Board Policies Vol. 1: 0000s

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0000 Name, Territory, Components and Boundaries of Guilderland School District

The official name of the school district is “Guilderland Central School District.”*

The district, comprising 62 ½ square miles, is located on the southwest quadrant of the axis formed by the New York State Thruway-Northway, running north and south, and the New York State Thruway, running west. The district extends fifteen miles east-to-west and five miles north-to-south. Sections of the school district are located in the following townships:

  • Town of Guilderland: 88% of the territory of the district
  • Town of Bethlehem: 4% of the territory of the district
  • Town of New Scotland: 3% of the territory of the district
  • Town of Knox: 5% of the territory of the district

The central school district was created in June-July 1950, by the joining together of the following common and union free school districts:

  • Common School District # 2: Dunnsville
  • Common School District # 3: Parker’s Corners
  • Common School District # 4: Guilderland Village
  • Common School District # 6: Guilderland Center
  • Common School District # 9: Osborne’s Corners
  • Common School District #11: McKownville
  • Common School District #13: Fuller’s Station
  • Common School District #14: Fort Hunter
  • Common School District #14: North Bethlehem
  • Union Free School District #7: Altamont
  • **Common School District #4: Knox (Annexed June 1957)
  • **Common School District #13: North Bethlehem-Albany-New Scotland (Annexed August 1967)

*The name above was adopted by the Board of Education and approved by the Commissioner of Education of the State of New York on March 22, 1973, pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 429 of the Laws of 1972. The school district’s previous official name was “Central School District No.2 of the Towns of Guilderland, Bethlehem, New Scotland, and Knox, Albany County.”

**Small portions of these two original common school districts were annexed to Guilderland.

Adopted April 4, 1995
Adopted September 10, 2013
Reviewed July 5, 2018

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0001 Educational Philosophy

The Board of Education believes that the Guilderland Central School District is dedicated to serving its students, their families, and the entire community. To this end we will be attentive and responsive to the diverse needs of all. By serving our students we mean to empower them for success and effectiveness both now and throughout their lives. The district will support students as they:

  • develop and cultivate the full range of human intelligences and capabilities;
  • instill wise and humane habits of mind and dispositions of character;
  • develop the skills necessary to live, work, and succeed in our modern society and an ever-changing world; and
  • develop their unique expression and life-long respect for others.

Our mission is to inspire all students to be active life-long learners, able to achieve their highest potential in a demanding and ever-changing global community.

In order to achieve this, we maintain a vision to provide for all a safe and welcoming environment, where students, parents and staff are joined in the pursuit of academic excellence and personal growth. Thus, we shall provide a rich and rigorous education for all learners so that, upon graduation, they are poised, capable and ready to meet the developments, challenges and opportunities of the future.

Staff members are expected to direct their energies to doing what is necessary to meet our students’ needs. To that end, all staff shall do their work with the belief that:

  • Students are the center of the educational process and the school system must be relentless in the pursuit of decisions made on the basis of what is best for each child.
  • Every student, without exception, has the potential for growth, improvement, and success in life
  • All students, given the right environment, will learn and excel, when provided with authentically engaging work based on high standards and expectations.
  • All students, when given the right environment and unwavering guidance, will develop the skills needed to face moral and ethical life challenges with integrity, honesty , and self-respect.
  • There is worth in every student and that diversity is an asset to be enthusiastically embraced.
  • Our school system is dependent on utilizing the talents and perspectives of community, parents, families, students, and staff.

The district actively supports employee efforts to improve their professional practice aimed at learning and implementing effective ways in which to meet students’ needs.

Recognizing that the whole community is affected by its schools, the Board of Education encourages participation and conversations about what students are learning, what schools and families are seeking to do, and what the community needs. We will operate in an arena of collaboration and partnership. Our actions and relationships will foster mutual respect, trust, and support. We will make decisions based on what we believe is in the best interest of students and on what we know is effective in enhancing the full range of human development.

Adopted December 10, 1996
Replaced and Adopted September 10, 2013
Revised, Adopted July 5, 2018

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0100 Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination

The Board of Education, its officers and employees, shall not discriminate in its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, creed, religion, marital status, sex, age, sexual orientation, disability or predisposing genetic characteristic. The district will provide notice of this policy in accordance with regulations under federal and state law

This policy of nondiscrimination includes access by students to educational programs, counseling services for students, course offerings, and student activities, as well as recruitment and appointment of employees and employment pay, benefits, advancement and/or terminations.

The Board of Education, its officers and employees shall not discriminate against students on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sex; sexual orientation, or gender (including gender identity and expression).

A finding that an individual has engaged in conduct in violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action and/or filing of a report with third parties in the manner prescribed by the district code of conduct, the law or applicable contract.

Nothing in this policy shall be construed to prohibit a denial of admission into, or exclusion from, a course of instruction or activity based on a person’s gender that would be permissible under the law, or to prohibit, as discrimination based on disability, actions that would be permissible under the law.

Annual Notification

At the beginning of each school year, the district shall publish a notice of the established grievance procedures for resolving complaints of discrimination to parents/guardians, employees, students and the community. The public notice shall:

1. inform parents, employees, students and the community that education programs, including but not limited to vocational programs, are offered without regard to actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sex; sexual orientation, or gender (including gender identity and expression;
2. provide the name, address and telephone number of the person designated to coordinate activities concerning discrimination; and
3. be included in announcements, bulletins, catalogues, and applications made available by the district.

The Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the district’s non-discrimination policies. Contact information for the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources is available on the district’s website. Complaints of sexual harassment or discrimination are covered by policy 0110.

All complainants and those who participate in the investigation of a complaint in conformity with state law and district policies, who have acted reasonably and in good faith, have the right to be free from retaliation of any kind.

The Board authorizes the Superintendent of Schools to establish such rules, regulations and procedures necessary to implement and maintain this policy.

Adopted April 4, 1995 (Replaced)
Adopted May 8, 2012
Revised, Adopted July 5, 2018

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0100-R Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination Regulation

The procedures set forth in this regulation do not supersede any protection complainants are provided under existing state or federal law.

Definitions

1. Complainant shall mean an applicant, employee, student or vendor who alleges that they have been subjected to discrimination, which may be a violation of this policy, as well as a violation of federal or state law or associated regulations, which has affected him/her.
2. Complaint shall mean any alleged act of discrimination which may be a violation of this policy, which may also violate federal and state civil rights laws or associated regulations.
3. Compliance Officer shall mean the employee designated by the Board of Education to coordinate efforts to comply with and carry out responsibilities under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 and the ADA. The district’s compliance officer is the Assistant Superintendent for Human Resources.
4. Business Day – any day the Guilderland District Office is open for business.

The investigation and resolution of any complaints alleging an action prohibited by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA shall be dealt with in the following prompt, equitable and impartial manner:

A. Stage I–Compliance Officer

1. As soon as practicable, if possible within 30 calendar days after the events giving rise to the allegation, the complainant shall file a complaint, preferably in writing using the district’s complaint form, with the Compliance Officer. The Compliance Officer may informally discuss the complaint with the complainant. He/She shall promptly and thoroughly investigate the matter. All employees and students of the school district shall cooperate with the Compliance Officer in such investigation.
2. Within 15 school business days of receipt of the complaint, the Compliance Officer shall make a finding in writing that there has or has not been a violation of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA. In the event the Compliance Officer finds that there has been a violation, he/she shall propose a resolution of the complaint.
3. If the complainant is not satisfied with the finding of the Compliance Officer, or with the proposed resolution of the complaint, the complainant may, within 15 calendar days after he/she has received the report of the Compliance Officer, file a written request for review by the Superintendent of Schools.

B. Stage II–Superintendent of Schools

1. The Superintendent may request that the complainant, the Compliance Officer, student, or any member of the school district staff present a written statement to him/her setting forth any information that such person has relative to the complaint and the facts surrounding it.
2. The Superintendent shall notify all parties concerned as to the time and place when an informal hearing will be held where such parties may appear and present oral and written statements supplementing their position in the case. Such hearing shall be held within 15 business days of the receipt of the appeal by the Superintendent.
3. Within 15 business days of the hearing, the Superintendent shall render his/her determination in writing. Such determination shall include a finding that there has or has not been a violation of the Civil Rights Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act or the ADA, and if applicable, a proposal for equitably resolving the complaint.
4. If the complainant is not satisfied with the determination of the Superintendent or the proposed resolution, the complainant may, within 15 calendar days after its receipt, file with the Clerk of the Board of Education, a written request for review by the Board.

C. Stage III–Board of Education

1. When a request for review by the Board has been made, the Superintendent shall submit all written statements and other materials concerning the case to the President of the Board.
2. The Board shall notify all parties concerned of the time and place when a hearing will be held. Such hearing will be held within 15 school business days of the receipt of the request of the complainant.
3. The Board shall render a decision in writing within 15 school business days after the hearing has been concluded.

Adopted May 8, 2012
Reviewed July 5, 2018

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0110 Sexual Harassment

The Board of Education recognizes that harassment of students, employees (including all staff, applicants for employment, both paid and unpaid interns, exempt and non-exempt status, part-time, seasonal, and temporary workers, regardless of immigration status) and certain “non-employees” (which includes contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultant and other persons providing services pursuant to a contract, or their employees) on the basis of sex, gender and/or sexual orientation is abusive and illegal behavior that harms targets and negatively impacts the school culture by creating an environment of fear, distrust, intimidation and intolerance. The Board further recognizes that preventing and remedying such harassment in schools is essential to ensure a healthy, nondiscriminatory environment in which students can learn and employees and “non-employees” can work productively.

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful under federal, state, and (where applicable) local law. Sexual harassment includes harassment on the basis of actual or perceived or self-identified sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and transgender status. Sexual harassment of a student can deny or limit the student’s ability to participate in or to receive benefits, services, or opportunities from the school’s program.

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome conduct which is either of a sexual nature, or which is directed at an individual because of that individual’s sex, when:

  1. submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment or a student’s education;
  2. submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as the basis for decisions affecting an individual’s employment or a student’s education; or
  3. the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s or “non-employee’s” work or student’s school performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment, even if the complaining individual is not the intended target of the sexual harassment;

Sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature, or verbal, nonverbal or physical aggression, intimidation or hostility that is based on actual or perceived gender and sexual stereotypes. Examples of sexual harassment can be found in the accompanying regulation (0110-R).

The Board is committed to providing an educational and working environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality and that is free from all forms of sexual harassment. To this end, the Board condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of sexual harassment on school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events, including those that take place at locations outside the district, or outside the school setting if the harassment impacts the individual’s education or employment in a way that violates their legal rights, including when employees and “non-employees” travel on district business, or when harassment is done by electronic means (including on social media). For employees, sexual harassment is considered a form of employee misconduct. It shall be a violation of this policy for any student, employee, or non-employee to sexually harass and other student, employee, or non-employee. Sanctions will be enforced against all those who engage in sexual harassment, and against supervisory and managerial personnel who knowingly allow such behavior to continue or engage in retaliation.

Sexual harassment may subject the district to liability for harm done to targets. Harassers may also be individually subject to civil liability if sued in a court of law or criminal liability if prosecuted.

Under various state and federal laws, students, employees and “non-employees” have legal protections against sexual harassment in the school environment as described above.  Those laws are listed in the references section.  Additionally, local laws (e.g., county, city, town, village) may apply to the district.  The district’s Code of Conduct also addresses appropriate behavior in the school environment.  Sexual harassment can occur between persons of all ages and genders.

In order for the Board to effectively enforce this policy and to take prompt corrective measures, it is essential that all targets of sexual harassment and persons with knowledge of sexual harassment report the harassment immediately.  The district will promptly investigate all complaints of sexual harassment, either formal or informal, verbal or written.  To the extent possible, all complaints will be treated in a confidential manner.  Limited disclosure may be necessary to complete a thorough investigation.  If the complainant reports that they feel unsafe at school due to the nature of the complaint, the district will determine if accommodations need to be made until the issue is resolved.

If, after appropriate investigation, the district finds that a student, an employee, a “non-employee” or a third party has violated this policy, prompt corrective action will be taken in accordance with the applicable collective bargaining agreement, contract, district policy and state law.  Individual nondisclosure agreements may only be used as permitted by law, described in the accompanying regulation.  Mandatory arbitration clauses are prohibited in all district contracts and agreements.

All complainants and those who participate in sexual harassment complaints or the investigation of a complaint of sexual harassment have the right to be free from retaliation of any kind, when they do so with a good faith belief that sexual harassment has occurred.  Such prohibited retaliation can include, but is not limited to, discipline, discrimination, demotion, denial of privileges, or any action that would keep a person from coming forward to make or support a sexual harassment claim.  Such actions need not be job- or education-related, or occur in the workplace or educational environment, to constitute unlawful retaliation.

The Superintendent of Schools is directed to develop and implement regulations for reporting, investigating and remedying allegations of sexual harassment. These regulations are to be attached to this policy. In addition, training programs shall be established for students, and annually for employees, to raise awareness of the issues surrounding sexual harassment and to implement preventative measures to help reduce incidents of sexual harassment.  Age-appropriate instructional materials will be incorporated into the curriculum to educate students so that they can recognize and reduce the incidence of sexual harassment.

This policy shall be posted in a prominent place in each district facility, on the district’s website, and shall also be published in student registration materials, student, parent and employee handbooks, and other appropriate school publications.

Cross Ref: Student Code of Conduct

Ref: 

  • Education Amendments of 1972, Title IX, 20 U.S.C.§1681 et sea.
  • Title VII of Civil Rights Act (1964), 42 U.S.C. §2000-e; 34 CFR §100 et seq.
  • Executive Law §296-d (prohibition of sexual harassment of non-employees)
  • Labor Law §201-g (required sexual harassment policy and training)
  • Civil Practice Law and Rules §§5003-b (nondisclosure agreements optional); 7515 (mandatory arbitration prohibited)
  • General Obligations Law §5-336 (nondisclosure agreements optional)
  • Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, 526 U.S. 629, 652 (1999)
  • Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, 524 U.S, 274 (1998)
  • Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, 524 U.S. 775 (1998)
  • Burlington Industries v. Ellerth, 524 U.S. 742 (1998)
  • Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998)
  • Franklin v. Gwinnett County Public Schools, 503 U.S. 60 (1992)
  • Meritor Savings Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57 (1986)
  • Cannon v. University of Chicago, 441 U.S. 677 (1979)
  • Office for Civil Rights Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance (January 19, 2001)
  • Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Harassment Issues (2006)
  • Office for Civil Rights, Dear Colleague Letter: Bullying (October 26, 2010)

Adopted May 8, 2012
Replaced, Adopted November 13, 2018
Reviewed, Adopted June 18, 2020

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0110-R Sexual Harassment Regulation

This regulation is intended to create and preserve an educational and working environment free from unlawful sexual harassment on the basis of sex, gender and/or sexual orientation or expression in furtherance of the district’s commitment to provide a healthy and productive environment for all students and employees and “non-employees” (i.e. contractors, subcontractors, vendors, consultant and other persons providing services pursuant to a contract, or their employees) that promotes respect, dignity and equality.

Sexual Harassment Defined

“Sexual harassment” means harassment on the basis of perceived or self-identified sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and transgender status, and includes, without limitation, activities such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, verbal, non-verbal or physical aggression, and intimidation or hostility based on actual or perceived gender identity or expression.

Sexual or gender-based harassment occurs when:

  1. submission to that conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of an employee’s or “non-employee’s” employment or a student’s education (including any aspect of the student’s participation in school-sponsored activities, or any other aspect of the student’s education); or
  2. submission to or rejection of that conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting an employee’s or “non-employee’s” employment or a student’s education; or
  3. the conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an employee’s or “non-employee’s” work performance or a student’s academic performance or participation in school-sponsored activities, or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.

Subjecting an individual to inferior terms, conditions or privileges of employment due to the individual’s perceived or self-identified sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or transgender status is also considered a form of sexual harassment under this policy and the NYS Human Rights Law.

Unacceptable Conduct
 

School-related conduct that the district considers unacceptable and which may constitute sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  1. rape, attempted rape, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, forcible sexual abuse, hazing, and other sexual and gender-based activity of a criminal nature as defined under the State Penal Law;
  2. unwelcome sexual invitations or requests for sexual activity in exchange for grades, promotions, preferences, favors, selection for extracurricular activities or job assignments, homework, etc.;
  3. unwelcome and offensive public sexual display of affection, including kissing, making out, groping, fondling, petting, inappropriate touching of one’s self or others, sexually suggestive dancing, and massages;
  4. any unwelcome communication that is sexually suggestive, sexually degrading or implies sexual motives or intentions, such as sexual remarks or innuendoes about an individual’s clothing, appearance or activities; sexual jokes; sexual gestures; public conversations about sexual activities or exploits; sexual rumors and “ratings lists;” howling, catcalls, and whistles; sexually graphic computer files, messages or games, etc;
  5. unwelcome and offensive name calling or profanity that is sexually suggestive, sexually degrading, implies sexual intentions, or that is based on sexual stereotypes or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression;
  6. unwelcome physical contact or closeness that is sexually suggestive, sexually degrading, or sexually intimidating such as the unwelcome touching of another’s body parts, cornering or blocking an individual, standing too close, spanking, pinching, following, stalking, frontal body hugs, etc.;
  7. unwelcome and sexually offensive physical pranks or touching of an individual’s clothing, such as hazing and initiation, “streaking,” “mooning,” “snuggies” or “wedgies” (pulling underwear up at the waist so it goes in between the buttocks), bra-snapping, skirt “flip-ups,” “spiking” (pulling down someone’s pants or swimming suit); pinching; placing hands inside an individual’s pants, shirt, blouse, or dress, etc.;
  8. unwelcome leers, stares, gestures, or slang that are sexually suggestive; sexually degrading or imply sexual motives or intentions;
  9. clothing with sexually obscene or sexually explicit slogans or messages;
  10. unwelcome and offensive skits, assemblies, and productions that are sexually suggestive, sexually degrading, or that imply sexual motives or intentions, or that are based on sexual stereotypes;
  11. unwelcome written or pictorial display or distribution of pornographic or other sexually explicit materials such as magazines, videos, films, Internet material, etc.;
  12. any unwelcome behavior based on sexual stereotypes and attitudes that is offensive, degrading, intimidating, or demeaning, including, but not limited to:
    1. disparaging remarks, slurs, jokes about or aggression toward an individual because the person displays mannerisms or a style of dress inconsistent with stereotypical characteristics of the person’s sex;
    2. ostracizing or refusing to participate in group activities with an individual during class projects, physical education classes or field trips because of the individual’s sex, gender expression or gender identity;
    3. taunting or teasing an individual because they are participating in an activity not typically associated with the individual’s sex or gender

For purposes of this regulation, action or conduct will be considered “unwelcome” if the student or employee or “non-employee” did not request or invite it and regarded the conduct as undesirable or offensive. Such harassment need not be severe or pervasive to be unlawful and can be any harassing conduct that includes petty slights or trivial inconveniences.

Determining if Prohibited Conduct is Sexual Harassment
 

Complaints of sexual harassment will be thoroughly investigated to determine whether the totality of the behavior and circumstances meet any of the elements of the above definition of sexual harassment and should therefore be treated as sexual harassment. Not all unacceptable conduct with sexual connotations may constitute sexual harassment. In many cases (other than quid pro quo situations where the alleged harasser offers academic or employment rewards or threatens punishment as an inducement for sexual favors), unacceptable behavior must be sufficiently severe, pervasive and objectively offensive to be considered sexual harassment.   If the behavior doesn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment, but is found to be objectionable behavior, the individual will be educated and counseled in order to prevent the behavior from continuing. 

In evaluating the totality of the circumstances and making a determination of whether conduct constitutes sexual harassment, the individual investigating the complaint should consider:

  1. the degree to which the conduct affected the ability of the student to participate in or benefit from his or her education or altered the conditions of the student’s learning environment or altered the conditions of the employee’s working environment;
  2. the type, frequency and duration of the conduct;
  3. the identity of and relationship between the alleged harasser and the subject of the harassment (e.g., sexually based conduct by an authority figure is more likely to create a hostile environment than similar conduct by another student or a co-worker);
  4. the number of individuals involved;
  5. the age and sex of the alleged harasser and the subject of the harassment;
  6. the location of the incidents and context in which they occurred;
  7. other incidents at the school; and
  8. incidents of gender-based, but non-sexual harassment.

Reporting Complaints

Any person who believes he or she has been the target of sexual harassment by a student, district employee, “non-employee,” or third party related to the school is required to report complaints as soon as possible after the incident in order to enable the district to effectively investigate and resolve the complaint. Targets are encouraged to submit the complaint in writing; however, complaints may be filed verbally.

Complaints should be filed with the Principal or the Title IX coordinator.

Any school employee who receives a complaint of sexual harassment from a student will inform the student of the employee’s obligation to report the complaint to the school administration, and then will immediately notify the Principal and/or the Title IX coordinator. School employees receiving complaints of sexual harassment from non-employees should direct the complaint to their building principal.

In order to assist investigators, targets should document the harassment as soon as it occurs and with as much detail as possible including: the nature of the harassment; dates, times, places it has occurred; name of harasser(s); witnesses to the harassment; and the target’s response to the harassment.

Confidentiality

It is district policy to respect the privacy of all parties and witnesses to complaints of sexual harassment. To the extent possible, the district will not release the details of a complaint or the identity of the complainant or the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed to any third parties who do not need to know such information. However, because an individual’s need for confidentiality must be balanced with the district’s legal obligation to provide due process to the accused, to conduct a thorough investigation, or to take necessary action to resolve the complaint, the district retains the right to disclose the identity of parties and witnesses to complaints in appropriate circumstances to individuals with a need to know. The staff member responsible for investigating complaints will discuss confidentiality standards and concerns with all complainants. 

If a complainant requests that his/her name not be revealed to the individual(s) against whom a complaint is filed, the staff member responsible for conducting the investigation will inform the complainant that:

  1. the request may limit the district’s ability to respond to his/her complaint;
  2. district policy and federal law prohibit retaliation against complainants and witnesses;
  3. the district will attempt to prevent any retaliation; and
  4. the district will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs.

If the complainant still requests confidentiality after being given the notice above, the investigator will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request as long as doing so does not prevent the district from complying with the requirements of due process or preclude the district from responding effectively to the harassment and preventing the harassment of other students or employees.

Investigation and Resolution Procedure

A. Initial (Building-level) Procedure

The Principal or the Title IX coordinator will conduct a preliminary review when they receive a verbal or written complaint of sexual harassment, or if they observe sexual harassment. Except in the case of severe or criminal conduct, the Principal or the Title IX coordinator should make all reasonable efforts to resolve complaints informally at the school level. The goal of informal investigation and resolution procedures is to end the harassment and obtain a prompt and equitable resolution to a complaint.     

As soon as possible but no later than three school business days following receipt of a complaint, the Principal or Title IX coordinator should begin an investigation of the complaint according to the following steps:

  1. Interview the target and document the conversation. Instruct the target to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the alleged harasser. Ask the target specifically what action he/she wants taken in order to resolve the complaint. Refer the target, as appropriate, to school social workers, school psychologists, crisis team managers, other school staff, or appropriate outside agencies for counseling services.
  2. Review any written documentation of the harassment prepared by the target. If the target has not prepared written documentation, instruct the target to do so, providing alternative formats for individuals with disabilities and young children, who have difficulty writing and need accommodation.
  3. Interview the alleged harasser regarding the complaint and inform the alleged harasser that if the objectionable conduct has occurred, it must cease immediately. Document the conversation. Provide the alleged harasser an opportunity to respond to the charges in writing.
  4. Instruct the alleged harasser to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the target and to not retaliate against the target. Warn the alleged harasser that if he/she makes contact with or retaliates against the target, he/she will be subject to immediate disciplinary action.
  5. Interview any witnesses to the complaint. Where appropriate, obtain a written statement from each witness. Caution each witness to keep the complaint and his/her statement confidential.
  6. Review all documentation and information relevant to the complaint.
  7. Where appropriate, suggest mediation as a potential means of resolving the complaint. In addition to mediation, use appropriate informal methods to resolve the complaint, including but not limited to:
    1. discussion with the accused, informing him or her of the district’s policies and indicating that the behavior must stop;
    2. suggesting counseling and/or sensitivity training;
    3. conducting training for the department or school in which the behavior occurred, calling attention to the consequences of engaging in such behavior;
    4. requesting a letter of apology to the complainant;
    5. writing letters of caution or reprimand; and/or
    6. separating the parties.
  8. Parent/Student/Employee/”Non-Employee” Involvement and Notification
    1. Parents/guardians of student targets and accused students will be notified within one school business day of allegations that are serious or involve repeated conduct.
    2. The parents/guardians of students who file complaints are welcome to participate at each stage of both informal and formal investigation and resolution procedures.
    3. If either the target or the accused is a disabled student receiving special education services under an IEP or section 504/Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations, the committee on special education will be consulted to determine the degree to which the student’s disability either caused or is affected by the discrimination or policy violation. In addition, due process procedures required for persons with disabilities under state and federal law will be followed.
    4. The Principal or Title IX Coordinator (i.e., the investigator) will submit a copy of all investigation and interview documentation to the Superintendent.
    5. The investigator will report back to both the target and the accused, notifying them in writing, and also in person as appropriate, regarding the outcome of the investigation and the action taken to resolve the complaint. The investigator will instruct the target to report immediately if the objectionable behavior occurs again or if the alleged harasser retaliates against him/her.
    6. The investigator will notify the target that if he/she desires further investigation and action, he/she may request a district level investigation by contacting the Superintendent of Schools. The investigator will also notify the target of his/her right to contact the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and/or a private attorney. Employees may also contact the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or the New York State Division of Human Rights, as applicable.

If the initial investigation results in a determination that sexual harassment did occur, the investigator will promptly notify the Superintendent, who will then take prompt disciplinary action in accordance with district policy, the applicable collective bargaining agreement or state law.

If a complaint received by the Principal or the Title IX Coordinator contains evidence or allegations of serious or extreme harassment, such as employee to student harassment, criminal touching, quid pro quo (e.g., offering an academic or employment reward or punishment as an inducement for sexual favors), or acts which shock the conscience of a reasonable person, the complaint will be referred promptly to the Superintendent. In addition, where the Principal or the Title IX coordinator has a reasonable suspicion that the alleged harassment involves criminal activity, he/she should immediately notify the Superintendent, who will then contact appropriate child protection and law enforcement authorities. Where criminal activity is alleged or suspected by a district employee, the accused employee will be suspended pending the outcome of the investigation, consistent with all contractual or statutory requirements.

Any party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation by the Principal or the Title IX coordinator may request a district-level investigation by submitting a written complaint to the Superintendent within 30 calendar days.

B.        District-level Procedure

The Superintendent will promptly investigate and resolve all sexual harassment complaints that are referred to him/her by a Principal or Title IX coordinator, as well as those appealed to the Superintendent following an initial investigation by a Principal or Title IX coordinator. In the event the complaint of sexual harassment involves the Superintendent, the complaint will be filed with or referred to the Board President, who will refer the complaint to a trained investigator not employed by the district for investigation.

The district level investigation should begin as soon as possible but not later than three school business days following receipt of the complaint by the Superintendent or Board President.

In conducting the formal district level investigation, the district will use investigators who have received formal training in sexual harassment investigation or that have previous experience investigating sexual harassment complaints.

If a district investigation results in a determination that sexual harassment did occur, prompt corrective action will be taken to end the harassment. Where appropriate, district investigators may suggest mediation as a means of exploring options of corrective action and informally resolving the complaint.

No later than 30 calendar days following receipt of the complaint, the Superintendent (or in cases involving the Superintendent, the Board-appointed investigator) will notify the target and alleged harasser, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation. If additional time is needed to complete the investigation or take appropriate action, the Superintendent or Board-appointed investigator will provide all parties with a written status report within 30 calendar days following receipt of the complaint.

The target and the alleged harasser have the right to be represented by a person of their choice, at their own expense, during sexual harassment investigations and hearings. In addition, targets have the right to register sexual harassment complaints with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Employee targets also have the right to register complaints with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the New York State Division of Human Rights. Nothing in these regulations will be construed to limit the right of the complainant to file a lawsuit in either state or federal court.

Retaliation Prohibited
 

Any act of retaliation against any person who opposes sexually harassing behavior, or who has filed a complaint, is prohibited and illegal, and therefore subject to disciplinary action. Likewise, retaliation 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. For purposes of this policy, retaliation includes but is not limited to: verbal or physical threats, intimidation, ridicule, bribes, destruction of property, spreading rumors, stalking, harassing phone calls, and any other form of harassment. Any person who retaliates is subject to immediate disciplinary action, up to and including suspension or termination.

Discipline/Penalties
 

Any individual who violates the sexual harassment policy by engaging in prohibited sexual harassment will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. Disciplinary measures available to school authorities include, but are not limited to the following:

Students: Discipline may range from a reprimand up to and including suspension from school, to be imposed consistent with the student conduct and discipline policy and applicable law.

Employees: Discipline may range from a warning up to and including termination, to be imposed consistent with all applicable contractual and statutory rights.

Volunteers: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of volunteer assignment.

“Non-Employees”: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of district business.

Other individuals: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including denial of future access to school property.

False Complaints
 

Complaints of sexual harassment made maliciously or made by an individual knowing or suspecting them to be false will result in disciplinary action taken against the complainant.

Training
 

All students and employees will be informed of this policy in student and employee handbooks, on the district website and student registration materials.

In addition, age-appropriate curricular materials will be made available so that it can be incorporated in instruction K-12 to ensure that all students are educated to recognize and report sexual harassment and on appropriate and inappropriate behavior.

All new employees will receive information about this policy and regulation at new employee orientation and will sign a statement to indicate the receipt of those documents. All other employees will be provided information at least once a year regarding this policy and the district’s commitment to a harassment-free learning and working environment. Principals, Title IX coordinators, and other administrative employees who have specific responsibilities for investigating and resolving complaints of sexual harassment will receive yearly training on this policy, regulation and related legal developments.

Annual employee training programs will include: (i) an explanation of sexual harassment consistent with guidance issued by the NYS Department of Labor and the NYS Division of Human Rights; (ii) examples of conduct that is unlawful sexual harassment; (iii) information on federal and state laws about sexual harassment and remedies available to victims of sexual harassment; and (iv) information concerning employees’ right to make complaints and all available forums for investigating complaints.

Principals in each school and program directors will be responsible for informing students and staff on a yearly basis of the terms of this policy, including the procedures established for investigation and resolution of complaints, general issues surrounding sexual harassment, the rights and responsibilities of students and employees, and the impact of sexual harassment on the target.

Adopted May 8, 2012
Revised and Adopted October 29, 2019
Revised and Reviewed June 16, 2020

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0115 Student Harassment and Bullying Prevention and Intervention

The Board of Education is committed to providing an educational and working environment that promotes respect, dignity and equality. The Board recognizes that discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying, are detrimental to student learning and achievement. These behaviors interfere with the mission of the district to educate its students and disrupt the operation of the schools. Such behavior affects not only the students who are its targets but also those individuals who participate and witness such acts.

To this end, the Board condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination, such as harassment, hazing and bullying on school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events.

Discrimination, harassment, hazing or bullying that takes place at locations outside of school grounds which can be reasonably expected to materially and substantially interfere with the requirements of appropriate discipline in the operation of the school or impinge on the rights of other students are prohibited, and may be subject to disciplinary consequences.

Definitions

Bullying

Bullying is understood to be a hostile activity which harms or induces fear through the threat of further aggression and/or creates terror. In order to facilitate implementation of this policy, provide meaningful guidance and prevent behaviors from rising to a violation of law, this policy will use the term bullying (which is usually subsumed under the term “harassment”) to describe a range of misbehaviors such as harassment, hazing, intimidation or discrimination. The accompanying regulation provides more guidance regarding the definition and characteristics of bullying.

Discrimination

Discrimination is the act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of the group, class or category to which that person belongs (as enumerated in the Definitions section, under Harassment, below).

Hazing

Hazing is an induction, initiation or membership process involving harassment which produces public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort, bodily injury or public ridicule or creates a situation where public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort, bodily injury or public ridicule is likely to occur.

Harassment

Harassment has been defined in various ways in federal and state law and regulation. The Board recognizes that these definitions are important standards, but the Board’s goal is to prevent misbehavior from escalating in order to promote a positive school environment and to limit liability. The Dignity for All Students Act (§§10-18 of Education Law) defines harassment as the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety. The harassing behavior may be based on any characteristic, including but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived:

  • race,
  • color,
  • weight,
  • national origin,
  • ethnic group,
  • religion,
  • religious practice,
  • disability,
  • sex,
  • sexual orientation, or
  • gender (including gender identity and expression).

In some instances, bullying or harassment may constitute a violation of an individual’s civil rights. The district is mindful of its responsibilities under the law and in accordance with district policy regarding civil rights protections

Prevention

The school setting provides an opportunity to teach children, and emphasize among staff, that cooperation with and respect for others is a key district value. A program geared to prevention is designed to not only decrease incidents of bullying but to help students build more supportive relationships with one another by integrating the bullying prevention program into classroom instruction. Staff members and students will be sensitized, through district-wide professional development and instruction, to the warning signs of bullying, as well as to their responsibility to become actively involved in the prevention of bullying before overt acts occur.

Curricular material that raises awareness and sensitivity to discrimination or harassment and civility in the relationships of people of different races, weights, national origins, ethnic groups, religions, religious practices, mental or physical abilities, sexual orientations, sexes or gender expression or identities will be included in the instructional program K-12.

In order to implement this program the Board will designate at its annual organizational meeting a district-wide Dignity Act Coordinator (DAC).] The board will also appoint a Bullying Prevention Coordinator for each school building in the district. The role of the DAC is to coordinate and enforce this policy. In addition, the Superintendent will establish a district-wide Safe and Respectful Schools Committee,] as well as Bullying Prevention Coordinating Committees in each school that will be overseen by the DAC Committees will include representation from staff, administration, and parents. The district-wide task force and the school-level committee will assist the administration in developing and implementing specific prevention initiatives, including early identification of bullying and other strategies. In addition, the program will include reporting, investigating, remedying and tracking allegations of bullying. The accompanying regulation provides more detail on the specific programs and strategies implemented by the district.

Intervention

Intervention by adults and bystanders is an important step in preventing escalation and resolving issues at the earliest stages. Intervention will emphasize education and skill-building.

Successful intervention may involve remediation. Remedial responses to bullying and harassment include measures designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the behavior and protect the target. Remediation may be targeted to the individual(s) involved in the bullying behavior or environmental approaches which are targeted to the school or district as a whole.

In addition, intervention will focus upon the safety of the target. Staff is expected, when aware of bullying, to either refer the student to designated resources for assistance, or to intervene in accordance with this policy and regulation.

Provisions for students who do not feel safe at school

The Board acknowledges that, notwithstanding actions taken by district staff, intervention may require a specific coordinated approach if the child does not feel safe at school. Students who do not feel safe at school are limited in their capacity to learn and reach their academic potential. Staff, when aware of bullying, should determine if accommodations are needed in order to help ensure the safety of the student and bring this to the attention of the building principal. The building principal, other appropriate staff, the student and the student’s parent will work together to define and implement any needed accommodations.

The district recognizes that there is a need to balance accommodations which enhance student safety against the potential to further stigmatize the targeted student. Therefore, each case will be handled individually. The student,
parent/guardian, and school administration will collaborate to establish safety provisions that best meet the needs of the targeted student. Follow-up discussion and/or meetings will be scheduled, as needed, to ensure that safety concerns have been adequately addressed and to determine when and if accommodations need to be changed or discontinued.

Training

The Board recognizes that in order to implement an effective bullying prevention and intervention program, professional development is needed. The Superintendent or his/her designee, the DAC and the District Professional Development Team will incorporate training to support this program in new teacher orientation and the annual professional development plan, as needed. Training opportunities will be provided for all staff, including but not limited to bus drivers, cafeteria and hall monitors and all staff who have contact with students. The DAC and BPCs will be trained in accordance with state requirements and will continue their professional development so as to successfully support this policy and program.

Reporting and Investigation

Although it can be difficult for individuals to come forward to report bullying incidents, the district can’t effectively address incidents if they are not reported. Students who have been bullied, parents whose children have been bullied or other students or staff who observe bullying behavior are encouraged and expected to make a verbal and/or written complaint to any school personnel in accordance with the training and guidelines provided. At all times, complaints will be documented, tracked and handled in accordance with the regulations and procedures accompanying this policy, or, if applicable, [0100, Equal Opportunity and Nondiscrimination, or 0110, Sexual Harassment] and the district’s Code of Conduct. If a staff person is unsure of the reporting procedure, he/she is expected to inquire about how to proceed by speaking with their supervisor. Incidents will be included in the Violent and Disruptive Incident Reporting (VADIR) system when applicable.

There shall be a duty for all school personnel to report any incidents of student-to-student and staff-to-student bullying that they observe to their building principal or other administrator who supervises their employment. In addition, there shall be a further duty for all school personnel to report any incidents of student-to-student and staff-to-student bullying of which they are made aware by students to their building principals or other administrator who supervises their employment. Supervisors will refer the information to appropriate district staff for investigation as designated in regulation. A district employee may be deemed to have permitted unlawful discrimination or harassment if he/she fails to report an observed incident, whether or not the target complains.

The results of the investigation shall be reported back to both the target and the accused in accordance with the accompanying regulation. If either of the parties disagrees with the results of the investigation, they can appeal the findings in accordance with the regulations that accompany this policy.

Disciplinary Consequences/Remediation

While the focus of this policy is on prevention, bullying acts may still occur. In these cases, offenders will be given the clear message that their actions are wrong and the behavior must improve. Student offenders will receive in-school guidance in making positive choices in their relationships with others. If appropriate, disciplinary action will be taken by the administration in accordance with the district’s Code of Conduct, as applicable. If the behavior rises to the level of criminal activity, law enforcement will be contacted.

Consequences for a student who commits an act of bullying shall be unique to the individual incident and will vary in method and severity according to the nature of the behavior, the developmental age of the student, and the student’s history of problem behaviors, and must be consistent with the district’s Code of Conduct.

Non-Retaliation

All complainants and those who participate in the investigation of a complaint in conformity with state law and district policies, who have acted reasonably and in good faith, have the right to be free from retaliation of any kind.

Dissemination, Monitoring, Review, and Reporting

This policy, or a plain language summary, shall be published in student registration materials, student, parent and employee handbooks, and posted on the district’s website. A bullying complaint form will be available on the district’s website. The district will ensure that the process of reporting bullying is clearly explained.

Each year, as part of the annual review of the Code of Conduct, this policy will be reviewed to assess its effectiveness and compliance with state and federal law. If changes are needed, revisions will be recommended to the Board for its consideration.

The Board will receive the annual VADIR report, for each building and for the district as whole, with particular attention to the trends in the incidence of bullying. In addition, the Board will receive on an annual basis a more detailed report of the number of bullying incidents that occur, disaggregated by school, student demographic information and type of incident. Based on the review of the data, the Board may consider further action, including but not limited to modification of this policy and additional training.

The district will ensure that reporting of information to the public will be in a manner that complies with student privacy rights under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

Note: Replaces Policy #5040
Adopted May 8, 2012

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0115-R Student Harassment and Bullying Prevention and Intervention Regulation

The Board condemns and strictly prohibits all forms of discrimination, such as harassment, hazing, intimidation and bullying on school grounds, school buses and at all school-sponsored activities, programs and events.

Definitions

Bullying

In order to facilitate implementation, provide meaningful guidance and prevent behaviors from rising to a violation of law, this policy will use the term bullying (which is usually subsumed under the term “harassment”), which is understood to be a hostile activity which harms or induces fear through the threat of further aggression and/or creates terror. Bullying may be premeditated or a sudden activity. It may be subtle or easy to identify, done by one person or a group. Bullying often includes the following characteristics:

1. Power imbalance – occurs when a bully uses his/her physical or social power over a target.
2. Intent to harm – the bully seeks to inflict physical or emotional harm and/or takes pleasure in this activity.
3. Threat of further aggression – the bully and the target believe the bullying will continue.
4. Terror – when any bullying increases, it becomes a “systematic violence or harassment used to intimidate and maintain dominance.”

There are at least three kinds of bullying: verbal, physical and social/relational.

  • Verbal bullying includes name calling, insulting remarks, verbal teasing, frightening phone calls, violent threats, extortion, taunting, gossip, spreading rumors, racist slurs, threatening electronic communications (“cyberbullying”), anonymous notes, etc.
  • Physical bullying includes poking, slapping, hitting, tripping or causing a fall, choking, kicking, punching, biting, pinching, scratching, spitting, twisting arms or legs, damaging clothes and personal property, or threatening gestures.
  • Social or relational bullying includes excluding someone from a group, isolating, shunning, spreading rumors or gossiping, arranging public humiliation, undermining relationships, teasing about clothing, looks, giving dirty looks, aggressive stares, etc.
  • Cyberbullying (Threatening electronic communications)

Discrimination

Discrimination is the act of denying rights, benefits, justice, equitable treatment or access to facilities available to all others, to an individual or group of people because of the group, class or category to which that person belongs (as listed under Harassment as defined below).

Harassment

Harassment has been defined in various ways in federal and state law (including the penal law) and regulation. The Board recognizes that these definitions are important standards, but the Board’s goal is to prevent behaviors from escalating to violations of law and, instead, to promote a positive school environment and limit liability. The Dignity for All Students Act (§§10-18 of Education Law) defines harassment as the creation of a hostile environment by conduct or by verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that has or would have the effect of unreasonably and substantially interfering with a student’s educational performance, opportunities or benefits, or mental, emotional or physical well-being; or conduct, verbal threats, intimidation or abuse that reasonably causes or would reasonably be expected to cause a student to fear for his or her physical safety. The harassing behavior may be based on any characteristic, including but not limited to a person’s actual or perceived:

  • race,
  • color,
  • weight,
  • national origin,
  • ethnic group,
  • religion,
  • religious practice,
  • disability,
  • sex,
  • sexual orientation, or
  • gender (including gender identity and expression).

Hazing

Hazing is an induction, initiation or membership process involving harassment which produces public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort, bodily injury or public ridicule or creates a situation where public humiliation, physical or emotional discomfort, bodily injury or public ridicule is likely to occur.

Prevention

Prevention is the cornerstone of the district’s effort to address bullying and harassment. The components of such an effort involve the following:

  • Following the principles and practices of “Educating the Whole Child Engaging the Whole School: Guidelines and Resources for Social and Emotional Development and Learning (SEDL) in New York State –Adopted by the Board of Regents July 18, 2011.” District curriculum will emphasize developing empathy, tolerance and respect for others.
  • Learning about and identifying the early warning signs and precursor behaviors that may lead to bullying.
  • Gathering information about bullying at school directly from students (through surveys and other mechanisms); analyzing and using the data gathered to assist in decision-making about programming and resource allocation.
  • Establishing clear school wide and classroom rules about bullying consistent with the district’s code of conduct.
  • Training adults in the school community to respond sensitively and consistently to bullying.
  • Raising awareness among adults, through training, of the school experiences of marginalized student populations (as enumerated in the Definitions section above), social stigma in the school environment, gender norms in the school environment, and strategies for disrupting bullying, intimidation, harassment or other forms of violence.
  • Providing adequate supervision, particularly in less structured areas such as in the hallways, cafeteria, school bus and playground.
  • Providing adequate supervision, particularly in less structured areas such as in the hallways, cafeteria, school bus and playground.
  • Using educational opportunities or curriculum, including, if applicable, the Individual Educational Program (IEP), to address the underlying causes and impact of bullying.

Role of the Bullying Prevention Coordinators (BPC)

The Board of Education will annually designate staff members, who have been thoroughly trained in human relations in the areas of race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity and expression), and sex, as the Bullying Prevention Coordinators (BPC), accountable for implementation of this policy at each building. The BPC will be responsible for coordinating and enforcing this policy and regulation in each school building, including but not limited to coordination of:

  •  the work of the building-level committees;
  • professional development for staff members and,
  • the complaint process, and
  • management of the Dignity Act’s civility curriculum components.

Reporting and Investigation

In order for the Board to effectively enforce this policy and to take prompt corrective measures, it is essential that all targets and persons with knowledge of bullying report such behavior immediately to the Bullying Prevention Coordinator (the principal or principal’s designee) as soon as possible after the incident so that it may be effectively investigated and resolved. The district will also make a bullying complaint form available on its website to facilitate reporting. The district will collect relevant data from written and verbal complaints to allow reporting to the Board on an annual basis.

The district will promptly and equitably investigate all complaints, formal or informal, verbal or written. To the extent possible, all complaints will be treated in a confidential manner, although limited disclosure may be necessary to complete a thorough investigation.

In order to assist investigators, individuals should document the bullying as soon as it occurs and with as much detail as possible including: the nature of the incident(s); dates, times, places it has occurred; name of perpetrator(s); witnesses to the incident(s); and the target’s response to the incident.

If, after appropriate investigation, the district finds that a student, an employee or a third party has violated this policy, prompt corrective and possibly disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with the code of conduct, applicable collective bargaining agreement, district policy and state law. If the reported behavior constitutes a civil rights violation, the complaint procedure associated with that policy will be followed, as applicable. If either of the parties disagrees with the findings of the initial investigation, an appeal may be made to the Superintendent in accordance with the process described below.

Confidentiality

It is district policy to respect the privacy of all parties and witnesses to bullying. To the extent possible, the district will not release the details of a complaint or the identity of the complainant or the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed to any third parties who do not need to know such information. However, because an individual’s desire for confidentiality must be balanced with the district’s legal obligation to provide due process to the accused, to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation, and/or to take necessary action to resolve the complaint, the district retains the right to disclose the identity of parties and witnesses to complaints in appropriate circumstances to individuals with a need to know. The staff member responsible for investigating complaints will discuss confidentiality standards and concerns with all complainants.

If a complainant requests that his/her name not be revealed to the individual(s) against whom a complaint is filed, the staff member responsible for conducting the investigation shall inform the complainant that:

1. the request may limit the district’s ability to respond to his/her complaint;
2. district policy and federal law prohibit retaliation against complainants and witnesses;
3. the district will attempt to prevent any retaliation; and
4. the district will take strong responsive action if retaliation occurs.

If the complainant still requests confidentiality after being given the notice above, the investigator will take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request as long as doing so does not preclude the district from responding effectively to the bullying and preventing the bullying of other students.

Investigation and Resolution Procedure

A. Initial (Building-level) Procedure

Whenever a complaint of bullying is received whether verbal or written, it will be subject to a preliminary review and investigation. Except in the case of severe or criminal conduct, the Bullying Prevention Coordinator (the principal or principal’s designee) shall make all reasonable efforts to resolve complaints informally at the school level. The goal of informal procedures is to end the bullying, prevent future incidents, ensure the safety of the target and obtain a prompt and equitable resolution to a complaint.

As soon as possible, but no later than three school business days following receipt of a complaint, the Bullying Prevention Coordinator (the principal or principal’s designee) should begin an investigation of the complaint by:

  • Reviewing any written documentation provided by the target(s).
  • Conducting separate interviews of the target(s), alleged perpetrator(s), and witnesses, if any, and documenting the conversations.
  • Providing the alleged perpetrator(s) a chance to respond and notify him/her that if objectionable behavior has occurred, it must cease immediately. The individual will be made aware of remediation opportunities as well as potential disciplinary consequences.
  • Determining whether the complainant needs any accommodations to ensure his/her safety, and following up periodically until the complaint has been resolved. Accommodations may include, but are not limited to:

o A “permanent” hall pass that allows the student to visit a designated adult at any time;
o Access to private bathroom facilities;
o Access to private locker room facilities;
o An escort during passing periods;
o If the student feels unsafe in a specific class, an opportunity for individual tutoring or independent study until the case is resolved;
o An opportunity for independent study at home with district-provided tutor until the case is resolved;
o Permission to use personal cell phone in the event that the student feels threatened and needs immediate access to parent or guardian;
o Assignment of a bus monitor.

The district recognizes that there is a need to balance accommodations which enhance student safety against the potential to further stigmatize the targeted student. Therefore, each case will be handled individually, and the student, parent/guardian, and school administration will collaborate to establish safety provisions that best meet the needs of the targeted student. Follow-up discussion and/or meetings will be scheduled, as needed, to ensure that safety concerns have been adequately addressed and to determine when and if accommodations need to be changed or discontinued.

Parents of student targets and accused students should be notified within one school day of allegations that are serious or involve repeated conduct.

Where appropriate, informal methods may be used to resolve the complaint, including but not limited to:

a. discussion with the accused, informing him or her of the district’s policies and indicating that the behavior must stop;
b. suggesting counseling, skill building activities and/or sensitivity training;
c. conducting training for the department or school in which the behavior occurred, calling attention to the consequences of engaging in such behavior;
d. requesting a letter of apology to the target;
e. writing letters of caution or reprimand; and/or
f. separating the parties.

Appropriate disciplinary action shall be recommended and imposed in accordance with district policy, the applicable collective bargaining agreement or state law. School districts should make every effort to attempt to first resolve the misconduct through non-punitive measures.

The investigator shall report back to both the target and the accused, within five school business days notifying them in writing, and also in person, as appropriate, regarding the outcome of the investigation and the action taken to resolve the complaint. The actions taken will be in conformance with the Remediation/Discipline/Penalties section of this regulation. The target shall report immediately if the objectionable behavior occurs again or if the alleged perpetrator retaliates against him/her.

If a complaint contains evidence or allegations of serious or extreme bullying, or a civil rights violation, the complaint shall be referred promptly to the Superintendent. The complainant will also be advised of other avenues to pursue their complaint, including contact information for state and federal authorities.

In addition, where the Bullying Prevention Coordinator (the principal or principal’s designee) has a reasonable suspicion that the alleged bullying incident involves criminal activity, he/she should immediately notify the Superintendent, who shall then contact the school attorney, appropriate child protection and, if appropriate, law enforcement authorities.

Any party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the initial investigation may request a district-level investigation by submitting a written complaint to the Superintendent within 30 calendar days.

B. District-level Procedure

The Superintendent or his/her designee shall promptly investigate and equitably resolve all bullying complaints that are referred to him/her, as well as those appealed to the Superintendent following an initial investigation. In the event the complaint involves the Superintendent, the complaint shall be filed with or referred to the Board President, who shall refer the complaint to an appropriate independent individual for investigation.

The district level investigation should begin as soon as possible, but not later than three school business days, following receipt of the complaint by the Superintendent or Board President.

The district level investigation should begin as soon as possible, but not later than three school business days, following receipt of the complaint by the Superintendent or Board President.

If a district level investigation results in a determination that bullying did occur, prompt corrective action will be taken to end the misbehavior in accordance with the Remediation/Discipline/Penalties section of this regulation.

No later than 30 calendar days following receipt of the complaint, the Superintendent (or in cases involving the Superintendent, the Board-appointed investigator) will notify the target and alleged perpetrator, in writing, of the outcome of the investigation. If additional time is needed to complete the investigation or take appropriate action, the Superintendent or Board-appointed investigator will provide all parties with a written status report within 30 calendar days following receipt of the complaint.

Any party who is not satisfied with the outcome of the district-level investigation may appeal to the Board of Education by submitting a written request to the Board President within 30 calendar days.

C. Board-level Procedure

When a request for review by the Board has been made, the Superintendent shall submit all written statements and other materials concerning the case to the President of the Board.

The Board shall notify all parties concerned of the time and place when a hearing will be held. Such hearing will be held within 15 school business days of the receipt of the request of the complainant.

The Board shall render a decision in writing within 15 calendar days after the hearing has been concluded.

The district shall retain documentation associated with complaints and investigations in accordance with Schedule ED-1.

Retaliation Prohibited

Any act of retaliation against any person who opposes bullying behavior, or who has filed a complaint, is prohibited and illegal, and therefore subject to disciplinary action. Likewise, retaliation against any person who has testified assisted, or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing of a bullying complaint is prohibited. For purposes of this policy, retaliation includes but is not limited to: verbal or physical threats, intimidation, ridicule, bribes, destruction of property, spreading rumors, stalking, harassing phone calls, and any other form of harassment. Any person who retaliates is subject to immediate disciplinary action up to and including suspension or termination.

Remediation/Discipline/Penalties

Any individual who violates this policy by engaging in bullying will be subject to appropriate action, which may include disciplinary action. Remedial responses to bullying include measures designed to correct the problem behavior, prevent another occurrence of the behavior, and protect the target of the act. Appropriate remedial measures may include, but are not limited to:

  • Restitution and restoration;
  • Peer support group;
  • Corrective instruction or other relevant learning or service experience;
  • Changes in class schedule
  • Supportive intervention;
  • Behavioral assessment or evaluation;
  • Behavioral management plan, with benchmarks that are closely monitored;
  • Student counseling;
  • Parent conferences; or
  • Student treatment or therapy.

Environmental remediation may include, but is not limited to:

  • School and community surveys or other strategies for determining the conditions contributing to the relevant behavior;
  • Modification of schedules;
  • Adjustment in hallway traffic and other student routes of travel;
  • Targeted use of monitors;
  • Parent education seminars/workshops;
  • Peer support groups.

Disciplinary measures available to school authorities include, but are not limited to the following:

Students: Discipline may range from a reprimand up to and including suspension from school, to be imposed consistent with the Code of Conduct and applicable law.
Employees: Discipline may range from a warning up to and including termination, to be imposed consistent with all applicable contractual and statutory rights.
Volunteers: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of volunteer assignment.
Vendors: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including loss of district business.
Other individuals: Penalties may range from a warning up to and including denial of future access to school property.

Policy Dissemination

All students and employees shall be informed of this policy in student and employee handbooks, on the district website and student registration materials.

All employees shall receive information about this policy and regulation at least once a year.

Principals in each school shall be responsible for informing students and staff on a yearly basis of the terms of this policy, including the procedures for filing a complaint and information about the impact of bullying on the target and bystanders.

Training

Training needs in support of this bullying prevention and intervention program will be reflected in the district’s annual professional development plan, new teacher orientation, in curriculum and will be considered in the budget process. The bullying prevention coordinator, administrative employees and other staff, such as counselors or social workers who have specific responsibilities for investigating and/or resolving complaints of bullying shall receive yearly training to support implementation of this policy, regulation and on related legal developments.

Note: Replaces Policy #5040-R
Adopted May 8, 2012

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0200 School District Operations Goals

To further its educational philosophy, and to achieve its educational mission, the Board of Education establishes the following goals:

1. to employ the best possible school staff, including both professional and support personnel;
2. to encourage the development of positive and supportive interpersonal relationships among the students, the staff and members of the community;
3. to ensure that staff, students, and parents are afforded opportunities for meaningful participation in the development and evaluation of programs and policies;
4. to strive for maximum efficiency in the use of district resources to meet the goals and objectives of the various programs and policies;
5. to provide educational programs and services which fulfill the needs of the district and comply with Commissioner’s Regulations;
6. to promote the development of programs and services which encourage cooperative interaction between the community-at-large and district staff and students; and
7. to promote the continued learning and development of its staff members.

Adopted June 6, 1995
Reviewed, Adopted April 9, 2013
Reviewed July 5, 2018

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0310 Evaluation of School Board Operational Procedures

The Board of Education shall review the effectiveness of its internal operations at least once annually. The Superintendent of Schools and others who work regularly with the Board shall be asked to participate in this review and to suggest ways by which the Board can improve its functioning as a deliberative and legislative body.

The Board shall set forth the standards by which it will evaluate itself, taking into account the following:

1. the district’s needs and the Board’s ability to meet such needs;
2. the district’s goals for its instructional programs;
3. the Board’s relationship with the Superintendent and district staff;
4. the Board’s relationship with its supervisory district (BOCES); and
5. the community’s perception of Board members as educational leaders.

All decisions of the Board are to be supported by as much objective evidence as possible. Implied in this approach is an assumption that any school board is capable of improvement. The chances that improvement will result are enhanced if evaluation is carried out systematically in accordance with good planning, conscientious follow-through, and careful assessment of results.

Adopted June 20, 1995
Reviewed, Adopted April 9, 2013

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0320 Evaluation of Superintendent

The Board of Education recognizes that student growth, district progress, and community satisfaction are all affected by the performance of the Superintendent of Schools. The Superintendent cannot function effectively without periodic feedback about his/her performance. Therefore the Board recognizes its responsibilities to evaluate the Superintendent.

During each year of the Superintendent’s appointment, the Board and the Superintendent will meet to discuss a plan of performance review and accountability for that school year. The evaluation shall be based upon performance criteria and goals mutually agreed upon by the Board and the Superintendent. Such evaluation shall occur at least annually, pursuant to the regulations of the Commissioner of Education, and will be discussed only during an executive session. The evaluation process is intended to provide the highest quality leadership for the school system.

Adopted April 4, 1995
Revised, Adopted April 9, 2013
Reviewed July 5, 2018

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0330 Evaluation of Staff

The principles of evaluation outlined in this policy shall be applied to all members of the district’s staff.

Principles and criteria for evaluation of staff should be drawn from and reflect the district’s educational philosophy and mission (reference 0000) which insures the continuing existence of a secure and healthful learning environment for all students.

The purposes of staff evaluations are:

1. to provide an objective basis for improving and upgrading individual performance;
2. to ensure that employees meet performance standards.

The evaluation process should produce an outcome which is positive, emphasizes excellence, and promotes the continued learning and development of staff.

Performance evaluations will be based on job descriptions which reflect the responsibilities of each position.

Performance should be measured by clearly stated and commonly understood criteria.

Each staff member will be formally evaluated at least once each year by the administrative or supervisory staff assigned that responsibility.
The development of procedures and guidelines for evaluations shall be the responsibility of the Superintendent.
Where applicable, the procedures and guidelines for evaluations shall be consistent with Education Law, Commissioner’s Regulations and the collective bargaining agreements in effect between the district and the appropriate bargaining unit.

Adopted June 6, 1995
Revised, Adopted April 9, 2013
Revised, Adopted July 5, 2018

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0350 Evaluation of Instructional Programs

The Board of Education recognizes that learning is a continuous process that cannot be satisfactorily achieved without the coordination and cooperation of all components of the system. To achieve the highest quality of education on all levels, a critical appraisal of the program as it operates in each school and at each level is essential. The Superintendent of Schools shall develop standards and procedures for the evaluation of instructional programs.

The purposes of evaluating the instructional programs are to:

1. indicate instructional strengths and weaknesses;
2. provide information needed for advance planning;
3. provide data for public information;
4. show the relationship between achievement and the school system’s stated goals; and
5. review the suitability of the instructional program in terms of community values and priorities.

The Board shall receive regular reports of the results of instructional program evaluations.

Adopted April 8, 1997
Revised, Adopted April 9, 2013
Revised, Adopted July 5, 2018


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