• Sexual harassment under Title IX and district policy

    Title IX is a U.S. federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. Title IX law prohibits sexual harassment as well as sexual violence such as rape, sexual assault, and sexual coercion; applies to all people regardless of gender; applies regardless of whether or not a criminal report is filed. 

    Sexual harassment is generally defined as unwanted, sexual attention from peers, subordinates, supervisors, customers or anyone the victim may interact with in order to fulfill job or school-related duties. The harassment may be verbal or physical in nature and may be directed at any gender. 

    Sexual Harassment under Title IX must meet one of the following conditions: 

    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 recipient’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): or 

    An employee of the recipient conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the recipient on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (quid pro quo harassment); 

    Under Title IX Cape Cod Tech will investigate alleged sexual harassment for Title IX violations except under the following conditions:

    1)     The alleged conduct occurred outside of the United States

    2)     The alleged conduct occurred outside of school (off-campus or not during remote learning instruction) including conduct in an environment over which the school does not exercise substantial control.

     Information, counseling or complaints relating to this form of harassment should be referred to the Title IX Coordinator.  In accordance with this, students found to have committed sexual harassment will be subject to disciplinary action by the district and any measures pursued by law enforcement. 

    Sexual harassment may constitute child abuse under Mass. Law, G.L.c.119-51A.  Cape Cod Regional Technical High School shall comply with the Massachusetts law in reporting suspected cases of child abuse

    Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedures

    This procedure is available to any district employee or student. The District’s Title IX Coordinator is Jonathan Roberts, Cape Cod Regional Technical High School, 351 Pleasant Lake Avenue, 02645.  508-432-4500 Ext. 2101 jroberts@capetech.us 

    Any person who feels she/he has been sexually harassed by a student or adult, or has knowledge or belief of conduct which occurred that might be sexual harassment should speak or send a note to any school personnel he/she trusts, (i.e. teacher, nurse, counselor, principal) or he/she should tell his/her parents who then should notify school personnel. The procedure begins when school personnel have been notified.  School personnel must document the incident in a written form and give it to the Title IX Coordinator within one working day of the time of receipt.  Failure by school personnel to report conduct which could be sexual harassment may result in administrative disciplinary action. Upon receipt of allegations of sexual harassment, the school will take immediate steps to halt or prevent any behavior which may be construed as sexual harassment.  

    In addition, staff is reminded that any incident involving alleged or suspected sexual abuse of a student shall immediately be reported to the appropriate state and federal agencies.

    Any allegation of sexual harassment shall be promptly addressed in a confidential manner so as to protect the privacy of all parties involved.  All complaint proceedings will be held in confidence by all school personnel directly or indirectly involved.  Information provided under these sexual harassment procedures will be treated as confidential. This means that such information will be shared with others on a need-to-know basis only or as mandated under Title IX requirements. The school may not limit students’ and employees’ ability to discuss (i.e., speak or write about) the allegations under investigation, for example with a parent, friend, or other source of emotional support, or with an advocacy organization.

     The district will not allow anyone to retaliate against any person because he/she complains of sexual harassment or assists in an investigation of sexual harassment.  Intimidation, coercion or any other attempt to interfere with an investigation of sexual harassment   is prohibited and potentially illegal.  In addition, all reasonable steps will be taken to protect the parties during the investigation. Allegations of retaliation should be made to the Title IX coordinator who will investigate and take disciplinary or other remedial action if necessary in a process separate from any Title IX process. At the onset of a Title IX procedure, all parties will be informed that retaliation is prohibited. 

    There is no time limit or statute of limitation on timing to file a formal complaint. However, at the time of filing a formal complaint, an alleged victim must be participating or attempting to participate in a program or activity of the school district.

    Once an allegation is brought forward to the Title IX Coordinator the Coordinator will: 

    • Determine whether the allegation is “Actual knowledge.” Actual Knowledge means notice of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment to any employee of the district, except that this standard is not met when the only official of the district with actual knowledge is the respondent (where the respondent is an employee). Imputation of knowledge based solely on vicarious liability or constructive notice is insufficient to constitute actual knowledge. Complaints will be addressed whenever the district has actual knowledge of the allegation.
    • Consider the complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures;    
    • Explain that supportive measures may be received with or without filing a formal complaint;  
    • Determine whether the complainant wishes to file a formal complaint; and explain to the complainant the purpose of filing a formal complaint

     There is no time limit or statute of limitation on timing to file a formal complaint. However, at the time of filing a formal complaint, an alleged victim must be participating or attempting to participate in a program or activity of the school district. 

    Supportive measures

    Supportive measures means 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 recipient’s education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the recipient’s educational environment, or deter sexual harassment. Supportive measures may include counseling, extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments, modifications of work or class schedules, campus escort services, mutual restrictions on contact between the parties, changes in work or housing locations, leaves of absence, increased security and monitoring of certain areas of the campus, and other similar measures. The district must maintain as confidential any supportive measures provided to the complainant or respondent, to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the recipient to provide the supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator must document in writing the supportive measures offered/provided or why no supportive measures were offered/provided. 

    Dismissal of a formal complaint 

    The school may dismiss a complaint if: 

    • The alleged conduct would not constitute sexual harassment as defined even if proved.
    • The alleged conduct did not occur in the school district’s education program or activity.
    • The alleged conduct did not occur against a person in the United States.

     The school district must send written notice of any dismissal.

     Informal Procedure:

    Except in cases involving allegations that a Cape Cod tech employee has sexually harassed a student, where a formal complaint of sexual harassment is filed, the parties may voluntarily and mutually agree in writing to engage in an informal resolution process (i.e., mediation) to try to resolve the formal complaint. Mediation, where available, can serve as an alternative to the investigative process. An informal procedure can only occur after a formal complaint and written notice has been issued. The parties must give written consent to engage in this process. 

     Informal Resolution 

    Facilitator(s) of informal resolution will be designated by the Title IX Coordinator and must not be biased against any of the parties or have a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest would typically be a personal financial interest or personal interest that would prevent someone from being impartial.   

    Informal resolution is entirely voluntary. 

     

    If the complainant and the respondent feel that their grievances have been sufficiently addressed via informal resolution, then no further action needs to be taken. This voluntary conversation must occur within five (5) school days after receiving the complaint of discrimination or harassment, unless both parties agree otherwise. The results of an informal resolution shall be maintained by the facilitator, in writing.

    Formal Complaint

    A formal complaint means a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment and requesting that the District investigate the allegation of sexual harassment.

     If the complainant declines to file a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator must consider whether to sign a formal complaint and start an investigation despite the complainant’s preferences.  

    This decision may be appropriate when safety or similar concerns lead the district to conclude it must investigate and potentially sanction a respondent. 

    A Title IX Coordinator’s decision to override the complainant’s decision not to file a formal complaint must be documented in writing along with an explanation of why this decision was necessary.

    Formal Procedure  

     A formal procedure is initiated when any one of the following three criteria is met:

    • Any of the parties involved requests the formal procedure.
    • The Title IX Coordinator requests the formal procedure due to the seriousness of the allegations or repeated behavior.
    • Any one of the parties involved in the Informal process feels that the Informal procedure was either inadequate or unsuccessful. 

    The Formal Procedure will be completed within sixty (60) days, unless an extension is granted. During this time the Title IX Coordinator will: 

    Assign an investigator separate from himself to investigate the alleged misconduct.

    Assign a decision maker who will review evidence and make a determination. The decision maker may not be the Title IX coordinator or the investigator.

     Investigator role and responsibilities:

    The investigator must not be biased against any of the parties at the outset of the investigation. 

    The investigator will be responsible for interviewing parties and witnesses, finding facts, and making determinations related to credibility, all of which will be documented in a written report.  

     The investigator must avoid all questions that are protected by legal privilege, unless the privilege has been waived, and should avoid asking about the complainant’s sexual history unless it is directly relevant to prove consent to the conduct at issue or to prove that the conduct was committed by someone other than the respondent. 

    Complainants and respondents have a right to have advisors of their choice participate in all aspects of the proceedings. 

     

    During the investigation, each party must be provided an equal opportunity to present both fact and expert witnesses.

    Decision-making:

    The decision-maker must not be biased against any of the parties at the outset of this process.  The decision-maker will offer both the complainant and respondent the opportunity to submit proposed relevant, written questions to ask of any party or witness, to respond to questions posed by another party, and to offer additional limited follow-up.  Questions and evidence about the complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such questions and evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior are offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the complainant’s prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent. The decision-maker(s) must explain to the party proposing the questions any decision to exclude a question as not relevant.

    The decision-maker must consider what is relevant, using the same criteria of relevancy as discussed during the investigation.  

    After this process is complete, the decision-maker will create a written determination regarding whether sexual harassment has occurred using a preponderance of the evidence standard.   

    The decision-maker will consider how a reasonable person would view the conduct when determining whether the conduct constitutes sexual harassment. In making this determination, school districts may consider the age and number of parties involved.

    The written determination will be  issued to both parties simultaneously and must include: 

    Identification of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment;  A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held; Findings of fact supporting the determination; Conclusions regarding the application of the recipient’s code of conduct to the facts; A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions the recipient imposes on the respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity will be provided by the recipient to the  complainant; and the district’s procedures and permissible bases for the complainant and respondent to appeal.

    The decision-maker shall further recommend what action, if any, is required.  

    If there is a finding that sexual harassment occurred, the school district will provide remedies to the complainant designed to restore or preserve equal access to the school district’s education program or activity. Such remedies may include supportive measures.  

    Formal disciplinary actions may be imposed in the event that the preponderance of the

    evidence indicates a violation of this policy, up to and including expulsion or termination.  Any disciplinary action will be in accordance with due process rights under State law and district policy. 

    The district will not discipline in the absence of following this formal process. This does not limit the district from removing a student or employee from a program or activity on an emergency basis based on immediate threats to people’s physical health or safety or placing an employee on administrative leave during the pendency of the investigation.

    Appeals

    Any party may appeal the decision maker’s decision in writing to the Superintendent-Director within 15 school days of receipt of the findings of the formal procedure or a dismissal on the following bases:

    Procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter.

    New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal was made, that could affect the outcome of the matter and the Title IX Coordinator,

    investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or the individual complainant or respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.·        

     

    The school district will notify the other party in writing when an appeal is filed and implement appeal procedures equally for both parties.  

    Both parties will have a reasonable, equal opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the outcome.

    The Superintendent or designee, as a further impartial decision-maker, will review the comprehensiveness and accuracy of the investigation and the conclusions, and issue written findings

    to both the complainant and respondent within thirty (30) school days of theappeal.

    Records notice: 

    A record will be maintained for a period of seven years of any actions, including supportive measures, taken in response to a report or formal complaint of sexual harassment and district staff will document the basis for the district’s conclusion that its response was not deliberately indifferent. 

    Individuals who wish access to records of a complaint may request such records according to the district’s policy and procedure for access to educational records.  To request records and information about the district’s policy and procedure please contact the Assistant Principal.