- Document Link: JCAC (2) – Sexual Harassment Under Title IX
- Title: Sexual Harassment Under Title IX
- Section: J. Students
- Adoption Date: 11/19/2020
- Ref Code: O.C.G.A. 45-01-0004, 42 USC 2000d, 42 USC 2000e-2, 20 USC 1681
JCAC (2)- Sexual Harassment Under Title IX
Descriptor Code: JCAC(2)
Supplement School Board Policy JCAC
Sexual Harassment under Title IX
The Cherokee County Board of Education adheres to all federal, state and local civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in education. As a recipient of federal financial assistance for educational activities, the School District is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to ensure that all of its educational programs and activities do not discriminate on the basis of sex, gender, or gender identity. The School District also prohibits retaliation against any person opposing discrimination or participating in any discrimination investigation or complaint process.
This Policy is intended to reflect the requirements of the new federal regulations pertaining to Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which became effective on August 14, 2020. The Grievance Procedures included in this supplemental Policy are structured according to requirements of the new Title IX regulations.
While all forms of discrimination and harassment are prohibited in the School District and addressed under Board Policy JCAC, the purpose of this supplemental policy is to address, and only to address, sexual harassment as defined in Title IX that occurs within the educational programs and activities of the School District, and to provide a grievance process for investigating and reaching a final determination of responsibility for a formal complaint of sexual harassment.
This Policy establishes the roles and responsibilities of the applicable Title IX Investigator(s), Title IX Coordinator, Decision-Maker, and Appeals Decision-Maker. The Superintendent of Schools will also develop administrative guidelines and checklists to aid investigations.
Sexual harassment (Title IX Prohibited Conduct) is conduct on the basis of sex (including, without limitation, gender, sexual orientation, and/or gender identity), occurring in the School District’s educational programs or activities that satisfies one or more of the following:
- Unwelcome sex-based/related conduct occurring in the United States determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, AND objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the education program or activity (this standard requires consideration of all the facts and circumstances, including, but not limited to, the ages and disability statuses of the harasser and victim and the number of individuals involved and their authority); OR,
- Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence or stalking as defined in the United States as defined in state or federal law.
Behaviors that constitute sexual harassment may include, but are not limited to: Sexually suggestive remarks or jokes; verbal harassment or abuse; displaying or distributing sexually suggestive pictures, in whatever form (e.g., drawings, photographs, videos, irrespective of format); sexually suggestive gesturing, including touching oneself in a sexually suggestive manner in front of others; harassing or sexually suggestive or offensive messages that are written or electronic; subtle or direct propositions for sexual favors or activities; touching of a sexual nature or groping; and teasing or name-calling related to sexual characteristics or the belief or perception that an individual is not conforming to expected gender roles or conduct. Note: incidents of the above conduct would still need to satisfy one or both of the criteria in paragraphs 1-2 of this definition.
II. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
The Title IX Grievance Process is initiated by way of a Formal Complaint (“complaint” or “formal complaint”) filed by the Complainant, the Complainant’s parent/guardian or the Title IX Coordinator.
A. Formal Complaint Requirements
At a minimum, a formal complaint must:
- Contain the name and address of the Complainant and the student’s parent or guardian if the complainant is a minor student;
- Describe the alleged sexual harassment in sufficient detail to include the known identities of persons involved, the conduct allegedly constituting sexual harassment, and the date and location of the incident;
- Request an investigation of the matter; and,
- Be signed by the Complainant, Complainant’s parent or Title IX Coordinator, as applicable.
The complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by email. Complaint forms may be obtained from the Title IX Coordinator, the School District’s Student Code of Conduct, or on the School District’s websites. The Title IX Coordinator may be contacted in person, by mail, by telephone, or by email, using the contact information contained within the Student Code of Conduct or posted on the School District’s website. Unless otherwise designated by the Superintendent and posted on the School District’s Title IX website notice, the School District Title IX Coordinator will be the Executive Director of Administrative Leadership (EDAL) whose office is located at 1205 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114, general phone number (770) 479-1871.
B. Initial Steps and Notice of Formal Complaint.
1. The Title IX Coordinator will provide a Notice of Formal Complaint to the Complainant and the Complainant’s parent/guardian, and to the Respondent (if known) and the Respondent’s parent/guardian within five calendar days of receiving a Formal Complaint, which will include the following:
- a. The School District’s Title IX Grievance Process Administrative Guidelines;
- b. A notice of the right to pursue informal resolution provided both the Complainant and Respondent agree; 3
- c. The Rights and Responsibilities of Parties and Witnesses in Title IX Investigation;
- d. The specific allegations of sexual harassment including any additional information obtained by the Title IX Coordinator;
- e. A statement that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility will be made at the conclusion of the grievance process;
- f. Notice that each party may have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be an attorney;
- g. Notice that each party is entitled to inspect and review evidence; and h. A reference to the School District’s Code of Conduct that prohibits knowingly making false statements or knowingly submitting false information.
2. The Title IX Coordinator will then examine the allegations in the Formal Complaint, to determine whether even if assumed true, the allegations are sufficient to sustain a finding of sexual harassment under this Policy.
3. The Title IX Coordinator will contact the Complainant to discuss and offer supportive measures. The Title IX Coordinator may contact the Respondent to discuss, and or impose, non-disciplinary supportive measures.
4. If the Formal Complaint fails to satisfy the definition of sexual harassment in this Policy, the Complaint will be dismissed by the Title Coordinator. If a Compliant is dismissed, the decision to dismiss the Compliant may be appealed in accordance with the procedures described in Section E. Appeals of this policy to the Chief Operations Officer of the School District (COO) who will act as the Appeals Decision-Maker. The COO’s office is located at 1205 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114, general phone number (770) 479-1871.
5. If the Formal Complaint is not dismissed or informally resolved, the Title IX Coordinator will designate a school-based Title IX Investigator (Title Investigator), to conduct an investigation into the allegations. The School Principal or his/her designee will serve as the Title Investigator.
1. The Title Investigator will:
- a. Provide an equal opportunity for the parties to present witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence;
- b. Provide the parties with the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by the advisor of their choice;
- c. Provide, to a party (e.g., Respondent, Complainant, parent/guardian, and/or advisor, as appropriate), written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of investigative interviews or other meetings, with sufficient time 4 for the party to prepare to participate within the timeframes established within this Policy; and,
- d. Provide both parties an equal opportunity to inspect and review any evidence submitted and/or obtained as part of the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in a Formal Complaint.
2. The Title Investigator may collect relevant evidence, other information and may also interview parties and/or witnesses. In addition, a Complainant or Respondent may:
- a. Submit evidence to the Title Investigator;
- b. Submit a list of witnesses to be interviewed by the Title Investigator; and/or
- c. Request that the Title Investigator attempt to collect non-privileged information not accessible to the requesting Party.
3. At the conclusion of the investigation and response timeline, the Title Investigator will prepare a written investigative report.
4. The Title Investigator will provide the investigative report to the Title IX Coordinator, to each party, and each party’s advisor, if any.
5. The Title Investigator will endeavor to complete the investigation and provide the Investigative Report within one calendar month of the date the Written Notice of Formal Complaint is sent to the Parties. With the Title IX Coordinator’s express permission, this timeframe may be extended in complex matters or matters with multiple witnesses to give the Title Investigator enough time to gather relevant evidence and schedule witness interviews.
6. The Title IX Coordinator will forward the investigative report and all evidence collected by the Title Investigator to the Decision-Maker for consideration and decision.
- The Decision-Maker is the individual with the responsibility of making determinations of responsibility with respect to formal complaints of sexual harassment in accordance with the Title IX Grievance Process. The Decision-Maker will have adequate training and will not be the Appeal Decision-Maker, the Title Investigator(s), or the Title IX Coordinator. Unless otherwise designated by the Superintendent and posted on the School District Title IX website notice, the School District’s Title IX Decision-Maker will be the other Executive Director of Administrative Leadership (EDAL II) whose office is located at 1205 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114, general phone number (770) 479-1871.
- After the Title Investigator has concluded the collection of evidence and provided the Investigative Report, the Decision-Maker will afford each party 10 calendar days to submit written, relevant questions to the Decision-Maker for any party or witness.
- The Decision-Maker may omit any questions as not relevant. Should the Decision-Maker exclude a question, the Decision-Maker will explain to the party proposing the questions why the question(s) was not relevant.
- Questions and answers considered by the Decision-Maker should be included in the Decision-Maker’s Written Determination of Responsibility. Questions not posed as being irrelevant along with a rationale regarding the question’s relevance will also be included in the Decision-Maker’s Written Determination of Responsibility.
- The Decision-Maker will then provide the relevant questions to the party/witness, with copies to each party, and provide no less than 10 calendar days for written responses, likewise to be provided to each party.
- The Decision-Maker will then provide five calendar days each for supplementary, limited follow-up questions and five calendar days for answers, and may provide for additional rounds of follow-up questions, as long as the provision is extended to both parties equally.
- The standard of proof to be used for Formal Complaints in determining whether a violation has occurred and/or that the Respondent is responsible will be the preponderance of the evidence standard, which is only met when the Complainant convinces the Decision-Maker that there is a greater than 50% chance that the claim is true (i.e., more likely than not).
- The Decision-Maker must issue a Written Determination of Responsibility within 10 calendar days after the close of the period for responses to the last round of follow-up questions.
- The Decision-Maker may impose disciplinary sanctions and remedies if the Written Determination of Responsibility substantiates the allegations contained in the Formal Complaint.
Either party may appeal the Decision-Maker’s Written Determination of Responsibility or the dismissal of a Formal Complaint by notifying the Chief Operations Officer (COO) in writing (“written appeal”) with a copy of the appeal to the Title IX Coordinator. The written appeal must be received by the COO within 10 calendar days of the Decision-Maker issuing the Written Determination of Responsibility or the written notice of dismissal being communicated to the parties. The Appeals Decision-Maker has the responsibility to decide any appeal with respect to formal complaints of sexual harassment in accordance with the Title IX Grievance Process. The Appeals Decision-Maker will have adequate training, be free from conflict of interest, and will not be the Decision-Maker, the Title Investigator(s) or the Title IX Coordinator. 6 For the purpose of this Policy, unless otherwise designated by the Superintendent and posted on the School District’s Title IX website notice, the School District’ Appeals Decision-Maker will be the Chief Operations Officer (COO) whose office is located at 1205 Bluffs Parkway, Canton, GA 30114, general phone number (770) 479-1871.
- Within three school days of receipt of the written appeal, the Appeals Decision-Maker will provide a Notice of Appeal to each party and to the Title IX Coordinator, with a copy of the written appeal.
- Each party will have five school days from the date the Notice of Appeal is delivered to the parties to submit a written statement (“appeal statement”) in support of or challenging, the determination of responsibility or dismissal with copies to Title IX Coordinator and other party.
- The Appeals Decision-Maker may refer an appealed issue back to a prior point in the grievance process for clarification and/or further investigation with written notice to the parties and the Title IX Coordinator.
- The Appeals Decision-Maker will provide a written appeals decision within 10 calendar days after considering the record and the parties’ appeal statements.
F. Timeframe of Grievance Process.
The School District will make a good faith effort to conduct a fair, impartial grievance process in a timely manner designed to provide all parties with a prompt and equitable resolution. It is expected that in most cases, the School District will seek to complete the investigation and make a determination within 80 calendar days from the filing of a Formal Complaint. In any event, the School District will not compromise a thorough and fair process in order to meet the 80-day timeframe from the filing of a Formal Complaint to the conclusion of the investigation and determination of responsibility by the Decision-Maker. If any party chooses to appeal the outcome, the timeframes below provide for an additional 30-day period to submit, respond to, and for the Appeals Decision-Maker to make a decision regarding the appeal. If any deadline under the guidelines set forth below falls on a weekend or holiday, there will be an automatic extension to the next business day.
If the Parties elect to engage in an Informal Resolution, the timeframes below will be suspended during the pendency of that process.
A person may also file a complaint with the appropriate federal, state or local agency within the time frame required by law. Depending upon the nature of the complaint, the appropriate agency may be the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S Department of Education, the Department of Justice and/or the Georgia Department of Education.
Office for Civil Rights, Atlanta Office
U.S. Department of Education
61 Forsyth Street S.W., Suite 19T10
Atlanta, GA 30303-8927
Telephone: (404) 974-9406
Facsimile: (404) 974-9471
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
Atlanta District Office
Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center
100 Alabama Street, SW, Suite 4R30
Atlanta, GA 30303
United States U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Housing and Civil Enforcement Section, NWB
Washington, D.C. 20530
Georgia Department of Education
205 Jesse Hill Jr. Drive SE
Atlanta, GA 30334
Local (404) 656-2800
Toll-Free: (800) 311-3627 (GA) Fax: (404) 651-8737
Within any resolution process related to this Policy, the School District will provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities and religious accommodations, when that accommodation is consistent with state and federal law.
This Policy will be distributed to all students annually. Additionally, the Title IX Investigator(s), Title IX Coordinator, Decision-Maker, and Appeals Decision-Maker and other employees designated by the Superintendent will receive appropriate training in investigating, remediating and analyzing complaints of sexual harassment on an annual basis.
Appropriate Federal agencies promulgate regulation from time-to-time to implement Federal Laws prohibiting discrimination in schools and the workplace. To the extent that this Policy is inconsistent with or conflicts with any of those regulations, the current regulation controls and the part or parts of this Policy inconsistent with or in conflict with those regulations will be rescinded.
APPROVED: November 19, 2020