Harassment

  • All EWSD schools should be educational settings where students are free from harassment. EWSD schools are committed to providing a safe and respectful learning environment for all students. We support and value tolerance and responsibility, and expect students to treat each other and with respect.

    Harassment will not be tolerated in EWSD schools, and any student who participates in the harassment of another individual or group while at school or attending a school-sponsored activity will be subject to the full range of disciplinary actions utilized by the school.

    This includes, but is not limited to: detention, loss of co-curricular privileges, suspension, and/or long-term suspension. Please note that harassment is behavior which can occur on and off school grounds. EWSD schools will take appropriate steps to respond to harassment that takes place off school grounds, provided it has a nexus to the school environment, and where the misconduct can be shown to pose a clear and substantial interference with another student’s equal access to educational programs.

    Definitions and Examples

    As it relates to students and the schools, “Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.

    Harassment can also include conduct such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to that conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term of condition of the student’s education, or submission or rejection of the conduct is used as a component for decisions affecting the student.

    Harassment can also include conduct directed at the characteristics of the student’s or their family’s actual or perceived race or color, creed, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or disability.  It can include the use of stereotypes, racial slurs, comments, insults, derogatory remarks, gestures, threats, graffiti, display or circulation of written or visual material and taunts on the manner of a student’s speech or negative references to racial customs.

    Examples of harassment based or motivated on the characteristics outlined above can include:

    1. Verbal: Foul, racist, offensive, or demeaning language; persistent teasing, offensive or degrading jokes or comments; embarrassing someone with comments or cracks, making fun of the way someone talks or looks, using degrading words to describe someone; repeatedly flirting with someone who’s not interested, participating in gossip, passing rumors or threats, etc.
    2. Non-Verbal: Gestures, graffiti or pictures on books, lockers, hats, clothing; suggestive, obscene or insulting sounds, whistling, leering; sexually suggestive objects, notes, or other writings of a teasing, insulting, racist or otherwise offensive nature; displays of obscene or sexually explicit materials.
    3. Physical: Unwanted contact which may include: touching, pinching, pushing, hitting or brushing up against someone’s body. Unwanted contact could also constitute assault and involve the police and DCF.
    4. Electronic Means: Includes harassing conduct which occurs via the internet or cell phone, such as email communication(s), web postings, voice mail(s), and texting.

    Reporting Harassment

    If a student feels that they are being harassed, and it is safe to do so, the student may tell that person to stop. Victims and witnesses are asked to report harassment to their grade-level administrator, or if this proves difficult, any teacher or staff member. Any student or parent/guardian of a student who believes they have been the victim of harassment should report the matter immediately to the principal.

    Administrative Procedures

    EWSD schools receiving notice of alleged conduct constituting harassment will promptly investigate the matter. After receiving actual notice (a written complaint or oral information that harassment may have occurred), the school official will provide the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator (or their parents/guardians if under the age of 18) with a copy of the EWSD policy and procedure.

    The school official shall promptly initiate an investigation of the complaint no later than one school day from the filing of the complaint. The determination should be completed no later than five days from the filing of the complaint with the designated person (unless special circumstances exist).

    If harassment is found to have occurred, the school will take prompt and appropriate remedial action reasonably calculated to stop it.

    The privacy of the complainant, accused individual(s), and witnesses shall be maintained. If either the complainant or the alleged individual is under the age of 18, subject to state and/or federal laws protecting the confidentiality of personally identifiable student information, the complainant and the accused individual shall be informed in writing of the results.

    EWSD schools also provide students with the opportunity to have an independent review of the final determination of the school or the school’s response to the documented harassment.

    Consequences for Harassment

    Documented acts of harassment will result in the perpetrator being disciplined. The disciplinary consequences include the full range of disciplinary consequences outlined in the EWSD student discipline policies and school discipline plan.

    These include, but are not limited to: after-school detention, loss of privileges, loss of ability to participate in after-school and co-curricular activities, mandatory remedial classes, parent/guardian conferences, and suspension.

    Disciplinary consequences may also include a recommendation to the School Board for long-term suspension. The school will provide notice to the parents/guardians and complainant of the results of the investigation. The school will also provide clear notification to the parents/guardians of the student who commits a verified act of harassment of the school’s response and consequences of any further harassment by their child.  Law enforcement may be contacted upon verification of acts of harassment.

    At all stages of the investigation and determination process, alternative dispute resolution methods such as mediation are available to the complainant to resolve the complaint.

    It should be noted that some misconduct, while serious, may not meet all the standards of harassment. However, EWSD schools may respond to such behavior in an appropriate manner to prevent misconduct from escalating to harassment. Therefore, it may be behavior that is subject to the full range of disciplinary actions utilized by the school, including, but not limited to suspension and long-term suspension.

    Harassment incidences are subject to reporting requirements of the VT Secretary of Education. All EWSD schools will collect data on the number of reported and verified incidences of harassment. For more information on the harassment, please see policy C10 on the EWSD site.