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Policy 1020 - Sexual Discrimination

The purpose of this policy is to establish expectations for behavior that promote a safe and nurturing school environment and provide direction for students, employees, and third parties in recognizing and reporting sexual discrimination in accordance with this policy and with local, state, and federal requirements.

Policy Document

I. Policy Statement

The Board of Education of Howard County is committed to providing an educational and work environment that is free from sexual discrimination. To that end, the Board prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in its educational program, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities, and in the workplace, as required by law.

Employees and third parties share responsibility for the health, safety and general welfare of students; for contributing to a school environment free from sexual discrimination; and for maintaining appropriate relationships with students. Employees, students, and third parties may be subject to disciplinary action or consequences for inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature, even when the behavior does not rise to the level of sexual discrimination as defined by prevailing federal and state laws.

II. Purpose

The purpose of this policy is to establish expectations for behavior that promote a safe and nurturing school environment and provide direction for students, employees, and third parties in recognizing and reporting sexual discrimination in accordance with this policy and with local, state, and federal requirements.

III. Definitions

Within the context of this policy, the following definitions apply:

  1. Parent – Any one of the following, recognized as the adult(s) legally responsible for the student:

    1. Biological Parent – A natural parent whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    2. Adoptive Parent – A person who has legally adopted the student and whose parental rights have not been terminated.

    3. Custodian – A person or an agency appointed by the court as the legal custodian of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    4. Guardian – A person who has been placed by the court in charge of the affairs of the student and granted parental rights and responsibilities.

    5. Caregiver – An adult resident of Howard County who exercises care, custody or, control over the student, but is neither the biological parent nor legal guardian, as long as the person satisfies the requirements of the Education Article, §7-101 (c) (Informal Kinship Care).

    6. Foster Parent – An adult approved to care for a child who has been placed in their home by a state agency or a licensed child placement agency as provided by the Family Law Article, §5-507.

  2. Retaliation – The act or process of threatening or otherwise penalizing a person for reporting an alleged violation of policy or for participating in an investigation of an alleged violation.

  3. School-related Activity – Any school system activity, whether held on or off school property, in which a student directly participates (e.g., school field trip, athletic event, or class/graduation activity), or in which the student does not directly participate but represents the school or student body simply by being there (e.g., spectator at a school event).

  4. Sexual Discrimination – Sexual discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual assault and sexual violence and is characterized as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with a student’s ability to learn, study, work, achieve, or participate in school activities or with an employee’s/third party’s term, condition, or privilege of employment/relationship with the school system. Sexual discrimination can be committed by a student, employee or third party. Student, employee, or third party behavior may be severe enough to violate federal and state laws prohibiting sexual discrimination in educational institutions and the workplace (e.g., Title IX, Title VII). This generally occurs when:

    1. Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the individual’s employment or educational status; or

    2. Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting the individual’s status; or

    3. Such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

  5. Sexual harassment is the unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with a student’s ability to learn, study, work, or participate in school activities. Examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:

    1. Offensive language (epithets, dirty jokes, derogatory comments, or slurs of a sexual nature) communicated verbally or in writing, including electronic formats.

    2. Visual harassment such as derogatory posters, photography, cartoons, drawings, clothing or gestures.

    3. Making unwelcome sexual advances.

    4. Spreading rumors about or evaluating someone for their sexual behavior.

    5. Taunting or ridiculing someone because of perceived or actual sexual orientation.

    6. Pressuring someone for sexual activity.

  6. Sexual assault is unwanted sexual contact or threat. Examples of sexual assault include, but are not limited to:

    1. Unwanted touching to a person’s body in a sexual way without that person’s consent such as patting, pinching, or impeding or blocking a person’s physical movement.

    2. Engaging in unwelcome sexual contact.

  7. Sexual violence is any type of contact that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient such as fondling, forced sexual intercourse, sexual battery, rape, molestation or incest.

  8. Third Party – Parents, mentors, volunteers, vendors, contractors, and others with whom students or employees interact during school or school-related activities.

  9. Title IX – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the 1975 implementing regulation, and any memoranda, directives, guidelines, or subsequent legislation that may be issued or enacted. This law states:

    No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefit of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.

  10. Title IX Coordinator – The employee(s) designated to coordinate efforts to comply with and carry out responsibilities under this policy and the law.

  11. Title VII – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, a federal anti-discrimination statute that prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace.

IV. Standards

  1. Notice that sexual discrimination is prohibited in the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) will be communicated to all students, parents, employees, and the community annually via customary channels.

  2. The school system will provide periodic training for employees on the substance of this policy.

  3. Sexual harassment of a student may also constitute child abuse and such cases must be addressed and reported in accordance with Policy 1030 - Child Abuse and Neglect.

  4. State law requires the school system to report any criminal activity, including child abuse, to appropriate social service and law enforcement agencies (Policy 1030 - Child Abuse and Neglect).

  5. It is a violation of this policy for any student, employee, or third party to engage in sexual discrimination.

  6. It is a violation of this policy for any student, employee, or third party to engage in retaliation with regard to complaints of sexual discrimination.

  7. Other forms of gender discrimination and harassment are addressed under Policy 1010 - Anti-Discrimination; and Policy 1040 - Safe and Supportive Schools.

  8. Sexual discrimination complaint forms will be easily accessible to students, employees, and third parties.

  9. A student may file a complaint alleging sexual discrimination orally or in writing with a teacher, school counselor, school-based administrator, or directly with the Title IX Coordinator. However, all reports filed with a teacher, school counselor or school-based administrator shall be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator who will oversee and support the investigation of the complaint.

  10. A school system employee or third party who chooses to file a sexual discrimination complaint must do so with the Title IX Coordinator or with a school-based administrator or supervisor as appropriate. All such reports must be forwarded to the Title IX Coordinator who will oversee and support investigation of the complaint.

  11. Teachers, school counselors, and administrators who believe sexual discrimination has occurred must take action promptly in accordance with established procedures.

  12. The school system will investigate allegations of sexual discrimination in a timely manner and address any findings of sexual discrimination.

  13. In all phases of complaint resolution, every reasonable effort shall be made to maintain the confidentiality and protect the privacy of all parties. These efforts may be limited by the school system’s legal and regulatory obligation to investigate and address allegations of sexual discrimination.

  14. Upon completion of an investigation of a complaint, the individual conducting the investigation will consult with the Title IX Coordinator. After consultation, that individual will send a prompt, written report of the findings and recommended corrective actions, if any, within confidentiality guidelines to the complainant and the accused.

  15. The complainant and the accused are entitled to appeal the investigation findings and/or recommended corrective action. All appeals will be decided by an impartial decision-maker.

  16. The school system shall take steps to prevent the reoccurrence of any acts of sexual discrimination and to remedy the discriminatory effects on the victim and others. Consequences for a student, employee, or third party who violates this policy shall include steps to prevent the reoccurrence of any act of sexual discrimination and shall be administered according to applicable school system policies (HCPSS Student Code of Conduct; Policy 9200 - Student Discipline; Policy 7030 - Employee Conduct and Discipline) and other applicable state and federal laws Consequences for violation of this policy shall include all appropriate forms of discipline including expulsion from school and termination of employment.

  17. Violations of this policy are cumulative; subsequent offenses may affect the nature and severity of the consequences.

  18. Utilization and/or exhaustion of these procedures is not a prerequisite for the filing of complaints with the Office for Civil Rights. Complaints alleging Title IX violations may be filed directly with:

    Regional Director, Office for Civil Rights
    U.S. Department of Education
    3535 Market Street, Room 6300
    Philadelphia, PA 19104-3326

V. Resolution of Complaints

When violations have occurred, employees in supervisory or management positions are responsible for taking steps designed to end any existing sexual discrimination by those under supervision, prevent any recurrence, and remedy any detrimental effects on the complainant and others. Remedies available to complainants include, but are not limited to, counseling, imposition of an order against the guilty party prohibiting further contact with the complainant or others, reinstatement of employment to the complainant, reconsideration of an award of a contract with the school system or any other remedy as is just and services the interest of reinstating the complainant to his/her position prior to the discrimination.

  1. Disciplinary action against a student will be administered in accordance with the HCPSS Student Code of Conduct and Policy 9200 - Student Discipline. Disciplinary action against school system employees will be administered in accordance with Policy 7030 - Employee Conduct and Discipline. Action against third parties will be taken in accordance with relevant school system policies and other applicable state and federal laws.

  2. A student who violates this policy may also be required to participate in an appropriate education intervention and/or counseling designated by the school administrator and designed to increase his or her understanding of the offense and its impact on others.

  3. A violation of this policy may require, as a condition of continuing an employment or other relationship with the school system, participation in counseling and/or other interventions designed to assist in the recognition and correction of unwelcome sexual conduct.

  4. An individual who has been the object of, or who has been affected by, conduct prohibited under this policy will be contacted by a school administrator, supervisor or the Title IX Coordinator to discuss the availability of appropriate assistance.

VI. Responsibilities

  1. The Title IX Coordinator shall fulfill any of the job duties and responsibilities of that position stated in the Title IX legislation but not herein specified, including responding in a timely manner to complaints alleging sexual discrimination.

  2. Principals are responsible for notifying students, families, third parties and employees in their schools of the provisions of this policy.

  3. Supervisors are responsible for notifying those under their supervision of the provisions of this policy.

  4. The Superintendent/Designee is responsible for communicating the provisions of this policy annually through customary channels.

  5. Employees are responsible for monitoring student behavior and responding appropriately to both observed and reported violations of this policy.

  6. Employees in supervisory or management positions are responsible for taking steps designed to end any existing sexual harassment by those under their supervision, to prevent any recurrence, and to correct the harmful effects of sexual discrimination on the complainant and others.

VII. Delegation of Authority

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures to implement this policy.

VIII. References

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • The Annotated Code of Maryland, Article 49B, Section 16

  • COMAR 13A.08.01.15 (Reporting Delinquent Acts)

C. Relevant Data Sources

IX. History

ADOPTED: May 28, 1992

REVIEWED:

MODIFIED: August 14, 2014, June 11, 2015

REVISED: January 30, 2001, February 7, 2008

EFFECTIVE: July 1, 2015