Purpose and Scope

  • Harassment is defined as any communication or conduct that limits or denies the ability of a student to attend, participate in, or benefit from the educational program or the ability of a staff member to attend to or perform his/her duties.  It includes, but is not limited to, any communication, written, spoken or otherwise, such as jokes, comments, innuendoes, notes; material placed on the internet or other electronic media such as email, web page, and voicemail; writing placed on school property, the display of pictures or symbols, graffiti, gestures, or other conduct that offends or shows disrespect to others based upon age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation. 

    Discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin is prohibited by Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Discrimination against persons with disabilities is prohibited by Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (Title II prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability by public entities, whether or not they receive federal financial assistance). Discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.  

    By law, the particular communication or conduct is viewed from the perspective of a reasonable person.  What one person may consider acceptable behavior may reasonably be viewed as harassment by another person; therefore, individuals should consider how their words and actions might be viewed by other individuals. 

    It should be noted that, while this policy sets forth the goal of the Public Schools of Brookline to maintain a work and educational environment that is free of harassment based upon age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, or sexual orientation, the policy is not designed or intended to limit the authority of school officials to discipline or take remedial action for conduct which is deemed unacceptable, whether or not that conduct satisfies the definition of harassment. 

    This policy is also not intended to limit the rights of students or staff have under the law or appropriate agreements, including filing a complaint with an outside agency. 

    Sexual Harassment 

    While all types of harassment are prohibited, sexual harassment requires special attention.  Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: 

    1. Acceptance of or submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of employment, attendance, or education, or 

    2. The individual’s response to such conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting an employee or as a basis for educational, disciplinary, or other decisions affecting a student, or 

    3. Such conduct interferes with an individual’s job duties, education, or participation in extracurricular activities, or 

    4. The conduct creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work or school environment.

    The legal definition of sexual harassment is broad.  In addition to the above examples, other sexually oriented conduct, whether it is intended or not, that is unwelcome and has the effect of creating a work or educational environment that is hostile, offensive, intimidating or humiliating to individuals of either gender may also constitute sexual harassment.  While it is not possible to list all circumstances that may constitute such harassment, examples may include references to sexual conduct, comments on an individual’s body, unwelcome leers, and suggestive or insulting comments.