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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 VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, the New Mexico Human Rights Act, the City of Albuquerque CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act Ordinance, and APS Board policies prohibit discrimination. Questions or concerns regarding any form of discrimination or harassment based on age (40+), color, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, HIV status, mental or physical disability, national origin, natural or protective hairstyles, or cultural or religious headdresses, pregnancy/lactation, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, spousal affiliation, serious medical condition, or veteran status, or any other protected class as defined by law should be directed to Equal Opportunity Services.

 

 

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,

  3.  or otherwise adversely affects a student’s opportunities

Harassment is offending behavior that creates a hostile environment. Both objective and subjective perspectives are considered in relation to a particular type of conduct, including age (40+), color, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, HIV status, mental or physical disability, national origin, natural or protective hairstyles or cultural or religious headdresses, pregnancy/lactation, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, spousal affiliation, serious medical condition, or veteran status, and/or other protected class 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 age (40+), color, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, HIV status, mental or physical disability, national origin, natural or protective hairstyles, or cultural or religious headdresses, pregnancy/lactation, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, spousal affiliation, serious medical condition, or 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 age (40+), color, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, HIV status, mental or physical disability, national origin, natural or protective hairstyles or cultural or religious headdresses, pregnancy/lactation, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, spousal affiliation, serious medical condition, or veteran status and 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

  6. damaging, defacing, or destroying private property of any individual or group because of age (40+), color, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, HIV status, mental or physical disability, national origin, natural or protective hairstyles, or cultural or religious headdresses, pregnancy/lactation, religion, race, sex, sexual orientation, spousal affiliation, serious medical condition, or veteran status or any other protected status as defined by law

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 circumstances that may constitute disability harassment include, but are not limited to, a student placing classroom furniture or other objects in the path of classmates who use wheelchairs, impeding the classmates’ mobility; denying a student with a disability access to lunch, field trips, assemblies, and extracurricular activities as punishment for taking time off from school for required services related to a student’s disability; belittling and criticizing a student for using accommodations in class; taunting and belittling a student with special needs by mocking and intimidation

Please review the complete procedural directive for Disability Harassment: Students.

 

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.

 

Definition and Examples of Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (Title IX)

Discrimination may occur when an individual or individuals are treated differently, specifically because of his/her/their gender, sexual orientation, or pregnancy.  Additionally, unintended behavior or action that ultimately results in treating a group differently because of their gender, sexual orientation, or pregnancy may be a form of gender discrimination.

Sexual harassment/bullying is a form of gender discrimination and is considered a misuse of power. 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.

Sexual harassment generally may fall under one of three categories: quid pro quo, hostile environment, and retaliatory harassment. 

Sexual violence is a broad term and includes conduct that is also criminal in nature, such as rape, sexual assault, stalking, child sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, unwanted sexual contact, indecent exposure, and similar offenses. Although sexual violence may also be considered sexual harassment, criminal sexual violence against students within the district’s jurisdiction needs to be reported to the APS School Police Department and the APS Equal Opportunity Services (EOS).

 

Please review the complete procedural directive for Student Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (Title IX) or Employee Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (Title IX) if needed.

Please review the complete procedural directive for Gender Discrimination and Sexual Harassment (Title IX): Students

 

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/their religion.

 

Reporting And Complaint Procedures

The following procedures apply to discrimination and harassment complaints by student(s), parent(s), legal guardian(s), employee(s), or third parties.  Examples of third parties include audiences and competitors at inter-district athletic competitions, service contractors, school visitors and employees, and businesses or organizations participating in cooperative work or school programs with the district in relation to the incident(s) at issue.

These procedures will be available in every school site administrative office, posted on the district website, and included in the student handbook. Furthermore, a more detailed in-scope reporting and complaint procedure process can be found in the Office of Equal Opportunity Manual on the “website.”  

 

Who May File a Complaint

Student(s), parent(s), or legal guardian(s) who believes his/her/their student has been subjected to alleged discrimination and/or harassment by a student, teacher, administrator or other school personnel or third parties should report the incident(s) immediately to a school administrator such as a principal, assistant principal and/or dean of students.  They may also directly report to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services or any civil rights entities such as the New Mexico Human Rights Division.

Any APS employee who becomes aware of an alleged discrimination and/or harassment incident, whether by witnessing the incident or being told of it, must report it to their immediate supervisor or to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.  This reporting obligation is in addition to a school employee’s reporting obligations to appropriate officials pursuant to law and APS Procedural Directive G. Personnel:  Reporting Child Abuse, Neglect or Educational Neglect, when the employee has a reasonable belief that a student is being sexually abused or subjected to other forms of abuse and neglect prohibited by law.

 

How to file a complaint

Supervisors and administrators who have received a complaint must report the alleged allegation(s) to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

Anyone may contact the Office of Equal Opportunity Services directly. 

When the district becomes aware of the existence of alleged discrimination and/or harassment, it is obligated by law to take prompt and appropriate action, whether or not the victim wants the district to proceed or not. 

For allegations that may rise to the level of sexual violence, parties may choose and/or be directed by the Office of Equal Opportunity Services to also file a police report. Individuals who file police reports should also report to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.

Information related to EOS complaints is maintained for seven calendar years within Equal Opportunity Services unless EOS is directed to maintain this information longer due to state or federal agency notice, lawsuit, or other circumstances allowable by law.

 

Types of Complaints:

Informal complaint resolution process

Informal resolution may be an appropriate choice when the conduct involved is not of a serious or repetitive nature and disciplinary action is not required to remedy the situation.  The determination is made by an administrator or designee.  The informal resolution process can be ended by a complainant at any time to begin a formal complaint process.  The administrator or designee will document any informal resolution and a copy of such documentation will be forwarded within three (3) business days of resolution to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services and, when appropriate, the Chief of Human Resources & Legal Services.

 

Formal complaint resolution process

Initiation of the formal complaint procedure is initiated by contacting Equal Opportunity Services by phone, email, mail, in person, or by filling out the web form available on the EOS website. The full complaint form can be accessed on the EOS website. Hard copy forms are available in Equal Opportunity Services. Individuals can also request a school or department to provide a hard copy form.

 
Formal complaints must be submitted in writing to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services within 180 days from the date of the alleged act(s), in accordance with timelines set forth by the Office of Civil Rights, unless the time for filing is extended by the Office of Equal Opportunity Services for good cause (to be determined by the OEOS).  Failure of a complaint to comply with any time limitation in the complaint procedure may result in dismissal of the complaint and/or denial of the appeal.  Dismissal will not preclude the individual’s right to pursue the complaint through other appropriate external agencies. 

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services will review the formal complaint to determine whether the matter falls within the scope of these procedures.  Within ten (10) business days after the complaint submission date, the Office of Equal Opportunity Services will initiate an investigation of the matters alleged or inform the complainant in writing that the matters alleged in the complaint are not within the jurisdiction or authority of the district to investigate and that the district will not carry out any further investigations.  If the matter does not involve allegations of discrimination within the scope of these procedures, the Office of Equal Opportunity Services will forward the matter to the proper district administrative authority for review, if appropriate.

During either the informal or formal complaint processes, interim measures, such as schedule changes, placing employees on leave, and/or counseling support, may be implemented to protect students in the educational setting, pending the outcome of the process. Supportive measures may be continued after a process is complete, depending on circumstances and as needed.

 

Investigation

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services will oversee that an adequate, reliable and impartial investigation of the complaint is conducted by an investigator at the school site and/or where the alleged discrimination occurred. 

In conducting the investigation, the investigator will interview all parties identified in the complaint and other witnesses that the investigator determines may provide information relevant to resolving the complaint allegation(s).  Both the complainant and the respondent will have the opportunity to identify witnesses to be interviewed and provide documentation or other evidence for the investigator to review.

The investigator will consider the evidence compiled and take whatever additional actions are necessary to complete the investigation.

The complainant and/or respondent will be informed of the status of the investigation at regular intervals.  However, at any given time during the ongoing investigation process, the complainant and/or respondent may request a status update on the current complaint.  This may be requested in writing directly to the Office of Equal Opportunity Services.   

 

Notice of Resolution

The Office of Equal Opportunity Services will notify both the complainant and respondent in writing within forty-five 45) business days from the complaint submission date of the investigation results.  In some cases, the investigation may take longer.  However, the Office of Equal Opportunity Services and the investigator will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the investigation is completed within the appropriate timeline.  The Office of Equal Opportunity Services will oversee this process. 

If an investigation reveals that discrimination or harassment occurred, APS will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end the discrimination and harassment, eliminate any hostile environment and its effects, and prevent the harassment from recurring.

 

Appeal Rights

A party unsatisfied with the resolution may submit a written appeal within ten (10) business days to the superintendent.  Ten business days will be deemed effective on the person served as the date of delivery, if personally served, faxed, or email, or effective three calendar days of deposit by first-class mail if delivered by mail.  This written appeal will state with particularity the nature of the disagreement, the reasons underlying such disagreement and how the outcome would be changed by reconsidering the determination.

The appeal will be heard by a panel of APS appointees who will conduct a review of the record to determine whether the preponderance of the evidence supports the determination. The panel will issue a written decision and provide it to the parties within fifteen (15) calendar days of the appeal panel’s hearing. The appeal panel’s decision is a final decision.

 

Complaints to an External Agency

If a party is unsatisfied at any time, including with the superintendent’s decision, the party may file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights (“OCR”) in Denver, Colorado.  More information is available at the Office of Civil Rights, Federal Office, 1244 Speer Blvd, Suite 310, Denver, CO  80204-3582, (303) 844-5695. Individuals may also file complaints with any other civil rights entities, such as the New Mexico Human Rights Division.

 

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. 

 

False Complaints

Any individual who knowingly files a false or misleading complaint alleging harassment, discrimination, or retaliation is subject to appropriate disciplinary action, including, but not limited to, dismissal of the complaint.   

 

Retaliation

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.  An individual or individuals who make complaints in good faith will be free from retaliation, coercion, and reprisal in seeking a resolution of their complaint.  Furthermore, persons acting as witnesses to a complaint in good faith will be free from reprisal.   Retaliation against any individual seeking assistance at his/her/their school site, filing a complaint, or participating 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 under FERPA.  Any information gathered during an informal procedure may be used during a formal procedure if initiated.  While there can be no assurances of complete confidentiality, complaints under this procedure will be treated as sensitive information not to be shared with others except in limited circumstances.  Decisions regarding confidentiality will be made by the Office of Equal Opportunity Services. 

 

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 harassment and discrimination issues.

For discrimination and harassment claims, contact:
Office of Equal Opportunity Services
Albuquerque Public Schools, 6400 Uptown Blvd, NE
Albuquerque, NM  87110
Office of Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) — Albuquerque Public Schools

 

Administrative Position:                 

  • Associate Superintendent of Equity, Instruction, Innovation and Support

  • Chief Academic Officer

  • Chief of Human Resources & Legal Services

Department Director:                              

  • Senior Director, Office of Equity and Engagement

  • Director of Title IX Programs

  • Director of Equal Opportunity Services

  • Executive Director of Student, Parent, and Employee Service Center

Cross References:

Legal Reference:

  • Civil Rights Act of 1964

  • Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973

  • Americans with Disabilities Act

  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

  • Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act

  • New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMSA § 28-1-7)

  • 6.10.3 NMAC

  • CABQ CROWN (Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Act Ordinance

  • Children's Code Article 4: Child Abuse and Neglect, 32A-4-1 through 32A-4-34

 

Board Policy Cross Ref:           

 

 Procedural Directive Cross Ref:

 

Forms:              

  • Discrimination and/or Harassment Complaint Form (Office of Equal Opportunity Manual) 

Revised: April 2004
Reviewed: January 2005
Reviewed: December 11, 2019
Revised: January 17, 2020

Reviewed: April 15, 2024

Revised: April 15, 2024