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School board adopts harassment policy

January 18, 2000|By BRUCE HAMILTON

All forms of harassment are prohibited in the school system under a policy the Washington County Board of Education unanimously approved Tuesday.

The School Board originally adopted a sexual harassment policy Dec. 17, 1971, and it included harassment in a discipline policy adopted in May 1999. But the new policy is more detailed and comprehensive.

"We believe we needed a policy that stands by itself," Executive Director of Support Services William McKinley told the board Tuesday night.

During the morning work session, McKinley said the policy is partly a reaction to violent school incidents elsewhere in the country. "Students often reacted in a violent way when they were harassed," he said.

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Last year, Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett Jr. asked to see the school system's harassment policy. McKinley said he found there was no specific, stand-alone policy.

The new rules apply to approximately 3,000 employees and 19,500 students. They cover student to adult, adult to student, student to student and adult to adult harassment, McKinley said.

It includes verbal, physical or written harassment or abuse, repeated demeaning remarks, and implied or explicit threats concerning grades, achievements or performance.

It also includes demeaning jokes, stories or activities directed at an individual.

Sexual harassment is defined in the policy as:

* Unwelcome, inappropriate advances or requests for sexual favors.

* Verbal or physical conduct/behavior of a sexual nature that interferes with an individual's performance.

* Verbal or physical conduct/behavior that is a form of intimidation, hostile or offensive to the educational environment or workplace.

* Adverse actions against a person as a result of the rejection of, reaction to or filing of a sexual harassment complaint.

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