How to Report an Incident of Bias or Discrimination

  • Below you will find specific information about how to report an incident of bias or discrimination. This section also includes definitions to guide the decision-making process.

  • What is discrimination?

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    Discrimination includes, but is not limited to, excluding from participation, denying the benefits of, or otherwise discriminating against individuals on the basis of a Protected Class, or any other category protected by state or federal law.

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  • What is harassment?

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    Harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwelcome, inappropriate, or illegal physical, verbal, written, graphic, or electronic conduct that relates to an individual’s actual or perceived Protected Class, that has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile education or work environment. Examples of harassment include, but are not limited to, conduct that denigrates, demeans, or stereotypes a person and/or group based upon disability, gender identity, national origin, ethnic background, ancestry, race, color, religion, or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment is also included in this category.

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  • What is retaliation?

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    Retaliation includes, but is not limited to, coercion, intimidation, interference, punishment, discrimination, or harassment against any member of the school community in response to that member’s oral, written, formal or informal reporting or filing a complaint, cooperating in an investigation, aiding or encouraging another member to report or file a complaint.

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  • What is a hate crime?

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    Hate crimes are motivated, at least in part, by hate or bias, or where the victim is targeted selected, or chosen for the crime, at least in part, because of a person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, ancestry, or ethnic background, or because the targeted person has a disability. A hate crime may involve, but is not limited to, an act of bodily injury, attempt to cause bodily injury, threat of bodily harm, physical or mental intimidation, or damage to another’s property.

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  • What is a protected class?

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    A protected class includes classes, groups, members, or an individual of a race, color, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, age, genetic information, active military or veteran status, marital status, familial status, homelessness, ancestry, ethnic background or national origin, whether actual or perceived, as protected by the Non-Discrimination Policy, or state or federal law.

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  • What is a complaint?

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    A complaint is an oral or written, formal or informal, notification of an incident of discrimination, including harassment and discrimination, to school officials. For a student, parents/guardians may also file a complaint on behalf of the child. Newton Public Schools will promptly respond to and investigate all complaints of discrimination, bias, or retaliation in any form. You may use the form included in our protocol for responding, or simply share information and details of the incident through letter, email, or in person with appropriate school staff.

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  • What is the policy of the NPS concerning hate speech and acts of bias and/or discrimination?

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    NPS policy against discrimination clearly states that the Newton Public Schools is committed to creating a community free from all forms of discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, it shall be a violation of this policy for any member of the school community to engage in any form of discrimination, including harassment and retaliation, or to violate any other civil rights of any member of the school community. Discrimination in any form, including hate speech and other forms of bias, will not be tolerated.

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  • What types of incidents should be reported?

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    Any member of the school community who believes s(he) or another school community member has been the victim of any form of discrimination, harassment, retaliation as defined above, should report the conduct (file a complaint.) Incidents may occur, but are not limited to, during the school day (on or off school property), at a school sanctioned event or athletic competition (weekdays or weekends), or on social media.

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  • Who in the school is responsible for receiving complaints of bias or discrimination?

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    All NPS administrators have been trained in our protocol for responding to incidents of discrimination and all staff are aware of their responsibility for reporting incidents that they are aware of.  Complaints may be made to the principal or high school deans listed on our website here: LINK. Complaints may also be made centrally to the Executive Director of Human Resources for staff related issues or the Assistant Superintendent for Student Services for student related issues.

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  • What should I do if I am a NPS EMPLOYEE and the target of hate speech, bias, or discrimination?

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    Employees may make a complaint to their immediate supervisor, their principal/director or the Executive Director of Human Resources. Newton Public Schools will promptly respond to and investigate all reports made in any form.

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  • What should I do if I am a STUDENT and the target hate speech, bias, or discrimination?

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    Students may make a complaint to any school faculty, staff, or administrator. Newton Public Schools will promptly respond to and investigate all complaints made in any form. All NPS administrators have been trained in our protocol for responding to incidents of discrimination and all staff are aware of their responsibility for reporting incidents that they are aware of.

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  • What should I do if I am a PARENT/GUARDIAN and my student is a target of bias or discrimination?

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    Parents should make a complaint to their school principal or high school dean. Newton Public Schools will promptly respond to and investigate all complaints made in any form. All NPS administrators have been trained in our protocol for responding to incidents of discrimination and all staff are aware of their responsibility for reporting incidents that they are aware of.

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  • What should I do if I believe educational materials are biased or discriminatory?

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    NPS educators work tirelessly to ensure that educational materials are free of bias and first-hand sources reflect a broad array of viewpoints. Any parent with a concern about specific materials should raise that concern with a teacher, principal or department head/curriculum coordinator for the subject in question. Additional information about reviewing curriculum is included in our policy on instructional materials, linked here.

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  • What should I do if I witness hate speech or a bias incident?

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    As a school community member, we encourage you to report any suspected incident of discrimination, bias, or retaliation to the specific individuals listed in the Contact Section of this webpage or to another trusted adult in the community. Notification of incidents allows us to conduct a full investigation, address those responsible, support those affected, and identify ways in which we can reduce the potential for recurrence.

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  • What can I expect to happen once a bias incident or hate speech has been reported?

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    Once a complaint has been made, a trained administrator will investigate the incident following the district protocol. For specifics, please review the protocol here. To summarize, students directly involved in the incident will be informed of the investigation, as will the parents/guardians. Interviews of victim, perpetrator, and any witnesses will be conducted. Evidence, if available, will be gathered and reviewed. Once the investigation has concluded, the designated official will prepare a written report. Those involved will be informed of the outcome and the steps being taken to respond. If the complaint is substantiated, responses will include consequences for the person responsible, support for those impacted, and actions to prevent reoccurrence.

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  • What guidelines does NPS follow when resolving hate speech or bias incidents?

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    NPS uses the steps outlined in the written protocol for responding to incidents of bias, discrimination, or retaliation. Those guidelines can be found here

     

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  • What kinds of actions does NPS consider when responding to a bias-based incident?

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    Actions will typically include discipline for the person responsible, remedial or supportive actions to assist those directly impacted, and corrective action/education steps for the individual and potentially the larger school community.

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  • Under what circumstances does the Newton Police Department become involved?

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    The Newton Police Department is notified if the report includes a possible violation of the law.  Examples might include graffiti (defacing school property), assault, or harassment. A crime motivated by bias or discrimination would be also considered a hate crime. Communication between the Newton Public Schools and the Newton Police Department is specified in our Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) .

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  • What will the community know about an investigation and what will be kept confidential?

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    Those involved in the incident will be informed of the outcome and the steps being taken to respond. With regard to the larger community, there are many instances in which they are alerted to a specific incident, but there are some in which they are not. Administrators work in concert with teachers and families to determine the best approach given the circumstances of the incident. Specific consideration is given to  protecting the confidentiality of individual students and promoting the optimal educational response for involved students.

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  • What happens if I experience retaliation for reporting hate speech or a bias incident?

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    Retaliation for making a report or participating in an investigation is also a violation of our policy and is not tolerated. Any type of substantiated retaliation would be subject to additional disciplinary consequences. To prevent retaliation, NPS makes every effort to maintain the confidentiality of those involved. Should information become known and retaliation occur, we encourage immediate reporting so that we can respond immediately.

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  • How are the findings of each investigation recorded and reported?

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    All incidents that are investigated and addressed by NPS are documented and tracked by central school administration. This data is then analyzed and tracked for patterns of behavior and types of effective responses. District administration will periodically report to the School Committee on trends and commonalities that need to be addressed.

     

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