Lake Washington School District (LWSD) recently reached an agreement with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) on a new three-year contract.
Sexual Harassment of Staff
Because all employees have the right to work in a non-intimidating environment, sexual harassment will not be condoned or tolerated. If sexual harassment is found to have created a hostile environment, staff must take immediate action to eliminate the harassment, prevent its reoccurrence, and address its effects.
This procedure applies to sexual harassment (including sexual assault) targeted at district employees carried out by other students, employees, or third parties involved in school district activities. The district has jurisdiction over these complaints pursuant to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, RCW 28A.640 and WAC 392-190.
At a minimum, sexual harassment recognition and prevention and the elements of this policy will be included in staff, student, and regular volunteer orientation. This policy and the procedure, which includes the complaint process, will be posted in each school building in a place available to staff, students, parents, volunteers, and visitors. Information about the policy and procedure will be clearly stated and conspicuously posted throughout each school building, provided to each employee and reproduced in each student, staff, volunteer and parent handbook. Such notices will identify the District’s Director of Human Resources and contact information.
Allegations of Sexual Assault
In the event of an alleged sexual assault, the school principal will immediately inform: 1) the Director of Human Resources so that the district can appropriately respond to the incident consistent with its own grievance procedures; and 2) law enforcement. The principal will notify the targeted district staff person of their right to file a criminal complaint and a sexual harassment complaint simultaneously.
If a complainant requests that his or her name not be revealed to the alleged perpetrator or asks that the district not investigate or seek action against the alleged perpetrator, the request will be forwarded to the Director of Human Resources for evaluation. The Director of Human Resources should inform the complainant that honoring the request may limit the District’s ability to respond fully to the incident, including pursuing disciplinary action against the alleged perpetrator.
If the complainant still requests that his or her name not be disclosed to the alleged perpetrator or that the district not investigate or seek action against the alleged perpetrator, the district will need to determine whether or not it can honor such a request while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, staff, and other third parties engaging in district activities, including the person who reported the sexual harassment. Although a complainant’s request to have his or her name withheld may limit the district’s ability to respond fully to an individual allegation of sexual harassment, the district will use other appropriate means available to address the sexual harassment.
Title IX prohibits retaliation against any individual who files a complaint under these laws or participates in a complaint investigation. When an informal or formal complaint of sexual harassment is made, the district will take steps to stop further harassment and prevent any retaliation against the person who made the complaint, was the subject of the harassment, or against those who provided information as a witness. The district will investigate all allegations of retaliation and take actions against those found to have retaliated.
Informal Complaint Process
Anyone may use informal procedures to report and resolve complaints of sexual harassment. Informal reports may be made to any staff member. Staff will notify complainants of their right to file a formal complaint and the process for same. Staff will also direct potential complainants to an appropriate staff member who can explain the informal and formal complaint processes and what a complainant can expect. Additionally, staff will also inform an appropriate supervisor or professional staff member when they receive complaints of sexual harassment, especially when the complaint is beyond their training to resolve or alleges serious misconduct.
During the course of the informal complaint process, the district will take prompt and effective steps reasonably calculated to end any harassment and to correct any discriminatory effects on the complainant. If an investigation is needed to determine what occurred, the district will take interim measures to protect the complainant before the final outcome of the district’s investigation (e.g., allowing the complainant to change academic or extracurricular activities or break times to avoid contact with the alleged perpetrator).
Informal remedies may include:
- An opportunity for the complainant to explain to the alleged harasser that his or her conduct is unwelcome, offensive, or inappropriate, either in writing or face-to-face;
- A statement from a staff member to the alleged harasser that the alleged conduct is not appropriate and could lead to discipline if proven or repeated;
- A general public statement from an administrator in a building reviewing the district sexual harassment policy without identifying the complainant;
- Developing a safety plan;
- Separating staff person; or
- Providing staff and/or student training.
Informal complaints may become formal complaints at the request of the complainant, parent or guardian, or because the district believes the complaint needs to be more thoroughly investigated.
The district will inform the complainant how to report any subsequent problems. Additionally, the district will conduct follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or instances of retaliation, and to promptly respond and appropriately address continuing or new problems. Follow-up inquiries will follow a timeline agreed to by the district and complainant.
Formal Complaint Process
- All formal complaints must be in writing and will set forth the specific acts, conditions, or circumstances alleged to have occurred and to constitute sexual harassment. The Director of Human Resources may draft the complaint based on the report of the complainant for the complainant to review and approve. The Director of Human Resources may also conclude that the district needs to conduct an investigation based on information in his or her possession, regardless of the complainant's interest in filing a complaint.
- The time period for filing a complaint is one year from the date of the occurrence that is the subject matter of the complaint. However, a complaint filing deadline may not be imposed if the complainant was prevented from filing due to: 1) Specific misrepresentations by the district that it had resolved the problem forming the basis of the complaint; or 2) Withholding of information that the district was required to provide under WAC 392-190-065 or WAC 392-190-005.
- Complaints may be submitted in writing to the Director of Human Resources, 16250 NE 74th St., Redmond, WA 98052 or by calling 425-936-1266.
- The Director of Human Resources will receive and investigate all formal, written complaints of sexual harassment or information in his or her possession that they believe requires further investigation. The Director of Human Resources will delegate his or her authority to participate in this process if such action is necessary to avoid any potential conflicts of interest. Upon receipt of a complaint, the Director of Human Resources will provide the complainant a copy of this procedure.
- Investigations will be carried out in a manner that is adequate in scope, reliable and impartial, and consistent with applicable collective bargaining agreements. During the investigation process, the complainant and accused party or parties, if the complainant has identified an accused harasser(s), will have an equal opportunity to present witnesses and relevant evidence. The school district and complainant may also agree to resolve the complaint in lieu of an investigation or through the informal complaint process.
- The Director of Human Resources or designee will respond in writing to the complainant and the alleged perpetrator within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the complaint, unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant or if exceptional circumstances related to the complaint require an extension of the time limit. In the event an extension is needed, the district will notify the complainant in writing of the reason for the extension and the anticipated response date. At the time the district responds to the complainant, the district must send a copy of the response to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
- The response of the Director of Human Resources or designee will include: 1) a summary of the results of the investigation; 2) a statement as to whether a preponderance of the evidence establishes that the complainant was sexually harassed; 3) if sexual harassment is found to have occurred, the corrective measures the district deems necessary, including assurance that the district will take steps to prevent recurrence and remedy its effects on the complainant and others, if appropriate; 4) notice of the complainant’s right to appeal to the Superintendent and the necessary filing information.
- The superintendent’s or designee’s response will be provided in a language the complainant can understand and may require language assistance for complainants with limited English proficiency.
- The district will inform the complainant how to report any subsequent problems. Additionally, the district will conduct follow-up inquiries to see if there have been any new incidents or instances of retaliation and to promptly respond and appropriately address continuing or new problems. Follow-up inquiries will follow a timeline agreed to by the district and complainant.
- If a complainant disagrees with the Director of Human Resources or designee’s written decision, the complainant may appeal the decision to the Superintendent or designee, by filing a written notice of appeal with the superintendent’s office within ten (10) calendar days following the date upon which the complainant received the response.
- Both parties shall be allowed to present such written facts, witness statements, or other documentation as the Superintendent or designee deems relevant and material.
- Unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant and the Superintendent or designee or for good cause, the Superintendent or designee shall render a written decision on or before thirty (30) calendar days following the filing of the written notice of appeal, unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant and the Superintendent or designee or for good cause.
- The written decision shall include notice of the complainant's right to appeal to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) as set forth below.
- The decision will be provided in a language that the complainant can understand which may require language assistance for complainants with limited English proficiency.
- The decision will include notice of the complainant’s right to appeal to the OSPI and will identify where and to whom the appeal must be filed. The district will send a copy of the appeal decision to OSPI.
Level Three - Complaint to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
- If a complainant disagrees with the decision of the Superintendent or designee or if the district fails to comply with this procedure, the complainant may file a complaint with OSPI.
- A complaint must be received by the OSPI on or before twenty (20) calendar days following the date upon which the complainant received written notice of the Superintendent or designee’s decision, unless the Superintendent of Public Instruction grants an extension for good cause. Complaints may be submitted by mail, fax, electronic mail, or hand delivery.
- A complaint must be in writing and include: 1) A description of the specific acts, conditions, or circumstances alleged to violate applicable anti-sexual harassment laws; 2) The name and contact information, including address, of the complainant; 3) The name and address of the district subject to the complaint; 4) A copy of the district’s complaint and appeal decision, if any; and 5) A proposed resolution of the complaint or relief requested. If the allegations regard a specific student, the complaint must also include the name and address of the student or contact information in the case of a homeless child or youth.