Nondiscrimination Policies

Book:  Policy Manual

Section:  2000 Program

Title:   NONDISCRIMINATION AND ACCESS TO EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY

Code:  po2260

Status:  Active

 Adopted:  November 8, 2004

 Last Revised:  May 11, 2021


NONDISCRIMINATION AND ACCESS TO EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY

 

Any form of discrimination or harassment can be devastating to an individual's academic progress, social relationship and/or personal sense of self-worth.

As such, the Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation or transgender identity), disability, age (except as authorized by law), religion, military status, ancestry, or genetic information (collectively, "Protected Classes") in its educational programs or activities.

The Board also does not discriminate on the basis of Protected Classes in its employment policies and practices as they relate to students, and does not tolerate harassment of any kind.

Equal educational opportunities shall be available to all students, without regard to the Protected Classes, age (unless age is a factor necessary to the normal operation or the achievement of any legitimate objective of the program/activity), place of residence within the boundaries of the District, or social or economic background, to learn through the curriculum offered in this District. Educational programs shall be designed to meet the varying needs of all students.

In order to achieve the aforesaid goal, the Superintendent shall:

A.  Curriculum Content

review current and proposed courses of study and textbooks to detect any bias based upon Protected Classes, ascertaining whether or not supplemental materials, singly or taken as a whole, fairly depict the contribution of both genders, various races, ethnic groups, etc. toward the development of human society;

B.  Staff Training

develop an ongoing program of in-service training for school personnel designed to identify and solve problems of bias based upon Protected Classes in all aspects of the program;
 

C.  Student Access

  1. review current and proposed programs, activities, facilities, and practices to ensure that all students have equal access thereto and are not segregated on the basis of the Protected Classes in any duty, work, play, classroom, or school practice, except as may be permitted under State regulations;
  2. verify that facilities are made available, in accordance with Board Policy 7510 - Use of District Facilities, for non-curricular student activities that are initiated by parents or other members of the community, including but not limited to any group affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America or any other youth group listed in Title 36 of the United States Code as a patriotic society;
  3. This language does not prohibit the District from establishing and maintaining a single-gender school, class, or program within a school if a comparable school, class, or program is made available to students of each gender.

D.  District Support

verify that like aspects of the District program receive like support as to staff size and compensation, purchase and maintenance of facilities and equipment, access to such facilities and equipment, and related matters;

E.  Student Evaluation

verify that tests, procedures, or guidance and counseling materials, which are designed to evaluate student progress, rate aptitudes, analyze personality, or in any manner establish or tend to establish a category by which a student may be judged, are not differentiated or stereotyped on the basis of Protected Classes.

Definitions:

  1. Words used in this policy shall have those meaning defined herein: words not defined shall be construed according to their plain and ordinary meanings.
  2. Complainant is the individual who alleges, or is alleged, to have been subjected to unlawful discrimination/retaliation, regardless of whether the person files a formal complaint or is pursuing an informal resolution to the alleged discrimination/retaliation.
  3. Respondent is the individual who has been alleged have engaged in unlawful discrimination/retaliation, regardless of whether the Reporting Party files a formal complaint or is seeking an informal resolution to the alleged discrimination/retaliation.
  4. School District community means students and Board employees (i.e., administrators, and professional and classified staff), as well as Board members, agents, volunteers, contractors, or other persons subject to the control and supervision of the Board.
  5. Third Parties include, but are not limited to, guests and/or visitors on School District property (e.g., visiting speakers, participants on opposing athletic teams, parents), vendors doing business with, or seeking to do business with, the Board, and other individuals who come in contact with members of the School District community at school-related events/activities (whether on or off District property).
  6. Day(s): Unless expressly stated otherwise, the term "day" or "days" as used in this policy means a business day(s) (i.e., a day(s) that the Board office is open for normal operating hours, Monday - Friday, excluding State-recognized holidays).´╗┐

District Compliance Officers

The Board designates the following individuals to serve as the District’s "Compliance Officers" (also known as "Civil Rights Coordinators") (hereinafter referred to as the "COs").

Mindy Bohan
Marcellus Community Schools
269-646-7655
303 W. Arbor
Marcellus, Michigan 49067

Don Price
Marcellus Community Schools
269-646-7655
303 W. Arbor
Marcellus, Michigan 49067

The names, titles, and contact information of these individuals will be published annually on the School District's website and in the parent/student and staff handbooks.

The District will accommodate the use of certified service animals when there is an established need for such supportive aid in the school environment. Certain restrictions may be applied when necessary due to allergies, health, safety, disability or other issues of those in the classroom or school environment. The goal shall be to provide all students with the same access and participation opportunities provided to other students in school. Confirmation of disability, need for a service animal to access the school programming, and current certification/training of the service animal may be required.

The COs are responsible for coordinating the District's efforts to comply with applicable Federal and State laws and regulations, including the District's duty to address in a prompt and equitable manner any inquiries or complaints regarding discrimination, retaliation or denial of equal access. The COs shall also verify that proper notice of nondiscrimination for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended), Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 is provided to students, their parents, staff members, and the general public. A copy of each of the Acts and regulations on which this notice is based may be found in the CO's office.

The Superintendent shall annually attempt to identify children with disabilities, ages 0-25, who reside in the District but do not receive public education.

The Board is committed to educating (or providing for the education of) each qualified person with a disability with persons who are not disabled to the maximum extent appropriate. Generally, the District will place a person with a disability in the regular educational environment unless it is demonstrated that the education of the person in the regular environment, even with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. If the Board operates a separate class or facility that is identifiable as being for persons with disabilities, the facility, program, and activities and services must be comparable to the facilities, programs, and activities and services offered to students without a disability.

In addition, the Superintendent shall establish procedures to identify students who are Limited English Proficient (LEP), including immigrant children and youth, to assess their ability to participate in District programs, and develop and administer a program that meets the English language and academic needs of these students. This program shall include procedures for student placement, services, evaluation and exit guidelines and shall be designed to provide students with effective instruction that leads to academic achievement and timely acquisition of proficiency in English. As a part of this program, the District will evaluate the progress of students in achieving English language proficiency in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing, on an annual basis (also see Policy 2225).  The Superintendent is responsible for verifying that a concentration of students who are Limited English Proficient (LEP) in one or more programs is not the result of discrimination.

 

Reports and Complaints of Unlawful Discrimination and Retaliation

Students and Board employees are required, all other members of the School District community and Third Parties are encouraged to promptly report incidents of unlawful discrimination and/or retaliation to a teacher, administrator, supervisor, or other District official so that the Board may address the conduct. Any teacher, administrator, supervisor, or other District employee or official who receives such a complaint shall file it with the CO within two (2) days.

Members of the School District community, which includes students or Third Parties, who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated/retaliated against are entitled to utilize the complaint process set forth below. Initiating a complaint, whether formally or informally, will not adversely affect the Complainant's employment or participation in educational or extra-curricular programs. While there are no time limits for initiating complaints under this policy, individuals should make every effort to file a complaint as soon as possible after the conduct occurs while the facts are known and potential witnesses are available.

If, during an investigation of alleged bullying, aggressive behavior and/or harassment in accordance with Policy 5517.01 – Bullying and Other Forms of Aggressive Behavior, the Principal believes that the reported misconduct may constitute unlawful discrimination based on a Protected Class, the Principal shall report the act to one of the COs who shall investigate the allegation in accordance with this policy. While the CO investigates the allegation, the Principal shall suspend the Policy 5517.01 investigation to await the CO’s written report. The CO shall keep the Principal informed of the status of the Policy 2260 investigation and provide the Principal with a copy of the resulting written report.

The COs will be available during regular school/work hours to discuss concerns related to unlawful discrimination/retaliation. COs shall accept reports of unlawful discrimination/retaliation directly from any member of the School District community or a Third Party, or receive reports that are initially filled with another Board employee. Upon receipt of a report of alleged discrimination/retaliation, the CO will contact the Complainant and begin either an informal or formal complaint process (depending on the Complainant's request and the nature of the alleged discrimination/retaliation), or the CO will designate a specific individual to conduct such a process. The CO will provide a copy of this policy to the Complainant and the Respondent. In the case of a formal complaint, the CO will prepare recommendations for the Superintendent or oversee the preparation of such recommendations by a designee. All members of the School District community must report incidents of discrimination/retaliation that are reported to them to the CO within two (2) days of learning of the incident/conduct.

Any Board employee who directly observes unlawful discrimination/retaliation of a student is obligated, in accordance with this policy, to report such observations to one of the COs within two (2) business days. Additionally, any Board employee who observes an act of unlawful discrimination/retaliation is expected to intervene to stop the misconduct, unless circumstances make such an intervention dangerous, in which case the staff member should immediately notify other Board employees and/or local law enforcement officials, as necessary, to stop the misconduct. Thereafter, the CO/designee must contact the Complainant, if age eighteen (18) or older, or the Complainant's parents/guardians if the student is under the age eighteen (18), within two (2) days to advise of the Board's intent to investigate the alleged wrongdoing.

Investigation and Complaint Procedure

Except for sex discrimination and/or Sexual Harassment that is covered by Policy 2266 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex Education Programs or Activities, any student who alleges to have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or retaliation may seek resolution of the complaint through the procedures described below. The formal complaint procedures involve an investigation of the individual’s claims of discrimination/retaliation and a process for rendering a decision regarding whether the charges are substantiated.

Due to the sensitivity surrounding complaints of unlawful discrimination or retaliation, timelines are flexible for initiating the complaint process; however, individuals are encouraged to file a complaint within thirty (30) days after the conduct occurs. Once the formal complaint process is begun, the investigation will be completed in a timely manner (ordinarily, within fifteen (15) days of the complaint being received).

The procedures set forth below are not intended to interfere with the rights of a student to pursue a complaint of unlawful discrimination or retaliation with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights ("OCR"). The Cleveland Office of the OCR can be reached at 1350 Euclid Avenue, Suite 325, Cleveland, Ohio 44115; Telephone: (216) 522-4970; Fax: (216) 522-2573; TDD: (216) 522-4944; E-mail: ocr.cleveland@ed.gov; Web: http://www.ed.gov/ocr.

Informal Complaint Procedure

The goal of the informal complaint procedure is to promptly stop inappropriate behavior and facilitate resolution through an informal means, if possible. The informal complaint procedure is provided as a less formal option for a student who alleges unlawful discrimination or retaliation. This informal procedure is not required as a precursor to the filing of a formal complaint.

The informal process is only available in those circumstances where the Complainant and the Respondent mutually agree to participate in it.

The Complainant may proceed immediately to the formal complaint process and individuals who participate in the informal procedure may request that the informal process be terminated at any time to move to the formal complaint process.

All complaints involving a District employee or any other adult member of the School District community and a student will be formally investigated.

As an initial course of action, if a Complainant feels comfortable and safe doing so, the individual should tell or otherwise inform the Respondent that the allegedly discriminatory/retaliatory conduct is inappropriate and must stop. The Complainant should address the alleged misconduct as soon after it occurs as possible. The COs are available to support and counsel Complainant when taking this initial step or to intervene on behalf of the individual if requested to do so. A Complainant who is uncomfortable or unwilling to directly approach the Respondent about the inappropriate conduct may file an informal or a formal complaint. In addition, with regard to certain types of unlawful discrimination, such as sexual discrimination, the CO may advise against the use of the informal complaint process.

A Complainant who alleges unlawful discrimination/retaliation may make an informal complaint, either orally or in writing: (1) to a teacher, other employee, or building administrator in the school the student attends; (2) to the Superintendent or other District-level employee; and/or (3) directly to one of the COs.

All informal complaints must be reported to one of the COs who will either facilitate an informal resolution as described below, or appoint another individual to facilitate an informal resolution.

The School District's informal complaint procedure is designed to provide the Complainant with a range of options aimed at bringing about a prompt resolution of their concerns. Depending upon the nature of the complaint and the Complainant's wishes, informal resolution may involve, but not be limited to, one or more of the following:

     A.  Advising the Complainant about how to communicate concerns to the person who Respondent

     B.  Distributing a copy of Policy 2260 – Non-Discrimination and Access to Equal Educational Opportunity to the individuals in the school building or office where Respondentworks or attends.

     C.  If both parties agree, the CO may arrange and facilitate a meeting or mediation between the Complainant and the Respondent to work out a mutual resolution.

While there are no set time limits within which an informal complaint must be resolved, the CO or designee is directed to attempt to resolve all informal complaints within fifteen (15) days of receiving the informal complaint. If the Complainant is dissatisfied with the informal complaint process may proceed to file a formal complaint. And, as stated above,  either party may request that the informal process be terminated at any time to move to the formal complaint process.

Formal Complaint Procedure

If a complaint is not resolved through the informal complaint process, if one (1) of the parties requested that the informal complaint process be terminated to move to the formal complaint process, or if the Complainant, from the outset, elects to file a formal complaint, or the Compliance Officer(s) determines the allegations are not appropriate for resolution through the informal process the formal complaint process shall be implemented.

The Complainant may file a formal complaint, either orally or in writing, with a teacher, Principal, or other District official at the student’s school, the CO, Superintendent, or another District official who works at another school or at the District level. Due to the sensitivity surrounding complaints of unlawful discrimination, timelines are flexible for initiating the complaint process; however, individuals should make every effort to file a formal complaint within thirty (30) days after the conduct occurs. If a Complainant informs a teacher, Principal, or other District official at the student’s school, Superintendent, or other District employee, either orally or in writing, about any complaint of discrimination/retaliation, that employee must report such information to the CO/designee within two (2) days.

Throughout the course of the process, the CO should keep the parties reasonably informed of the status of the investigation and the decision-making process.

All formal complaints must include the following information to the extent known: the identity of the Respondent; a detailed description of the facts upon which the complaint is based (i.e., when, where, and what occurred); a list of potential witnesses; and the resolution sought by the Complainant.

If the Complainant is unwilling or unable to provide a written statement including the information set forth above, the CO shall ask for such details in an oral interview. Thereafter, the CO will prepare a written summary of the oral interview, and the Complainant will be asked to verify the accuracy of the reported charge by signing the document.

Upon receiving a formal complaint, the CO will consider whether any action should be taken in the investigatory phase to protect the Complainant from further discrimination or retaliation, including, but not limited to, a change of work assignment or schedule for the Complainant and/or the Respondent. In making such a determination, the CO should consult the Complainant to assess whether the individual agrees with the proposed action. If the Complainant is unwilling to consent to the proposed change, the CO may still take whatever actions deemed appropriate in consultation with the Superintendent.

Within two (2) days of receiving the complaint, the CO or designee will initiate a formal investigation to determine whether the Complainant has been subjected to unlawful discrimination/retaliation. The  Principal will not conduct an investigation unless directed to do so by the CO.

Simultaneously, the CO will inform the Respondent that a formal complaint has been received. The Respondent will be informed about the nature of the allegations and provided with a copy of any relevant policies and/or administrative guidelines, including Policy 2260 - Nondiscrimination and Access to Equal Educational Opportunity. . The Respondent must also be informed of the opportunity to submit a written response to the formal complaint within five (5) business days.

Although certain cases may require additional time, the CO or designee will attempt to complete an investigation into the allegations of discrimination/retaliation within fifteen (15) business days of receiving the formal complaint. The investigation will include:

  1. interviews with the Complainant;
  2. interviews with the Respondent;
  3. interviews with any other witnesses who may reasonably be expected to have any information relevant to the allegations;
  4. consideration of any documentation or other information presented by the Complainant, Respondent, or any other witness that is reasonably believed to be relevant to the allegations.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the CO /designee shall prepare and deliver a written report to the Superintendent that summarizes the evidence gathered during the investigation and provides recommendations based on the evidence and the definition of unlawful discrimination/retaliation as provided in Board policy and State and Federal law as to whether the Respondent has engaged in unlawful discrimination/retaliation of the Complainant. The CO's recommendations must be based upon the totality of the circumstances. In determining if unlawful discrimination or retaliation occurred, a preponderance of evidence standard will be used.

Absent extenuating circumstances, within five (5) business days of receiving the report of the CO or designee, the Superintendent must either issue a written decision regarding whether the charges have been substantiated or request further investigation. A copy of the Superintendent's final decision will be delivered to both the Complainant and the Respondent.

If the Superintendent requests additional investigation, the Superintendent must specify the additional information that is to be gathered, and such additional investigation must be completed within five (5) days. At the conclusion of the additional investigation, the Superintendent shall issue a final written decision as described above.

If the Superintendent determines the Respondent engaged in unlawful discrimination/retaliation toward the Complainant, the Superintendent must identify what corrective action will be taken to stop, remedy, and prevent the recurrence of the discrimination/retaliation. The corrective action should be reasonable, timely, age-appropriate and effective, and tailored to the specific situation.

The decision of the Superintendent shall be final.

The Board reserves the right to investigate and resolve a complaint or report of unlawful discrimination/retaliation regardless of whether the student alleging the unlawful discrimination/retaliation pursues the complaint. The Board also reserves the right to have the formal complaint investigation conducted by an external person in accordance with this policy or in such other manner as deemed appropriate by the Board or its designee.

The Complainant may be represented, at his/her own cost, at any of the above-described meetings/hearings.

The right of a person to a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint shall not be impaired by the person's pursuit of other remedies such as the filing of a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, the filing of charges with local law enforcement, or the filing of a civil action in court. Use of this internal complaint process is not a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies.

Privacy/Confidentiality

The District will employ all reasonable efforts to protect the rights of the Complainant, the Respondent(s), and the witnesses as much as possible, consistent with the Board’s legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to conform with any discovery or disclosure obligations. All records generated under the terms of this policy shall be maintained as confidential to the extent permitted by law. Confidentiality, however, cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, the Respondent must be provided the Complainant's identity. 

During the course of a formal investigation, the CO or designee will instruct each person who is interviewed about the importance of maintaining confidentiality. Any individual who is interviewed as part of an investigation is expected not to disclose to Third Parties any information that is learned or provided during the course of the investigation.

Sanctions and Monitoring

The Board shall vigorously enforce its prohibitions against unlawful discrimination/retaliation by taking appropriate action reasonably calculated to stop and prevent further misconduct. While observing the principles of due process, a violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including the discharge of an employee or the suspension/expulsion of a student. All disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with applicable State law and the terms of the relevant collective bargaining agreement(s). When imposing discipline, the Superintendent shall consider the totality of the circumstances involved in the matter, including the ages and maturity levels of those involved. In those cases where unlawful discrimination/retaliation is not substantiated, the Board may consider whether the alleged conduct nevertheless warrants discipline in accordance with other Board policies, consistent with the terms of the relevant collective bargaining agreement(s).

Where the Board becomes aware that a prior remedial action has been taken against a member of the School District community, all subsequent sanctions imposed by the Board and/or Superintendent shall be reasonably calculated to end such conduct, prevent its reoccurrence, and remedy its effects.

Retaliation

Retaliation against a person who makes a report or files a complaint alleging unlawful harassment/retaliation or participates as a witness in an investigation is prohibited. Neither the Board nor any other person may intimidate, threaten, coerce or interfere with any individual because the person opposed any act or practice made unlawful by any Federal or State civil rights law, or because that individual made a report, formal complaint, testified, assisted or participate or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under those laws and/or this policy, or because that individual exercised, enjoyed, aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by those laws and/or this policy.

Retaliation against a person for making a report of discrimination, filing a formal complaint, or participating in an investigation or meeting is a serious violation of this policy that can result in imposition of disciplinary sanctions/consequences and/or other appropriate remedies.

Formal complaints alleging retaliation may be filed according to the internal complaint process set forth above.

The exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not constitute retaliation prohibited under this policy.

Education and Training

In support of this policy, the Board promotes preventative educational measures to create greater awareness of unlawful discriminatory practices. The Superintendent or designee shall provide appropriate information to all members of the School District community related to the implementation of this policy and shall provide training for District students and staff where appropriate. All training, as well as all information, provided regarding the Board's policy and discrimination in general, will be age and content appropriate.

The District will endeavor to assist the student and/or his/her parents in their access to District programs by providing notices to the parents and students in a language and format that they are likely to understand.

Materials approved by the State Department of Education describing the benefits of instruction in Braille reading and writing shall be provided to each blind student’s individualized planning committee. The District shall not deny a student the opportunity for instruction in Braille, reading, and writing solely because the student has some remaining vision.

Retention of Investigatory Records and Materials

The Compliance Officer(s) is responsible for overseeing retention of all records that must be maintained pursuant to this policy. All individuals charged with conducting investigations under this policy must retain all information, documents, electronically stored information, and electronic media (as defined in Policy 8315) created and received as part of an investigation, which may include, but not be limited to:

  1. all written reports/allegations/complaints/grievances/ statements/responses pertaining to an alleged violation of this policy;
  2. any narratives that memorialize oral reports/allegations/ complaints/grievances/statements/responses pertaining to an alleged violation of this policy;
  3. any documentation that memorializes the actions taken by District personnel or individuals contracted or appointed by the Board to fulfill its responsibilities related to the investigation and/or the District’s response to the alleged violation of this policy;
  4. written witness statements;
  5. narratives, notes from, or audio, video, or digital recordings of witness interviews/statements;
  6. e-mails, texts, or social media posts that directly relate to or constitute evidence pertaining to an alleged violation of this policy (i.e., not after-the-fact commentary about or media coverage of the incident);
  7. notes or summaries prepared contemporaneously by the investigator in whatever form made (e.g., handwritten, keyed into a computer or tablet, etc.), but not including transitory notes whose content is otherwise memorialized in other documents;
  8. written disciplinary sanctions issued to students or employees and other documentation that memorializes oral disciplinary sanctions issued to students or employees for violations of this policy;
  9. dated written determinations/reports (including summaries of relevant exculpatory and inculpatory evidence) and other documentation that memorializes oral notifications to the parties concerning the outcome of the investigation, including any consequences imposed as a result of a violation of this policy;
  10. documentation of any supportive measures offered and/or provided to the Complainant and/or the Respondent, including no-contact orders issued to both parties, the dates the no-contact orders were issued, and the dates the parties acknowledged receipt of the no-contact orders;
  11. documentation of all actions taken, both individual and systemic, to stop the discrimination or harassment, prevent its recurrence, eliminate any hostile environment, and remedy its discriminatory effects;
  12. copies of the Board policy and/or procedures/guidelines used by the District to conduct the investigation, and any documents used by the District at the time of the alleged violation to communicate the Board’s expectations to students and staff with respect to the subject of this policy (e.g., Student Code of Conduct and/or Employee Handbooks);
  13. copies of any documentation that memorializes any formal or informal resolutions to the alleged discrimination or harassment.

The information, documents, ESI, and electronic media (as defined in Policy 8315) retained may include public records and records exempt from disclosure under Federal and/or State law (e.g., student records).

These investigative records and materials created or received as part of an investigation shall be retained in accordance with Policy 8310, Policy 8315, Policy 8320, and Policy 8330 for not less than three (3) years, but longer if required by the District’s records retention schedule.

Revised 11/13/06
Revised 9/8/14
Revised 1/14/19

Legal

     M.C.L. 380.1146, 380.1704, 37.1101 et seq., 37.2402, 37.1402, 37.2101-37.2804
     Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
     20 U.S.C. Section 1681, Title IX of Education Amendments Act
     20 U.S.C. Section 1701 et seq., Equal Educational Opportunities Act of  1974
     20 U.S.C. Section 7905, Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act
     29 U.S.C. Section 794, Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended
     29 C.F.R. Part 1635
     42 U.S.C. Section 2000 et seq., Civil Rights Act of 1964
     42 U.S.C. Section 2000ff et seq., The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
     42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq., Age Discrimination Act of 1975
     34 C.F.R. Part 110 (7/27/93)
     Vocational Education Program Guidelines for Eliminating Discrimination and Denial of Services, Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, March 1979
     42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended

Book:  Policy Manual

Section:  1000 Administration

Title:  NONDISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

Code:  po1422

Status:  Active

Adopted:  September 8, 2014

Last Revised:  May 11, 2021
 

1422 - NONDISCRIMINATION AND EQUAL EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITY

The Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation or transgender identity), disability, age, religion, height, weight, marital or family status, military status, ancestry, genetic information, or any other legally protected category, (collectively, "Protected Classes"), in its programs and activities, including employment opportunities.

Definitions:

  1. Words used in this policy shall have those meanings defined herein; words not defined herein shall be construed according to their plain and ordinary meanings.
  2. Complainant is the individual who alleges, or is alleged, to have been subjected to unlawful discrimination/retaliation, regardless of whether the person files a formal complaint or is pursuing an informal resolution to the alleged discrimination/retaliation.
  3. Respondent´╗┐ is the individual who has been alleged to have engaged in unlawful discrimination/retaliation, regardless of whether the Reporting Party files a formal complaint or is seeking an informal resolution to the alleged discrimination/retaliation.
  4. School District community means students and Board employees (i.e., administrators, and professional and classified staff), as well as Board members, agents, volunteers, contractors, or other persons subject to the control and supervision of the Board.
  5. Third Parties include, but are not limited to, guests and/or visitors on School District property (e.g., visiting speakers, participants on opposing athletic teams, parents), vendors doing business with, or seeking to do business with, the Board, and other individuals who come in contact with members of the School District community at school-related events/activities (whether on or off District property).
  6. Day(s): Unless expressly stated otherwise, the term "day" or "days" as used in this policy means a business day(s) (i.e., a day(s) that the Board office is open for normal operating hours, Monday - Friday, excluding State-recognized holidays).
  7. For purposes of this policy, "military status" refers to a person's status in the uniformed services, which includes the performance of duty, on a voluntary basis, or involuntary basis, in a uniformed service including active duty, active duty for training, initial active duty for training, inactive duty for training, full-time National Guard duty. It also includes the period of time for which a person is absent from employment for the purpose of an examination to determine the fitness of the person to perform any such duty as listed above.

District Compliance Officers

The Board designates the following individuals to serve as the District’s "Compliance Officers" (also known as "Civil Rights Coordinators") (hereinafter referred to as the "COs").

Mindy Bohan
Marcellus Community Schools
269-646-7655
303 W. Arbor
Marcellus, Michigan 49067

Don Price
Marcellus Community Schools
269-646-7655
303 W. Arbor
Marcellus, Michigan 49067

The names, titles, and contact information of these individuals will be published annually in the staff handbooks and/or on the School District's website.

The COs are responsible for coordinating the District's efforts to comply with applicable Federal and State laws and regulations, including the District's duty to address in a prompt and equitable manner any inquiries or complaints regarding discrimination/retaliation or denial of equal access. The COs shall also verify that proper notice of nondiscrimination for Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (as amended), Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (as amended), and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1975 is provided to staff members and the general public. Any sections of the District's collective bargaining agreements dealing with hiring, promotion, and tenure need to contain a statement of nondiscrimination similar to that in the Board's statement above. In addition, any gender-specific terms should be eliminated from such contracts. A copy of each of the Acts and regulations on which this notice is available upon request from the CO.

Reports and Complaints of Unlawful Discrimination and Retaliation

Employees are required to report incidents of unlawful discrimination and/or retaliation to an administrator, supervisor, or other District-level official so that the Board may address the conduct. Any administrator, supervisor, or other District-level official who receives such a report shall file it with the CO within two (2) days.

Employees who believe they have been unlawfully discriminated/retaliated against are entitled to utilize the complaint process set forth below. Initiating a complaint, whether formally or informally, will not adversely affect the Complainant's employment. While there are no time limits for initiating complaints under this policy, individuals should make every effort to file a complaint as soon as possible after the conduct occurs while the facts are known and potential witnesses are available.

The COs will be available during regular school/work hours to discuss concerns related to unlawful discrimination/retaliation. COs shall accept complaints of unlawful discrimination/retaliation directly from any member of the School District community or a Third Party, or received reports that are initially filed with another Board employee  Upon receipt of a report of alleged discrimination/retaliation, the CO will contact the Complainant and begin either an informal or formal complaint process (depending on the Complainant's request and the nature of the alleged discrimination/retaliation), or the CO will designate a specific individual to conduct such a process. The CO will provide a copy of this policy to the Complainant and the Respondent. In the case of a formal complaint, the CO will prepare recommendations for the Superintendent or oversee the preparation of such recommendations by a designee. All members of the School District community must report incidents of discrimination/retaliation that are reported to them to the CO within two (2) business days of learning of the incident/conduct.

Any Board employee who directly observes unlawful discrimination/retaliation is obligated, in accordance with this policy, to report such observations to one of the COs within two (2) business days. Additionally, any Board employee who observes an act of unlawful discrimination/retaliation is expected to intervene to stop the misconduct, unless circumstances make such an intervention dangerous, in which case the staff member should immediately notify other Board employees and/or local law enforcement officials, as necessary, to stop the misconduct. Thereafter, the CO or designee must contact the  Complainant within two (2) business days to advise of the Board's intent to investigate the wrongdoing.

Investigation and Complaint Procedure (See Form 1422 F2)

Except for sex discrimination and/or Sexual Harassment that is covered by Policy 2266 - Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex in Education Programs or Activities, any employee who alleges to have been subjected to unlawful discrimination or retaliation may seek resolution of his/her complaint through the procedures described below. The formal complaint procedures involve an investigation of the individual’s claims of discrimination/retaliation and a process for rendering a decision regarding whether the charges are substantiated.

Due to the sensitivity surrounding complaints of unlawful discrimination or retaliation, timelines are flexible for initiating the complaint process; however, individuals are encouraged to file a complaint within thirty (30)days after the conduct occurs. Once the formal complaint process is begun, the investigation will be completed in a timely manner (ordinarily, within fifteen (15) business days of the complaint being received).

The procedures set forth below are not intended to interfere with the rights of any individual to pursue a complaint of unlawful discrimination or retaliation with the United States Department of Education Office for Civil Rights or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC").

Informal Complaint Procedure

The goal of the informal complaint procedure is to promptly stop inappropriate behavior and facilitate resolution through an informal means, if possible. The informal complaint procedure is provided as a less formal option for an employee alleges unlawful discrimination or retaliation. This informal procedure is not required as a precursor to the filing of a formal complaint. The informal process is only available in those circumstances where the Complainant and the Respondent mutually agree to participate in it.

The Complainant may proceed immediately to the formal complaint process and individuals who participate in the informal procedure may request that the informal process be terminated at any time to move to the formal complaint process.

All complaints involving a District employee or any other adult member of the School District community and a student will be formally investigated.

As an initial course of action, if a Complainant feels comfortable and safe doing so, the individual should tell or otherwise inform Respondent that the allegedly discriminatory/retaliatory conduct that it is inappropriate and must stop. The Complainanthould address the alleged misconduct as soon after it occurs as possible. The COs are available to support and counsel the Complainant when taking this initial step or to intervene on behalf of the individual if requested to do so.  A Complainant who is uncomfortable or unwilling to directly approach the Respondent about the inappropriate conduct may file an informal or a formal complaint. In addition, with regard to certain types of unlawful discrimination, (e.g., sex discrimination), the CO may advise against the use of the informal complaint process.

A Complainant who alleges unlawful discrimination/retaliation may make an informal complaint, either orally or in writing: (1) to a building administrator; (2) directly to one of the COs; and/or (3) to the Superintendent or other District-level employee.

All informal complaints must be reported to one of the COs who will either facilitate an informal resolution as described below, or appoint another individual to facilitate an informal resolution.

The School District's informal complaint procedure is designed to provide the Complainant with a range of options aimed at bringing about a prompt resolution of their concerns. Depending upon the nature of the complaint and the wishes of the  Complainant, informal resolution may involve, but not be limited to, one or more of the following:

     A.  Advising the  Complainant about how to communicate concerns to the Respondent.

     B.  Distributing a copy of Policy 1422 – Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity to the individuals in the school building or office where the Respondent works.

     C. If both parties agree, the CO may arrange and facilitate a meeting or mediation between the Complainant and the Respondent to work out a mutual resolution.

While there are no set time limits within which an informal complaint must be resolved, the CO or designee is directed to attempt to resolve all informal complaints within fifteen (15) business days of receiving the informal complaint. If the Complainant is dissatisfied of the informal complaint process,  the Complainant may proceed to file a formal complaint. And, as stated above, parties may request that the informal process be terminated at any time to move to the formal complaint process.

Formal Complaint Procedure

If a complaint is not resolved through the informal complaint process, if one of the parties requested that the informal complaint process be terminated to move to the formal complaint process, or if the  Complainant, from the outset, elects to file a formal complaint, or the Compliance Officer(s) determines the allegations are not appropriate for resolution through the informal process, the formal complaint process shall be implemented.

A Complainant may file a formal complaint, either orally or in writing, with a principal, the CO, Superintendent, or other District official Due to the sensitivity surrounding complaints of unlawful discrimination and retaliation, timelines are flexible for initiating the complaint process; however, individuals should make every effort to file a formal complaint within thirty (30) days after the conduct occurs. If a Complainant informs a principal, Superintendent, or other District-level employee, either orally or in writing, about any complaint of discrimination/retaliation, that employee must report such information to the CO/designee within two (2) business days.

Throughout the course of the process, the CO should keep the parties reasonably informed of the status of the investigation and the decision-making process.

All formal complaints must include the following information to the extent known: the identity of the  Respondent; a detailed description of the facts upon which the complaint is based (i.e., when, where, and what occurred); a list of potential witnesses; and the resolution sought by the Complainant.

If the Complainant is unwilling or unable to provide a written statement including the information set forth above, the CO shall ask for such details in an oral interview. Thereafter, the CO will prepare a written summary of the oral interview, and the Complainant will be asked to verify the accuracy of the reported charge by signing the document.

Upon receiving a formal complaint, the CO will consider whether any action should be taken in the investigatory phase to protect the Complainant from further discrimination or retaliation, including, but not limited to, a change of work assignment or schedule for the Complainant and/or the person who allegedly engaged in the misconduct. In making such a determination, the CO should consult the Complainant to assess whether the individual agrees with the proposed action. If the Complainant is unwilling to consent to the proposed change, the CO may still take whatever actions deemed appropriate in consultation with the Superintendent.

Within two (2) business days of receiving the complaint, the CO or designee will initiate a formal investigation to determine whether the Complainant has been subjected to unlawful discrimination/retaliation.

Simultaneously, the CO will inform the Respondent that a formal complaint has been received. The Respondent will be informed about the nature of the allegations and provided with a copy of any relevant policies and/or administrative guidelines, including Policy 1422 - Non- Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity. The Respondent must also be informed of the opportunity to submit a written response to the complaint within five (5) business days.

Although certain cases may require additional time, the CO or a designee will attempt to complete an investigation into the allegations of discrimination/retaliation within fifteen (15) business days of receiving the formal complaint. The investigation will include:

     A.  interviews with the Complainant;
     B.  interviews with the Respondent;
     C.  interviews with any other witnesses who may reasonably be expected to have any information relevant to the allegations;
     D.  consideration of any documentation or other information presented by the Complainant, Respondent, or any other witness that is reasonably believed to be relevant to the allegations.

At the conclusion of the investigation, the CO/designee shall prepare and deliver a written report to the Superintendent that summarizes the evidence gathered during the investigation and provides recommendations based on the evidence and the definition of unlawful discrimination/retaliation as provided in Board policy and State and Federal law as to whether Respondent has engaged in unlawful harassment/retaliation of the Complainant. The CO's recommendations must be based upon the totality of the circumstances. In determining if discrimination or retaliation occurred, a preponderance of evidence standard will be used. The CO may consult with the Board’s legal counsel before finalizing the report to the Superintendent.

Absent extenuating circumstances, within five (5) business days of receiving the report of the CO or the designee, the Superintendent must either issue a written decision regarding whether the charges have been substantiated or request further investigation. A copy of the Superintendent's final decision will be delivered to both the Complainant and the Respondent.

If the Superintendent requests additional investigation, the Superintendent must specify the additional information that is to be gathered, and such additional investigation must be completed within five (5) business days. At the conclusion of the additional investigation, the Superintendent must issue a final written decision as described above.

If the Superintendent determines the Respondent engaged in unlawful discrimination/retaliation toward the Complainant, the Superintendent must identify what corrective action will be taken to stop, remedy, and prevent the recurrence of the discrimination/retaliation. The corrective action should be reasonable, timely, age-appropriate and effective, and tailored to the specific situation.

The decision of the Superintendent shall be final.

The Board reserves the right to investigate and resolve a complaint or report of unlawful discrimination/retaliation regardless of whether the employee alleging the unlawful discrimination/retaliation pursues the complaint. The Board also reserves the right to have the formal complaint investigation conducted by an external person in accordance with this policy or in such other manner as deemed appropriate by the Board or its designee.

The parties may be represented, at their own cost, at any of the above-described meetings/hearings.

The right of a person to a prompt and equitable resolution of the complaint shall not be impaired by the person’s pursuit of other remedies such as the filing of a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights, the filing of charges with local law enforcement, or the filing of a civil action in court. Use of this internal complaint process is not a prerequisite to the pursuit of other remedies.

Privacy/Confidentiality

The District will employ all reasonable efforts to protect the rights of the Complainant, the Respondent(s), and the witnesses as much as possible, consistent with the Board’s legal obligations to investigate, to take appropriate action, and to conform with any discovery or disclosure obligations. All records generated under the terms of this policy shall be maintained as confidential to the extent permitted by law. Confidentiality, however, cannot be guaranteed. Additionally, the Respondent must be provided the Complainant's identity.

During the course of a formal investigation, the CO or designee will instruct each person who is interviewed about the importance of maintaining confidentiality. Any individual who is interviewed as part of an investigation is expected not to disclose to Third Parties any information that is learned or provided during the course of the investigation.

Sanctions and Monitoring

The Board shall vigorously enforce its prohibitions against unlawful discrimination by taking appropriate action reasonably calculated to stop and prevent further misconduct. While observing the principles of due process, a violation of this policy may result in disciplinary action up to and including the discharge of an employee. All disciplinary action will be taken in accordance with applicable State law and the terms of the relevant collective bargaining agreement(s). When imposing discipline, the Superintendent shall consider the totality of the circumstances involved in the matter. In those cases where unlawful discrimination/retaliation is not substantiated, the Board may consider whether the alleged conduct nevertheless warrants discipline in accordance with other Board policies, consistent with the terms of the relevant collective bargaining agreement(s).

Where the Board becomes aware that a prior remedial action has been taken against an employee, all subsequent sanctions imposed by the Board and/or Superintendent shall be reasonably calculated to end such conduct, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effect.

Retaliation

Retaliation against a person who makes a report or files a complaint alleging unlawful harassment/retaliation or participates as a witness in an investigation is prohibited. Neither the Board nor any other person may intimidate, threaten, coerce or interfere with any individual because the person opposed any act or practice made unlawful by any Federal or State civil rights law, or because that individual made a report, formal complaint, testified, assisted or participated or refused to participate in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under those laws and/or this policy, or because that individual exercised, enjoyed, aided or encouraged any other person in the exercise or enjoyment of any right granted or protected by those laws and/or this policy.

Retaliation ´╗┐against a person for making a report of discrimination, filing a formal complaint, or participating in an investigation or meeting is a serious violation of this policy that can result in imposition of disciplinary sanctions/consequences and/or other appropriate remedies.

Formal complaints alleging retaliation may be filed according to the internal complaint process set forth above.

The exercise of rights protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution does not constitute retaliation prohibited under this policy.

Education and Training

In support of this policy, the Board promotes preventative educational measures to create greater awareness of unlawful discriminatory practices. The Superintendent or designee shall provide appropriate information to all members of the School District community related to the implementation of this policy and shall provide training for District students and staff where appropriate. All training, as well as all information provided regarding the Board's policy and discrimination in general, will be age and content appropriate.

Retention of Investigatory Records and Materials

The Compliance Officer(s) is responsible for overseeing retention of all records that must be maintained pursuant to this policy.  All individuals charged with conducting investigations under this policy shall retain all documents, electronically stored information ("ESI"), and electronic media (as defined in Policy 8315) created and/or received as part of an investigation, which may include but not be limited to: 

     A.  all written reports/allegations/complaints/grievances/ statements/responses pertaining to an alleged violation of this policy;
     B.  any narratives that memorialize oral reports/allegations/ complaints/grievances/statements/responses pertaining to an alleged violation of this policy;
     C.  any documentation that memorializes the actions taken by District personnel  or individuals contracted or appointed by the Board to fulfill its responsibilities related to the investigation and/or the District’s response to the alleged violation of this policy;
     D.  written witness statements;
     E.  narratives, notes from, or audio, video, or digital recordings of witness interviews/statements;
     F.  e-mails, texts, or social media posts that directly relate to or constitute evidence pertaining to an alleged violation of this policy (i.e., not after-the-fact commentary about or media coverage of the incident);
     G.  notes or summaries prepared contemporaneously by the investigator in whatever form made (e.g., handwritten, keyed into a computer or tablet, etc.), but not including transitory notes whose content is otherwise memorialized in other documents;
     H.  written disciplinary sanctions issued to students or employees and other documentation that memorializes oral disciplinary sanctions issued to students or employees for violations of this policy;
     I.  dated written determinations/reports (including summaries of relevant exculpatory and inculpatory evidence) and other documentation that memorializes oral notifications to the parties concerning the outcome of the investigation, including any consequences imposed as a result of a violation of this policy;
     J.  documentation of any supportive measures offered and/or provided to the Complainant and/or Respondent, including no-contact orders issued to both parties, the dates the no-contact orders were issued, and the dates the parties acknowledged receipt of the no-contact orders;
     K.  documentation of all actions taken, both individual and systemic, to stop the discrimination or harassment, prevent its recurrence, eliminate any hostile environment, and remedy its discriminatory effects;
     L.  copies of the Board policy and/or procedures/guidelines used by the District to conduct the investigation, and any documents used by the District at the time of the alleged violation to communicate the Board’s expectations to students and staff with respect to the subject of this policy (e.g., Student Codes of Conduct   and/or Employee Handbooks or;
     M.  copies of any documentation that memorializes any formal or informal resolutions to the alleged discrimination or harassment.

The documents, ESI, and electronic media (as defined in Policy 8315) retained may include public records and records exempt from disclosure under Federal (e.g., FERPA, ADA) and/or State law – e.g., student records and confidential medical records.

The documents, ESI, and electronic media (as defined in Policy 8315) created or received as part of an investigation shall be retained in accordance with Policy 8310, Policy 8315, Policy 8320, and Policy 8330 for not less than three (3) years, but longer if required by the District’s records retention schedule.

Revised 1/14/19

Legal

     M.C.L. 37.2101 et seq., 37.1101 et seq.
     Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
     20 U.S.C. Section 1681, Title IX of Education Amendment Act
     20 U.S.C. Section 1701 et seq., Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974
     20 U.S.C. Section 7905, Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act
     42 U.S.C. 6101 et seq., Age Discrimination Act of 1975
     42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, as amended
     34 C.F.R. Part 110 (7/27/93)
     42 U.S.C. 2000ff et seq., The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act
     42 U.S.C. 2000e et seq., Civil Rights Act of 1964
     29 U.S.C. 701 et seq., Rehabilitation Act of 1973 as amended
     29 C.F.R. Part 1635

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