FFH(LOCAL) - STUDENT WELFARE: FREEDOM FROM DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT, AND RETALIATION

Note: This policy addresses discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against District students. For provisions regarding discrimination, harassment, and retaliation against District employees, see DIA. For reporting requirements related to child abuse and neglect, see FFG. Note that FFH shall be used in conjunction with FFI (bullying) for certain prohibited conduct.

Statement of Nondiscrimination

The District prohibits discrimination, including harassment, against any student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law. The District prohibits dating violence, as defined by this policy. The District shall not tolerate discriminatory behavior by its students that may arise in any program or activity operated by the District. The District prohibits dating violence, as defined by this policy. Retaliation against anyone involved in the complaint process is a violation of District policy and is prohibited.

Discrimination

Discrimination against a student is defined as conduct directed at a student on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law, that adversely affects the student.

Prohibited Conduct

In this policy, the term "prohibited conduct" includes discrimination, harassment, dating violence, and retaliation as defined by this policy, even if the behavior does not rise to the level of unlawful conduct.

Prohibited conduct also includes sexual harassment as defined by Title IX. [See FFH(LEGAL)]

Prohibited Harassment

Prohibited harassment of a student is defined as physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct based on the student's race, color, religion, sex, gender, national origin, age, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law, when the conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that the conduct:

  1. Affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment;
  2. Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with the student's academic performance; or
  3. Otherwise adversely affects the student's educational opportunities.

Prohibited harassment includes dating violence as defined by law and this policy.

Examples

Examples of prohibited harassment may include offensive or derogatory language directed at another person's religious beliefs or practices, accent, skin color, or need for accommodation; threatening, intimidating, or humiliating conduct; offensive jokes, name calling, slurs, or rumors; cyberharassment; physical aggression or assault; display of graffiti or printed material promoting racial, ethnic, or other negative stereotypes; or other kinds of aggressive conduct such as theft or damage to property.

Sex-Based Harassment

As required by law, the District shall follow the procedures below at Response to Sexual Harassment—Title IX upon a report of sex-based harassment, including sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and dating violence, when such allegations, if proved, would meet the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX. [See FFH(LEGAL)]

Sexual Harassment

By an Employee

Sexual harassment of a student by a District employee includes both welcome and unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; sexually motivated physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct; or other conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:

  1. A District employee causes the student to believe that the student must submit to the conduct in order to participate in a school program or activity, or that the employee will make an educational decision based on whether or not the student submits to the conduct; or
  2. The conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it:
    1. Affects the student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or otherwise adversely affects the student's educational opportunities; or
    2. Creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or abusive educational environment.

Romantic or other inappropriate social relationships between students and District employees are prohibited. Any sexual relationship between a student and a District employee is always prohibited, even if consensual. [See DH]

By Others

Sexual harassment of a student, including harassment committed by another student, includes unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; or sexually motivated physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct when the conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that it:

  1. Affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment;
  2. Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with the student's academic performance; or
  3. Otherwise adversely affects the student's educational opportunities.

Examples

Examples of sexual harassment of a student may include sexual advances; touching intimate body parts or coercing physical contact that is sexual in nature; jokes or conversations of a sexual nature; and other sexually motivated conduct, contact, or communications, including electronic communication.

Necessary or permissible physical contact such as assisting a child by taking the child's hand, comforting a child with a hug, or other physical contact not reasonably construed as sexual in nature is not sexual harassment.

Gender-Based Harassment

Gender-based harassment includes physical, verbal, or nonverbal conduct based on the student's gender, the student's expression of characteristics perceived as stereotypical for the student's gender, or the student's failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity. For purposes of this policy, gender-based harassment is considered prohibited harassment if the conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that the conduct:

  1. Affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment;
  2. Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with the student's academic performance; or
  3. Otherwise adversely affects the student's educational opportunities.

Examples

Examples of gender-based harassment directed against a student, regardless of the student's or the harasser's actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, may include offensive jokes, name-calling, slurs, or rumors; cyberharassment; physical aggression or assault; threatening or intimidating conduct; or other kinds of aggressive conduct such as theft or damage to property.

Dating Violence

Dating violence occurs when a person in a current or past dating relationship uses physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse to harm, threaten, intimidate, or control the other person in the relationship. Dating violence also occurs when a person commits these acts against a person in a marriage or dating relationship with the individual who is or was once in a marriage or dating relationship with the person committing the offense.

For purposes of this policy, dating violence is considered prohibited harassment if the conduct is so severe, persistent, or pervasive that the conduct:

  1. Affects a student's ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or activity, or creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive educational environment;
  2. Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with the student's academic performance; or
  3. Otherwise adversely affects the student's educational opportunities.

Examples

Examples of dating violence against a student may include physical or sexual assaults; name-calling; put-downs; or threats directed at the student, the student's family members, or members of the student's household. Additional examples may include destroying property belonging to the student, threatening to commit suicide or homicide if the student ends the relationship, attempting to isolate the student from friends and family, stalking, threatening a student's spouse or current dating partner, or encouraging others to engage in these behaviors.

Reporting Procedures

Student Report

Any student who believes that he or she has experienced prohibited conduct or believes that another student has experienced prohibited conduct should immediately report the alleged acts to a teacher, school counselor, principal, other District employee, or the appropriate District official listed in this policy.

Employee Report

Any District employee who suspects or receives direct or indirect notice that a student or group of students has or may have experienced prohibited conduct shall immediately notify the appropriate District official listed in this policy and take any other steps required by this policy.

Definition of District Officials

For the purposes of this policy, District officials are the Title IX coordinator, the ADA/Section 504 coordinator, and the Superintendent.

Title IX Coordinator

Reports of discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, or dating violence, may be directed to the designated Title IX coordinator for students. [See FFH(EXHIBIT)]

ADA / Section 504 Coordinator

Reports of discrimination based on disability may be directed to the designated ADA/Section 504 coordinator for students. [See FFH(EXHIBIT)]

Superintendent

The Superintendent shall serve as coordinator for purposes of District compliance with all other nondiscrimination laws.

Alternative Reporting Procedures

An individual shall not be required to report prohibited conduct to the person alleged to have committed the conduct. Reports concerning prohibited conduct, including reports against the Title IX coordinator or ADA/Section 504 coordinator, may be directed to the Superintendent.

A report against the Superintendent may be made directly to the Board. If a report is made directly to the Board, the Board shall appoint an appropriate person to conduct an investigation.

Timely Reporting

To ensure the District's prompt investigation, reports of prohibited conduct shall be made as soon as possible after the alleged act or knowledge of the alleged act.

Notice to Parents

The District official or designee shall promptly notify the parents of any student alleged to have experienced prohibited conduct by a District employee or another adult.

[For parental notification requirements regarding an allegation of educator misconduct with a student, see FFF.]

Investigation of Reports Other Than Title IX

The following procedures apply to all allegations of prohibited conduct other than allegations of harassment prohibited by Title IX. [See FFH(LEGAL)] For allegations of sex-based harassment that, if proved, would meet the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX, including sexual harassment, gender-based harassment, and dating violence, see the procedures below at Response to Sexual Harassment—Title IX.

The District may request, but shall not require, a written report. If a report is made orally, the District official shall reduce the report to written form.

Initial Assessment

Upon receipt or notice of a report, the District official shall determine whether the allegations, if proved, would constitute prohibited conduct as defined by this policy. If so, the District shall immediately undertake an investigation, except as provided below at Criminal Investigation.

If the District official determines that the allegations, if proved, would not constitute prohibited conduct as defined by this policy, the District official shall refer the complaint for consideration under FFI.

Interim Action

If appropriate and regardless of whether a criminal or regulatory investigation regarding the alleged conduct is pending, the District shall promptly take interim action calculated to address prohibited conduct or bullying prior to the completion of the District's investigation.

District Investigation

The investigation may be conducted by the District official or a designee, such as the principal, or by a third party designated by the District, such as an attorney. When appropriate, the principal shall be involved in or informed of the investigation.

The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the person making the report, the person against whom the report is filed, and others with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the allegations. The investigation may also include analysis of other information or documents related to the allegations.

Criminal Investigation

If a law enforcement or regulatory agency notifies the District that a criminal or regulatory investigation has been initiated, the District shall confer with the agency to determine if the District investigation would impede the criminal or regulatory investigation. The District shall proceed with its investigation only to the extent that it does not impede the ongoing criminal or regulatory investigation. After the law enforcement or regulatory agency has finished gathering its evidence, the District shall promptly resume its investigation.

Concluding the Investigation

Absent extenuating circumstances, such as a request by a law enforcement or regulatory agency for the District to delay its investigation, the investigation should be completed within ten District business days from the date of the report; however, the investigator shall take additional time if necessary to complete a thorough investigation.

The investigator shall prepare a written report of the investigation. The report shall include a determination of whether prohibited conduct or bullying occurred. The report shall be filed with the District official overseeing the investigation.

Notification of Outcome

Notification of the outcome of the investigation shall be provided to both parties in compliance with FERPA.

District Action

Prohibited Conduct

If the results of an investigation indicate that prohibited conduct occurred, the District shall promptly respond by taking appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct and may take corrective action reasonably calculated to address the conduct.

Corrective Action

Examples of corrective action may include a training program for those involved in the report, a comprehensive education program for the school community, counseling to the victim and the student who engaged in prohibited conduct, follow-up inquiries to determine if any new incidents or any instances of retaliation have occurred, involving parents and students in efforts to identify problems and improve the school climate, increasing staff monitoring of areas where prohibited conduct has occurred, and reaffirming the District's policy against discrimination and harassment.

Bullying

If the results of an investigation indicate that bullying occurred, as defined by FFI, the District official shall refer to FFI for appropriate notice to parents and District action. The District official shall refer to FDB for transfer provisions.

Improper Conduct

If the investigation reveals improper conduct that did not rise to the level of prohibited conduct or bullying, the District may take disciplinary action in accordance with the Student Code of Conduct or other corrective action reasonably calculated to address the conduct.

Counseling

The District's campus-level school counselors shall provide counseling for its students who are either victims or offenders in incidents involving harassment. [See DH and DIA for employees]

Confidentiality

To the greatest extent possible, the District shall respect the privacy of the complainant, persons against whom a report is filed, and witnesses. Limited disclosures may be necessary in order to conduct a thorough investigation and comply with applicable law.

Appeal

A student or parent who is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation may appeal through FNG(LOCAL), beginning at the appropriate level. A student or parent shall be informed of his or her right to file a complaint with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

Response to Sexual Harassment–Title IX

General Response

For purposes of the District's response to reports of harassment prohibited by Title IX, definitions can be found in FFH(LEGAL).

When the District receives notice or an allegation of conduct that, if proved, would meet the definition of sexual harassment under Title IX, the Title IX coordinator shall promptly contact the complainant to:

The District's response to sexual harassment shall treat complainants and respondents equitably by offering supportive measures to both parties, as appropriate, and by following the Title IX formal complaint process before imposing disciplinary sanctions or other actions that are not supportive measures against a respondent.

If a formal complaint is not filed, the District reserves the right to investigate and respond to prohibited conduct in accordance with Board policies and the Student Code of Conduct.

Title IX Formal Complaint Process

To distinguish the process described below from the District's general grievance policies [see DGBA, FNG, and GF], this policy refers to the grievance process required by Title IX regulations for responding to formal complaints of sexual harassment as the District's "Title IX formal complaint process."

The Superintendent shall ensure the development of a Title IX formal complaint process that complies with legal requirements. [See FFH(LEGAL)] The formal complaint process shall be posted on the District's website. In compliance with Title IX regulations, the District's Title IX formal complaint process shall address the following basic requirements:

  1. Equitable treatment of complainants and respondents;
  2. An objective evaluation of all relevant evidence;
  3. A requirement that the Title IX coordinator, investigator, decision-maker, or any person designated to facilitate an informal resolution process not have a conflict of interest or bias;
  4. A presumption that the respondent is not responsible for the alleged sexual harassment until a determination is made at the conclusion of the Title IX formal complaint process;
  5. Time frames that provide for a reasonably prompt conclusion of the Title IX formal complaint process, including time frames for appeals and any informal resolution process, and that allow for temporary delays or the limited extension of time frames with good cause and written notice as required by law;
  6. A description of the possible disciplinary sanctions and remedies that may be implemented following a determination of responsibility for the alleged sexual harassment;
  7. A statement of the standard of evidence to be used to determine responsibility for all Title IX formal complaints of sexual harassment;
  8. Procedures and permissible bases for the complainant and respondent to appeal a determination of responsibility or a dismissal of a Title IX formal complaint or any allegations therein;
  9. A description of the supportive measures available to the complainant and respondent;
  10. A prohibition on using or seeking information protected under a legally recognized privilege unless the individual holding the privilege has waived the privilege;
  11. Additional formal complaint procedures in 34 C.F.R. 106.45(b), including written notice of a formal complaint, consolidation of formal complaints, recordkeeping, and investigation procedures; and
  12. Other local procedures as determined by the Superintendent.

Standard of Evidence

The standard of evidence used to determine responsibility in a Title IX formal complaint of sexual harassment shall be the preponderance of the evidence.

Retaliation

The District prohibits retaliation by a student or District employee against a student alleged to have experienced discrimination or harassment, including dating violence, or another student who, in good faith, makes a report of harassment or discrimination, files a complaint of harassment or discrimination, serves as a witness, or participates in an investigation. The definition of prohibited retaliation under this policy also includes retaliation against a student who refuses to participate in any manner in an investigation under Title IX.

Examples

Examples of retaliation may include threats, intimidation, coercion, rumor spreading, ostracism, assault, destruction of property, unjustified punishments, or unwarranted grade reductions. Unlawful retaliation does not include petty slights or annoyances.

False Claim

A student who intentionally makes a false claim or offers false statements in a District investigation regarding discrimination or harassment, including dating violence, shall be subject to appropriate disciplinary action in accordance with law.

Records Retention

The District shall retain copies of allegations, investigation reports, and related records regarding any prohibited conduct in accordance with the District's records control schedules, but for no less than the minimum amount of time required by law. [See CPC]

[For Title IX recordkeeping and retention provisions, see FFH(LEGAL) and the District's Title IX formal complaint process.]

Access to Policy and Procedures

Information regarding this policy and any accompanying procedures shall be distributed annually in the employee and student handbooks. Copies of the policy and procedures shall be posted on the District's website, to the extent practicable, and readily available at each campus and the District's administrative offices.

Coppell ISD

FFH(LOCAL)-X

UPDATE 115

DATE ISSUED: 7/6/2020