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Disability Harassment: Students

DISABILITY HARASSMENT:  STUDENTS

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) affords all students equal educational opportunities, as well as, equal opportunities to participate in extra curricular activities and prohibits discrimination and harassment in any program or activity of or sponsored by the APS.  Disability harassment is a form of discrimination and is prohibited by APS policy and by state and federal law.

A.        OVERVIEW

Discrimination and harassing behaviors include, but are not limited to, making comments, name-calling, conduct of a physical nature, or other expressive behavior directed at an individual or group on the basis of an individual or individual’s disability or disabilities.  Discriminatory and harassing behavior creates a demeaning, intimidating, and hostile educational environment.

Discrimination/Harassment is considered to have occurred when such conduct:

  1. has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive academic environment,
  2. has the purpose or effect of substantially or unreasonably interfering with a student’s academic performance, or
  3. otherwise adversely affects an individual’s academic opportunities.

B.        EXAMPLES OF DISABILITY HARASSMENT

The following are examples of circumstances that may constitute disability harassment:

  • Several students continually remark out loud to other students during class that a student with dyslexia is “retarded” or “deaf and dumb” and does not belong in the class.
  • A student repeatedly places classroom furniture or other objects in the path of classmates who use wheelchairs, impeding the classmates’ mobility.
  • Habitually subjecting a student to inappropriate physical restraint because of conduct related to his disability.
  • Repeatedly denying a student with a disability access to lunch, field trips, assemblies, and extracurricular activities as punishment for taking time off from school for requires services related to a student’s disability.
  • Repeatedly belittling and criticizing a student for using accommodations in class.
  • Taunting and belittling a student with mental retardation by mocking and intimidation.

C.        PREVENTION AND REMEDIATION

School personnel who become aware of disability related harassment shall promptly and effectively act to end the harassment and prevent it from recurring and, where appropriate, remedy the effects on the student who was harassed.  Remedial measures will generally include counseling both persons(s) who have been harmed by harassment and person(s) who have been responsible for the harassment of others and implementing monitoring programs to follow up on resolved issues of disability harassment.

Students should report any concerns related to disability harassment to a school administrator.

D.        COMPLAINT PROCEDURES

  • Who may file a complaint

Students, or a parent(s) or legal guardian(s) who believe his/her student has been subjected to disability harassment by another student, teacher, administrator or other school personnel should report the incident(s) immediately to a school administrator, teacher or a counselor.

APS encourages students, or a parent(s) or legal guardian(s) to report incident(s) of disability harassment and resolve their complaints at the lowest level.  If further assistance is needed, contact the appropriate Administrator for assistance.  Assistance may also be sought and a complaint filed through the APS Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

  • How to file a complaint

Complaints may be filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity Services and must be submitted in writing within 180 days from the date of alleged act(s), unless the time for filing is extended by the Office of Equal Opportunity Services for good cause (to be determined by the OEOS).  All inquiries and discrimination complaints filed with the OEOS are confidential to the extent possible as described below.  Confidentiality also applies to the investigative process of all investigations conducted by the OEOS.

  • Appeal Process

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services informs the Superintendent of the determination of the investigation indicating there was (1) sufficient information to determine there was a violation of District policies and procedures and/or to support the allegations made or (2) insufficient information to support a determination that there was a violation of District policies and procedures and/or to support the allegations made.

The complainant (the individual(s) filing the complaint) and respondent (the individual(s) responding to the complaint) have the right to appeal the Office of Equal Opportunity Services’ determination.  If the complainant or respondent is not in agreement with the Office of Equal Opportunity Services’ determination, he/she will have (10) working days from the date of the determination to submit an appeal in writing to the Superintendent.  The Superintendent will inform the complainant/respondent of appeal decision in writing.

After the Superintendent’s review, the internal complaint process has concluded.  The time lines set for in this policy may be waived or extended by the Superintendent.

  • Mediation

The complainant and respondent may also voluntarily choose to participate in mediation to resolve the complaint.  The mediation program minimizes the need for a lengthy investigation and helps to resolve complaints in a faster time frame.  Specific mediation information and guidelines may be requested through the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

  • Disciplinary Consequences

Any individual who violates this policy by engaging in conduct defined throughout this policy that directly or indirectly causes intimidation, harassment, or physical harm to another student or employee will be subject to disciplinary action.

  • Retaliation

No student will suffer retaliation or intimidation for participating in the internal complaint process.  Retaliation means some type of adversarial or punitive action taken against an individual or individuals as a result of filing a complaint or participating in the complaint process.  Retaliation against any student seeking assistance at their school, filing a complaint, or participating in the investigative process is grounds for a subsequent retaliation/harassment complaint.

  • Confidentiality

APS will respect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed and the witnesses as much as possible, consistent with our legal obligations to investigate, take appropriate action, and conform to any legal discovery or disclosure obligations.

E.         LEGAL COMPLIANCE

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services has the responsibility to monitor the compliance of state and federal laws and regulations as well as District policies and procedures related to disability harassment.  The Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act Coordinator for the District is the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.  Parents/guardians, or the student (if 18 or over) also have the right to contact or file a complaint with the U.S Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.

Cross Reference: Board Policy A.03

Cross Reference:

Reviewed April 2004
Reviewed
January 2005

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