The board acknowledges the dignity and worth of all students and employees and strives to create a safe, orderly, caring, and inviting school environment to facilitate student learning and achievement. The board prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, disability, or age (over 40), and will provide equal access to the Boy Scouts and other designated youth groups as required by law.
The board will not tolerate any form of unlawful discrimination or harassment in any of its educational activities or programs. All forms of prohibited discrimination and harassment are subject to this policy except the following, for which the board has established more specific policies.
- Discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex is addressed in policy 1720/4030/7235, Title IX Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex.
- Discrimination and harassment in employment is addressed in policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace.
In addition, the process set out in this policy for bringing complaints does not apply to the following.
- Complaints of sexual harassment will be brought in accordance with the processes established in policies 1725/4035/7236, Title IX Sexual Harassment - Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process, and 1726/4036/7237, Title IX Sexual Harassment - Grievance Process.
- Employee allegations of discrimination or harassment will be addressed using the process established in policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace.
- Allegations regarding or related to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or free appropriate public education of a student under Section 504 or the IDEA may be raised through the system of procedural safeguards established under policy 1730/4022/7231, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities, (for Section 504 complaints) or in accordance with the procedures described in Parents Rights & Responsibilities in Special Education, published by the NC Department of Public Instruction (for IDEA complaints).
The board takes seriously all reports of unlawful discrimination and harassment and directs school officials to take prompt action to investigate and remedy violations of this policy. The superintendent is responsible for providing effective notice of this policy to students, parents, and employees.
The board encourages students, visitors, and other non-employee individuals who believe that they may have been discriminated against or harassed in violation of this policy, (including on the basis of disability, as specified in policy 1730/4022/7231, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities), to report such conduct as soon as possible through the process provided in Section B of this policy. Employees who believe that they may have been discriminated against or harassed should report through the process provided in policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace. Individuals who have witnessed or who have reliable information that another person has been subject to unlawful discrimination or harassment may report the conduct to an individual designated in Section B of this policy.
Any report made through the process established in this policy may be made anonymously, except mandatory employee reports.
A. Prohibited Behavior
Students, school system employees, volunteers, and visitors are expected to behave in a civil and respectful manner. The board expressly prohibits unlawful discrimination and harassment as defined below by students, employees, board members, volunteers, or visitors. "Visitors" includes parents and other family members and individuals from the community, as well as vendors, contractors, and other persons doing business with or performing services for the school system.
Discrimination is any act or failure to act, whether intentional or unintentional, by an employee or agent of the school system that unreasonably and unfavorably differentiates treatment of others based solely on their membership in a legally-protected class so as to interfere with or limit their ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges offered by the school system’s education program. For purposes of this policy, the legally protected classes are race, color, national origin, religion, and disability.
Prohibited harassment is deliberate unwelcome conduct directed at another person or group of persons based on their membership in a legally protected class that creates a hostile environment. Harassment does not have to include intent to harm, be directed at a specific target, or involve repeated incidents. Harassment creates a hostile environment when the conduct is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so as to interfere with or limit a person’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or opportunities offered by the school system.
Examples of behavior that may constitute harassment include, but are not limited to, acts of disrespect, intimidation, or threats, such as verbal taunts, name-calling and put-downs, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, exclusion from peer groups, extortion of money or possessions, implied or stated threats, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching, or any physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons. Harassment may occur through electronic means, such as through the Internet, email, or text message. Legitimate age-appropriate pedagogical techniques are not considered harassment.
- Application of the Policy
This policy applies to behavior that takes place: (1) in any school building or on any school premises before, during, or after school hours; (2) on any bus or other vehicle as part of any school activity; (3) at any bus stop; (4) during any school-sponsored activity or extracurricular activity; (5) at any time or place when the individual is subject to the authority of school personnel; or (6) at any time or place when the behavior has a direct and immediate effect on maintaining order and discipline in the schools.
This policy will not be construed to allow school officials to punish student expression or speech based on undifferentiated fear or apprehension of a disturbance or out of a desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that may accompany an unpopular viewpoint.
B. Reporting Discrimination or Harassment
- Any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against or harassed in violation of this policy by any student, employee, or other person under the supervision and control of the school system, or any third person who knows or suspects conduct that may constitute discrimination or harassment should inform a school official designated in Section C below. Reports also may be made anonymously through the anonymous tip line.
- Mandatory Reporting by School Employees
Any employee who witnessed or who has reliable information or reason to believe that a student or other individual may have been discriminated against or harassed in violation of this policy must report the offense immediately to an appropriate individual designated in Section C below. Any doubt about whether particular conduct is possible discrimination or harassment under this policy or any other policy of the board must be resolved in favor of reporting the conduct.
Employees who observe an incident of harassment are expected to intervene to stop the conduct in situations in which they have supervisory control over the perpetrator and it is safe to do so. If an employee knows of an incident involving discrimination or harassment and the employee fails to report the conduct or take proper action or knowingly provides false information in regard to the incident, the employee will be subject to disciplinary action up to, and including, dismissal.
- Preliminary Inquiry
School officials may make a preliminary inquiry when a report is received to understand what occurred and to determine whether further action under this policy or otherwise is necessary.
C. Complaints of Discrimination and Harassment
- A student, visitor, or other non-employee individual who believes he or she is the victim of unlawful discrimination or harassment in violation of this policy, or any person who has witnessed or who has reliable information that another person has been subject to unlawful discrimination or harassment under this policy, may make a formal written complaint to any of the following persons:
- the principal or assistant principal of the school at which either the alleged victim or alleged perpetrator attends or is employed;
- the Section 504 coordinator or the ADA coordinator for claims of discrimination on the basis of a disability; or
- for claims of other forms of prohibited discrimination, the applicable civil rights coordinator as established in Section I of this policy.
If a written complaint alleges that the perpetrator is an employee, the school official receiving the complaint shall notify the senior human resources official without delay.
- A written complaint alleging that a student has been discriminated against or harassed will be addressed in accordance with this policy.
A written complaint alleging that an employee has been discriminated against or harassed will be addressed in accordance with policy 7232, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace.
A written complaint alleging that person who is not a student or employee has been discriminated against or harassed will be addressed in accordance with the general process for resolving complaints provided in policy 1742/5060, Responding to Complaints, not this policy.
- Time Period for Making a Complaint
Alleged discrimination or harassment should be reported as soon as possible but no later than 30 days after disclosure or discovery of the facts giving rise to the complaint. Complaints submitted after the 30-day period may be investigated; however, individuals should recognize that delays in reporting may significantly impair the ability of school officials to investigate and respond to such complaints.
D. School Officials' Response to Reports and Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment
School officials shall investigate all formal written complaints received. Reports of discrimination or harassment that are not followed by a formal written complaint may be investigated at the discretion of school officials and may be investigated even if the alleged victim does not seek action by school officials.
- The principal or designee or site supervisor will be the investigator when the alleged perpetrator is a student or third party. The senior human resources official or designee will be the investigator when the alleged perpetrator is an employee. The superintendent may determine that individual circumstances warrant the assignment of a different investigator.
- Notwithstanding the above designations, (1) if the alleged perpetrator is the senior human resources official, the superintendent will be the investigator, and (2) if the alleged perpetrator is the superintendent or a member of the board, the board chair shall direct the board attorney to investigate, unless the board chair determines that outside counsel should be engaged to investigate.
- As applicable, the investigator shall immediately notify the Section 504, ADA, or other relevant coordinator of the complaint, and, as appropriate, may request assistance from the coordinator in conducting the investigation.
- If the investigator, after interviewing the complaining party and/or the alleged victim and consulting with the board attorney, determines that the allegations submitted, even if factual, do not constitute discrimination or harassment as defined in this policy or policy 1730/4022/7231, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities, school officials shall address the matter outside the scope of this policy. Information regarding the investigator’s determination and the process for addressing the complaint will be provided to the complaining party.
- Any investigation conducted must be impartial, prompt, and thorough. The investigator shall investigate the facts and circumstances related to the allegation(s) of discrimination or harassment and give the alleged perpetrator an opportunity to respond to the allegations.
- The investigator shall consider all the evidence collected, the context in which the alleged incidents occurred, the age and maturity of the parties, and any other relevant circumstances, and in consultation with board attorney as appropriate shall determine whether the alleged act(s) constitutes a violation of this policy, policy 1730/4022/7231, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities, and/or any other board policy or expected standard of student or employee behavior.
- The complaint and investigation will be kept confidential to the extent possible and consistent with law. Information may be shared only with individuals who need the information in order to investigate and address the complaint appropriately and those with a legal right to access the information.
- Investigator’s Findings
- If the investigator finds that discrimination occurred, the investigator shall take or recommend steps to address the discrimination.
- If the investigator finds that harassment occurred and created a hostile environment, the investigator shall assign or recommend appropriate disciplinary consequences for the perpetrator and/or take or recommend other reasonable measures to eliminate the hostile environment and prevent its recurrence.
- If the investigator finds that the conduct did not violate this policy but violated policy 4329/7311, Bullying and Harassing Behavior Prohibited, or another board policy or expected standard of conduct, the investigator shall assign or recommend discipline or other action appropriate to the violation.
- The investigator shall make a record of the evidence and findings of the investigation and the assigned or recommended discipline and/or other remedial action and provide a copy to the appropriate civil rights coordinator. If the investigator recommends a disciplinary consequence or remedial action that is beyond his or her authority, the investigator shall provide a copy of the record to the superintendent for further action.
- The investigator shall inform the alleged victim and alleged perpetrator of the outcome of the investigation.
- Steps to Reasonably End Discrimination or Harassment
- The superintendent is responsible for taking or causing appropriate action to be taken in response to discrimination and harassment in violation of this policy. Appropriate action must include:
- reasonable, timely, age-appropriate corrective action intended to end the discrimination or harassment and prevent it from recurring;
- as needed, reasonable steps to address the effects of the discrimination or harassment on the victim; and
- as needed, reasonable steps to protect the victim from retaliation as a result of the complaint.
- Appropriate steps to end discrimination and harassment may include, but are not limited to, separating the parties, providing counseling for the parties, and/or taking disciplinary action against a perpetrator determined to have violated this policy. The superintendent may take non-punitive measures to end or prevent instances of discrimination or harassment regardless of whether any individual has been found responsible for the discrimination or harassment. The superintendent also may implement or direct the implementation of classroom-wide, school-wide, or school system-wide responses such as additional staff training, harassment prevention programs, and other measures reasonably calculated to end the behavior, eliminate a hostile environment and its effects if one has been created, and prevent recurrence of the behavior.
- The applicable civil rights coordinator shall encourage victims of discrimination and harassment to report any subsequent problems and may conduct follow-up inquiries as warranted to determine if there have been any new incidents of discrimination or harassment or any instances of retaliation.
- If the alleged victim is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, he or she may appeal the decision to the superintendent (unless the alleged perpetrator is the superintendent, in which case the alleged victim may appeal directly to the board in accordance with the next paragraph). The appeal must be submitted in writing within three school business days of receiving the notice of the outcome of the investigation. The superintendent may review the documents, conduct any further investigation necessary, or take any other steps the superintendent determines to be appropriate in order to respond to the complaint. The superintendent shall provide a written response within 10 days after receiving the appeal, unless further investigation is needed.
- Student victims may appeal the superintendent’s decision to the board in accordance with subsection E.5.a of policy 1740/4010, Student and Parent Grievance Procedure. Employees may appeal the superintendent’s decision to the board in accordance with subsection E.4.a of policy 1750/7220, Grievance Procedure for Employees.
- Any student or employee subject to discipline for violating this policy will be accorded all rights provided by law.
F. Retaliation Prohibited
The board prohibits retaliation against any person for making a report or complaint of a violation of this policy, supporting someone for reporting or intending to report a violation of this policy, or participating in the investigation of a reported violation of this policy. No reprisals will be taken by the board against a complaining party or other individual who makes a good faith report of discrimination or harassment. Any person who is found to have engaged in retaliation will be subject to discipline, up to and including dismissal.
G. Training and Programs
The board directs the superintendent to establish training and other programs that are designed to prevent discrimination and harassment and to foster an environment of understanding and respect for all members of the school community. Information about the prohibited conduct and complaint procedure in this policy and those in policies 1725/4035/7236, Title IX Sexual Harassment - Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process, and 1726/4036/7237, Title IX Sexual Harassment - Grievance Process, must be included in the training plan.
As funds are available, the board will provide students, employees, and volunteers who have significant contact with students with additional training regarding the board’s efforts to address discrimination and harassment and will create programs to address these issues.
The superintendent or designee shall maintain confidential records of complaints or reports of discrimination or harassment. The records must identify the names of all individuals accused of such offenses and the resolution of such complaints or reports. The superintendent also shall maintain records of training conducted and corrective action(s) or other steps taken by the school system to provide an environment free of discrimination and harassment.
I. Contacts for Inquiries
The superintendent has appointed individuals to coordinate the school system’s efforts to comply with and carry out its responsibilities under federal nondiscrimination laws, including investigating any complaints communicated to school officials alleging noncompliance with those laws. Inquiries about the application of the nondiscrimination laws addressed in this policy may be referred to the designated civil rights coordinator and/or the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights in the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Education. Designated civil rights coordinator information can be located on the district website or by contacting the district directly.
The contact information for the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights with jurisdiction over North Carolina is as follows.
4000 Maryland Ave, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1475
Legal Reference: Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 U.S.C. 621 et seq., 34 C.F.R. pt. 110; Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq., 28 C.F.R. pt. 35; Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act, 20 U.S.C. 7905, 34 C.F.R. pt. 108; Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. 1400 et seq.; Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 U.S.C. 705(20), 794, 34 C.F.R. pt. 104; Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et seq., 34 C.F.R. pt. 100; Racial Incidents and Harassment Against Students at Educational Institutions; Investigative Guidance, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (1994), available at https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/race394.html; Notice of Non-Discrimination, U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (2010); Dear Colleague Letter (Harassment and Bullying), U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (2010), available at http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/letters/colleague-201010.pdf; G.S. 115C-407.15 through -407.18; 126-16; State Board of Education Policy SSCH-000; Parent Rights & Responsibilities in Special Education, (N.C. Dept. of Public Instruction, Exceptional Children Division), available at https://ec.ncpublicschools.gov/parent-resources/parents-rights-handbook
Cross Reference: Title IX Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex (policy 1720/4030/7235), Title IX Sexual Harassment – Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process (policy 1725/4035/7236), Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process (policy 1726/4036/7237), Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities (policy 1730/4022/7231), Student and Parent Grievance Procedure (policy 1740/4010), Responding to Complaints (policy 1742/5060), Grievance Procedure for Employees (policy 1750/7220), Hearings Before the Board (policy 2500), Staff-Student Relations (policy 4040/7310), School Plan for Management of Student Behavior (policy 4302), Bullying and Harassing Behavior Prohibited (policy 4329/7311), Visitors to the Schools (policy 5020), Community Use of Facilities (policy 5030), Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace (policy 7232)
Adopted: January 10, 2022