Lancaster SD | AR 5145.71 Students
Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint Procedures
Cautionary Notice: The following administrative regulation reflects federal Title IX regulations added by 85 Fed. Reg. 30026, effective August 14, 2020, which establish a process for investigating and resolving allegations of conduct that meets the federal definition of sexual harassment. The federal regulations preempt any conflicting state law or regulations, but the interaction between federal and state law is not always clear. Districts should consult legal counsel if questions about a potential conflict arise. Districts should also note that 18 states, including California, have sued the U.S. Department of Education to stop the implementation of these regulations. A preliminary injunction seeking to postpone the effective date of the regulations and prohibit their enforcement is currently pending. If the court grants the injunction, the following administrative regulation will not take effect.
The complaint procedures described in this administrative regulation shall be used to address any complaint governed by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 alleging that a student was subjected to one or more of the following forms of sexual harassment: (34 CFR 106.30)
1. A district employee conditioning the provision of a district aid, benefit, or service on the student's participation in unwelcome sexual conduct
2. Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a student equal access to the district's education program or activity
3. Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in 20 USC 1092 or 34 USC 12291
All other sexual harassment complaints shall be investigated and responded to pursuant to AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures.
(cf. 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures)
A report of sexual harassment shall be submitted directly to or forwarded to the district's Title IX Coordinator using the contact information listed in AR 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment.
(cf. 5145.7 - Sexual Harassment)
Upon receiving such a report, the Title IX Coordinator shall inform the complainant of the process for filing a formal complaint.
Even if the alleged victim chooses not to file a formal complaint, the Title IX Coordinator shall file a formal complaint in situations in which a safety threat exists. In addition, the Title IX Coordinator may file a formal complaint in other situations as permitted under the Title IX regulations. In such cases, the alleged victim is not a party to the case, but will receive notices as required by the Title IX regulations at specific points in the complaint process.
A formal complaint, with the complainant's physical or digital signature, may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, by email, or by any other method authorized by the district. (34 CFR 106.30)
The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that the Title IX Coordinator, investigator, decision-maker, or a facilitator of an informal resolution process does not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against complainants or respondents generally or an individual complainant or respondent, and that such persons receive training in accordance with 34 CFR 106.45. (34 CFR 106.45)
Upon receipt of a report of Title IX sexual harassment, even if a formal complaint is not filed, the Title IX Coordinator shall promptly contact the complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures which are nondisciplinary, nonpunitive, and do not unreasonably burden the other party. Such measures may include, but are not limited to, counseling, course-related adjustments, modifications of class schedules, mutual restrictions on contact, increased security, and monitoring of certain areas of the campus. The Title IX Coordinator shall consider the complainant's wishes with respect to supportive measures. (34 CFR 106.30, 106.44)
Emergency Removal from School
On an emergency basis, the district may remove a student from the district's education program or activity, provided that the district conducts an individualized safety and risk analysis, determines that removal is justified due to an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations, and provides the student with notice and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following the removal. This authority to remove a student does not modify a student's rights under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. (34 CFR 106.44)
If a district employee is the respondent, the employee may be placed on administrative leave during the pendency of the formal complaint process. (34 CFR 106.44)
Dismissal of Complaint
The Title IX Coordinator shall dismiss a formal complaint if the alleged conduct would not constitute sexual harassment as defined in 34 CFR 106.30 even if proved. The Title IX Coordinator shall also dismiss any complaint that did not occur in the district's education program or activity or did not occur against a person in the United States, and may dismiss a formal complaint if the complainant notifies the district in writing that the complainant would like to withdraw the complaint or any allegations in the complaint, the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the district, or sufficient circumstances prevent the district from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination with regard to the complaint. (34 CFR 106.45)
Upon dismissal, the Title IX Coordinator shall promptly, and simultaneously to the parties, send written notice of the dismissal and the reasons for the dismissal. (34 CFR 106.45)
If a complaint is dismissed on the grounds that the alleged conduct does not constitute sexual harassment as defined in 34 CFR 106.30, the conduct may still be addressed pursuant to BP/AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures as applicable.
Informal Resolution Process
When a formal complaint of sexual harassment is filed, the district may offer an informal resolution process, such as mediation, at any time prior to reaching a determination regarding responsibility. The district shall not require a party to participate in the informal resolution process or to waive the right to an investigation and adjudication of a formal complaint. (34 CFR 106.45)
The district may facilitate an informal resolution process provided that the district: (34 CFR 106.45)
1. Provides the parties with written notice disclosing the allegations, the requirements of the informal resolution process, the right to withdraw from the informal process and resume the formal complaint process, and any consequences resulting from participating in the informal resolution process, including that records will be maintained or could be shared.
2. Obtains the parties' voluntary, written consent to the informal resolution process
3. Does not offer or facilitate an informal resolution process to resolve allegations that an employee sexually harassed a student
Formal Complaint Process
If a formal complaint is filed, the Title IX Coordinator shall provide the known parties with written notice of the following: (34 CFR 106.45)
1. The district's complaint process, including any informal resolution process
2. The allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment with sufficient details known at the time, including the identity of parties involved in the incident if known, the conduct allegedly constituting sexual harassment, and the date and location of the alleged incident if known. Such notice shall be provided with sufficient time for the parties to prepare a response before any initial interview.
If, during the course of the investigation, the district investigates allegations about the complainant or respondent that are not included in the initial notice, the Title IX Coordinator shall provide notice of the additional allegations to the parties.
3. A statement that the respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the complaint process
4. The opportunity for the parties to have an advisor of their choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, and the ability to inspect and review evidence
5. The prohibition against knowingly making false statements or knowingly submitting false information during the complaint process
The above notice shall also include the name of the investigator, facilitator of an informal process, and decision-maker and shall provide either party with no less than three calendar days to raise concerns of conflict of interest or bias regarding any of these persons.
During the investigation process, the district shall: (34 CFR 106.45)
1. Provide an equal opportunity for the parties to present witnesses, including fact and expert witnesses, and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence
2. Not restrict the ability of either party to discuss the allegations under investigation or to gather and present relevant evidence
3. Provide the parties with the same opportunities to have others present during any grievance proceeding, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any related meeting or proceeding by the advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney
4. Not limit the choice or presence of an advisor for either the complainant or respondent in any meeting or grievance proceeding, although the district may establish restrictions regarding the extent to which the advisor may participate in the proceedings as long as the restrictions apply equally to both parties
5. Provide, to a party whose participation is invited or expected, written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all investigative interviews or other meetings, with sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate
6. Send in an electronic format or hard copy to both parties and their advisors, if any, the evidence that is directly related to the allegations raised in the complaint, and provide the parties at least 10 days to submit a written response for the investigator to consider prior to the completion of the investigative report
7. Objectively evaluate all relevant evidence, including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, and determine credibility in a manner that is not based on a person's status as a complainant, respondent, or witness
8. Create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence and, at least 10 days prior to the determination of responsibility, send to the parties and their advisors, if any, the investigative report in an electronic format or a hard copy, for their review and written response
9. After sending the investigative report to the parties and before reaching a determination regarding responsibility, afford each party the opportunity to submit written, relevant questions that the party wants asked of any party or witness, provide each party with the answers, and allow for additional, limited follow-up questions from each party
Questions and evidence about the complainant's sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such questions and evidence 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.
Privacy rights of all parties to the complaint shall be maintained in accordance with applicable state and federal laws.
If the complaint is against an employee, rights conferred under an applicable collective bargaining agreement shall be applied to the extent they do not conflict with the Title IX requirements.
The Superintendent shall designate an employee as the decision-maker to determine responsibility for the alleged conduct, who shall not be the Title IX Coordinator or a person involved in the investigation of the matter. (34 CFR 106.45)
The decision-maker shall issue, and simultaneously provide to both parties, a written decision as to whether the respondent is responsible for the alleged conduct. (34 CFR 106.45)
The written decision shall be issued within 45 calendar days of the receipt of the complaint.
The timeline may be temporarily extended for good cause with written notice to the complainant and respondent of the extension and the reasons for the action. (34 CFR 106.45)
In making this determination, the district shall use the "preponderance of the evidence" standard for all formal complaints of sexual harassment. The same standard of evidence shall be used for formal complaints against students as for complaints against employees. (34 CFR 106.45)
The written decision shall include the following: (34 CFR 106.45)
1. Identification of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment as defined in 34 CFR 106.30
2. A description of the procedural steps taken from receipt of the formal complaint through the written decision, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held if the district includes hearings as part of the grievance process
3. Findings of fact supporting the determination
4. Conclusions regarding the application of the district's code of conduct to the facts
5. A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a decision regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions the district imposes on the respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the district's educational program or activity will be provided by the district to the complainant
6. The district's procedures and permissible bases for the complainant and respondent to appeal
Either party may appeal the district's decision or dismissal of a formal complaint or any allegation in the complaint, if the party believes that a procedural irregularity affected the outcome, new evidence is available that could affect the outcome, or a conflict of interest or bias by the Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), or decision-maker(s) affected the outcome. If an appeal is filed, the district shall: (34 CFR 106.45)
1. Notify the other party in writing when an appeal is filed and implement appeal procedures equally for both parties
2. Ensure that the decision-maker(s) for the appeal is trained in accordance with 34 CFR 106.45 and is not the same decision-maker(s) who reached the determination regarding responsibility or dismissal, the investigator(s), or the Title IX Coordinator
3. Give both parties a reasonable, equal opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the outcome
4. Issue a written decision describing the result of the appeal and the rationale for the result
5. Provide the written decision simultaneously to both parties
An appeal must be filed in writing within 10 calendar days of receiving the determination, stating the grounds for the appeal and including any relevant documentation in support of the appeal. Appeals submitted after this deadline are not timely and shall not be considered. Either party has the right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights.
A written decision shall be provided to the parties within 20 calendar days from the receipt of the appeal.
When a determination of responsibility for sexual harassment has been made against the respondent, the district shall provide remedies to the complainant. Such remedies may include the same individualized services described above in the section "Supportive Measures," but need not be nondisciplinary or nonpunitive and need not avoid burdening the respondent. (34 CFR 106.45)
The district shall not impose any disciplinary sanctions or other actions against a respondent, other than supportive measures as described above in the section "Supportive Measures," until the complaint procedure has been completed and a determination of responsibility has been made. (34 CFR 106.44)
For students in grades 4-12, discipline for sexual harassment may include suspension and/or expulsion. After the completion of the complaint procedure, if it is determined that a student at any grade level has committed sexual assault or sexual battery at school or at a school activity off school grounds, the principal or Superintendent shall immediately suspend the student and shall recommend expulsion. (Education Code 48900.2, 48915)
(cf. 5144 - Discipline)
(cf. 5144.1 - Suspension and Expulsion/Due Process)
Other actions that may be taken with a student who is determined to be responsible for sexual harassment include, but are not limited to:
1. Transfer from a class or school as permitted by law
2. Parent/guardian conference
3. Education of the student regarding the impact of the conduct on others
4. Positive behavior support
5. Referral of the student to a student success team
(cf. 6164.5 - Student Success Teams)
6. Denial of participation in extracurricular or cocurricular activities or other privileges as permitted by law
(cf. 6145 - Extracurricular and Cocurricular Activities)
When an employee is found to have committed sexual harassment or retaliation, the district shall take appropriate disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal, in accordance with applicable law and collective bargaining agreement.
(cf. 4118 - Dismissal/Suspension/Disciplinary Action)
(cf. 4218 - Dismissal/Suspension/Disciplinary Action)
The Superintendent or designee shall maintain for a period of seven years a record of all reported cases and Title IX investigations of sexual harassment, any determinations of responsibility, any audio or audiovisual recording and transcript if applicable, any disciplinary sanctions imposed, any remedies provided to the complainant, any appeal or informal resolution and the results therefrom, and responses made pursuant to 34 CFR 106.44. (34 CFR 106.45)
The Superintendent or designee shall also maintain for a period of seven years all materials used to train the Title IX Coordinator, investigator(s), decision-maker(s), and any person who facilitates an informal resolution process. The district shall make such training materials publicly available on its web site, or if the district does not maintain a web site, available upon request by members of the public. (34 CFR 106.45)
(cf. 3580 - District Records)
200-262.4 Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex
48900 Grounds for suspension or expulsion
48900.2 Additional grounds for suspension or expulsion; sexual harassment
48985 Notices, report, statements and records in primary language
51.9 Liability for sexual harassment; business, service and professional relationships
1714.1 Liability of parents/guardians for willful misconduct of minor
12950.1 Sexual harassment training
CODE OF REGULATIONS, TITLE 5
4600-4670 Uniform complaint procedures
4900-4965 Nondiscrimination in elementary and secondary education programs
UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 20
1092 Definition of sexual assault
1221 Application of laws
1232g Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
1681-1688 Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 34
12291 Definition of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking
UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 42
1983 Civil action for deprivation of rights
2000d-2000d-7 Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964
2000e-2000e-17 Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended
CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, TITLE 34
99.1-99.67 Family Educational Rights and Privacy
106.1-106.82 Nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in education programs
Donovan v. Poway Unified School District, (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 567
Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, (2003, 9th Cir.) 324 F.3d 1130
Reese v. Jefferson School District, (2000, 9th Cir.) 208 F.3d 736
Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, (1999) 526 U.S. 629
Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, (1998) 524 U.S. 274
Oona by Kate S. v. McCaffrey, (1998, 9th Cir.) 143 F.3d 473
Doe v. Petaluma City School District, (1995, 9th Cir.) 54 F.3d 1447
Providing a Safe, Nondiscriminatory School Environment for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students, Policy Brief, February 2014
Safe Schools: Strategies for Governing Boards to Ensure Student Success, 2011
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS PUBLICATIONS
Q&A on Campus Sexual Misconduct, September 2017
Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students, May 2016
Dear Colleague Letter: Title IX Coordinators, April 2015
Sexual Harassment: It's Not Academic, September 2008
Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties, January 2001
California Department of Education: http://www.cde.ca.gov
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr
Regulation LANCASTER SCHOOL DISTRICT
approved: September 1, 2020 Lancaster, California