are offensive or objectionable to the recipient, which cause the recipient discomfort or humiliation, which interfere with the recipient’s job performance.

Sexual harassment also occurs when a person in authority tries to trade job benefits for sexual favors. This can include hiring, promotion, continued employment or any other terms, conditions or privileges of employment. This is also called “quid pro quo” harassment. Any employee who feels harassed should complain so that any violation of this policy can be corrected promptly. Any harassing conduct, even a single incident, can be addressed under this policy

Sexually harassing conduct in the School District, whether committed by supervisors or non-supervisory personnel, is prohibited. Such prohibited conduct includes but is not limited to:

  • Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as:
    • Touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another employee’s body or poking another employees’ body;
    • Rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults.
  • Unwanted sexual advances or propositions, such as:
    • Requests for sexual favors accompanied by implied or overt threats concerning the victim’s job performance evaluation, a promotion or other job benefits or detriments;
    • Subtle or obvious pressure for unwelcome sexual activities.
  • Sexually oriented gestures, noises, remarks, jokes or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience, which create a hostile work environment.
  • Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere in the workplace, such as:
    • Displaying pictures, posters, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional material, reading materials or other materials that are sexually demeaning or pornographic. This includes such sexual displays on workplace computers or cell phones and sharing such displays while in the workplace.
  • Hostile actions taken against an individual because of that individual’s sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and the status of being transgender, such as:
    • Interfering with, destroying or damaging a person’s workstation, tools or equipment, or otherwise interfering with the individual’s ability to perform the job;
    • Sabotaging an individual’s work; or
    • Bullying, yelling, name-calling.

Sexual Harassment of Students

Sexual harassment of students consists of verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, by an employee, agent, other third parties who are participating in, observing, or otherwise engaging in activities subject to the supervision and control of the District, or another student of the District that denies, limits, or conditions the provision of aid, benefits, services, or treatment protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 on the basis of sex. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when:

  • a) Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s education; or
  • b) Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s education or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.
    • Such actions include, but are not limited to, the following conduct directed at students:
      • 1. Unwelcome sexual flirtations, advances or propositions;
      • 2. Verbal or written abuse of a sexual nature;
      • 3. Graphic verbal comments about the student’s body;
      • 4. Sexually degrading words used to describe a student; and,
      • 5. Unwelcome and non-consensual physical touching of a sexual nature.

Given the special nature of the relationship between students and employees of the District, extreme caution should be exercised by employees of the District to avoid any situation involving comments of a sexual nature, particularly in the presence of students. It is recognized that discussions involving sexual relations and the human body are part of mandated curriculum in certain areas (e.g., health education) and are, therefore, not restricted by this policy. Nonetheless, there is no conflict between this policy and the mandates of the District’s curriculum. Thus, the teaching of the District’s curriculum will not necessarily constitute a defense to a charged violation of this policy.

Civil Rights Compliance Officer

The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will designate one or more individuals to serve as Civil Rights Compliance Officer. The Civil Rights Compliance Officer will be responsible for coordinating the District’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities regarding non-discrimination and anti-harassment, including investigations of complaints alleging discrimination, harassment, or the failure of the District to comply with its obligations under relevant non-discrimination and anti-harassment laws and regulations (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

Prior to the beginning of each school year, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will issue an appropriate public announcement or publication which advises students, parents or guardians, employees and other relevant individuals of the District’s established grievance procedures for resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment. Included in the announcement or publication will be the name, address, telephone number, and email address of the Civil Rights Compliance Officer(s). The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District’s website will reflect current and complete contact information for the Civil Rights Compliance Officer(s).

The Civil Rights Compliance Officer(s) for the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District is/are:

Stephen Tomlinson, Superintendent of Schools/Title IX Coordinator
20 Pine Street
Broadalbin, NY 12025
Telephone:  (518) 954-2500
tomlinsons@bpcsd.org

Investigation of Complaints and Grievances

The Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will act to promptly, thoroughly, and equitably investigate all complaints, whether verbal or written, of discrimination and/or harassment based on any of the characteristics described previously, and will promptly take appropriate action to protect individuals from further discrimination or harassment. In the event an anonymous complaint is filed, the District will respond to the extent possible. Regulations regarding reporting, investigating, and remedying allegations of discrimination and/or harassment can be found in the corresponding regulation #6121-R.

It is essential that any individual who is aware of a possible occurrence of discrimination or harassment immediately report such occurrence. All administrators and officials at the District who receive a complaint or information about suspected sexual harassment, observe what may be sexually harassing behavior or for any reason suspect that harassment prohibited by this policy, including sexual harassment, is occurring, are required to report such suspected harassment to the District’s designated Civil Right Compliance Officer. In addition to being subject to discipline if they engaged in harassing conduct themselves, administrators and officials at the District will be subject to discipline for failing to report suspected harassment prohibited by this policy, including sexual harassment, or otherwise knowingly allowing sexual harassment to continue.  All reports will be directed or forwarded to the District’s designated Civil Rights Compliance Officer(s). Such complaints are recommended to be in writing, although verbal complaints of discrimination or harassment will also be promptly investigated in accordance with applicable law and District policy and procedure. In the event the Civil Rights Compliance Officer is the alleged offender, the report will be directed to another Civil Rights Compliance Officer, if the District has designated another individual to serve in such a capacity, or to the Superintendent, or, if the Superintendent is the alleged offender, to the President of the Board of Education.

To the extent possible, all complaints will be treated as confidential. Disclosure may, however, be necessary to complete a thorough investigation of the charges and/or notify law enforcement officials.

If an investigation reveals that discrimination or harassment has occurred, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will take immediate corrective action as warranted. Such action will be taken in accordance with applicable laws and regulations, as well as any and all relevant Codes of Conduct, District policies and administrative regulations, collective bargaining agreements, and/or third-party contracts.

Knowingly Makes False Accusations

Any employee or student who knowingly makes false accusations against another individual as to allegations of discrimination or harassment will face appropriate disciplinary action.

Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior

The Board prohibits any retaliatory behavior directed against anyone who has filed a complaint of harassment, either internally with the District or with any anti-discrimination agency; who has testified or assisted in a proceeding involving sexual harassment under the Human Rights Law or other anti-discrimination law; who has opposed sexual harassment by making a verbal or informal complaint to the District, or by simply informing an administrator or official of harassment; who has complained that another employee has been sexually harassed; or who has encouraged a fellow employee to report harassment.

Complaints of retaliation may be directed to the Civil Rights Compliance Officer. In the event the Civil Rights Compliance Officer is the alleged offender, the report will be directed to another Civil Rights Compliance Officer, if the District has designated another individual to serve in such a capacity, or to the Superintendent.

Where appropriate, follow-up inquiries will be made to ensure that discrimination and/or harassment has not resumed and that those involved in the investigation have not suffered retaliation.

Any employee who is found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment prohibited by this Policy may receive education, training, counseling, warnings, discipline, or other measures designed to prevent future violations of this Policy. Disciplinary action may include warnings, suspension, or discharge from employment. Any third party found to have engaged in discrimination or harassment prohibited by this policy may be barred from District property.

Legal Protections and External Remedies

Discrimination, and harassment is not only prohibited by the District but is also prohibited by state, federal, and, where applicable, local law.   Aside from the internal process at the District, employees may also choose to pursue legal remedies with the following governmental entities at any time.

New York State Division of Human Rights (DHR)

The Human Rights Law (HRL), codified as N.Y. Executive Law, Art. 15, § 290 et seq., applies to employers in New York State with regard to sexual harassment, and protects employees, paid or unpaid interns and non-employees regardless of immigration status. A complaint alleging violation of the Human Rights Law may be filed either with DHR or in New York State Supreme Court.

Complaints with DHR may be filed any time within one year of the harassment. If an individual did not file at DHR, they can sue directly in state court under the HRL, within three years of the alleged discrimination. An individual may not file with DHR if they have already filed a HRL complaint in state court.

Complaining internally to the District does not extend your time to file with DHR or in court. The one year or three years is counted from date of the most recent incident of harassment. You do not need an attorney to file a complaint with DHR, and there is no cost to file with DHR.

DHR will investigate your complaint and determine whether there is probable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred. Probable cause cases are forwarded to a public hearing before an administrative law judge. If discrimination is found after a hearing, DHR has the power to award relief, which varies but may include requiring your employer to take action to stop the harassment, or redress the damage caused, including paying monetary damages, attorney’s fees and civil fines.

DHR’s main office contact information is: NYS Division of Human Rights, One Fordham Plaza, Fourth Floor, Bronx, New York 10458, (718) 741-8400 and this information can be found at www.dhr.ny.gov

Contact DHR at (888) 392-3644 or visit dhr.ny.gov/complaint for more information about filing a complaint. The website has a complaint form that can be downloaded, filled out, notarized and mailed to DHR. The website also contains contact information for DHR’s regional offices across New York State.

United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

The EEOC enforces federal anti-discrimination laws, including Title VII of the 1964 federal Civil Rights Act (codified as 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq.). An individual can file a complaint with the EEOC anytime within 300 days from the harassment. There is no cost to file a complaint with the EEOC. The EEOC will investigate the complaint, and determine whether there is reasonable cause to believe that discrimination has occurred, at which point the EEOC will issue a Right to Sue letter permitting the individual to file a complaint in federal court.

The EEOC does not hold hearings or award relief, but may take other action including pursuing cases in federal court on behalf of complaining parties. Federal courts may award remedies if discrimination is found to have occurred.

If an employee believes that he/she has been discriminated against at work, he/she can file a “Charge of Discrimination.” The EEOC has district, area, and field offices where complaints can be filed. Contact the EEOC by calling 1-800-669-4000 (1-800-669-6820 (TTY)), visiting their website at www.eeoc.gov or via email at info@eeoc.gov.

If an individual filed an administrative complaint with DHR, DHR will file the complaint with the EEOC to preserve the right to proceed in federal court.

Local Protections

Many localities enforce laws protecting individuals from harassment and discrimination. An individual should contact the county, city or town in which they live to find out if such a law exists.  If the harassment involves physical touching, coerced physical confinement or coerced sex acts, the conduct may constitute a crime. Contact the local police department

Additional Provisions

In order to promote familiarity with issues pertaining to discrimination and harassment in the schools, and to help reduce incidents of prohibited conduct, the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District will provide appropriate information and/or training to staff and students. As may be necessary, special training will be provided for individuals involved in the investigation of discrimination and/or harassment complaints.

A copy of this policy and its accompanying regulations will be given or made available to each employee of the District and will be posted and/or published in appropriate locations and/or school publications.                                                                                                                                                                                                              This policy should not be read to abrogate other District policies and/or regulations or the District Code of Conduct prohibiting other forms of unlawful discrimination, harassment, and/or inappropriate behavior within this District. It is the intention of the Broadalbin-Perth Central School District that all such policies and/or regulations be read consistently to provide protection from unlawful discrimination and harassment. However, different treatment of any individual which has a legitimate, legal, and non-discriminatory reason will not be considered a violation of District policy.