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Discrimination and Harassment: Students

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What is Harassment?

Harassment refers to unwelcome or offensive behavior that creates a hostile, intimidating, or abusive environment for an individual or group. It can manifest in various forms, including verbal, physical, or written actions, and may target someone based on their race, gender, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or other protected characteristics.

Harassment can occur in the workplace, educational institutions, public spaces, or online platforms, and it often involves repeated or persistent actions that cause distress or harm to the victim.

Recognizing and addressing harassment is crucial for promoting safety, respect, and dignity for all individuals.

Racial, National Origin, & Ancestry Harassment

Racial and national origin and ancestry harassment involve the targeting of individuals based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, or ancestry, leading to a hostile or offensive environment.

This form of harassment can take various forms, including derogatory comments, racial slurs, stereotypes, or exclusionary behavior. It creates a toxic atmosphere that undermines diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Such harassment not only violates the rights and dignity of individuals but also perpetuates systemic discrimination and inequality.

It's crucial for organizations and communities to actively combat racial and national origin and ancestry harassment to foster environments where everyone feels respected, valued, and safe.

Harassment Based on Religion

Harassment based on religion involves the targeted mistreatment of individuals or groups due to their religious beliefs or practices, creating an environment of hostility or discrimination.

This form of harassment can include derogatory remarks, religious slurs, offensive gestures, or exclusion from activities based on one's faith. It undermines the fundamental principles of religious freedom and tolerance, fostering division and prejudice.

Combatting harassment based on religion requires promoting understanding, respect, and acceptance of diverse religious beliefs and practices, and ensuring that everyone has the right to practice their faith without fear of persecution or discrimination.

Harassment Based on Disability

Disability harassment encompasses any form of unwelcome behavior that targets individuals with disabilities, creating an environment that is hostile, offensive, or intimidating.

This type of harassment can manifest through verbal abuse, mocking, physical aggression, or exclusionary actions based on a person's disability or perceived limitations. Disability harassment not only violates the rights and dignity of individuals with disabilities but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes and barriers to inclusion.

It's essential for societies to prioritize education, awareness, and enforcement of anti-discrimination laws to ensure that individuals with disabilities can participate fully and equally in all aspects of life, free from harassment and prejudice.

What is Discrimination?

Discrimination refers to the unfair or unjust treatment of individuals or groups based on certain characteristics, such as race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or other protected attributes.

This can manifest in various forms, including denial of opportunities, unequal access to resources or services, harassment, or exclusionary practices. Discrimination undermines the principles of equality, justice, and human rights, perpetuating systemic inequalities and marginalizing certain populations.

Combatting discrimination requires raising awareness, advocating for inclusive policies and practices, and promoting empathy and understanding to create a society where everyone is treated with dignity, respect, and fairness.

Gender Discrimination & Sexual Harassment

Gender discrimination encompasses the unequal treatment of individuals based on their gender identity or expression, often resulting in disparities in opportunities, resources, or rights. This discrimination can take many forms, including wage gaps, limited career advancement, or stereotypes that dictate societal roles and expectations.

Sexual harassment, a prevalent form of gender discrimination, involves unwelcome sexual advances, comments, or conduct that create a hostile or offensive environment.

Both gender discrimination and sexual harassment undermine the principles of equality and respect, perpetuating harmful power dynamics and barriers to inclusion. It's essential to address these issues through education, awareness, and enforcement of policies that promote gender equality and prohibit all forms of harassment and discrimination.

What is Gender Identity?

Gender identity refers to an individual's deeply held sense of their gender, which may or may not align with the sex they were assigned at birth. It encompasses how one perceives themselves and the gender with which they identify, whether it be male, female, both, neither, or something else entirely. Gender identity is a complex interplay of biological, psychological, social, and cultural factors, and it is unique to each person. It's important to recognize that gender identity exists on a spectrum and can evolve over time, and everyone deserves respect and acceptance for who they are.

Title IX & Gender Identity

Title IX is a comprehensive federal law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity. The principal objective of Title IX is to avoid the use of federal money to support sex discrimination in education programs and to provide individual citizens effective protection against those practices.

Title IX includes sexual harassment, sexual misconduct and sexual violence.  Any report of gender/sex discrimination made to an employee must be addressed in a timely manner by school administration or the supervisor and reported to the Title IX Director at Equal Opportunity Services.

Title IX Violations

Formal complaints of Title IX violations may be reported to Equal Opportunity Services.

All students, regardless of gender identity, are entitled to a safe and respectful school environment.  Complaints of discrimination or harassment should be addressed in a timely manner by appropriate school personnel.

If you are a student (or parent/guardian of a student) who wants to assert a gender that differs from previous representations or records, please contact the school principal or counselor to request a Gender Support Plan meeting.  You may also contact the District Title IX Director if you have general questions or need assistance with the process.

Looking for a site Title IX coordinator? Call your school's main number and ask to speak with the principal.

Inspect Our Training:

As required by OCR in §106.45(b)(10)(i)(D) of the new Title IX Regulations, please view the training  used to train APS' Title IX Coordinator.

More Information:

For more information, contact: Heather Cowan, Director, Equal Opportunity Services and Title IX, by phone at (505) 855-9831, or by email at .

Complaint Process

Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) will conduct a fair, thorough, and timely investigation. Read further to understand the investigation process, the investigation timeline and what to expect after the investigation.

Anyone under the age of 18 may report an informal complaint/ concern using the fillable Report a Concern form. To report a formal complaint a parent/ guardian must be present/ involved.

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 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 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 Equal Opportunity Services.

An employee may contact Equal Opportunity Services directly.

When the district becomes aware of the existence of an 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 Equal Opportunity Services to also file a police report. Individuals who file police reports should also report to Equal Opportunity Services.

Informal concerns can be reported through the fillable Report a Concern form to discover what options are available. For formal complaints, please use the PDF complaint form(s) that's found on the Reporting a Complaint page.

Types of Complaints

Informal complaint resolution process

Informal resolution may be an appropriate choice when the conduct involved is not 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 shall document any informal resolution, and a copy of such documentation shall be forwarded within three (3) business days of resolution to Equal Opportunity Services, and when appropriate, the Chief of Human Resources & Legal Services.

Formal complaint resolution process

Initiation of the formal complaint procedures requires a written complaint.  The complaint form can be accessed from Equal Opportunity Services’ webpage.  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 Equal Opportunity Services within 180 days from the date of alleged act(s), in accordance with timelines set forth by the Office of Civil Rights, unless the time for filing is extended by Equal Opportunity Services for good cause (to be determined by the EOS).  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 shall not preclude the individual’s right to pursue the complaint through other appropriate external agencies. 

Equal Opportunity Services shall 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, Equal Opportunity Services shall 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, Equal Opportunity Services shall 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. 

Physical Access Request

If you or others have had problems accessing Albuquerque Public Schools properties, programs, activities, and facilities because of your or their disabilities, please let us know by filling out the Physical Access Request Fillable Form.