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Harrassment Policy

Union Public Schools promotes and enforces an environment free of unlawful discrimination and harassment

  • Acts of discrimination and harassment are prohibited and will be promptly investigated.
  • Necessary action will be taken to stop the unlawful behavior
  • Details regarding reporting, investigation and grievance procedures are outlined in Board policies.
  • Read and be familiar with all Board policies prohibiting discrimination and harassment

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Personnel-Specific Board Policies 

  • Non-Discriminatory Personnel Policies/Affirmative Action - 4000 
  • Sexual Harassment - 4044 
  • Discrimination/Harassment - 4046 
  • Formal Grievance Procedure for Discrimination Complaints - 4047

Student-Specific Board Policies 

  • Non-Discrimination - 5000

  • Discrimination/Harassment - 5046 

  • Formal Grievance Procedure for Discrimination Complaints - 5047 

  • Sexual Harassment - 5065
     

Summary of Policies of Discrimination and Harassment

The District prohibits unlawful harassment/discrimination against employees, students and others on District premises.

Discrimination/harassment based on race, age, color, religion, national origin, gender, disability or veteran status is prohibited.

Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Derogatory remarks and acts; slurs and epithets; comments regarding particular characteristics of a particular race, religion, disability, etc.; derogatory gestures, cartoons, posters, notes, graffiti, or any other verbal, written, graphic or physical conduct of a hostile, intimidating, abusive, degrading, threatening or violent nature.

  • When sexual harassment is involved the conduct could be written, verbal, visual, and/or physical conduct of a sexually suggestive or sexually intimidating nature.

Prohibited conduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Sexually suggestive or obscene letters, notes, invitations, graffiti; sexually derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, degrading jokes, sexual teasing, demeaning comments about a person of a particular sex, solicitation of sexual favors or attention, unwelcome touching such as pinching, hugging, patting, brushing up against the body, blocking someone’s passage; graphic materials such as sexually suggestive calendars, drawings, photographs, cartoons, and posters; and any other action which emphasizes the vulnerability of the victim because of gender.

  • An employee may bring a complaint of harassment/discrimination to his/her supervisor or to any District administrator or directly to the Director of Human Resources.

  • A student may bring a complaint of harassment/discrimination to any administrator, counselor, teacher or nurse or directly to the site principal.

  • Employees/students/parents may also report complaints to the Coordinators for the various areas of anti-discrimination listed in Board Policy 4000 and 5000.

REMEMBER:

Harassment or discrimination regarding:

  • Race/Color/National Origin

  • Religion

  • Gender/Sexual Harassment

  • Disability

  • Age

must be reported IMMEDIATELY
when the situation comes to your attention.

If you become aware of a harassment/discrimination situation that involves an employee, report the situation immediately to any District administrator or directly to the Executive Director of Human Resources. Any District administrator who learns of a harassment/discrimination complaint must contact the Director of Human Resources.

If you become aware of a harassment/discrimination situation that involves a student, report the situation immediately to the site principal.

After reporting the situation, an investigation will be conducted by Human Resources (when an employee is involved) or by the site principal (when a student is involved) or by both Human Resources and the site principal (when a student and an employee are involved).

Employees or students who are determined through investigation to have discriminated or harassed will be subject to disciplinary action in accordance with Board policy.

Although individuals are encouraged to resolve harassment/discrimination complaints at the level of the Director of Human Resources (for employee matters) and the level of the site principal (for student matters), any employee, student, parent or patron wishing to file a formal grievance may do so by following the procedures in Board Policy 4047 (employee) and Board Policy 5047 (student).

Harassment Guidelines

The information below is designed to provide an overview of what constitutes harassment in schools and to help you examine what schools can do to both prevent harassment and address harassment if it occurs. Contact Human Resources to answer questions you may have.


Definition - Harassment is unwanted nonverbal, verbal, written, graphic, or physical behavior directed at an individual or group on the basis of race, color, or sex, or unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature.

Racial harassment is analyzed by the following two standards:

Different Treatment: Unwanted behavior based on a student/employee’s race or color interferes with or limits the ability of a student/employee to participate in or benefit from services, activities, or privileges (student or job-related).

Hostile Environment: Racially-based behavior that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment (unwelcome, repeated, causes harm). May exist even if student's grades don't drop or she or he doesn't have to withdraw from school; nor does an employee have to suffer an emotional breakdown.

Sexual harassment is analyzed by the following two standards:

Hostile Environment: Sexually-based behavior that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or learning environment (unwelcome, repeated, causes harm). May exist even if student's grades don't drop or she or he doesn't have to withdraw from school.

Quid Pro Quo: Submission to unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature is made a condition of employment or educational decision.

Hostile Environment Analysis - Behavior must be sufficiently severe, pervasive, or persistent. In determining whether such an environment

Exists, the Office for Civil Rights takes into consideration such factors as:

  • Nature of incident
  • Affect on a reasonable person of same race or sex (reasonable person standard)
  • Age of victim
  • Identity of individuals involved
  • Existence of other incidents
  • Age and impressionability of student
  • Duration and frequency (the more severe the harassment, the less need to show a series of incidents)
  • Special nature and purposes of an educational setting 

Relevant Laws 

  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prohibits discrimination in the workplace on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, or sex.
  • Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Prohibits discrimination in public schools on the basis of race, color, and national origin.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act. Prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities.
  • Age Discrimination in Employment Act. Prohibits discrimination against individuals aged 40 or over.
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Prohibits discrimination in public schools on the basis of sex. 

Three Bases of Illegal Behavior 

To be considered illegal, harassing behavior must generally have the following characteristics:

  1. Unwanted/unwelcome
  2. Severe/harmful
  3. Repeated (pervasive and persistent)


While behavior that violates legal guidelines always meets the first characteristic, the extent to which the second and third characteristics may be present depends on the particular situation. For example, a single event which is sufficiently severe may constitute harassment even if it is not pervasive or persistent. 
 
Unacceptable Behaviors

It is impossible to make a list of all behaviors that are in every case harassment. Unacceptable behaviors may be thought of, however, in three categories:

  1. Behaviors that are clearly unacceptable: e.g., grabbing someone inappropriately, insults, injury to persons or property, blocking someone's way, stalking.
  2. Behaviors that are offensive to some people and not to others, e.g., jokes, teasing, language, tone of voice, pictures.
  3. Behaviors that may or may not be offensive depending on how they are done, e.g., touching, compliments, asking someone out for a date. 

Eye of the Beholder

The key perspective in a dispute over unacceptable behavior is that of the recipient of the behavior. If a perpetrator claims "I was only kidding" or "just having fun," a helpful response is: "If it hurts, it isn't funny."
 
Evidence 

The following may be used as evidence of harassment:

  • Witnesses to the harassment
  • Credibility of harassed and alleged harasser
  • Documentation of other incidents of harassment
  • Documented false accusations by harassed
  • Timeliness of reaction to behavior (how immediate)
  • Length of time it takes to report incident
  • Timely responses to alleged harasser such as letter to the harasser, journal entry, talking with others about the incident. 

Response

Schools have a responsibility to provide a nondiscriminatory environment. Having a strong policy against harassment, instituting an internal grievance process known to staff, students, and parents, and identifying a responsible person to receive complaints all help support a nondiscriminatory environment.
 
Known or Should Have Known 

If harassment occurs and the school administration has actual notice of the harassment or if it is reason to conclude that the school should have known (constructive notice), administrators are required to take appropriate responsive action. For this reason, it is important to pay heed to interactions among staff, among students, and between staff and students. It is also important to attend to rumors of harassment and ensure all staff are aware of the need to report instances of possible harassment.

Response is evaluated for reasonableness, timeliness, and effectiveness:

  • Response must include reasonable steps to end harassment
  • Response should redress actual problems

Response must reasonably attempt to prevent recurrence. 
 
These criteria apply whether person(s) committing harassment is a teacher, student, grounds crew worker, cafeteria worker, neighborhood teenagers, visiting baseball team, guest speaker, parents, or others. Because most victims just want the harassment to stop, it is best to settle problems at the least complicated level possible.

Notice

Schools can receive actual notice of harassment in a variety of ways:

  • Student or employee filed grievance
  • Student complained to teacher who notified administration
  • Student, parent, or other individual contacted principal, campus security, affirmative action officer
  • Responsible employee witnessed and reported the harassment
    School received notice indirectly—member of school staff or educational community, media
  • From flyer posted in the school. 

Victims and Perpetrators

Anyone can be a perpetrator or a victim, regardless of position, age, race, color, or sex.
 
Attitudes/ Excuses that Contribute to Problems

Racial Harassment

  • It doesn't happen here.
  • If it's not physical, it's not bad.
  • It didn't have to do with race.
  • I was just kidding.
  • They don't mind; we're friends.

Sexual Harassment

  • We always act this way.
  • She or he asked for it.
  • Only harmless flirtation.
  • Boys will be boys.
  • They're prudes; can't take a joke. 

Some Barriers to Reporting

  • Uncertainty about what it is
  • Uncertainty about reporting procedures
  • Fear of retaliation
  • Guilt for somehow provoking it
  • Fear of being named for provoking it
  • Reluctance to hurt a peer or respected authority figure
  • Fear of being disbelieved, ridiculed, or not being taken seriously
  • Avoidance of conflict
  • Fear of taking action for which one is unprepared 

How to Respond to Reports of Harassment

  • Take all complaints seriously.
  • Respond promptly by reporting incidents involving employees to Human Resources and incidents regarding students to your site principal.
  • Do not tell a victim to ignore the harassment.
  • Consider the alleged behavior or circumstances from the victim's perspective.
  • Prevent public disclosure of names of all involved except as necessary to find out what happened .
  • Pay attention to any due process or other rights of the accused.
  • Thoroughly document all details of the incidents and actions.
  • Take steps to prevent retaliation by anyone (inform complainant that the law prohibits retaliation).
  • Respect confidentiality but be prepared to take action to prevent others from being harassed.
  • At a minimum, track incidents so repeat offenders can be identified and action taken if necessary.

If school employees receive complaints of harassment from students, they should keep in mind:

  • Don't blame the student or question his or her motives. Harassment can be hard to report. It is wrong and illegal, and federal (and often state) law requires your school to have policies against it.
  • Take thorough notes about the student's experience.
    Report the incident to your site principal, who will explain the grievance procedures to the student, follow the established procedures, and review your school's policy with the student/parents.
  • Provide specific information about how the student can obtain continued guidance and support.

Prevention

Know the District’s anti-harassment policies

  • These polices are listed in the preceding paragraphs and are contained in the Board Policy soft-cover booklet that has been provided to you.
  • Ensure the use of non-biased curricula, assessment, and instructional strategies.
  • Promote discussion of issues through student forums, classroom projects, and school-wide assemblies.
  • Assist in educating staff, students, and parents.

As an employee of the District you have a duty to assist in providing an atmosphere free of illegal discrimination and harassment. This includes the duty to report incidents and to participate in investigations when asked to do so by Human Resources or your site administrator.

All complaints of harassment and discrimination should be taken seriously and reported as soon as you become aware of the situation, regardless of whether the complaint comes from an employee, student, parent, patron, or other individual.

If you have any questions regarding this training or the policies of the District regarding harassment or discrimination, please contact the Director of Human Resources at 357-6047.

The guidelines outlined in the chart above were compiled by the Northwest Regional Educational organization with specifics added regarding our District’s policies/procedures.
 

Northwest Regional Educational Equity Center:
Preventing and Countering School-Based Harrassment
500 SW Main, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204
(503) 275-9500

District Announcement

Board of Education Considers Policy Changes

The Board of Education on first reading Monday, November 11, considered various board policy revisions, which may be viewed here. The Board will consider final approval at its next meeting, Monday, December 9. The Board will consider comments from the public. Please send comments to [email protected].

The Board of Education on first reading Monday, November 11, considered various board policy revisions. The Board will consider final approval at its next meeting, Monday, December 9. The Board will consider comments from the public. Please send comments to board@unionps.org.

Native American Heritage Month

Native American Heritage Month is a time to celebrate rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories and to acknowledge the important contributions of Native people. Heritage Month is also an opportune time to educate the general public about tribes, to raise a general awareness about the unique challenges Native people have faced both historically and in the present, and the ways in which tribal citizens have worked to conquer these challenges.

Native American Heritage Month

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Union Public Schools
8506 E. 61st Street
Tulsa, Oklahoma 74133
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Phone: 918-357-4321

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