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Discrimination and Harassment: Students

The Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) provides equal opportunities for all students and prohibits any form of discrimination/harassment in all facets of the education environment including, but not limited to, any program or activity sponsored by APS.  These prohibitions apply to all students (and employees, as covered in a separate Directive) and to third parties not directly subject to District-sponsored control.  Examples of third parties include audiences and competitors at inter-district athletic competitions, service contractors, school visitors, and employees of businesses or organizations participating in cooperative work or school programs with the District.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the New Mexico Human Rights Act and APS Board Policies prohibit discrimination.  Questions or concerns regarding any form of discrimination or harassment based on disability, race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, religion, age, veteran status or any other protected status as defined by law should be directed to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

A. Definition and Examples of Harassment as Defined by Law

Generally, harassment is considered to have occurred when conduct:

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

Harassment requires that a hostile environment be created by the offending behavior.  Both objective and subjective perspectives are considered in relation to a particular type of conduct, including the victim’s age, race, gender, disability, and/or any other protected status as defined by law.

Individuals or groups are in violation of District policy if they engage in the following types of behaviors (not an all-inclusive list) toward an individual on school grounds, in the workplace, at school/work-sanctioned activities or in vehicles owned/dispatched by the District.

  1. making demeaning or derogatory remarks or comments directly or indirectly to an individual or group because of his/her/their disability, race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, religion, age, veteran status or any other protected status as defined by law,
  2. displaying suggestive visual or written material of a sexual nature,
  3. defacing APS property or materials by writing demeaning or derogatory words, letters, names or the like directly or indirectly to an individual or group because of his/her/their disability, race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, religion, age, veteran status or any other protected status as defined by law,
  4. staring or glaring or showing obscene gestures or suggestive gestures (such as touching your private parts in front of others),
  5. repeatedly asking someone for a date when he/she is not interested, or
  6. damaging, defacing, or destroying private property of any individual or group because of his/her/their disability, race, ethnicity, color, gender, sexual orientation, national origin or ancestry, religion, age, veteran status or any other protected status as defined by law.

B. Definition and Examples of Disability Harassment

Discriminatory behavior toward an individual with a disability may be considered harassment when that disability-focused behavior is sufficiently severe, pervasive or persistent so as to interfere with or limit the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit the District’s programs or activities.  Examples of possible disability harassment are:  excluding an individual from activities because of appearance related to disability; severe, pervasive or persistent name-calling based on disability or perceived disability; and attempting to involve a student with a disability in antisocial, dangerous or criminal activity when the student, because of disability, is unable to comprehend fully or consent to the activity.  See also the Procedural Directive on Disability Harassment:  Students.

C. Definition and Examples of Racial and National Origin and Ancestry Harassment

Harassment based on race or national origin is oral, written, graphic or physical conduct relating to an individual’s race, color, ethnicity or national origin (including an individual’s ancestry, county of origin, or country of origin or a student’s parents, family members, or ancestors) that is sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent that it interferes with or limits the ability of an individual to participate in or benefit from the District’s programs or activities.  Harassment of an immigrant, of someone who speaks another language or has a foreign accent may constitute discrimination based on national origin or race or both, depending on the circumstances.  A racial or national origin basis for acts of harassment may be evident from the explicit statements of the perpetrator or may be inferred from the surrounding circumstances.  Examples of possible race or national origin harassment are:  physical acts of aggression or assault upon another, or damage to another’s property that is motivated by the individual’s race, color, ethnicity or national origin; depending on the circumstances and context, demeaning racial jokes, taunting, racial slurs and derogatory racial “nicknames,” innuendos, or other negative or derogatory remarks of a racial nature or relating to national origin; depending on the circumstances and context, graffiti and/or slogans or visual displays such as cartoons or posters depicting racial/ethnic slurs or racially/ethnically derogatory origin.

D. Definition and Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination that generally is considered a misuse of power.  Sexual harassment generally may fall under one of two categories:  quid pro quo and hostile environment.  Quid pro quo sexual harassment generally occurs when an individual explicitly or implicitly conditions another individual’s participation in an activity or program or bases a decision on the individual’s submission to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether or not the individual submits to the conduct.  This generally involves a person in an authority position over a subordinate.

Hostile environment harassment generally occurs when unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature by a student, and employee or a third party are sufficiently severe, persistent or pervasive so as to limit the individual’s ability to participate in or benefit from a program or activity of the District or to create a hostile or abusive educational work environment.

Sexual harassment includes conduct that is also criminal in nature such as rape, sexual assault, stalking, and similar offenses.  Although sexual misconduct may also be considered sexual harassment, criminal sexual behavior needs to be reported to the APS School Police Department.

If behavior toward another individual results in that individual feeling intimidated, uncomfortable or if the individual feels threatened, that behavior may be considered sexual harassment even if the harasser did not intend for his/her actions to be offensive.  This prohibition against sexual harassment applies whether the harassment is between people of the same or different gender.

Examples of possible sexual harassment are:  unwelcome pressure for sexual activity; unwelcome, sexually motivated or inappropriate physical contact; unwelcome verbal or written words or symbols directed at an individual because of gender (whether that gender is the same as the harasser or aimed at the opposite sex); and use of authority to coerce sexual favors.

E. Definition and Examples of Harassment Based on Sexual Orientation

Targeting a gay or lesbian individual for physical or sexual advances may constitute sexual harassment.  Calling individuals “queer,” “gay boy or girl,” “fag,” “faggot,” “lezzie,” or “lesbo” or gestures such as making a “limp wrist” are also examples of behavior that may be considered harassment based on sexual orientation.

F. Definition of Examples of Harassment Based on Religion

Targeting an individual or individuals because of his/her/their religion or religious beliefs may be a form of harassment.  Examples of possible harassment based on religion are:  making derogatory jokes regarding a particular religion and verbal, physical or written intimidation of an individual because of his/her religion.

G. Definition of Harassment Based on Age

Targeting an individual or individuals because of his/her/their age may be a form of harassment.  Generally, the law prohibits discrimination against and harassment of individuals over age 40.  Examples of harassment based on age might include pervasive heckling of an individual by verbal negative references to age or pervasive name-calling using terminology such as “grandpa” or “old fogey,” if this behavior creates a hostile environment for the individual.

H. Complaint Procedures

Any student who believes he/she has been subjected to discrimination and/or harassing behavior by a student, teacher, administrator or other school personnel should report the incident(s) immediately to an administrator or supervisor.

1.                  Who may file a complaint

APS encourages students to report incident(s) of discrimination/harassment and resolve their complaints at the lowest level.  If further assistance is needed, contact the appropriate administrator.  Assistance may also be sought and a complaint filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

2.                  How to file a Complaint

Complaints may be filed with the Office of Equal Opportunity Services and must be submitted in writing.  A complaint form must be completed within 180 days from the date of alleged discrimination, 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.  Confidentiality also applies to the investigations conducted by the OEOS.

3.                  Where to file a Complaint

APS Office of Equal Opportunity Services

  • Appeal Process

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

The complainant (individual filing the complaint) and respondent (individual 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 the appeal decision in writing.

After the Superintendent’s review, the internal complaint process has concluded.  The time lines set forth 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 dispute.  The mediation program minimizes the need for a lengthy investigation and helps to resolve disputes in a faster time frame.  Specific mediation information and guidelines may be requested through the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

  • Disciplinary Consequences

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

  • Retaliation

No individual 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 individual seeking assistance at his/her school site, filing a complaint, or participation in the investigation 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 witnesses as much as possible, consistent with our legal obligations to investigate, take appropriate action, and conform to any legal discovery or disclosure obligations.

I.          Legal Compliance

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services has the responsibility to monitor the compliance of District policies and procedures, which follow requirements under State and Federal Laws, and Regulations related to discrimination and harassment.  The Coordinator for Title VI & VII of the Civil Rights Act, Title IX of the Education Amendments, Age Discrimination Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act is the Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.  Parents/guardians and students (if 18 or over) may also contact or file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights.

Cross Reference: Board Policy A.03

Cross Reference:

Revised: April 2004
Reviewed:
January 2005

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