A. Statement of Policy
It is the policy of Bellingham Public Schools to maintain a working environment that is free from all forms of discrimination, including sexual harassment. This policy extends to all employees and other persons involved in academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs or activities of the district, whether that program or activity is in a school facility, on school transportation, or conducted at a non-district location. Sexual harassment is a form of misconduct which undermines the integrity of the employment relationship and the educational environment.
B. Sexual Harassment Defined
Sexual harassment refers to behavior which is unwelcome, offensive, or interferes with effectiveness in the work environment. Sexual harassment consists of:
1. Acts of sexual violence; or
2. Unwelcome sexual advances; or
3. Unwelcome requests for sexual favors; or
4. Unwelcome sexual or gender-directed conduct or communication that interferes with an individual’s employment performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment; or
5. Sexual demands where submission or rejection is a factor in an employment or other school-related decision affecting an individual; or
6. Sexual demands when submission is a stated or implied condition of obtaining a work opportunity or other benefit.
C. Investigation and Response
If the district knows or reasonably believes that sexual harassment has created a hostile environment, the district will promptly investigate to determine what occurred and will take appropriate steps to resolve the situation. If an investigation reveals that sexual harassment has created a hostile work environment, the district will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end sexual harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its occurrence and, as appropriate, remedy its effects. The district will take prompt, equitable and remedial action within its authority every time a report, complaint and grievance alleging sexual harassment comes to the attention of the district, either formally or informally.
Allegations of criminal misconduct will be reported to law enforcement and suspected child abuse will be reported to law enforcement or Child Protective Services. Regardless of whether the misconduct is reported to law enforcement, school staff will promptly investigate to determine what occurred and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation to the extent that such investigation does not interfere with an on-going criminal investigation. A criminal investigation does not relieve the district of its independent obligation to investigate and resolve sexual harassment.
D. Disciplinary Actions
Engaging in sexual harassment will result in appropriate discipline or other appropriate sanctions against offending staff or third parties involved in school district activities. Anyone else who engages in sexual harassment on school property or at school activities will have their access to school property and activities restricted, as appropriate.
E. False Accusations
It is also a violation of this policy to knowingly report false allegations. Persons found to knowingly report false allegations will also be subject to disciplinary action.
No person shall be retaliated against for making a report of sexual harassment or for providing testimony or assisting in the investigation of such a report. Retaliation against any person who makes or is a witness in a sexual harassment complaint is prohibited and will result in appropriate discipline. The district will take appropriate actions to protect involved persons from retaliation.
G. Dissemination and Discussion of Policy
The essential elements of this policy shall be:
1. provided to each district employee, parent and volunteer;
2. posted in each school building and facility in a place available to staff, parents, volunteers and visitors; and
3. included in school or district orientation presentations or materials and publications that set forth rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct.
Such notices will identify the district’s Title IX coordinator and provide contact information, including the coordinator’s email address.
H. Internal Review
The Affirmative Action Officer shall conduct an annual review of the utilization and efficacy of the district’s Sexual Harassment Policy and administrative procedures governing formal complaints of sexual harassment. The Affirmative Action Officer shall recommend any changes in district policy and/or procedure to the superintendent.
RCW 26.44 Abuse of Children
RCW 28A.640 Sexual Equality
RCW 49.60 Discrimination — Human Rights Commission
WAC 392-190 Equal Educational Opportunity—Unlawful Discrimination Prohibited
Title 20, USC §1681-1688