Highline Public Schools is deeply engaged in work around equity, race and identity to better foster and support an environment in which our students, families, and staff grow, thrive, and succeed. This work, and the language used to describe it, is rapidly evolving. This policy will be reviewed at least annually to reflect current practices and language.
It is the belief of the Highline School Board that our workplace environment should be a place that embodies the beliefs in our Equity Policy (0010), is productive, and supports the free flow of ideas without fear, intimidation or retaliation. In order to fully execute that policy we are committed to ensuring workplaces that respect our staff as individuals, including a recognition of individual characteristics such as race and ethnicity; language abilities; physical abilities; socioeconomic status; country of origin; sexual orientation including gender expression or identity; age; gender; and military status.
“Workplace environment” is defined as the tangible and cultural conditions in which we find ourselves while at work. We use the term workplace environment, distinct from “working conditions,” to include times when you are in your work space or classroom, as well as in other work spaces, including any district facility or event.
We have a shared commitment to our students and their success, and bring with us individual beliefs, experiences, backgrounds, and cultures. Staff are expected to respect those differences. Our students observe us and model their behavior after ours. Staff therefore must serve as appropriate models for respectful problem-solving.
We believe a positive workplace environment leads to equitable, inclusive, supportive, and responsive learning environments for students and believe that student success is enhanced when the adults around them feel welcomed, valued, safe, and respected at work.
We acknowledge that terms such as “respect” and “safe” are deeply rooted in cultures and experiences and have different meanings for different cultures, which is why we must recognize, accept and address the impact of our actions. “Recognizing, accepting and addressing the impact of our actions” means that when made aware that our actions or words have harmed another person we will reflect and acknowledge, rather than become defensive or deny the impact. This does not imply that the action or words were intended to harm—simply that they did. There are specific behaviors which promote inequitable and discriminatory workplace environments and that limit the success of our students and colleagues. These behaviors may occur once or repeatedly, and can create a negative impact on individuals within the workplace. Such behaviors can create inequitable, non-inclusive, and/or discriminatory workplace environments, and may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Implicit biases that impact interactions, decisions and judgments about the capability of a colleague or staff member
- Behavior that is perceived as bullying or harassing
- Actions that manipulate relationships and/or resources to unfairly position one over another as a form of coercion or manipulation for self or group advantage
- Repeated interruption of another individual who is speaking at an appropriate time
- Vulgar, obscene, triggering, or profane gestures, slurs, words, visuals, or displays that create an uncomfortable, discriminatory, and/or unwanted workplace environment
- The use of personal epithets
- Gesturing in a manner that elicits fear in another individual
All staff members are charged with recognizing and addressing instances where we are not aligned with our vision for being an equity-focused district. When our actions or statements are not aligned with this vision or focus, staff should engage in a direct, courageous, and crucial conversation with their colleague(s) who is(are) involved in not upholding this policy.
While there are multiple ways to engage in these conversations or identify inappropriate action and/or behavior, four common methods are:
- Name the action you believe was inequitable or discriminatory by naming the behavior in the moment and asking that it stop
- Question the comment or action by addressing the person who engaged in the offensive behavior
- Explain why you believe the action was inequitable or discriminatory
- Echo and support others when they speak out
Staff who want support in intervening or engaging in such conversations are encouraged to raise the matter with their supervisor. Staff can also request a neutral in-district mediator from their supervisor or the Human Resources department.
This workplace environment and culture policy supplements staff protections – including systemic investigations and remedies - afforded under the policies cross-referenced below.
The Superintendent or designee is authorized to develop procedures for implementing this policy and will review this policy annually.
District Cross Reference:
Equity Policy – Policy 0010
Nondiscrimination and Equitable Employment Practices – Policy 5010
Sexual Harassment of District Staff Prohibited – Policy 5011
Resolution of Staff Complaints – Policy 5270
WSSDA Cross References:
Highline School District 401
Adopted by the Board: 11.19