The Smithfield School Committee affirms its policies concerning Title IX and it further re-affirms its commitment to provide an educational and work environment free from discrimination, including harassment, on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender expression or identity.
This policy applies to all employees, students, parents, volunteers, independent contractors, and others who access the Smithfield educational program or activity.
The Purpose of this policy is to provide notice of this nondiscrimination policy and grievance procedures, including how to file or report sexual harassment and how the Smithfield Department will respond. The Smithfield School Department is committed to maintaining and promoting an educational environment free from all forms of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment.
Complainant. The person who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
Education Program or Activity. Any location, event, activity, or circumstance over which the School exhibits substantial control over both the alleged harasser and the context in which the harassment occurred within the United States.
Formal Complaint. A document filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a Respondent and requesting that the recipient investigate the allegation of sexual harassment.
Title IX Sexual Harassment.
Conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
An employee of the school conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the school on an aid, benefit, or service of the recipient on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity; or
Sexual assault as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), dating violence as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), domestic violence as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or stalking as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).
Respondent. An individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
Supportive Measures. Any and all non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Complainant or the Respondent before or after the filing of a formal complaint or where no formal complaint has been filed. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the Smithfield School Department's education program or activities without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the Smithfield School Department's educational environment, or deter sexual harassment.
Title IX Coordinator: An individual employed by the Smithfield School Department designated and authorized to coordinate the recipient’s compliance efforts.
Complainant Advisor: An individual selected by the Complainant to represent the Complainant at all times pertinent to an investigation of formal complaint and final determination and potential appeal.
Decision Maker: An individual appointed by the Smithfield School Department charged with making a final decision of responsibility regarding a formal complaint.
Investigator: A person or entity selected and appointed by the Smithfield School Department to investigate a formal complaint.
Respondent Advisor: An individual selected by the Respondent to represent the Respondent at all times pertinent to an investigation of formal complaint and final determination and potential appeal.
Notice of Policy
The Smithfield School Department shall provide notice of this nondiscrimination policy and grievance procedures, including how to file or report sexual harassment and how the Smithfield School Department will respond. Notice must also include the Title IX Coordinator’s name or title, email address, office address, and telephone number.
The policy shall be provided to and published in any handbook provided to the following groups:
· Applicants for admission and employment
· Parents/legal guardians
· Unions or professional organizations holding agreements with the Smithfield School Department
Notice and the Title IX Coordinator’s contact information shall be published on the Smithfield School Department’s website.
Grievance Procedure for Reporting Discrimination and Harassment
The Smithfield School Department shall have a grievance procedure to ensure prompt and effective investigations into allegations of discrimination, including sexual harassment.
· Any individual who has actual knowledge or knows of allegations of discrimination, including sexual harassment can provide notice to the Smithfield School Department in person, by mail, by telephone, or by email, using the Title IX Coordinator’s contact information and can be made at any time, including non-business hours.
· Any employee who has actual knowledge of sexual harassment or knows of allegations of sexual harassment, must notify the Title IX Coordinator.
· A Complainant may file a Formal Complaint at any time with the Title IX Coordinator.
· In the event that a party other than the Complainant provides the Title IX Coordinator with allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination, the Title IX Coordinator is to sign the complaint triggering an investigation.
· Once a Formal Complaint is filed, an Investigation shall be triggered.
Institution of Supportive Measures
The Smithfield School Department shall work to provide supportive measures as follows:
· The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for promptly contacting Complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures, consider the Complainant’s wishes, inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without filing of a Formal Complaint, and explain the process for filing a Formal Complaint.
· Both Complainant and Respondent shall be treated equitably by the Smithfield School Department through the offering of supportive measures to both parties and by following the grievance process as provided within this policy.
Emergency Removal of Students
Emergency removal may be granted if the Smithfield School Department conducts an individualized safety and risk analysis and determines that emergency removal is necessary to protect a student or other individual from an immediate threat to physical health or safety. Immediately upon removal the Respondent shall be afforded an opportunity to challenge the removal decision.
Notice of Formal Complaint
Title IX Coordinator shall provide written notice to all parties when a formal complaint has been filed. That notice shall include:
· The grievance process, including any informal resolution process;
· The allegations, including sufficient detail to allow the Respondent to prepare a response;
· A statement that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the conduct and that responsibility will be determined at the conclusion of the grievance process;
· The parties’ right to have an advisor (who may be an attorney) and to inspect and review evidence; and
· A statement of any provision of the code of conduct that prohibits knowingly making false statements or providing false information in the grievance process.
The Respondent shall be provided notice with sufficient time to prepare a response prior to an initial interview. If the investigation expands, new notice shall be given.
Dismissal of Formal Complaint
A Formal Complaint shall be dismissed and investigation cease if:
· the allegations would not constitute sexual harassment;
· the alleged sexual harassment did not occur in the Smithfield School Department's education program or activity; or
· the alleged sexual harassment did not occur against a person in the United States.
A Formal Complaint may be dismissed, and investigation cease if:
· the Complainant notifies the Title IX Coordinator at any time that he or she wishes to withdraw the Complaint;
· the Respondent’s enrollment or employment ends; or
· specific circumstances prevent the recipient from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination.
Any informal resolutions are prohibited unless a formal complaint is filed. Upon the filing of a formal complaint, the Smithfield School Department can offer to conduct an informal resolution without a full investigation so long as both parties are provided written notice of their rights and both parties provide their written, voluntary consent. No informal resolutions are to be offered in the context of a formal complaint alleging that an employee sexually harassed a student.
The appropriateness of an informal resolution process shall be determined by the Title IX Coordinator prior to offering such option to the Parties. The Title IX Coordinator shall determine the appropriate resolution process for the Parties, considering factors such as the severity of the allegations, the age and maturity of the Parties, the Parties use of advisors, and other such relevant factors. A typical informal resolution process shall utilize best practices pertaining to mediation of sensitive subjects, such as sexual harassment, and concepts of restorative justice. The process, including the identity of an informal resolution mediator, shall be determined by the Title IX Coordinator and explained to the Parties prior to the Parties agreeing to enter into an informal resolution process.
Investigation of a Grievance
Upon receipt of a formal complaint, the Smithfield School Department shall facilitate a prompt investigation. The investigation must allow an equal opportunity for the Complainant and the Respondent to provide information, including witnesses or other evidence, relevant to the investigation of the grievance. Neither party will be restricted from discussing the allegations or gathering and presenting evidence.
The investigator shall provide written notice of the date, time, participants, purpose, and locations of any investigative interview, hearing, or other meeting and shall provide enough time to allow the party to prepare to participate. Parties shall be provided the same opportunities to have others present during interviews or other related proceedings including an advisor/attorney.
Parties shall be provided at least 10 days to prepare a written response that the investigator must consider along with all evidence collected prior to completing the investigation report. The investigator shall prepare a written investigation report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence and provide the report to the parties for their review and written response, at least 10 days before a hearing or other determination of responsibility.
In the event that an investigation reveals that the alleged action or actions does 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 Smithfield School Department's bullying policies, then the result 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.
Conclusion of the Investigation and Determination
The Smithfield School Department shall provide each party with the opportunity, after the completion of the investigative report, to submit written, relevant questions that the party wants asked of another party or witness, and provide each party with the answers and provide for limited follow-up questioning.
The Decision Maker shall be an individual other than the Investigator or Title IX Coordinator. The Decision Maker shall apply a more likely than not standard of evidence and issue a written determination of responsibility that:
· Identifies the allegations;
· Describes the Smithfield School Department's procedural steps taken;
· Includes findings of fact;
· Includes conclusions regarding application of the Student Code of Conduct and the Educators of Professional Responsibility to the facts;
· For each allegation, includes a statement of, and a rational for, a determination of responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions, and whether remedies to restore or preserve equal access to the Smithfield School Department's educational program or activity will be provided to the Complainant; and
· Includes procedures and permissible basis for appeal.
Appeals may be taken by either side for the following reasons:
· Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome;
· New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the determination and may have affected the outcome; or
· Conflict of interest on the part of the Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, or Decision Maker that affected the outcome.
The Decision Maker on appeal must be someone other than the Title IX Coordinator, Investigator, or original Decision Maker, appointed by the School Committee. The Smithfield School Department's Appeals Policy will not apply to any appeal taken under this policy.
Retaliation of any kind against any individual who reports or alleges Title IX Sexual Harassment, signs a Title IX Complaint, or otherwise participates in the Smithfield Title IX Grievance procedure is strictly prohibited. If an individual is found to have committed retaliation under this policy shall be subject to disciplinary action.
The following sanctions may be imposed upon any member of the community found to have violated this policy.
· Required counseling
· Implementation of the Smithfield School Department's approved student code of conduct
· Any other sanction as recommended by the Superintendent and authorized by state and federal law and regulation.
· Warning – Written or Verbal
· Implement Performance Improvement Plan
· Required counseling
· Required training or education
· Suspension without pay
The Title IX Coordinator, any investigators, and any decision maker shall be trained prior to participating in the Smithfield Title IX Grievance procedure.
Confidentiality and Record Keeping
Investigations of discrimination, including harassment, 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 investigations of any complaint under this policy. The Smithfield School Department shall endeavor to keep such information as confidential as it can without compromising the thoroughness of the investigation.
All records shall be maintained for a minimum of seven years and shall include a record of why certain actions were or were not taken. All training materials shall be posted on the School’s website.
State and Federal Authorities
In addition to the process described above, the grieving party may, at any time, file a complaint with 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.
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
Smithfield School Department Title IX Coordinator
ADOPTED: March 6, 2023