Administrative Procedure 171

AP 171 - Harassment of Students or Employees

Background

The division is committed to providing an environment in which all individuals are treated with respect and dignity. Each student and employee has the right to learn and work in a safe and supportive setting. The purpose of this administrative procedure is to provide formal and informal ways to ensure a learning and working environment free of personal or sexual harassment. Harassment, in any of its forms, will not be tolerated in the school jurisdiction, and the division is committed to ensuring that neither students nor staff are subjected to it.

Definitions

  1. Personal Harassment includes behaviour which may be verbal, physical, deliberate, unsolicited or unwelcome. It, in effect or intent, disparages, humiliates or harms another person. It is behaviour which denies individual dignity and respect and is demeaning to another person. Harassment may include, but is not limited to, references related to age, national or ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability, race, sources of income or family status. It also includes behavior which supports a hostile or poisonous environment: intimidation, threats, ostracism, gestures or offensive remarks and bullying.
  2. Sexual harassment means any unwelcome behaviour either intentional or unintentional which is sexual in nature that may directly or indirectly affect or threaten to affect a person’s job in an adverse manner. It includes but is not limited to:  unwelcome physical contact, unwelcome remarks, verbal abuse or display or suggestive pictures, leering, whistling, innuendoes, jokes or other behaviors or gestures of a sexual nature, demands for sexual favours, stalking, embarrassing, suggestive or threatening language.

The behaviour may not be intended as harassing to be considered harassment. It is sufficient that one knows or ought reasonably to know that his/her behaviour is offensive and unwelcome.

Guidelines

  1. Harassment is not a relationship of mutual consent. It is any action or repeated behaviour or verbal action that is unwelcome or intimidating and denies individual dignity and respect.
  2. The learning and work environment can and does extend beyond the immediate school or school jurisdiction office. These sites can also extend to the playground, school bus, work experience placement, school or work-related social activities and school work-related travel or field trips. The work and learning environment may also include the use of various electronic media such as social media, telephone, fax and email.

Conduct

  1. Employees, students, parents, volunteers and visitors must conduct themselves in a manner which promotes and protects the best interests and well being of students, staff, co-workers, parents, volunteers or visitors.
  2. An employee, parent or volunteer who subjects an employee, parent volunteer or visitor to personal or sexual harassment may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from employment or exclusion from school.
  3. A student who harasses another student, employee, parent volunteer or visitor may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion.
  4. Action may be taken against members of the public whose conduct has resulted in personal or sexual harassment of students, employees, or representatives of Palliser Regional Schools.

Procedures

  1. Students or employees who experience harassment should:
    1. Wherever possible, keep a written record of dates, times, the nature of the behaviour, the names of individuals who may have witnessed the incidents and any action they may have taken to try to stop the harassment.
    2. If practicable, directly advise the offender, either verbally or in writing, that his/her behaviour is unacceptable and unwelcome and ask him/her to stop.
    3. Report promptly the details of the complaint to a person in authority (teacher, the principal or the Superintendent). 
  2. If appropriate, the complaint may be dealt with informally. In such an instance, the person in authority should:
    1. Assist the complainant in speaking to the offender directly, or speak to the offender on the complainant’s behalf.
    2. Advise the offender that it be expected the harassing behavior will cease immediately.
    3. Advise the offender that if the behaviour is in violation of this administrative procedure and does not cease, a formal harassment complaint may be filed.
    4. Apply appropriate sanctions as necessary, including but not exclusive to a warning, an offering of a verbal or written apology, suspension or recommendation for expulsion  
  3. Where it is deemed necessary for a formal complaint to be filed, it shall consist of a signed written statement outlining the charges, describing the specific incident or incidents, the dates (as specific as possible), and any witnesses who may have been present. All formal complaints must be filed with the the Superintendent or designate.
    1. A formal complaint may be filed up to six (6) months from the date of the most recent incident cited in the letter.
    2. The Superintendent or designate shall advise the alleged offender, in writing, of the nature and the specifics of the allegations, that an investigation will be undertaken, and inform his/her of their rights under system policy and other relevant legislation.
    3. A copy of the formal complaint shall be provided to the alleged offender.
    4. The Superintendent or designate will ensure an investigation is conducted into the complaint, which may consist of personal interviews with the complainant, the alleged offender and others who have direct knowledge of the incidents or circumstances that led to the complaint.
    5. The Superintendent or designate believes the complaint is valid, the appropriate disciplinary action shall be levied, and may include expulsion in the case of a student and termination in the case of an employee.  Disciplinary action does not exclude other legal action that might be taken 
  4. Whether the complaint was informal or formal, the resolution process shall not exceed thirty (30) working days.
  5. The decision may be appealed through the next level of the Palliser Regional Schools organizational chart (AP 450). Student harassment appeals are handled in accordance with Policy 13 – Appeals and Hearings Regarding Student Matters.
  6. All correspondence and reports relative to alleged harassment shall be held separately in a confidential file to be retained by the principal or the Superintendent.
    1. If allegations are not supported, the file shall be destroyed (one (1) year after the person in authority’s ruling is rendered).
    2. If the investigation supports the allegations in the letter of complaint, copies of all supporting documentation shall be placed on the offender’s confidential file (in the case of a student) or their personnel file (in the case of an employee).
    3. After a period of three (3) years, the student and/or the parent(s) may request that all such related material be removed from the student’s confidential file. Similarly, in a case involving an employee, after a period of three (3) years, the employee may request all such related material be removed from his/her personnel file. The decision with regard to the disposition of the material shall be at the discretion of the Superintendent.

Other Actions

This administrative procedure does not affect an individual’s right to file a complaint or to respond to a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission or to seek other redress as may be provided by law or by an employee’s union or association.

References

School Act, sections 20 and 27
Teaching Quality Standard Ministerial Order #016/17
Criminal Code Sections 151-153
Canadian Human Rights Act
Individual's Rights Protection Act
Administrative Procedure 450 Administrative Organizational Plan
Board Policy 13 Appeals and Hearings Regarding Student Matter