Informal Complaint Process:
Anyone may use informal procedures to report and resolve complaints of sexual harassment. Informal reports may be made to any staff member, although staff will always notify complainants of their right to file a formal complaint and the process for same. Staff will also direct potential complainants to an appropriate staff member who can explain the informal and formal complaint processes and what a complainant can expect. Staff will also inform an appropriate supervisor or professional staff member when they receive complaints of sexual harassment, especially when the complaint is beyond their training to resolve or alleges serious misconduct. Informal remedies include:
Informal complaints may become formal complaints at the request of the complainant, parent, guardian, or because the district believes the complaint needs to be more thoroughly investigated.
Formal Complaint Process:
Level One – Complaint to District
Anyone may initiate a formal complaint of sexual harassment, even if the informal complaint process is being utilized. Potential complainants who wish to have the district hold their identity confidential will be informed that the district will almost assuredly face due process requirements that will make available to the accused all of the information that the district has related to the complaint. The district will, however, fully implement the anti-retaliation provisions of this policy to protect complainants and witnesses. Student complainants and witnesses may have a trusted adult with them during any district-initiated investigatory activities. The superintendent or designated compliance officer may conclude that the district needs to conduct an investigation based on information in his or her possession, regardless of the complainant's interest in filing a formal complaint. The following process will be followed:
Level Two -Appeal to Board of Directors
If a complainant disagrees with the superintendentÕs or designeeÕs written decision, the complainant may appeal the decision to the district board of directors , by filing a written notice of appeal with the secretary of the board within ten (10) calendar days following the date upon which the complainant received the response. :
The board will schedule a hearing to commence by the twentieth (20th) calendar day following the filing of the written notice of appeal, unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant and the superintendent or for good cause. Both parties will be allowed to present such witnesses and testimony as the board deems relevant and material. Unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant, the board will render a written decision within thirty (30) calendar days following the filing of the notice of appeal and provide the complainant with a copy of the decision. The decision will be provided in a language that the complainant can understand which may require language assistance for complainants with limited English proficiency in accordance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The decision will include notice of the complainantÕs right to appeal to the Superintendent of Public Instruction and will identify where and to whom the appeal must be filed. The district will send a copy of the appeal decision to the office of the superintendent of public instruction.
Level Three - Complaint to the Superintendent of Public Instruction
If a complainant disagrees with the decision of the board of directors, or if the district fails to comply with this procedure, the complainant may file a complaint with the superintendent of public instruction.
All corrective actions must be completed within the timelines established by OSPI in the written decision unless OSPI grants an extension. If timely compliance is not achieved, OSPI may take action including but not limited to referring the district to appropriate state or federal agencies empowered to order compliance.
A complaint may be resolved at any time when, before the completion of the investigation, the district voluntarily agrees to resolve the complaint. OSPI may provide technical assistance and dispute resolution methods to resolve a complaint.
Level Four - Administrative Hearing
A complainant or school district that desires to appeal the written decision of the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction may file a written notice of appeal with OSPI within thirty (30) calendar days following the date of receipt of that officeÕs written decision. OSPI will conduct a formal administrative hearing in conformance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Chapter 34.05, RCW.
At any time during the complaint procedure set forth in WAC 392-190-065 through 392-190-075, a district may, at its own expense, offer mediation. The complainant and the district may agree to extend the complaint process deadlines in order to pursue mediation.
The purpose of mediation is to provide both the complainant and the district an opportunity to resolve disputes and reach a mutually acceptable agreement through the use of an impartial mediator. Mediation must be voluntary and requires the mutual agreement of both parties. It may be terminated by either party at any time during the mediation process. It may not be sued to deny or delay a complainantÕs right to utilize the complaint procedures.
Mediation must be conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who may not:
1) Be an employee of any school district, public charter school, or other public or private agency that is providing education related services to a student who is the subject of the complaint being mediated; or 2) Have a personal or professional conflict of interest. A mediator is not considered an employee of the district or charter school or other public or private agency solely because he or she serves as a mediator.
If the parties reach agreement through mediation, they may execute a legally binding agreement that sets forth the resolution and states that all discussions that occurred during the course of mediation will remain confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent complaint, due process hearing or civil proceeding. The agreement must be signed by the complainant and a district representative who has authority to bind the district.
Training and Orientation
A fixed component of all district orientation sessions for staff, students and regular volunteers will introduce the elements of this policy. Staff will be provided information on recognizing and preventing sexual harassment. Staff will be fully informed of the formal and informal complaint processes and their roles and responsibilities under the policy and procedure. Certificated staff will be reminded of their legal responsibility to report suspected child abuse, and how that responsibility may be implicated by some allegations of sexual harassment. Regular volunteers will get the portions of this component of orientation relevant to their rights and responsibilities.
Students will be provided with age-appropriate information on the recognition and prevention of sexual harassment and their rights and responsibilities under this and other district policies and rules at student orientation sessions and on other appropriate occasions, which may include parents. Parents will be provided with copies of this policy and procedure and appropriate materials on the recognition and prevention of sexual harassment.
A copy of the districtÕs sexual harassment policy must be included in any publication of the district or of a school that sets forth the rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct for the school or school district. The policy must also be conspicuously posted in each school district, and provided to each employee, volunteer, and student.
As part of the information on the recognition and prevention of sexual harassment staff, volunteers, students and parents will be informed that sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:
Annually the superintendent or designee will convene an ad hoc committee composed of representatives of certificated and classified staff, volunteers, students and parents to review the use and efficacy of this policy and procedure. The compliance officer will be included in the committee. Based on the review of the committee, the superintendent will prepare a report to the board including, if necessary, any recommended policy changes. The superintendent will consider adopting changes to this procedure if recommended by the committee.
St. John - Endicott Cooperative Schools