Procedures for Non-Discrimination
PROCEDURE FOR POLICY #3420
Ulster BOCES is committed to creating and maintaining a working and learning environment which is free of discrimination and intimidation, based upon the principle that every individual is entitled to be treated with dignity and respect, and a recognition that discrimination and harassment constitute violations of law and Ulster BOCES policy. Ulster BOCES strictly prohibits discrimination (e.g., different treatment) and harassment based on an individual's actual or perceived age, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, genetic information, disability, marital status, veteran status, national origin or race. Harassment may include communication (verbal, written or graphic) and/or physical conduct. Ulster BOCES also prohibits retaliation based on an individual's opposition to discrimination or participation in a related investigation or complaint proceeding under the anti-discrimination statutes.
Ulster BOCES will take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment, prevent the recurrence of discrimination and harassment, and to correct its discriminatory effects, as appropriate.
Anyone who is in violation of Ulster BOCES policy and/or regulation will be subject to sanctions and/or disciplinary action as warranted. Should the offending individual be a student, appropriate disciplinary measures will be applied, up to and including suspension, in accordance with applicable laws and/or regulations, Ulster BOCES policy and regulation, and the Ulster BOCES Code of Conduct. Should the offending individual be a school employee, appropriate disciplinary measures will be applied, up to and including termination of the offender's employment, in accordance with legal guidelines, Ulster BOCES policy and regulation, the Code of Conduct, and the applicable collective bargaining agreement(s). Third parties (such as school volunteers, vendors/contractors, etc.) who are found to have violated Ulster BOCES policy and/or accompanying regulations, and the Code of Conduct, will be subject to appropriate sanctions as warranted and in compliance with law.
Retaliation against any individual for filing a charge of harassment or reporting allegations of harassment is illegal and prohibited. Similarly, retaliation against any person who participates in a related investigation or proceeding and/or hearing of such a charge or complaint of harassment is also prohibited. Any employee or student who retaliates against another individual shall be subject to disciplinary action, as warranted, in accordance with legal guidelines, applicable contractual mandates and/or the Code of Conduct.
Ulster BOCES strictly prohibits all forms of harassment on school premises and in school buildings; and at all school-sponsored programs, activities and events, including those which take place off school premises.
Harassment can include any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct which offends, denigrates, or belittles any individual because of any of the characteristics described above. Such conduct includes, but is not limited to, derogatory remarks, jokes, demeaning comments or behavior, slurs, mimicking, name calling, graffiti, innuendo, gestures, physical contact, stalking, threatening, bullying, extorting, or the display or circulation of written materials or pictures.
Definitions/Examples of Prohibited Conduct
Harassment Based on Race, Color and/or National Origin
Harassment based on race, color and/or national origin consists of communication (verbal, written, or graphic) and/or physical conduct relating to an individual's race, color, or national origin (including an individual's ancestry, country of origin, or country of origin of the individual's parents, family members, or ancestors) that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent so that such conduct:
1. Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment;
2. Has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or academic performance; or
3. Otherwise adversely affects an individual's employment or academic opportunities.
Examples of such conduct include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Intimidation and implied or overt threats of physical violence motivated by race, color, and/or national origin.
2. Physical acts of aggression or assault upon another, or damage to another's property that is motivated by the individual's race, color, and/or national origin.
3. Demeaning jokes based on an individual's race, color and/or national origin, taunting, racial slurs and derogatory racial "nicknames," innuendoes, or other negative or derogatory remarks of a racial nature or relating to national origin.
4. Graffiti and/or slogans or visual displays such as cartoons or posters depicting racial/ethnic slurs or racially/ethnically derogatory sentiments.
5. Criminal offenses directed at persons because of their race, color, and/or national origin.
Sexual harassment consists of unwanted and unwelcome sexual or gender-based behavior including, but not limited to, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical conduct, or other communication (verbal, written or graphic) and/or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
1. Submission to such conduct or communication is made a term or condition, either explicitly or implicitly, of an individual's employment or education.
2. Submission to, or rejection of, such conduct or communication is used as a factor in decisions affecting an individual's employment or education.
3. Such conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual's work or education; or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or educational environment.
Harassment Based on Disability
For purposes of this regulation, harassment because of disability consists of severe, persistent or pervasive communication (verbal, written or graphic) and/or physical conduct relating to an individual's physical or mental impairment such that it substantially or unreasonably interferes with an individual's work or academic environment; affects an individual's ability to participate in or benefit from employment/educational programs or activities; or creates an intimidating, threatening or abusive work/educational environment. Such harassing conduct includes any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person's disabling condition, such as imitating manner of speech or movement, or intentional interference with necessary equipment.
1. Examples of prohibited conduct include, but are not limited to, the following:
2. Graffiti containing offensive language which is derogatory to others because of their physical or mental disability.
3. Threatening or intimidating conduct directed at another because of the other's physical or mental disability.
4. Jokes, rumors or name calling based upon an individual's physical or mental disability.
5. Slurs, negative stereotypes, and hostile acts which are based upon another's physical or mental disability.
6. Graphic material containing comments or stereotypes which is posted or circulated and which is aimed at degrading individuals or members of protected classes.
7. A physical act of aggression or assault upon another because of an individual's physical or mental disability.
8. Other kinds of aggressive conduct such as theft or damage to property which is motivated by an individual's physical or mental disability.
Harassment Based on Religion and/or Creed
Harassment on the basis of religion and/or creed consists of unwelcome communication (verbal, written or graphic) and/or physical conduct directed at the characteristics of a person's religion or creed including, but not limited to, derogatory comments regarding surnames, religious tradition, religious clothing, or religious slurs or graffiti. It has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or academic environment; or substantially or unreasonably interferes with an individual's work or academic performance; or otherwise adversely affects an individual's employment or academic opportunities.
Other Forms of Harassment
In accordance with applicable laws, as well as Ulster BOCES policy, regulation, collective bargaining agreements, and/or the Code of Conduct, Ulster BOCES condemns and prohibits all other forms of unlawful harassment based on the characteristics named above that substantially or unreasonably interfere with an individual's work/academic environment; adversely affect an individual's work/academic performance; or otherwise adversely affect an individual's employment or academic opportunities in violation of law and regulations, Ulster BOCES policies, collective bargaining agreements and/or Ulster BOCES Code of Conduct, as applicable.
Authority and Responsibility
It is the responsibility of all Ulster BOCES employees and students to ensure that their behavior and environment are maintained free of harassment. Furthermore, each administrator and supervisor has the responsibility to maintain a non-threatening environment which includes discussing the District's policy and regulation pertaining to harassment with all employees and students, and assuring students and staff that they are not required to endure insulting, degrading or exploitative treatment.
All complaints of harassment, whether written or verbal, formal or informal, will be thoroughly and impartially investigated to determine whether the totality of the alleged behavior and circumstances may constitute harassment. It is recommended that any individual of the above named group who believes he/she has been subjected to harassment, or has reason to know of and/or witnesses any incident of harassment by an Ulster BOCES employee, student, or other third party subject to the control and supervision of Ulster BOCES, submit a written complaint; however, complaints may be filed verbally and the absence of a written complaint does not negate Ulster BOCES’ responsibility to investigate such allegations as thoroughly as possible. School officials are required to provide a written report of investigation findings and any action taken to resolve the complaint within time frames as established by Ulster BOCES.
Any individual of the above named group who believes he/she has been subjected to harassment in the school environment or at school-sponsored activities, including those which take place off school premises, as well as any other person who is aware of and/or who has knowledge of or witnesses any possible occurrence of harassment, shall promptly report such occurrence; the report is to be directed to or forwarded to the designated Complaint Officer(s) or as otherwise indicated in this regulation. If the individual is in doubt as to the "seriousness" of the incident and/or whether such behavior constitutes harassment, he/she is still encouraged to immediately report such conduct for resolution. If the Complaint Officer is the alleged offender, the report shall be directed to the next level of supervisory authority as indicated below. Allegations of harassment may be reported through informal and/or formal complaint procedures; and utilization of the District's grievance guidelines does not preclude an individual from pursuing other avenues of legal recourse.
If there is some reason why an individual cannot make a report to the designated Complaint Officer, the individual may report the matter to the next level of supervisory authority or building administrator as appropriate. However, if the individual reports such occurrence to any other school employee, the individual shall be informed of the employee's obligation to report the complaint to administration. The administrator who is made aware of the occurrence of possible harassment, whether or not a complaint has been filed, is required to promptly report the incident(s) to the Superintendent and/or designated Complaint Officer as appropriate.
Complaints of harassment will be investigated thoroughly, promptly and impartially in accordance with law and regulations as well as any applicable collective bargaining agreement(s). However, when school officials receive a complaint or report of alleged harassment that is criminal in nature or that could lead to in-school or out-of-school violence, law authorities should be immediately notified.
The District Superintendent is to be informed as soon as possible regarding all complaints and/or reports regarding harassment, and the status of any investigations.
Reporting of Complaints: General Guideline
Any individual of the above- named group who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment or who is made aware of and/or witnesses any possible occurrence of harassment shall report such complaint as soon as possible after the alleged incident occurs in order to help Ulster BOCES effectively, impartially and promptly investigate and resolve the complaint. In order to assist in the investigation, victims and/or witnesses should document the harassment as soon as it occurs, providing as much detail as possible including, but not limited to, the following:
1. The name, address and telephone number of the complainant.
2. The name and/or description of the alleged offender or offenders.
3. The specific nature of the alleged harassment including the complainant's explanation of why he/she believes it to be harassment.
4. A thorough and detailed account of the actions and/or dialogue which occurred between the alleged harasser and the complainant. This account should include the frequency of the conduct, the date, time, location of the incident, and the complainant's actions and responses during the incident(s).
5. The names of witnesses or of persons who have knowledge of the incident, including the names of persons with whom the complainant discussed the incident, and the time and date of this discussion.
6. Written material, documents, or other evidence related to the incident.
In investigating the complaint, the designated Complaint Officer will meet separately with the complainant and the alleged harasser,and will follow applicable law and regulations as well as any applicable collective bargaining agreement(s). Both the accused and the victim will be given the opportunity to present the investigator with information and documentation related to the Complaint and to tell the investigator his or her side of the story.
The Complaint/Compliance Officer is Dr. Jonah Schenker, Deputy Superintendent, Ulster BOCES, 175 Rte. 32N, New Paltz, New York, 12561, Telephone: 845.255.3020; email.
All parties will be assured that complaints and discussions will remain as confidential as possible, and will be disclosed only on a "need to know" basis in order to effectively investigate the complaint and/or as mandated by law or court order. However, a written record of the investigation and any action taken will be established. Additionally, parents of students subjected to possible harassment and/or students filing a harassment complaint, as well as parents of accused students, may be notified by the appropriate administrator of such occurrence and/or allegations as warranted and in accordance with legal guidelines. If the accused student has been identified as having a disability (or is suspected of having a disability) pursuant to Section 504/Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, a student referral shall be made to the Section 504 Team/Committee on Special Education for evaluation/assessment and/or a manifestation determination, as may be applicable in accordance with state and federal law and regulations, to determine whether the student's conduct is caused or affected by his/her disability.
The complainant, the alleged harasser and any witnesses will be directed to refrain from talking about the investigation while it is pending.
The designated complaint official will begin investigating the allegations of harassment no later than three (3) working days following receipt of the complaint; and will report the findings of the investigation to the District Superintendent no later than twenty (20) working days following receipt of the complaint. In the case of extenuating circumstances, the Complaint Officer will file a status report with the District Superintendent/designee if it becomes necessary to extend the timeline for completion of the investigation.
During the course of the investigation and thereafter, the Complaint Officer will instruct the alleged harasser to have no contact or communication regarding the complaint with the victim and/or any witnesses; and that retaliation, whether direct or indirect, against the victim and/or witnesses is prohibited and may be subject to disciplinary action. Similarly, the Complaint Officer will instruct the victim and/or witnesses to refrain from contacting or communicating with the alleged harasser regarding the complaint. The Complaint Officer will ask the victim what specific action the victim wants taken by the District in order to satisfactorily resolve the complaint. BOCES will also provide interim measures, as appropriate, prior to or during the course of the investigation, to either or both parties. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, counseling, extensions of time or other course-related adjustments, modifications of class schedules and restrictions on contact between the parties. If the complainant attempts to withdraw a complaint, the Complaint Officer will determine that the withdrawal is not caused by retaliation and then document the complainant's reasons and ask the complainant to sign the documentation. A copy of all written material pertaining to the case/investigation will be retained in a separate confidential file.
Step 1 – Informal Complaints
An individual of the above named group who believes that he/she has been subjected to harassment or anyone who is aware of or who has knowledge of or witnesses an occurrence of harassment may file an informal complaint, whether verbal or written, by requesting a meeting between himself/herself and the Complaint Officer (or by reporting such occurrence as otherwise indicated in this regulation) in order to discuss the allegations and further appropriate actions, if any. The Complaint Officer will next discuss the complaint with the alleged offender; if the alleged offender is an Ulster BOCES employee, the investigation will be in accordance with any applicable collective bargaining agreement. All complaints, whether formal or informal, concerning allegations of harassment are to be reported immediately to the Building Principal* and/or immediate supervisor* and District Superintendent for his/her information; and the Complaint Officer will keep the building Principal/supervisor and Superintendent informed throughout all stages of the investigation. The Principal/supervisor and Superintendent will be kept informed of the complainant's and/or accused's response and recommended course of action, if any.
*If the Building Principal/immediate supervisor is the alleged offender, then the Complaint Officer shall designate another school official who will take the place of the Building Principal/supervisor in all applicable phases of the complaint process.
If the initial investigation results in a finding that harassment did occur, the Complaint Officer will notify the Building Principal/supervisor and District Superintendent of his/her recommendations. If the District Superintendent concurs with the report of the Complaint Officer, the District Superintendent will then take prompt disciplinary action in accordance with the terms of Ulster BOCES policy and regulations, federal and state law and regulations, and/or the applicable collective bargaining agreement. The Complaint Officer will notify the complainant and the accused, in person and in writing, as to the finding and/or course of action within twenty (20) working days following receipt of the complaint.
If the complainant is satisfied with the report of the Complaint Officer, the complainant will so indicate in writing. If not satisfied with the Complaint Officer's report, the complainant and/or the accused may proceed to file a formal complaint.
Informal complaint procedures will generally take place at the building level and involve resolution steps short of a comprehensive investigation and/or formal hearing. For example, in attempting to resolve a complaint informally, the Complaint Officer may interview the alleged harasser, inform the alleged harasser of the complaint, question the harasser about the alleged incidents, and review the Ulster BOCES policy and regulations regarding harassment. The Complaint Officer will inform the alleged harasser that he/she must immediately stop any offensive conduct or face appropriate disciplinary action. The Complaint Officer will follow the provisions of any applicable collective bargaining agreement(s) throughout the course of such investigation(s).
Step 2 – Formal Complaint
An individual of the above-named group may file a formal complaint of harassment as an initial step or as a result of an unsatisfactory resolution of an informal complaint. The formal complaint should include all applicable information as indicated in this regulation as well as any other pertinent information which may be helpful in the course of the investigation.
As noted above, the complainant, the alleged harasser and any witnesses will be directed to refrain from talking about the investigation while it is pending. Disclosure of information will be on a "need to know" basis.
The formal complaint will be filed with the designated Complaint Officer who will submit a copy of the complaint to the Building Principal/Supervisor and District Superintendent. The Complaint Officer will, in accordance with federal or state laws and regulations and any applicable collective bargaining agreement(s), conduct a prompt and thorough investigation no later than three (3) working days following receipt of the complaint.
If the formal investigation results in a finding that harassment did occur, the Complaint Officer will notify the Building Principal/Supervisor and District Superintendent of his/her recommendations. If the District Superintendent concurs with the report of the Complaint Officer, the District Superintendent will then take prompt disciplinary action in accordance with the terms of Ulster BOCES policy and regulations, federal and state law and regulations, and/or the applicable collective bargaining agreement. The Complaint Officer will notify the complainant and the accused, in person and in writing, as to the finding and/or course of action within twenty (20) working days following receipt of the formal complaint.
If the complainant is satisfied with the report of the Complaint Officer, the complainant will so indicate in writing. If not satisfied with the Complaint Officer's report, the complainant and/or the accused may appeal the determination to the District Superintendent. The appeal should be in writing and submitted no later than ten (10) working days following receipt of the Complaint Officer's decision.
Step 3 – Appeal to the District Superintendent
All formal complaints, if not satisfactorily resolved at the initial stage of investigation, may be appealed by any party to the District Superintendent.
Should the District Superintendent determine that corrective action is necessary, the District Superintendent will follow all applicable law and regulations, District policy and guidelines, and appropriate collective bargaining agreements in the resolution of the complaint.
The complainant and the accused will receive a copy of any and all reports issued by the District Superintendent pertaining to the investigation/outcome of the formal complaint within thirty (30) working days following receipt by the District Superintendent of the complaint. If additional time is necessary to either complete the investigation or institute disciplinary/remedial action, the District Superintendent will provide all parties and the Board of Education with a written status report requesting additional time to complete the investigation.
If either party is dissatisfied with the District Superintendent’s determination, s/he may file an appeal with the Board of Education within ten (10) working days following receipt of the determination.
Step 4 – Appeal to the Board of Education
In the event that a complainant and/or accused files an appeal with the Board of Education following an investigation by the District Superintendent, such appeal must be submitted within ten (10) working days of receipt of the District Superintendent's report. The Board of Education will conduct a hearing and issue a written response to the complainant and the accused following completion of the hearing within thirty (30) days of receipt of the complaint. If additional time is needed, a written status report shall be submitted to all parties, indicating the need for additional time.
Prohibition of Retaliation
Regardless of the stage of the investigation, the victim will be instructed by the Complaint Officer to report immediately if the offensive behavior occurs again and/or if the alleged harasser retaliates against him/her. Any witnesses who cooperated in the investigation of the complaint will be similarly instructed to report to the Complaint Officer immediately as to any retaliatory action(s). Additionally, the designated Complaint Officer will make follow-up inquiries to ensure that harassment has not resumed and that no reprisals or retaliatory behavior has occurred to those involved in the investigation. Any act of retaliation is prohibited and subject to appropriate disciplinary action by Ulster BOCES.
Based upon the result of the Ulster BOCES investigation, immediate corrective action will be taken. Should the offending individual be an Ulster BOCES employee, appropriate disciplinary measures will be applied, up to and including termination of the offender's employment, in accordance with contractual and legal guidelines.
Should the offending individual be a student, appropriate disciplinary measures will be applied, up to and including suspension, in accordance with applicable law, regulation, and the Code of Conduct.
Vendors/contractors and other individuals who do business with Ulster BOCES, who have been found to violate the terms of the anti-harassment policy and/or regulation by engaging in prohibited conduct, will be subject to appropriate sanctions up to and including loss of Ulster BOCES business. School volunteers who are found to have violated Ulster BOCES policy and regulation may face loss of volunteer status.
Should the offending individual be a visitor, guest or other third party, then any corrective action deemed appropriate will be taken, including, but not limited to, expulsion from the Ulster BOCES premises and/or school activities/events under the control and supervision of Ulster BOCES.
The application of such disciplinary measures by Ulster BOCES does not preclude the appropriate filing of civil and/or criminal charges as may be warranted.
Remedies for Victims
Ulster BOCES shall make available to victims a range of remedies, including access to school guidance counselors or the Employee Assistance Program, as appropriate; the imposition of “stay away” directives; a requested change in work or class assignment; and other remedies as BOCES and the victim may, together, deem appropriate.
Finding That Harassment Did Not Occur
At any level/stage of investigation of alleged harassment, if a determination is made that harassment did not occur, the Complaint Officer will so notify the complainant, the alleged offender and the District Superintendent of this determination. Such a finding does not preclude the complainant from filing an appeal pursuant to Ulster BOCES policy or regulation and/or pursuing other legal avenues of recourse.
However, even if a determination is made that harassment did not occur, the District Superintendent/designee reserves the right to initiate staff awareness and training, as applicable, to help ensure that the school community is not conducive to fostering harassment in the workplace.
In all cases, the District Superintendent will inform the Board of Education of the results of each investigation involving a finding that harassment did not occur.
Knowingly Makes False Accusations
Employees and/or students who knowingly make false accusations against another individual as to allegations of harassment may also face appropriate disciplinary action.
Regardless of whether a complaint has been filed, if Ulster BOCES knows of the occurrence or the possible occurrence of any harassment, Ulster BOCES will require a prompt and thorough investigation by appropriate personnel. Even if an anonymous complaint has been filed, Ulster BOCES will respond to the greatest extent possible.
Principals in each school building and/or program supervisors will be responsible for informing students and staff on a yearly basis of the BOCES policy and regulations regarding the prohibition of harassment, including the procedures established for the investigation and resolution of harassment complaints, the general legal issues pertaining to harassment, and the rights and responsibilities of employees and students.
Those administrators and/or supervisors who have specific responsibilities for the investigation and resolution of harassment complaints will receive specialized training on conducting such investigations and application to applicable laws and collective bargaining agreements.
As part of the investigation Ulster BOCES has the right to search all school property and equipment including Ulster BOCES computers. Rooms, desks, cabinets, lockers, computers, etc. are provided by Ulster BOCES for the use of students and staff, but the users do not have exclusive use of these locations or equipment and should not expect that materials stored therein will be private.
Dissemination of District Policy/Regulation and Evaluation
A copy of the Ulster BOCES policy and regulations pertaining to prohibition of harassment will be available upon request. A copy the Ulster BOCES policy and regulations may be posted in various locations throughout each school building. Additionally, the Ulster BOCES policy and regulations will be published in appropriate school publications such as employee handbooks and student handbooks and will be posted on the Ulster BOCES website. The District Superintendent or his/her designee(s) has a responsibility to review the Ulster BOCES policy and regulations to ensure continued effectiveness and compliance with applicable law. The District Superintendent will recommend revisions as may be warranted to the Board of Education.