Policy 3420 – Non-Discrimination and Anti-Harassment in the School District
The District is committed to creating and maintaining an environment which is free from discrimination and harassment. This policy addresses complaints of discrimination and/or harassment made under applicable federal and state laws and regulations, as well as any applicable District policy, regulation, procedure, or other document such as the District’s Code of Conduct.
In accordance with applicable federal and state laws and regulations, the District does not discriminate on the basis of any legally protected class or category in its education programs and activities or when making employment decisions. Further, the District prohibits discrimination and harassment on school property and at school functions on the basis of any legally protected class or category including, but not limited to:
- National origin;
- Citizenship or immigration status;
- Sexual orientation;
- Gender identity or expression;
- Military status;
- Predisposing genetic characteristics;
- Familial status;
- arital status.; and
- Status as a victim of domestic violence.
The District adopts this policy as part of its effort to provide for the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints of discrimination and/or harassment. The District will promptly respond to reports of discrimination and/or harassment, ensure that all investigations are conducted within a reasonably prompt time frame and under a predictable fair grievance process that provides due process protections, and impose disciplinary measures and implement remedies when warranted.
Inquiries about this policy may be directed to the District’s Civil Rights Compliance Officer(s) (CRCO(s)).
Scope and Application
This policy outlines the District’s general approach to addressing complaints of discrimination and/or harassment. This policy applies to the dealings between or among the following parties on school property and at school functions:
- Applicants for employment;
- Paid or unpaid interns;
- Anyone who is (or is employed by) a contractor, subcontractor, vendor, consultant, or other person providing services pursuant to a contract in the workplace;
- Volunteers; and
- Visitors or other third parties.
Further, discrimination and/or harassment that occurs off school property and somewhere other than a school function can disrupt the District’s educational and work environment. This conduct can occur in-person or through phone calls, texts, emails, or social media. Accordingly, conduct or incidents of discrimination and/or harassment that create or foreseeably create a disruption within the District may be subject to this policy in certain circumstances.
Other District policies and documents such as regulations, procedures, collective bargaining agreements, and the District’s Code of Conduct may address misconduct related to discrimination and/or harassment and may provide for additional, different, or more specific grievance procedures depending on a number of factors including, but not limited to, who is involved, where the alleged discrimination and/or harassment occurred, and the basis of the alleged discrimination and/or harassment. These documents must be read in conjunction with this policy.
The dismissal of a complaint under one policy or document does not preclude action under another related District policy or document.
For purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:
- “School property” means in or within any building, structure, athletic playing field, playground, parking lot, or land contained within the real property boundary line of any District elementary or secondary school, or in or on a school bus or District vehicle.
- “School function” means a school-sponsored or school-authorized extracurricular event or activity regardless of where the event or activity takes place, including any event or activity that may take place virtually or in another state.
What Constitutes Discrimination and Harassment
Determinations as to whether conduct or an incident constitutes discrimination and/or harassment will be made consistent with applicable federal and state laws and regulations, as well as any applicable District policy, regulation, procedure, or other document such as the District’s Code of Conduct. These determinations may depend upon a number of factors, including, but not limited to: the particular conduct or incident at issue; the ages of the parties involved; the context in which the conduct or incident took place; the relationship of the parties to one another; the relationship of the parties to the District; and the protected class or characteristic that is alleged to have been the basis for the conduct or incident. The examples below are intended to serve as a general guide for individuals in determining what may constitute discrimination and/or harassment. These examples should not be construed to add or limit the rights that individuals and entities possess as a matter of law.
Generally stated, discrimination consists of the differential treatment of a person or group of people on the basis of their membership in a legally protected class. Discriminatory actions may include, but are not limited to: refusing to promote or hire an individual on the basis of membership in a protected class; denying an individual access to facilities or educational benefits on the basis of membership in a protected class; or impermissibly instituting policies or practices that disproportionately and adversely impact members of a protected class.
Generally stated, harassment consists of subjecting an individual, on the basis of membership in a legally protected class, to unwelcome verbal, written, or physical conduct which may include, but is not limited to: derogatory remarks, signs, jokes, or pranks; demeaning comments or behavior; slurs; mimicking; name calling; graffiti; innuendo; gestures; physical contact; stalking; threatening; bullying; extorting; or the display or circulation of written materials or pictures.
This conduct may, among other things, have the purpose or effect of: subjecting the individual to inferior terms, conditions, or privileges of employment; creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment; substantially or unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work or a student’s educational performance, opportunities, benefits, or well-being; or otherwise adversely affecting an individual’s employment or educational opportunities.
Under New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), discrimination or harassment does not need to be severe or pervasive to be illegal. It can be any discriminatory or harassing behavior that rises above petty slights or trivial inconveniences. Every instance of discrimination or harassment is unique to those experiencing it, and there is no single boundary between petty slights and harassing behavior. However, NYSHRL specifies that whether discriminatory or harassing conduct is considered petty or trivial is to be viewed from the standpoint of a reasonable victim of discrimination with the same protected characteristics.
Civil Rights Compliance Officer
The District has designated the following District employee(s) to serve as its CRCO(s):
- Assistant Superintendent, 1 Sir Bills Circle, Suite 101, Johnstown, NY 12095 (518) 762-4611
- High School Principal, 1 Sir Bills Circle, Johnstown, NY 12095 (518) 762-4661
The CRCO(s) will coordinate the District’s efforts to comply with its responsibilities under applicable non-discrimination and anti-harassment laws and regulations including, but not limited to: the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Age Discrimination Act of 1975.
Where appropriate, the CRCO(s) may seek the assistance of other District employees, such as the District’s Title IX Coordinator(s) or Dignity Act Coordinator(s) (DAC(s)), or third parties in investigating, responding to, and remedying complaints of discrimination and/or harassment.
Reporting Allegations of Discrimination and/or Harassment
Anyone who experiences, witnesses, or becomes aware of potential instances of discrimination or harassment is encouraged to report the behavior to a supervisor, building principal, other administrator, or the CRCO. Individuals should not feel discouraged from reporting discrimination or harassment because they do not believe it is bad enough or conversely because they do not want to see someone punished for less severe behavior.
Reports of discrimination and/or harassment may be made verbally or in writing. A written complaint form is posted on the District’s website if an individual would like to use it, but the complaint form is not required. Individuals who are reporting discrimination and/or harassment on behalf of another individual may use the complaint form and note that it is being submitted on another individual’s behalf. A verbal or otherwise written complaint (such as an email) on behalf of oneself or another individual is also acceptable.
Reports may be made to a CRCO in person, by using the contact information for a CRCO, or by any other means that results in a CRCO receiving the person’s verbal or written report. This report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed for a CRCO.
Reports of discrimination and/or harassment may also be made to any other District employee including a supervisor or building principal. All reports of discrimination and/or harassment must be immediately forwarded to the CRCO. Reports may also be forwarded to other District employees depending on the allegations.
Failure to immediately inform the CRCO may subject the employee to discipline up to and including termination.
If the CRCO is unavailable, including due to a conflict of interest or other disqualifying reason, the report will be directed to another CRCO, if the District has designated another individual to serve in that capacity. If the District has not designated another CRCO, the Superintendent will ensure that another person with the appropriate training and qualifications is appointed to act as the CRCO.
In addition to complying with the reporting requirements in this policy, District employees must comply with any other applicable reporting requirements contained in District policy, regulation, procedure, collective bargaining agreement, or other document such as the District’s Code of Conduct. Applicable documents include, but are not limited to, the District’s policies, regulations, and procedures related to Title IX, sexual harassment in the workplace, and the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).
Supervisors, building principals, other administrators, and the CRCOs are responsible for helping to maintain a discrimination and harassment-free educational and work environment.
All supervisors, building principals, and other administrators who receive a complaint or information about suspected discrimination or harassment, observe what may be discriminatory or harassing behavior, or for any reason suspect that discrimination or harassment is occurring, are required to report the suspected discrimination or harassment to the CRCO. If the CRCO is unavailable, including due to a conflict of interest or other disqualifying reason, the report will be directed to another CRCO, if the District has designated another individual to serve in that capacity. If the District has not designated another CRCO, the Superintendent will ensure that another person with the appropriate training and qualifications is appointed to act as the CRCO.
Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators should not be passive and wait for an individual to make a claim of discrimination or harassment. If they observe such behavior, they must act.
Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators can be disciplined if they engage in discriminatory or harassing behavior themselves. Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators, can also be disciplined for failing to report suspected discrimination or harassment or allowing discrimination or harassment to continue after they know about it.
While supervisors, building principals, and other administrators have a responsibility to report discrimination and harassment, they must be mindful of the impact that discrimination and/or harassment and a subsequent investigation has on victims. Being identified as a possible victim of discrimination or harassment and questioned about discrimination or harassment can be intimidating, uncomfortable and re-traumatizing for individuals. Supervisors, building principals, and other administrators must accommodate the needs of individuals who have experienced discrimination or harassment to ensure the workplace is safe, supportive, and free from retaliation for them during and after any investigation.
Grievance Process for Complaints of Discrimination and/or Harassment
All complaints or information about discrimination or harassment will be investigated, whether that information was reported in verbal or written form. An investigation of any complaint, information, or knowledge of suspected discrimination or harassment will be prompt, thorough, equitable, and started and completed as soon as possible. Investigations will be kept confidential to the extent possible. Disclosure may, however, be necessary to complete a thorough investigation of the charges and/or notify law enforcement officials. All individuals involved, including those making a discrimination or harassment claim, witnesses, and alleged harassers deserve a fair and impartial investigation.
The CRCO will generally oversee the District’s investigation of all complaints of discrimination and/or harassment. In the event an anonymous complaint is filed, the District will respond to the extent possible.
District employees may be required to cooperate as needed in an investigation of suspected discrimination or harassment. The District recognizes that participating in a discrimination or harassment investigation can be uncomfortable and has the potential to retraumatize an individual. Individuals receiving claims and leading investigations will handle complaints and questions with sensitivity toward participants.
Various District policies and documents address discrimination and harassment. All complaints will be handled in accordance with the applicable District policies and/or documents.
The determination as to which District policies and/or documents are applicable is fact specific, and the CRCO may work with other District staff such as the District’s Dignity Act Coordinators (DACs) or Title IX Coordinator(s) to determine which District policies and/or documents are applicable to the specific facts of the complaint.
If an investigation reveals that discrimination and/or harassment based on a legally protected class has occurred, the District will take immediate corrective action as warranted. This action will be taken in accordance with applicable law and regulations, as well as any applicable District policy, regulation, procedure, collective bargaining agreement, third-party contract, or other document such as the District’s Code of Conduct.
Knowingly Makes False Accusations
Any employee or student who knowingly makes false accusations against another individual as to allegations of discrimination and/or harassment will face appropriate disciplinary action.
Prohibition of Retaliatory Behavior (Commonly Known as “Whistle-Blower” Protection)
The District prohibits all retaliation. Any individual that reports an incident of discrimination or harassment, provides information, or otherwise assists in any investigation of a discrimination or harassment complaint is protected from retaliation. No one should fear reporting discrimination or harassment if they believe it has occurred. Even if the alleged discrimination or harassment does not turn out to rise to the level of a violation of law, the individual is protected from retaliation if the person had a good faith belief that the practices were unlawful. However, the retaliation provision is not intended to protect persons making intentionally false charges of discrimination or harassment.
Any District employee who retaliates against anyone involved in a discrimination or harassment investigation will face disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
Complaints of retaliation may be directed to the CRCO. If the CRCO is unavailable, including due to a conflict of interest or other disqualifying reason, the report will be directed to another CRCO, if the District has designated another individual to serve in that capacity. If the District has not designated another CRCO, the Superintendent will ensure that another person with the appropriate training and qualifications is appointed to act as the CRCO.
Where appropriate, follow-up inquiries will be made to ensure that the discrimination and/or harassment has not resumed and that those involved in the investigation have not suffered retaliation.
To the extent possible, all complaints will be treated as confidential. Disclosure may be necessary in certain circumstances such as to complete a thorough investigation and/or notify law enforcement officials. All disclosures will be in accordance with law and regulation.
In order to promote familiarity with issues pertaining to discrimination and harassment in the District, and to help reduce incidents of prohibited conduct, the District will provide appropriate information and/or training to employees and students. As may be necessary, special training may will be provided for individuals involved in the handling of discrimination and/or harassment complaints.
Prior to the beginning of each school year, the District will issue an appropriate public announcement or publication which advises students, parents or legal guardians, employees, and other relevant individuals of the District’s established grievance process for resolving complaints of discrimination and/or harassment. This announcement or publication will include the name, office address, telephone number, and email address of the CRCO(s). The District’s website will reflect current and complete contact information for the CRCO(s).
A copy of this policy and its corresponding regulations and/or procedures will be available upon request and will be posted and/or published in appropriate locations and/or District publications.
Regulations and/or procedures will be developed for reporting, investigating, and remedying allegations of discrimination and/or harassment.
8 USC Section 1324b
29 USC Section 206
42 USC Section 1981
Age Discrimination Act of 1975, 42 USC Section 6101 et seq.
Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), 29 USC Section 621 et seq.
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 USC Section 12101 et seq.
Equal Educational Opportunities Act of 1974, 20 USC Section 1701 et seq.
Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act (GINA), 42 USC Section 2000ff et seq.
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, 29 USC Section 790 et seq.
Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC Section 2000c et seq.
Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC Section 2000d et seq.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 USC Section 2000e et seq.
Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, 20 USC Section 1681 et seq.
Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), 38 USC Section 4301 et seq.
28 CFR Part 35
29 CFR Chapter I – National Labor Relations Board
29 CFR Chapter XIV – Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
34 CFR Parts 100, 104, 106, 110, and 270
45 CFR Part 86
Civil Rights Law Sections 40, 40-a, 40-c, 47-a, 47-b, and 48-a
Civil Service Law Sections 75-b and 115
Correction Law Section 752
Education Law Sections 10-18, 313, 313-a, 2801, 3201, and 3201-a
Labor Law Sections 194-a, 201-d, 201-g, 203-e, 206-c, 215, and 740
New York State Human Rights Law, Executive Law Section 290 et seq.
Military Law Sections 242, 243, and 318
8 NYCRR Section 100.2
9 NYCRR Section 466 et seq.
NOTE: Refer also to Policies
#3421 — Title IX and Sex Discrimination
#6120 — Equal Employment Opportunity
#6121 — Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
#6122 — Employee Grievances
#7550 — Dignity for All Students
#7551 — Sexual Harassment of Students
#8130 — Equal Educational Opportunities
#8220 — Career and Technical (Occupational) Education
District Code of Conduct