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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien, WA 98166

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Policy 3205 - SEXUAL HARASSMENT OF STUDENTS PROHIBITED

Highline Public Schools is committed to a positive and productive education free from discrimination, including sexual harassment. This commitment extends to all students involved in academic, educational, extracurricular, athletic, and other programs or activities of the school, whether that program or activity is in a school facility, on school transportation or at a class or school training held elsewhere.  

Definitions

For purposes of this policy, sexual harassment means unwelcome conduct or communication of a sexual nature.  Sexual harassment can occur adult to student, student to student or can be carried out by a group of students or adults and will be investigated by the District even if the alleged harasser is not a part of the school staff or student body.  The district prohibits sexual harassment of students by other students, employees or third parties involved in school district activities.

The term “sexual harassment” may include:

  • Acts of sexual violence;
  • Unwelcome sexual or gender-directed conduct or communication that interferes with an individual’s educational performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment;
  • Unwelcome sexual advances;
  • Unwelcome requests for sexual favors;
  • Sexual demands when submission is a stated or implied condition of obtaining an educational benefit;
  • Sexual demands where submission or rejection is a factor in an academic, or other school-related decision affecting an individual.

A “hostile environment” has been created for a student when sexual harassment is sufficiently serious to interfere with or limit the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the school’s program. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to demonstrate a repetitive series of incidents.  In fact, a single or isolated incident of sexual harassment may create a hostile environment if the incident is sufficiently severe, violent, or egregious.

Investigation and Response

If the district knows, or reasonably should know, that sexual harassment has created a hostile environment, it will promptly investigate to determine what occurred and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.  If an investigation reveals that sexual harassment has created a hostile environment, the district will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the sexual harassment, eliminate the hostile environment, prevent its recurrence and as appropriate, remedy its effects. The district will take prompt, equitable and remedial action within its authority on reports, complaints and grievances alleging sexual harassment that come to the attention of the district, either formally or informally.  The district will take these steps every time a complaint, 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 ongoing criminal investigation. A criminal investigation does not relieve the district of its independent obligation to investigate and resolve sexual harassment.

Engaging in sexual harassment will result in appropriate discipline or other appropriate sanctions against offending students, staff or other 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.

Retaliation and False Allegations

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.

It is a violation of this policy to knowingly report false allegations of sexual harassment.  Persons found to knowingly report or corroborate false allegations will be subject to appropriate discipline.

Staff Responsibilities

The superintendent will develop and implement formal and informal procedures for receiving, investigating and resolving complaints or reports of sexual harassment.  The procedures will include reasonable and prompt timelines and delineate staff responsibilities under this policy. 

Any school employee who witnesses sexual harassment or receives a report, informal complaint, or written complaint about sexual harassment is responsible for informing the district Title IX Compliance Officer.  All staff are also responsible for directing complainants to the formal complaint process.

Reports of discrimination and discriminatory harassment will be referred to the district’s Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator. Reports of disability discrimination or harassment will be referred to the district’s Section 504 Coordinator.

Notice and Training

The superintendent will develop procedures to provide age-appropriate information and education to district staff, students, parents and volunteers regarding this policy and the recognition and prevention of sexual harassment.  At a minimum sexual harassment recognition and prevention and the elements of this policy will be included in staff, student and regular volunteer orientation.  This policy and the procedure, which includes the complaint process, will be posted in each district building in a place available to staff, students, parents, volunteers and visitors.  Information about the policy and procedure will be clearly stated and conspicuously posted throughout each school building, provided to each employee and reproduced in each student, staff, volunteer and parent handbook. Such notices will identify the District’s compliance officer and provide contact information, including the compliance officer’s email address.

Policy Review

The superintendent will make an annual report to the board reviewing the use and efficacy of this policy and related procedures.  Recommendations for changes to this policy, if applicable, will be included in the report.  The superintendent is encouraged to involve staff, students, volunteers and parents in the review process.

Cross References:
Board Policy 3207 - Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying
Board Policy 3210 - Nondiscrimination
Board Policy 3211 - Gender-Inclusive Schools
Board Policy 3240 - Student Conduct 
Board Policy 5010 - Nondiscrimination and Affirmative Action
Board Policy 5011 - Sexual Harassment of District Staff Prohibited

WSSDA Cross Reference:
Policy 3205 - Sexual Harassment

Legal References
20 U.S.C. 1681-1688
34 C.F.R. § 106
WAC 392-190-058 - Sexual harassment -
RCW 28A.640.020 - Regulations, guidelines to eliminate discrimination — Scope — Sexual harassment policies  

Management Resources:
2020 – August Issue
2015 – July Policy Alert

Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Board: October 2015
Revised by the Board: 12.20
Classification: Essential