Student Discrimination & Harassment Complaint Procedures



Maine School Administrative District No. 31

STUDENT DISCRIMINATION AND HARASSMENT

COMPLAINT PROCEDURE


This procedure has been adopted by the Board in order to provide a method of prompt and equitable resolution of student complaints of discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, or retaliation, as described in policies AC – Nondiscrimination/Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, AC-R – Grievance and Complaint Procedures, and ACAA – Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students.


Definitions


For purposes of this procedure:


A. A “Complaint” is defined as an allegation that a student has been subject to discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability (each of which constitutes a “protected class”),1 or retaliation.


B. References to “discrimination” or “harassment” means discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability.


C. “Retaliation” means retaliation for participating in an investigation concerning or opposing suspected discrimination, including harassment or retaliation, on the basis of race, color, sex, sexual orientation, religion, ancestry, national origin, or disability.



How to Make a Complaint


A. Any student who believes he/she has been subject to discrimination, including harassment, or retaliation should report his/her concern promptly to the building principal. Students who are unsure whether discrimination or harassment has occurred are encouraged to discuss the situation with the building principal. If the building principal is the subject of the complaint, the complaint shall be reported to the Affirmative Action Officer (the SAD 31 Director of Special Services, telephone 207-732-8307), who in consultation with the Superintendent shall designate another person to investigate and respond to the complaint.


B. School staff are expected to report possible incidents of discrimination, harassment or retaliation of students to the building principal. Parents/guardians, students, and other adults are also encouraged to report to the building principal any concerns about possible discrimination, harassment or retaliation of students.



C. Students and others will not be retaliated against for reporting, making a complaint or participating in an investigation concerning possible discrimination or harassment or retaliation. Any retaliation by students or school staff will result in disciplinary measures, up to and including expulsion or dismissal.


D. Individuals are encouraged to utilize the school unit’s complaint procedure. However, individuals are hereby notified that they also have the right to report complaints to the Maine Human Rights Commission, 51 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333 (telephone: 207-624-6050) and/or to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights/ED, 8th Floor, 5 Post Office Square, Boston, MA 02109-3921 (telephone: 617-289-0111).


Complaint Handling and Investigation


A. The building principal shall promptly inform the Superintendent and the person(s) who is the subject of the complaint that a complaint has been received.


B. The building principal may pursue a prompt and equitable informal resolution of the complaint with the agreement of the parties involved. Any party to the complaint may decide to end an informal resolution process and pursue the formal process described below, at any point. The informal resolution is subject to the approval of the Superintendent, who shall consider whether the informal resolution is in the best interest of the school unit in light of the particular circumstances and applicable policies and laws, unless the complaint was filed by, on behalf of, or against the Superintendent, in which case the informal resolution is subject to the approval of the Chair of the Board, who should consult with legal counsel concerning the handling of the complaint.


C. The complaint will be investigated by the building principal, unless the Superintendent chooses to investigate the complaint or designates another person to investigate it on his/her behalf. Any complaint about an employee who holds a supervisory position shall be investigated by a person who is not subject to that supervisor’s authority. Any complaint about the Superintendent should be submitted to the Chair of the School Board, who should consult with legal counsel concerning the handling and investigation of the complaint.


1. The Complainant and the person who is the subject of the complaint will be provided with an opportunity to be heard and to present witnesses and other evidence as part of the investigation.


2. If the complaint is against an employee of the school unit, any applicable individual or collective bargaining contract provisions shall be followed, unless inconsistent with this policy or applicable law.


3. The building principal shall respect the confidentiality of the Complainant and the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed to the extent possible, consistent with the school unit’s legal obligations, including the necessity to investigate allegations of discrimination, to take appropriate disciplinary action, and to ensure the safety of the school community.


4. The building principal or individual designated to investigate the complaint shall keep a written record of the investigation process.


5. The building principal or individual designated to investigate the complaint may take interim remedial measures, consistent with the civil rights laws referenced below, to reduce the risk of further discrimination or harassment while the investigation is pending.


6. The building principal or individual designated to investigate the complaint shall consult with the Superintendent concerning the investigation, conclusions, and any remedial and/or disciplinary actions unless the complaint was filed by, on behalf of, or against the Superintendent, in which case the building principal or individual designated to investigate shall consult with the Chair of the Board, who should consult with legal counsel concerning the handling of the complaint.


7. The investigation shall be completed within 21 calendar days of receiving the complaint, if practicable.


D. If the building principal or individual designated to investigate the complaint determines that discrimination, harassment or retaliation occurred, he/she shall, in consultation with the Superintendent:


1. Determine and take whatever remedial action is required, if any, to end the discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, remedy its effects, and prevent it from recurring; and


2. Determine what disciplinary action should be taken against the person(s) who engaged in discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, if any.


E. Regardless of whether the building principal or individual designated to investigate the complaint determines that discrimination, harassment or retaliation occurred, he/she shall inform the parties in writing of the results of the investigation and its resolution (in accordance with applicable state and federal privacy laws).


F. If either party is dissatisfied with the resolution, an appeal may be made in writing to the Superintendent (or Board Chair if the complaint involves the Superintendent) within 14 calendar days after receiving notice of the resolution. The Superintendent (or Board Chair if the complaint involves the Superintendent) shall review the investigation report and may conduct further investigation if deemed appropriate. The decision on the appeal shall be provided in writing to the parties within 20 calendar days, if practicable. The decision on the appeal shall be final.



Legal Reference: Americans with Disabilities Act (42 U.S.C. § 12101 et seq., as amended; 28 CFR § 35.107)

Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794 et seq., as amended; 34 CFR § 104.7)

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (20 USC § 1681 et seq.; 34 C.F.R. §106.8)

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 U.S.C. § 2000d; 34 C.F.R. Part 100)

20 USC § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99

5 MRSA §§ 4571; 4602; 4681 et seq.

20-A MRSA §§ 6001 et seq.

Cross Reference: AC - Nondiscrimination/Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

AC-R – Grievance and Complaint Procedures

ACAA - Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students



Adopted: 06/18/2003

Updated: 06/16/2007

Reviewed: 05/13/2013

First Reading: 03/18/2015

Second Reading: 04/15/2015

First Reading: 12/19/2018

Second Reading: 01/16/2019


1. Complaints of bullying not involving the protected classes described above may be pursued under the Board Policy JICK – Bullying.