POLICY 7-1.1 EQUAL EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
The Montgomery County Public Schools’ educational programs and services shall be designed to meet the varying needs of all students and shall not discriminate against any individual for reasons of race, religion, color, gender, national origin, disability, or on any other basis prohibited by law. Students may express their beliefs about religion in homework, artwork, and other written and oral assignments free from discrimination based on the religious content of their submissions. Home and classroom work shall be judged by ordinary academic standards of substance and relevance and other legitimate pedagogical concerns identified by the school. Further, no student shall, on the basis of gender, be excluded from participating in, be denied the benefits of, be limited in the exercise of any right, privilege or advantage, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity conducted by the school division. The School Board encourages school division employees, patrons and students to report promptly all incidents of alleged discriminatory conduct.
In furtherance of this policy, the School Board shall (i) provide facilities, programs and activities that are accessible, usable and available to qualified disabled persons; (ii) provide a free, appropriate education, including non-academic and extracurricular services, to qualified disabled persons; (iii) not exclude qualified disabled persons, solely on the basis of their disabilities, from any preschool, daycare, adult education or vocational programs; and (iv) not discriminate against qualified disabled persons in the provision of health, welfare or social services.
It is the policy of the School Board to maintain a working and learning environment for all of its employees and students, which provides for fair and equitable treatment, including freedom from sexual harassment or abuse. No employee or student, male or female, shall harass or abuse another employee or student, male or female, by making unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or engaging in other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when (1) submission to or rejection of such conduct is used as a basis for employment or academic decisions affecting the employee or student, (2) such conduct creates an intimidating, hostile, offensive or abusive working or learning environment, or (3) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of the individual’s employment or participation in school programs. As used elsewhere in this policy, the term “harassment” specifically includes sexual harassment unless the context implies otherwise.
Grievance Procedure for Students with Complaints of Discrimination
Any student who believes he or she has been the victim of prohibited discrimination, or any student that has knowledge of conduct which may constitute prohibited discrimination against another person should report the alleged discrimination as soon as possible to a building principal. The building principal will attempt to resolve the complaint through informal resolution prior to initiating a formal complaint. If it is not possible to resolve the matter within 5 business days, then a formal complaint will be reported by the building principal to one of the compliance officers designated in this policy.
Any student, employee, parent, or other person who has knowledge of conduct which may constitute prohibited discrimination shall report such conduct to the building principal. If it is not possible to resolve the matter within 5 business days, then the building principal will forward the report to one of the compliance officers designated in this policy.
The reporting party should use the form, Report of Discrimination, to make complaints of discrimination. However, oral reports shall also be accepted. The complaint must be filed with either the building principal or one of the compliance officers designated in this policy. The principal shall immediately forward any report of alleged prohibited discrimination to a compliance officer. Any complaint that involves a compliance officer shall be reported to the division superintendent.
The complaint and identity of the complainant and alleged perpetrator shall not be disclosed except as required by law or policy, as necessary to fully investigate the complaint or as authorized by the complainant.
Upon receipt of a report of alleged prohibited discrimination, the compliance officer shall immediately authorize or undertake an investigation. The investigation may be conducted by school personnel or a third party designated by the school division. The investigation shall be completed as soon as practicable, but not later than fourteen (14) business days after receipt of the report by the principal or compliance officer. The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the complainant, the alleged perpetrator, and any others who may have knowledge of the alleged discrimination or the circumstances giving rise to the complaint. The investigation may also consist of the inspection of any other documents or information deemed relevant by the investigator. All employees shall cooperate with any investigation of alleged discrimination conducted under this policy or by an appropriate state or federal agency.
The school division shall take necessary steps to protect the complainant and others pending the completion of the investigation. Whether a particular action or incident constitutes a violation of this policy requires a case-by-case determination based on all of the facts and circumstances revealed after a complete and thorough investigation.
The compliance officer shall issue a written report to the division superintendent upon completion of the investigation. If the complaint involves the division superintendent, then the report shall be sent to the School Board. The report shall include a determination of whether the allegations are substantiated, whether this policy was violated, and recommendations for corrective action, if any.
Within five (5) business days of receiving the compliance officer’s report, the division superintendent shall issue a decision regarding (1) whether the policy was violated and (2) what action, if any, should be taken. This decision must be provided in writing to the complainant. If the division superintendent determines that prohibited discrimination occurred, the Montgomery County School Division shall take prompt, appropriate action to address and remedy the violation as well as prevent any recurrence. Such action may include discipline up to and including expulsion or discharge.
If the school division determines that no prohibited discrimination occurred, the student, or parent/guardian of the student, who was allegedly subjected to discrimination may appeal this finding to the School Board within five (5) business days of receiving the decision. Notice of appeal must be filed with the division superintendent who shall forward the record to the School Board. The School Board shall make a decision within thirty (30) calendar days of receiving the record. The School Board may ask for oral or written argument from the aggrieved party and the division superintendent and any other individual the School Board deems relevant.
Retaliation against students or school personnel who report discrimination or participate in the related proceedings is prohibited. Montgomery County Public Schools shall take appropriate action against any student or employee who retaliates against another student or employee who reports alleged discrimination or participates in related proceedings.
Right to Alternative Complaint Procedure
Nothing in this policy shall deny the right of any individual to pursue other avenues of recourse to address concerns relating to prohibited discrimination including initiating civil action, filing a complaint with outside agencies or seeking redress under state or federal law.
The Montgomery County School Board has designated the Directors of Elementary and Secondary Education, 200 Junkin Street, Christiansburg, Virginia, 24073, (540) 382-5100, as the Compliance Officers responsible for identifying, preventing, and remedying prohibited discrimination. The Compliance Officers shall: (1) receive reports or complaints of discrimination; (2) oversee the investigation of any alleged discrimination; (3) assess the training needs of the school division in connection with this policy; (4) arrange necessary training to achieve compliance with this policy; (5) insure that any discrimination investigation is conducted by an impartial investigator who is trained in the requirements of equal education opportunity, including the authority to protect the alleged victim and others during the investigation.
Prevention and Notice of Policy
Training to prevent discrimination should be included in employee and student orientations as well as employee in-service training. This policy shall be (1) displayed in prominent areas of each division building in a location accessible to students, parents and school personnel, (2) included in the student and employee handbooks, and (3) sent to parents of all students within thirty (30) calendar days of the start of school. All students and their parent/guardian shall be notified annually of the names and contact information of the Compliance Officers.
Students or school personnel who make false charges of discrimination shall be subject to disciplinary action.
LEGAL REFERENCE: Constitution of
Adopted: April 2004
Revised: June 2008, May 2011