Harassment

RIGHT TO AN EQUAL EDUCATION 

Melrose Public Schools Anti-Harassment and Discrimination Statement

Harassment and bullying of students and employees are against federal, state and local policy, and are not tolerated by the Melrose Public Schools (the District). The District is committed to providing all students with a safe and civil school environment in which all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect. To that end, the District has in place policies, procedures, and practices that are designed to reduce and eliminate bullying and harassment as well as processes and procedures to deal with incidents of bullying and harassment. Bullying and harassment of students by other students, by school employees, and by volunteers who have direct contact with students will not be tolerated in the school or by the school district.

The Melrose Public Schools will vigorously enforce its prohibition against discriminatory harassment based on race, color, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation and transgender identity), disability, age (except as authorized by law), religion, that are protected by Federal civil rights laws, and encourages those within the School District community as well as third parties, who feel aggrieved to seek assistance to rectify such problems. The District will promptly, impartially and thoroughly investigate all allegations of unlawful harassment and in those cases where unlawful harassment is substantiated, the Melrose Public Schools will take immediate steps to end the harassment, prevent its recurrence, and remedy its effects.

This commitment applies to all school district operations, programs, and activities. All students, families, administrators, teachers, staff, and all other school personnel share responsibility for avoiding, discouraging, and reporting any form of unlawful harassment. This policy applies to unlawful conduct occurring on school property, or at another location if such conduct occurs during an activity sponsored by the Melrose Public Schools.

Students and other members of the Melrose Public School community and third parties are encouraged to promptly report, either verbally or in writing, incidents of harassing conduct to a teacher, administrator, supervisor or other District official so that the District may address the conduct before it creates a hostile environment for the affected individual(s). Any teacher, administrator, supervisor, or other District employee or official who receives such a complaint shall promptly file it with the District’s Civil Rights Coordinator.

The following individual has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the Melrose Public Schools’ non-discrimination policies in education-related activities, including but not limited to inquiries related to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Act.

Should you wish to file a complaint alleging discrimination of student or an employee based on disability, age, race, color, gender, national origin, religion gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity you may contact Melrose Public Schools’ Civil Rights Coordinator:

Patti White-Lambright, Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Personnel Services

360 Lynn Fells Parkway Melrose, MA 02176

781-979-2160

[email protected]

  1. Definitions:
  • A “Complaint” is defined as an allegation that a student or employee has been discriminated against or harassed on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, or religion.
  • “Discrimination” means discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, age, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or religion that is excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or otherwise be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity of the school.
  • “Harassment” means unwelcome conduct on the basis of race, age, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability or religion that is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to create a hostile environment for the individual at school. Harassment may include insults, name-calling, off-color jokes, threats, comments, innuendoes, notes, display of pictures or symbols, gestures, or other conduct which rises to the level of a hostile environment.
  • “Sexual Harassment” means unwelcome, sexually offensive or gender-based conduct which is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive to create a hostile environment for the individual at school. Additionally, under M.G.L. c. 151C, § 1, the term “sexual harassment” may also include, but is not limited to, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:— (i) submission to or rejection of such advances, requests or conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the provision of the benefits, privileges or placement services or as a basis for the evaluation of academic achievement; or (ii) such advances, requests or conduct have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s education by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive educational environment.
  • Harassment in any form or for any reason is absolutely forbidden. This includes harassment by administrators, certified and support personnel, students, vendors and other individuals in school or at school related events.  When determining whether an environment is hostile, the school district examines the context, nature, frequency, and location of the sexual or gender-based incidents, as well as the identity, number and relationships of the persons involved. The school district must consider whether the alleged harassment was sufficient to have created such an environment for a reasonable person of the same age, gender, and experience as the alleged victim, and under similar circumstances.
  • Retaliation against any individual who has brought harassment or other inappropriate behavior to the attention of school officials or who has cooperated in an investigation of a complaint under this policy is unlawful and will not be tolerated by the Melrose Public Schools. Persons who engage in harassment or retaliation may be subject to disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, reprimand, suspension, termination/expulsion or other sanctions as determined by the school administration and/or School Committee, subject to applicable procedural requirements.
  1.      Procedure for Filing Complaints Related to Discrimination or Harassment:
  • If an individual feels he or she has been discriminated against, harassed or has been subjected to retaliation, the student may lodge a complaint with appropriate school staff, the principal of his or her school, or the Superintendent.
  • District staff is expected to report possible incidents of discrimination or harassment of students and fellow employees. Parents and other adults are also encouraged to report any concerns about possible discrimination or harassment of students or employees which have allegedly occurred on school grounds, at school related events, or actions which occurred outside of school but possibly create a hostile environment for a student or employee while he/she is at school.
  • All reports of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation will be investigated promptly and in an impartial and as confidential a manner as possible, to ensure prompt and appropriate action.
  • The appropriate civil rights coordinator, or his or her designee, will conduct a prompt, impartial investigation. Interviews and gathering of information, except in circumstances in which more time is necessary to complete the investigation, will be completed within approximately fifteen (15) school days of the receiving of the complaint. The parties to the complaint will be provided opportunity to be heard as part of the investigation including the opportunity to provide relevant information and identify witnesses for the investigator’s consideration.
  • Within ten (10) school days, the civil rights officer or designee will provide written notice of the outcome of the investigation to both the complainant and the individual accused of the discriminatory conduct.
  • Any individual who is found, after appropriate investigation, to have engaged in discriminatory conduct, or harassing conduct, or retaliation will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including suspension or termination of employment. Additionally, the Melrose Public Schools will implement remedial and/or corrective measures that are reasonably calculated to eliminate the discrimination and/or harassment.
  • If a party is not satisfied with the outcome of the investigation, that individual may appeal, within fifteen (15) calendar days of the notice of the outcome of the investigation by filing a written appeal with the Superintendent of Schools. The Superintendent will issue a written response on the appeal to the grievant and the respondent within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the appeal. If the individual is not satisfied with the response, he/she may take the complaint to Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Program Quality Assurance, 75 Pleasant Street, Malden, MA 02148-4096 or other appropriate federal or state agency.
  • All the timelines indicated above will be implemented, as specified, unless the nature of the investigation or exigent circumstances prevents such implementation, in which case the matter will be completed promptly and equitably.
  • Harassment may constitute child abuse under Massachusetts law (G.L. c.119, §51A) and/or a violation of criminal law. Melrose Public Schools will comply with Massachusetts law in reporting suspected cases of child abuse, including those involving sexual harassment, to the Department of Children and Families and/or the Melrose Police.