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238. POLICY FOR PREVENTING SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF STUDENTS


DEFINITION

This is to reaffirm the policy of the School District of Philadelphia (District) that sexual harassment of a student is prohibited. Sexual harassment, or harassment because of one's gender has been defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), as well as by federal, state and local laws, and for the purpose of this Policy, District has adopted this definition. This policy covers student on student as well as employee on student sexual harassment.

Sexual advances, request for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical acts of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
 

(1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a student's success in school,
(2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by a student is used as the basis for school decisions affecting such student, or
(3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a student's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive school environment.


Recent court cases have recognized acts of harassment directed at a person because of gender to be sexual harassment, despite the intent behind the act. The District adopts this interpretation as part of its policy. Sexual harassment is a violation of federal and state laws and may expose not only the District, but individuals to significant liability under the law.
 
 

Any student who feels he or she is being subjected to sexually harassing behavior of any kind is encouraged to object to the behavior and report the behavior to his/her principal or other appropriate officials as indicated in the "Procedures for Processing Sexual Harassment Complaints" and Board Policy 103 which is incorporated herein. It is a violation of this policy to retaliate or engage in any form of reprisal because a student has raised a concern, filed a complaint of, or been a witness to sexual harassment. Any principal who receives a sexual harassment complaint or who has reason to believe sexual harassment is occurring shall refer to the procedures for processing sexual harassment complaints.

It shall also be the policy of the District that the basic rights of all concerned must be respected at all times.

PROHIBITED CONDUCT

The following are examples of acts which violate the District's Sexual Harassment Policy. These examples are not to be construed as an all inclusive list of prohibited acts under the policy:

A. Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as:
 

(1) rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit those offenses, or committing an act with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; and
(2) intentional physical contact which is sexual in nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against or poking a student's body, or touching of the clothing covering the immediate area of the complainant's intimate body parts.
B. Unwelcome sexual advances, propositions or other sexual comments such as:
(1) sexually-oriented gestures, sounds, remarks, jokes, or comments about a person's sexuality or sexual experience directed at or made in the presence of any student;

 
 
(2) preferential treatment or promise of preferential treatment for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any student to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward; and
(3) subjecting, or threatening to subject, a student to unwelcome sexual attention or conduct or intentionally making success in school more difficult because of the student's gender.
C. Display of publications anywhere within the District's control such as:
(1) Displaying pictures, posters, cartoons, calendars, graffiti, objects, promotional materials, reading materials, music or other materials that are sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning, or pornographic.
Exceptions will be considered in situations where nudity or sexually explicit language is necessary to convey a message important to public health and/or safety or pedagogically appropriate.
Subject to the foregoing exceptions, visual material will be presumed to be sexually suggestive if it depicts a person of either sex who is nude or seminude and/or who is posed for the obvious purpose of displaying or drawing attention to private portions of his or her body.
(2) displaying or publicizing, in the classroom environment, materials that are sexually revealing, sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning or pornographic;
(3) displaying signs or other materials purporting to segregate a student by gender in any area of the school (other than rest rooms and similar semi-private lockers/changing rooms); or
(4) possession of such material in a manner that it is reasonably foreseeable that they might be seen by others.
D. Sexual Favoritism. Impact on other students:

The granting or withholding of school opportunities and benefits including, but not limited to, assignments, discipline, and evaluation constitutes sexual harassment when it is based on sexual favoritism, and is prohibited.

E. Other Forms of Prohibited Sexual Harassment:

Other conduct that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with a student's work performance or learning conditions on the basis of gender may also constitute sexual harassment, and therefore, is prohibited. Examples of conduct which, when based upon gender, constitute prohibited sexual harassment include:
 

(1) Assigning disagreeable or unsafe duties; or not making comparable assignments that would tend to disadvantage a student's development;
(2) withholding information, materials, equipment or supplies which are necessary for the efficient performance of an assignment;
(3) unreasonably failing to cooperate or assist students with school-related matters;
(4) interfering with a student's efforts to satisfactorily complete an assignment;
(5) maintaining unequal standards of performance;
(6) ostracizing students, or otherwise making it known to students that they are not welcome because of their gender; or
(7) referring to students by sexually denigrating or insulting names because of their gender.
F. Retaliation for sexual harassment complaints. Examples of retaliation may include:
(1) Arbitrary discipline, threats, unwarranted change of assignments, providing inaccurate information, or failing to cooperate or discuss school-related matters with any student because that student has complained about, been a witness to or resisted harassment, discrimination or retaliation; and
(2) intentionally pressuring, falsely denying, lying about, or covering up or attempting to cover up conduct such as that described in any item above.


PROCEDURES FOR MAKING COMPLAINTS

The District is committed to resolving these complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible. If you believe that you have been sexually harassed, or have knowledge that others have been sexually harassed, you are encouraged to contact your principal.

Should the principal be the person accused of the sexual harassment or should the complainant feel that the principal is in some way responsible for the sexual harassment, the complainant may bring his/her concerns directly to the attention of the cluster leader who will follow the procedures outlined below.

The student may seek either an informal or formal resolution of his/her complaint:

A. INFORMAL

The student or his/her parent may request a principal to intervene by notifying the alleged offender that the specific offensive behavior(s) will not be tolerated. In such case the principal must discuss the matter with the alleged offender, and, if warranted require that he/she participate in non-disciplinary counseling. The principal shall document actions taken in writing. Copies will also be forwarded to the Office of Deputy Superintendent and the Law Department of the School District of Philadelphia. The accused, if he/she is an employee, shall have the right of representation during his/her interview with the principal as required by the collective bargaining agreement. The accused, if he/she is a student shall have the right to have his or her parent present during the interview.

B. FORMAL

An individual who believes that he/she has been sexually harassed or parent who believes that his/her child has been sexually harassed can file a complaint requesting an investigation into the allegation. Formal complaints shall be taken in writing and signed by the complainant. A thorough and complete investigation shall be conducted by the principal.

To the extent possible and allowed by law, confidentiality shall be maintained within the confines of the investigation of the alleged prohibited behavior. All parties will be treated with dignity and due process.

PROCEDURES FOR INVESTIGATING AND
RESOLVING COMPLAINTS

A. EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY OFFICER

The principal or administrator in charge of each school shall be the EEO Officer capable of conducting a thorough and complete investigation. The principal shall seek advice and assistantce from the Cluster Leader if the principal believes that he/she lacks the capacity to conduct a thorough and complete investigation of the alleged misconduct. If the principal or administrator in charge of the school is the alleged harasser or is alleged to have been responsible for the harassment, the Cluster Leader will conduct the investigation.
B. CONDUCTING INVESTIGATIONS

Any principal receiving a complaint of sexual harassment shall take the details of the complaint in writing and have the complainant sign it. Copies of this document will be forwarded to the Law Department of the School District of Philadelphia. All complaints of sexual harassment against a District employee or student shall be received, investigated and disposed of in accordance with the procedures set forth in this Policy, and complainants shall be notified of the final disposition/action taken. In addition, complaints against employees shall also follow the procedures of §111.5 of the School Operations Manual.

If the complaint involves sexual assault, rape or conduct of a criminal nature, the Philadelphia Police Department shall be contacted and a report of the incident made. If there is any question of whether the conduct complained of constituted criminal activity, the Law Department of the School District of Philadelphia should be contacted and consulted.

The principal shall attempt to secure statements from all participants in, and witnesses to the alleged incident. The accused, if he/she is an employee, shall have the right of representation during his/her interview as required by the collective bargaining agreement. The accused if he/she is a student shall have the right to have his/her parent present.

All investigations shall be completed by the assigned investigator within ten (10) days from the filing date of the complaint. Extenuating circumstances for not being able to comply with the deadline must be approved by the Law Department. The extension must be a specified period of time not exceeding ten (10) days, and must be communicated to the complainant.

If the charge is substantiated, the principal shall determine the appropriate level of discipline consistent with the School District's strong policy against sexual harassment. Such discipline as is deemed appropriate will be initiated in accordance with School District disciplinary procedures and applicable collective bargaining agreements. Documents regarding substantiated charges of sexual harassment shall be placed in the accused employee's personnel file. Documents regarding unsubstantiated charges shall not be placed in personnel files, but shall be maintained by the Law Department of the School District of Philadelphia in a confidential EEO file established expressly for retaining complaints of sexual harassment against students.

C. TRAINING

It is the responsibility of the District to insure that all supervisors receive the appropriate training to enforce this Policy.

CONCLUSION

Nothing in this Policy shall be construed as violating existing labor contracts.

If any section of this procedure is declared invalid, the remaining sections shall remain valid and unaffected.