Anti-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment Policy and Grievance Procedure
The Smithfield School District is committed to maintaining and promoting an educational environment free from all forms of discrimination, including harassment, at school. The civil rights of all school community members are guaranteed by law and the protection of those rights is important to the District. Discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, genetic information or testing, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression or gender nonconforming behavior, age or disability (hereinafter “membership in a legally protected class”) will not be tolerated. Retaliation against any student or any other individual who has complained of discrimination, including harassment, or individuals who have cooperated with an investigation of such complaint, is also unlawful and will not be tolerated. The District will promptly investigate, remedy any harm and seek to protect students and/or employees to prevent recurrence of such conduct. This policy applies to conduct directed toward students and other persons associated with the educational community by all other persons associated with the educational community including, but not limited to, students, District employees, the School Committee, school volunteers, parents and independent contractors.
Discrimination: Treating persons differently or interfering with or preventing them from enjoying the advantages or privileges afforded to others because of their membership in a legally protected class.
Harassment: Oral, written, graphic, electronic, or physical conduct relating to a person’s actual or perceived membership in a legally protected class that is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to interfere with or limit that person’s ability to participate in the District’s programs or activities by creating a hostile educational environment. Harassing conduct based on a person’s legally protected status may include, but is not limited to:
- Degrading, demeaning, insulting, or abusive verbal or written statements;
- Taking personal belongings, taunting, teasing, name-calling, or spreading rumors;
- Drawing or writing graffiti, slogans, visual displays, or symbols on school or another’s property;
- Telling degrading or offensive jokes;
- Unwanted physical contact of any kind;
- Physical violence, threats of bodily harm, physical intimidation, or stalking;
- Threatening letters, emails, instant messages, or websites that come within the scope of the District’s disciplinary authority; and
- Defacing, damaging, or destroying school or another’s property.
Harassing conduct does not have to be directed towards a particular individual. Other members of the same legally protected class may be considered the victim of harassment by virtue of being exposed, even indirectly, to the harassing conduct.
AT SCHOOL: In the context of this policy, the phrase “at school” includes the following places and situations:
- on school premises;
- at any school-sponsored activity or event, whether or not it is held on school premises;
- on a school-transportation vehicle;
- at an official school bus stop;
- using property or equipment provided by the school; and
- any other place at which discrimination or harassment occurs that creates a material and substantial disruption of the education process or the orderly operation of the school.
Disability Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person based on his/her disability or perceived disability, including damaging or interfering with the use of necessary equipment, intimidating manner of movement, using disability-related slurs, or invading personal space to intimidate.
National Origin Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, written or physical contact directed at a person based on his/her national origin, ancestry, or ethnic background such as negative comments about surnames, customs, language, accents, immigration status or manner of speaking.
Racial Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person based on his/her race or color, including racial slurs or insults based on characteristics of a person’s race or color, racial graffiti or symbols, hostile acts based on a race, nicknames based on racial stereotypes, negative comments about appearance, imitating mannerisms, taunting, or invading personal space to intimidate.
Religious Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct directed at a person based on his/her religion, including derogatory comments about religious beliefs, traditions, practices (includes non-belief), or religious clothing.
Sexual Orientation Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct, directed at a person based on his/her actual or perceived sexual orientation, such as anti-gay slurs or insults, imitating mannerisms. Taunting, or invading personal space to intimidate. See Policy Transgender, Nonforming, and Transitioning Students (ACA).
Gender Identity or Expression or Gender NonConforming Behavior Harassment: Unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct directed at a person based on a person’s “actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, whether or not that gender identity is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.” R.I. Gen. Laws, §§ 28-5-6.
Sexual Harassment: See Policy Sexual Harassment (ACAB).
Responsibilities of all Persons Associated with Educational Community
Each member of the educational community is personally responsible for ensuring that his/her conduct does not in any way harass or discriminate against any other person that he/she has contact with in the performance of his/her duties or studies or while acting as a member of the school community. In addition, each member of the educational community is required to fully cooperate in any investigation of alleged discrimination, including harassment. Further, District employees are obligated to intervene and stop any discrimination, including harassment, that they witness and to promptly report to the building Principal instances of discrimination, including harassment, that are reported to them, they observe, or of which they otherwise learn.
Designated Officials for Addressing Discrimination and Harassment Complaints
In each school building, the Principal is responsible for receiving and investigating reports and complaints of violations of this policy at the school level. Individuals may file a report or complaint of discrimination, including harassment, with the Principal. The Principal shall inform the Title IX Officer upon receipt of the complaint. In the event that the complaint alleges violations against the Principal, the complaint shall be delivered to the Superintendent, who shall appoint an individual to conduct the investigation.
Procedure for Reporting Discrimination and Harassment
The following complaint procedure has been established to ensure prompt and effective investigation into allegations of discrimination, including harassment. A person who believes that he or she had been harassed or otherwise discriminated against, and persons who witness an incident of harassment or discrimination or have reasonable grounds to believe an incident of harassment or discrimination is or has taken place, are obligated to report the situation to the Principal. Reports/complaints are to be filed promptly after the discriminatory conduct or the individual reasonably becomes aware of the conduct.
The report shall be written and shall consist of the following:
1. the specific conduct objected to,
2. the date(s) and time(s) such conduct took place,
3. the name(s) of the alleged harasser(s) or person believed to be discriminating against them,
4. the location(s) where the conduct occurred,
5. the name(s) of any witness(es),
6. action sought to remedy the situation, and
7. any other details or information requested by the investigating official.
In addition, the person should provide the Principal with any documentation (emails, notes, pictures, electronic or recorded media, etc.) or other information in support of the allegation of discrimination, including harassment.
Investigation of Complaints
Upon receipt of a report or complaint, the Principal shall facilitate a prompt investigation. The investigation must allow for the complainant, the subject of the complaint, and the alleged harasser to provide information, including the names of witnesses or other evidence, relevant to the investigation of the complaint. The Principal will also endeavor to promptly interview and obtain detailed written statements from the complainant, the subject of the complaint, the alleged harasser, as well as any potential witnesses. The Principal will also review any other documents or information that he or she believes is relevant to the investigation. In the event that an investigation reveals that the alleged action or actions do not constitute discrimination or harassment as defined in this policy, but that the underlying conduct may meet the definition of bullying or cyberbullying as set forth in the District’s Bullying Policy*, then the results of the investigation should be forwarded and/or reviewed in conjunction with the provisions of that policy. If necessary, the investigation may be re-opened under the parameters of that policy.
*The district’s bullying policy addresses behaviors that are directly at a student.
Conclusion of Investigation
A written determination regarding the complaint and any resolution will be provided by the Principal to the complainant and the accused once a determination is made. A copy will also be forwarded to the Superintendent or designee. If a violation is found to have occurred, the District will take steps to prevent reoccurrence of the violation and correct its discriminatory effect on the person(s) affected.
The Smithfield School Department shall maintain a complete record for each complaint. Written records shall be maintained in a confidential manner for three years from the date of resolution of an investigation unless new circumstances dictate that the file should be kept for a longer period of time. Such written records are in addition to disciplinary letters placed in personnel files and student disciplinary records maintained in a student information system
The disciplinary actions for violations of the Anti-Discrimination/Anti Harassment Policy shall be determined by the school/district appropriate authority. Disciplinary actions for violations of the Anti-Discrimination/Anti Harassment Policy shall balance the need for accountability with the need to teach appropriate behavior. The severity of the disciplinary action shall be aligned to the severity of the Anti-Discrimination/Anti Harassment behavior.
The complainant or the accused may request reconsideration of the determination and/or resolution of a complaint by notifying the Superintendent in writing within seven (7) school/working days of receipt of the written determination of the Principal. The Superintendent or his/her designee will respond to such request within thirty (30) school/working days of receipt of the request for reconsideration; his/her decision is final.
Investigations of discrimination, including harassment complaints, shall be conducted in such a manner as to disclose information only to those who need to know and as necessary to gain information pertinent to the investigation. Please note, some level of disclosure may be necessary in the course of conducting interviews in connection with investigation of any complaint under this policy. The Smithfield Public Schools shall endeavor to keep such information as confidential as it can without compromising the thoroughness of the investigation.
State and Federal Authorities
In addition to the process described above, the complainant may, at any time, file a complaint with to the United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, or other appropriate federal or state agency charged with enforcement of state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination, including harassment, based on membership in a protected class.
Smithfield Public Schools
Title IX Officer
49 Farnum Pike
Smithfield, RI 02917
U.S Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights
John W. McCormack Building
5 Post Office Square, Suite 900
Boston, MA 02109
Telephone: (617) 289-0111
Rhode Island Department of Education
255 Westminster Street
Providence, RI 02903
Telephone: (401) 222-4600
Adopted: January 6, 2020
Revised: March 2, 2020