Thomas Academy believes that all employees, students and their parents/families should be free of harassment and bullying as part of a safe, orderly, caring and inviting working and learning environment. The Board expressly prohibits harassment or bullying of students, employees and their parents/families, by students. Any violation of this Policy is considered a serious violation and appropriate action shall be taken in response to a violation in accordance with the Student Discipline Policy.
A. APPLICATION OF POLICY.
This Policy will apply in the following circumstances:
For purposes of this Policy, the following definitions will apply:
a. Places a student or school employee in actual and reasonable fear of harm to his or her person or damage to his or her property;
b. Creates or is certain to create a hostile environment by substantially interfering with or impairing a student’s educational performance, opportunities, or benefits. As used in this Policy, the term “hostile environment” means that the victim subjectively views the conduct as bullying or harassment and the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would agree that it is bullying or harassment. Harassing or bullying behavior may include in appropriate circumstances and consistent with the definition above, but is not necessarily limited to: threats, epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, lewd propositions, assault, impeding or blocking movement, offensive touching;
c. Physical interference with normal work or movement, and visual insults, such as derogatory posters or cartoons;
d. Meets the definition of “sexual harassment” as listed below.
2. “Sexual Harassment”, when committed by a student, is conduct of a sexual nature when such conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so that it has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an employee’s work or performance, or a student’s educational performance, substantially limiting a student’s ability to participate in or benefit from an educational program or environment or creating an abusive, intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or educational environment. The terms “abusive environment”, “intimidating environment” and “offensive environment”, as used in this Policy, mean that the victim subjectively views the conduct as sexual harassment and the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough that a reasonable person would agree that it is sexual harassment. Sexual harassment may be between members of the same sex or members of the opposite sex.
Examples of sexually harassing conduct may include, but are not limited to the following:
C. HARASSMENT OR BULLYING COMPLAINT PROCEDURES Students, parents/guardians, school employees, volunteers, visitors or others may initiate an investigation into harassment or bullying by a student by using the procedures outlined below. (For complaints and investigations of discrimination, harassment or bullying by officials, employees, volunteers or visitors, see Prohibition of Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying by Officials, Employees, Volunteers and Visitors).
The Board prohibits reprisal or retaliation against any person who reports an act of harassment or bullying, except where the person knew or had reason to believe that the report was false. The consequence and appropriate remedial action for a person who engages in wrongful reprisal or retaliation shall be determined by the appropriate administrator, after consideration of the nature and circumstances of the act, in accordance with applicable federal, state or local laws, policies and regulations.
F. TRAINING AND PROGRAMS
The Principal or designee shall designate an employee(s) to participate in training by the Department of Public Instruction pertaining to anti-harassment and anti-bullying. The designee will provide leadership and training in the school system regarding this Policy and state requirements. As funds are available, the Principal will provide additional training for students and staff regarding the Board’s Policy on harassment and bullying and will create programs to address these issues. The Principal or designee will ensure that any training or programs provided will include indentifying groups that may be the target of harassment or bullying; identifying places at which such behavior may occur including within school buildings or property, at school bus stops, via the internet, etc., and providing clear examples of behavior that constitutes harassment or bullying.
The Principal or designee is responsible for providing effective notice to students, parents/guardians and employees of the procedures for reporting and investigating complaints of harassment or bullying by students. The dissemination of such information may be completed using the following techniques, as well as through others that may not be listed:
• Student handbooks issued at the beginning of the school year;
• School website (thomasacademync.org);
The Superintendent or designee will publish the names, addresses and phone numbers of the “Title IX Coordinator” (for sex discrimination), “Section 504 Coordinator” (for discrimination on the basis of disability) and the “ADA Coordinator” (also for discrimination on the basis of disability) in a manner intended to ensure that employees, applicants, students, parents/guardians and other individuals who participate in the school system’s program are aware of the coordinators. The purpose of the coordinator positions is to provide additional protection of non-harassment and non-bullying rights. The coordinator either must (1) implement a resolution to harassment or bullying complaint, to the extent a resolution can be reached and the coordinator has the authority to implement corrective action or (2) notify the Principal or designee that intervention by other school officials is required to resolve the situation.
I. RECORDS AND REPORTING
The Principal or designee shall maintain confidential records of complaint or reports of harassment and bullying which identify the names of any individuals accused and the resolution of such reports or complaints. The Principal also shall maintain records of training, corrective action or other steps taken by the system to help provide an environment free of harassment and bullying. The Principal or designee shall report to the Thomas Academy Board all verified cases of harassment or bullying. The report will be made through the Discipline Data Collection Report or through other means required by the Thomas Academy Board.
J. DIVERSITY PROGRAMS
The Thomas Academy Board is committed to promoting the worth and dignity of all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, ancestry, color, religion, national origin, gender, socio-economic status, gender identity, physical appearance, sexual orientation, age or mental, physical, developmental or sensory disability. The Board directs the Principal or designee to establish training and other programs to help eliminate harassment and bullying and to foster an environment of understanding and respect for all individuals.
The Principal or designee is required to evaluate the effectiveness of efforts to correct or prevent harassment and bullying and will share these evaluations periodically with the Board.
L. CIVIL LIABILITY
This Policy is intended to provide guidance as to disciplinary action that shall or may be taken against students for violations of this Policy. This Policy is not intended to and shall not provide a basis for a civil cause of action or damages against the Board, its members, agents or employees, in favor of a victim of harassment or bullying. Any cause of action or right to damages in favor of a victim of harassment or bullying shall be as specified by applicable federal and/or state law. LEGAL REFS: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d et.seq., 34 CFR. pt.100; Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC. 2000e et. seq., 29 CFR pt. 1604; Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 USC §1681 et. seq., 34 CFR pt. 106; Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 29 USC 621 et. seq.; The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC 705(20), 794, 34 CFR pt. 104; Americans With Disabilities Act, 42 USC 12101 et. seq., 34 CFR pt. 35; Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, other Students, or Third Parties, US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (2001); Racial Incidents and Harassment Against Students at Educational Institutions, Investigative Guidance, US Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (1994); Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services, 523 US 75 (1998); NCGS §115C-335.5, NCGS §115C-407.9 through 407.12, NCGS §-126-16; State Board of Education Policy HRS-A-007 CROSS REFS: Policy 9510 Parent/Public Complaints, Policy 8410 Student Discipline, Policies, Rules and Procedures, Policy 6445 Prohibition Against Discrimination, Harassment and Bullying by Officials, Employees, Volunteers and Visitors Adopted: 04/04/05 Revised: 03/02/10, 04/05/11.