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Sexual Harassment Policy

A statement of the policy of the Board of Education of Montgomery County for all employees and students of the Montgomery County Public Schools

Introduction

The Board of Education of Montgomery County adopted a policy in February 1993 that affirmed its opposition to sexual harassment and established specific guidelines to address sexual harassment among both employees and students of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS). The policy initiated actions by the school system to help employees and students recognize, understand, prevent and take corrective action to address sexual harassment and other inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature in the workplace and in instructional settings.

Policy in Detail

The Policy in Summary

Based on Board of Education Policy ACF, Sexual Harassment (PDF)

Inappropriate sexual conduct will not be tolerated and may constitute sexual harassment. MCPS does not condone or tolerate any form of sexual harassment involving employees or students. The school system is committed to the creation and maintenance of a learning and work environment in which all persons who participate in school programs and activities can do so in an atmosphere free from all forms of sexual harassment.

MCPS will take appropriate action to prevent and correct behavior that violates this policy. If necessary, the school system will also take disciplinary action against employees and students. Employees who violate the policy will be subject to such actions as oral or written reprimand, professional counseling, reassignment, demotion, suspension or termination. Disciplinary actions for students who violate the policy include a conference, suspension and/or expulsion depending on the circumstances and severity of the offense.

The policy applies to all sexual harassment incidents involving MCPS employees and addresses acts committed by a person of either sex against a person of the opposite or same sex. The policy recognizes that it is unlawful for employees to commit acts of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment committed by students of either sex against students or staff of the opposite or same sex constitutes inappropriate behavior and is subject to disciplinary action under the Board of Education discipline policies. The policy also recognizes that employees and students have a right to be free from sexual harassment by others such as contractors, vendors, and volunteers.

It is the responsibility of every supervisor and principal to recognize acts of sexual harassment and take necessary action to ensure that such instances are addressed swiftly, fairly, and effectively. The school system prohibits retaliation against an individual who reports an incident or cooperates with an investigation of a reported incident.

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What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other inappropriate verbal, written, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that takes place under any of the following circumstances:

  • When submission to such conduct is made, explicitly or implicity, a term or condition of employment, instruction, or participation in other school activities;
  • When submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used by the offender as the basis for making personnel or academic decisions affecting the individual subjected to sexual harassment; and/or
  • When such conduct has the effect of unreasonably interfering with the individual’s work and/or academic performance; or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work or learning environment.

Sexual violence refers to physical sexual acts perpetrated against a person's will or where a person is incapable of giving consent (e.g., due to the person's age or use of drugs or alcohol, or because an intellectual or other disability prevents the person from having the capacity to give consent). It is against Board policy and MCPS regulations for MCPS employees to commit acts of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment committed by students against students or staff is inappropriate and violates MCPS regulations and rules.

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Prohibited Conduct

Prohibited conduct may include, but is not limited to, unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature. For example:

  • Grabbing, touching, or patting
  • Sexual propositions
  • Sexually offensive pictures, magazines, notes, calendars, cartoons, or jokes
  • Unwanted flirtations or advances
  • Verbal abuse
  • Repeated pressure or requests for sexual activities
  • Rewards for granting sexual favors or the withholding of rewards for refusing to grant sexual favors
  • Graphic comments about an individual’s body or dress
  • Sexually degrading names

Such conduct may also constitute sexual harassment. In determining whether prohibited conduct constitutes sexual harassment, consideration will be given to the totality of the circumstances, including the context in which the conduct occurred. Dating or sexual relationships between employees/adult volunteers and students is prohibited.

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Expectations

The Board of Education expects employees and students to be committed to creating and maintaining an environment in which all persons participating in school programs and activities can do so in an atmosphere free from all forms of sexual harassment.

  • MCPS policy on sexual harassment will be communicated to all employees and students.
  • Education programs, to include all employees and students, will be implemented.
  • Employees and students will be informed of procedures to follow for filing complaints of sexual harassment.
  • Confidentiality will be maintained in all phases of the complaint process, in accordance with policy and consistent with MCPS obligation to investigate and address complaints.
  • Retaliation against anyone who files a complaint or cooperates with an investigation about sexual harassment is prohibited.

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Other Legal Protection

In addition to the Board of Education policy, there are several other federal and state measures that protect individuals from sexual harassment discrimination and provide specific prohibitions against acts of discrimination or other unlawful conduct.

Federal Law

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1972 and 1991, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in all terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, as amended, prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

Maryland Law

Criminal Code—Article 27, Section 464C, of the Annotated Code of Maryland prohibits coercive sexual contact against the will and without the consent of the other person.

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Actions for Employees

If you believe you are a target of sexual harassment, you should report such incidents. You may report this information verbally or in writing to your immediate supervisor or principal. You may also report it directly to the Office of Employee Engagement and Labor Relations, Department of Compliance and Investigations at 240-314-4899. When reporting an incident, it is helpful to provide as much information as possible, including the following:

  1. A description of the event(s)
  2. The number of occurrences, with dates and places
  3. The names of any witnesses
  4. Any documents or other exhibits, if appropriate

Where To Go for Help

Employees may contact any of the following individuals or offices for guidance, information, or resolution of a sexual harassment issue:

  • Your supervisor, principal, or director
  • Office of Employee Engagement and Labor Relations, Department of Compliance and Investigations
    240-314-4899 

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Actions for Students

If you believe that you are the target of sexual harassment or the focus of inappropriate behavior, you should report such incidents to your parents and school authorities. You may report the information verbally or in writing to the principal, a guidance counselor, a teacher, or another staff person.

When reporting an incident, it is helpful to provide as much information as possible, including the following:

  1. A description of the event(s)
  2. The number of occurrences, with dates and places
  3. The names of any witnesses
  4. Any documents or other exhibits, if appropriate

Students may receive guidance, advice, support and/or advocacy from school staff, including administrators, counselors, teachers, or other staff. MCPS Form 230-35, Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation Reporting Form, should be completed and submitted in accordance with MCPS Regulation JHF-RA, Bullying, Harassment, or Intimidation.

Where To Go for Help

Students may contact any of the following individuals or offices for guidance, information, or resolution of a sexual harassment issue:

  • Your school principal, counselor, teacher or other identified staff
  • Office of School Administration Compliance Unit at 301-279-3444

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Other Sources of Information

In addition to offices and departments of the Montgomery County Public Schools, there are other agencies at local, state, and national levels that can provide information, assistance, and referrals concerning sexual harassment issues.

County

  • Office of Human Rights at 240-777-8450 (TTY 240-777-8480)
  • Commission for Women at 240-777-8300 (TTY 301-279-1034)

State

Federal

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Montgomery County Public Schools

Contact MCPS

Call: 301-309-6277 | Spanish Hotline: 301-230-3073
E-mail: ASKMCPS@mcpsmd.org

Contact Employee & Retiree Services Center

Call: 301-517-8100 | E-mail: ersc@mcpsmd.org

©1995–2017 Montgomery County Public Schools, 850 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850

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