Board of Education Policy 3420: Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the School District

The Board of Education is committed to providing an environment free from discrimination and harassment. Accordingly, the Board prohibits discrimination and harassment on the basis of race, color, religion (including attire, clothing or facial hair worn as a form of religious observance), national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity, age, disability or other legally protected category. Such actions and occurrences are prohibited regardless of whether they take place on School District premises or at school sponsored events, programs, or activities held at other locations, and include instances which occur off school grounds, but which can reasonably be expected to materially and substantially disrupt the educational process.

Prohibited Conduct

Determinations as to whether conduct or occurrences constitute discrimination or harassment for the purposes of this Policy and its implementing Administrative Regulations will be made consistent with applicable law. Such determinations may depend upon a number of factors, including but not limited to:  the particular conduct or occurrence at issue, the ages of the parties involved, the context in which the conduct or occurrence takes place, the relationship of the parties to one another, the category or characteristic that is alleged to have been the basis for the action or occurrence, and other considerations as are necessary and consistent with law. 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.

Civil Rights Compliance Officer

The 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 District shall issue an appropriate public announcement or publication which advises students, parents/guardians, employees and other relevant individuals of the District’s established grievance procedures for resolving complaints of discrimination and harassment. Included in such announcement or publication will be the name, address, telephone number, and email address of the Civil Rights Compliance Officer.

Investigation of Complaints and Grievances

The 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 above, 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.

It is essential that any individual who is aware of a possible occurrence of discrimination or harassment immediately report such occurrence. All reports will be directed or forwarded to the District’s designated Civil Rights Compliance Officer. 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.

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 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 complainants, victims, witnesses, and/or any other individuals who participated in the investigation of a complaint of discrimination and/or 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.

Additional Provisions

Regulations will be developed for reporting, investigating, and remedying allegations of discrimination and/or harassment.

In order to promote familiarity with issues pertaining to discrimination and harassment in the schools, and to help reduce incidents of prohibited conduct, the 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 available upon request 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 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 shall not be considered a violation of District policy.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act, 29 USC Section 621
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 USC Section 12101 et seq.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC Section 794 et seq.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC Section 2000d et seq.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC Section 2000e et seq.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 USC Section 1681 et seq.
Education Law Section 2801(1)
Executive Law Section 290 et seq.

NOTE: Refer also to Policies #6120 — Equal Employment Opportunity

#6121 — Sexual Harassment of District Personnel
#7550 — Dignity For All Students
#7551 — Sexual Harassment of Students
District Code of Conduct

Adopted May 24, 2016
Updated September 10, 2019
Updated January 14, 2020