Seattle Public Schools is committed to a positive and productive education and work environment free from discrimination, including sexual harassment.
The district prohibits sexual harassment of students, employees and others involved in school district activities.
There are two forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment.
1. Quid Pro Quo” Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a school employee, such as a teacher, causes a student to believe that he or she must submit to sexual conduct, sexual advances, or grant sexual favors or that accepting or rejecting of such conduct or communications will be used as a factor in decisions affecting the student’s education. For example, when a teacher threatens to fail a student unless the student agrees to date the teacher, it is quid pro quo harassment.
Similarly, quid pro quo harassment can occur when an employee’s supervisor makes unwelcome sexual advances or requests sexual favors and the employee reasonably believes that submitting to that conduct or communication is a condition of obtaining employment or that accepting or rejecting that conduct or communication will be used as a factor in employment decisions.
2. “Hostile Environment” Sexual Harassment
Hostile environment sexual harassment is conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with, limits, or denies a person the ability to participate in or benefit from a program, education, or environment.
For students, hostile environment sexual harassment means unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is sufficiently serious that it interferes with, limits, or denies a student the opportunity to participate in or benefit from an education program or activity.
For employees, a hostile work environment is created when unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature is sufficiently serious that it interferes with, denies, or limits the employee’s work performance or work environment.
- The term “conduct” includes, but is not limited to:
- Verbal comments, including unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and derogatory remarks;
- nonverbal conduct, such as graffiti, text messages, or notes; and/or
- physical conduct such as sexual touching, fondling, sexual assault, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.
- The term “of a sexual nature” is a broad term that includes conduct or comments about sex (the physical act), based on sex (persons being male or female), or based on sex or gender-based stereotyping.
- In determining whether conduct is “sufficiently serious” as to interfere with, deny, or limit education or employment so as to rise to the level of sexual harassment, the district will examine all the circumstances, including: the type of harassment (e.g., whether it was verbal or physical); the frequency and severity of the conduct; the age, sex and relationship of the parties; the setting and context in which the harassment occurred; whether other incidents have occurred at the school; and other relevant factors. The more severe the conduct, the less need there is to show a repetitive series of incidents to prove a hostile environment. For instance, a single instance of rape is sufficiently severe to create a hostile environment.
Who is affected by sexual harassment Sexual harassment can occur adult to student, student to adult, student to student, adult to adult, male to female, female to male, male to male and female to female, as well as to, form, and between transgender individuals.
The district will take prompt, equitable and remedial action within its authority on reports, complaints and grievances alleging sexual harassment or sexual assault that come to the attention of the district, either formally or informally.
Reporting Allegations Allegations of criminal misconduct will be reported to law enforcement and suspected child abuse will be reported to law enforcement or Child Protective Services.
Victim Assistance Persons found to have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual assault will have appropriate school district services made reasonably available to them and adverse consequences of the harassment shall be reviewed and remedied, as appropriate.
Offenders Engaging in sexual harassment or sexual assault will result in appropriate discipline or other appropriate sanctions against offending students, staff and contractors. Anyone else who engages in sexual harassment or sexual assault on school property or at school activities will have their access to school property and activities restricted, as appropriate.
Retaliation against any person who makes or is a witness in a sexual harassment complaint is prohibited and will result in appropriate discipline. The district will take appropriate actions to protect involved persons from retaliation.
False Allegations It is a violation of this policy to knowingly report false allegations of sexual harassment or sexual assault. Persons found to knowingly report or corroborate false allegations will be subject to appropriate discipline.
SPS Superintendent Procedure The superintendent shall develop and implement formal and informal procedures for receiving, investigating and resolving complaints or reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault.
The procedures will include reasonable and prompt timelines and delineate staff responsibilities under this policy. All staff are responsible for receiving informal complaints and reports of sexual harassment and sexual assault and informing appropriate district personnel of the complaint or report for investigation and resolution. All staff are also responsible for directing complainants to the formal complaint process.
The Superintendent shall develop procedures to provide age-appropriate information and education to district staff, students, parents and volunteers regarding this policy and the recognition and prevention of sexual harassment and sexual assault. At a minimum sexual harassment recognition and prevention and the elements of this policy will be included in staff, student and regular volunteer orientation.
Posting This policy shall be posted in each district building in a place available to staff, students, parents, volunteers and visitors. The policy shall be reproduced in each student, staff, volunteer and parent handbook.
Report to the Board of Directors The superintendent shall make an annual report to the Board reviewing the use and efficacy of this policy and related procedures. Recommendations for changes to this policy, if applicable, shall be included in the report. The superintendent is encouraged to involve staff, students, and volunteers and parents in the review process.