The Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District does not discriminate in its programs, activities or employment practices on the basis of race*, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, active military/veteran status, marital status, familial status, pregnancy, or pregnancy-related condition, homelessness, ancestry, ethnic background, national origin, or any other category protected by state or federal law.
Title IX, Sexual Harassment & Violence
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”), 20 U.S.C. §1681 et seq., is a Federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in education programs and activities. All public and private elementary and secondary schools, school districts, colleges, and universities (hereinafter “schools”) receiving any Federal funds must comply with Title IX. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment or sexual violence, such as rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, and sexual coercion.
Below is additional information regarding the specific requirements of Title IX as they pertain to sexual harassment and sexual violence.
What are a school’s responsibilities to address sexual harassment and sexual violence?
- A school has a responsibility to respond promptly and effectively. If a school knows or reasonably should know about sexual harassment or sexual violence that creates a hostile environment, the school must take immediate action to eliminate the sexual harassment or sexual violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects.
- Even if a student or his or her parent does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on the student’s behalf, if a school knows or reasonably should know about possible sexual harassment or sexual violence, it must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.
- A criminal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.
What procedures must a school have in place to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence and resolve complaints?
- Every School Must Have And Distribute A Policy Against Sex Discrimination
- Title IX requires that each school publish a policy that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education programs and activities. This notice must be widely distributed and available on an on-going basis.
- The policy must state that inquiries concerning Title IX may be referred to the school’s Title IX coordinator or to OCR.
- Every School Must Have A Title IX Coordinator
- Every school must designate at least one employee who is responsible for coordinating the school’s compliance with Title IX. This person is sometimes referred to as the Title IX coordinator. Schools must notify all students and employees of the name or title and contact information of the Title IX coordinator.
- The coordinator’s responsibilities include overseeing all complaints of sex discrimination and identifying and addressing any patterns or systemic problems that arise during the review of such complaints.
- Every School Must Have And Make Known Procedures For Students To File Complaints Of Sex Discrimination.
- Title IX requires schools to adopt and publish grievance procedures for students to file complaints of sex discrimination, including complaints of sexual harassment or sexual violence. Schools can use general disciplinary procedures to address complaints of sex discrimination. But all procedures must provide for prompt and equitable resolution of sex discrimination complaints.
- Every complainant has the right to present his or her case. This includes the right to adequate, reliable, and impartial investigation of complaints, the right to have an equal opportunity to present witnesses and other evidence, and the right to the same appeal processes, for both parties.
- Every complainant has the right to be notified of the time frame within which: (a) the school will conduct a full investigation of the complaint; (b) the parties will be notified of the outcome of the complaint; and (c) the parties may file an appeal, if applicable.
- Every complainant has the right for the complaint to be decided using a preponderance of the evidence standard (i.e., it is more likely than not that sexual harassment or violence occurred).
- Every complainant has the right to be notified, in writing, of the outcome of the complaint. Even though federal privacy laws limit disclosure of certain information in disciplinary proceedings:
- Additionally, the Clery Act (20 U.S.C. §1092(f)), which only applies to postsecondary institutions, requires that both parties be informed of the outcome, including sanction information, of any institutional proceeding alleging a sex offense. Therefore, colleges and universities may not require a complainant to abide by a non-disclosure agreement, in writing or otherwise.
- Schools must disclose to the complainant information about the sanction imposed on the perpetrator when the sanction directly relates to the harassed student. This includes an order that the harasser stay away from the harassed student, or that the harasser is prohibited from attending school for a period of time, or transferred to other classes or another residence hall.
- The grievance procedures may include voluntary informal methods (e.g., mediation) for resolving some types of sexual harassment complaints. However, the complainant must be notified of the right to end the informal process at any time and begin the formal stage of the complaint process. In cases involving allegations of sexual assault, mediation is not appropriate.
If you want to learn more about your rights, or if you believe that a school district, college, or university is violating Federal law, you may contact the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, at (800) 421-3481 or email@example.com. If you wish to fill out a complaint form online, you may do so at: http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/complaintintro.html .
Section 504 of the American's with Disabilities Act
An important responsibility of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability against students with disabilities. OCR receives numerous complaints and inquiries in the area of elementary and secondary education involving Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29 U.S.C. § 794 (Section 504). Most of these concern identification of students who are protected by Section 504 and the means to obtain an appropriate education for such students.
Section 504 is a federal law designed to protect the rights of individuals with disabilities in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from the U.S. Department of Education (ED). Section 504 provides: "No otherwise qualified individual with a disability in the United States . . . shall, solely by reason of her or his disability, be excluded from the participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance . . . ."
OCR enforces Section 504 in programs and activities that receive Federal financial assistance from ED. Recipients of this Federal financial assistance include public school districts, institutions of higher education, and other state and local education agencies. The regulations implementing Section 504 in the context of educational institutions appear at 34 C.F.R. Part 104.
The Section 504 regulations require a school district to provide a "free appropriate public education" (FAPE) to each qualified student with a disability who is in the school district's jurisdiction, regardless of the nature or severity of the disability. Under Section 504, FAPE consists of the provision of regular or special education and related aids and services designed to meet the student's individual educational needs as adequately as the needs of nondisabled students are met.
This resource document clarifies pertinent requirements of Section 504.
For additional information, please contact the Office for Civil Rights.
Title IX Coordinator
Director of Student Services
504 District Coordinator
Director of Student Services
Hamilton-Wenham Regional School District
5 School Street
Wenham, MA 01984