Note: The following administrative procedure has been developed with the awareness and authorization of the Board of Education through notice and policy. The Protocol is drafted to comply with federal laws, regulations and guidance pertaining to sexual harassment under Title IX. The Protocol is subject to administrative modification as deemed appropriate, useful, or necessary.
The District website shall feature the current version of this Protocol and will effectively publish and share it through electronic means.
Printed copies of the Protocol can be obtained by request at the school site level or though the District's Title IX Coordinator:
Title IX Coordinator / Legal Compliance Officer
Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
208 Bull Street, Room 311
Savannah, Georgia 31401
Definition of Sexual Harassment
For the purpose of this procedure, Sexual Harassment is defined as follows:
- An employee of the District conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the recipient on an individual's participation in unwelcome sexual conduct;
Unwelcome conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the recipient's education program or activity; or
“Sexual assault" as defined in 20 U.S.C. 1092(f)(6)(A)(v), “dating violence" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(10), “domestic violence" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(8), or “stalking" as defined in 34 U.S.C. 12291(a)(30).
Initial Response to Actual Knowledge and Reporting Sexual Harassment
Any District employee who is on notice of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment shall promptly report it to a District Title IX Coordinator or a site-based administrator who has been designated to report actual knowledge and allegations of sexual harassment to a District Title IX Coordinator.
Any person may report an instance of sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, regardless of whether the person is the alleged victim of the reported conduct, in person, by mail, by telephone, or by email, using the contact information listed for a Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that results in a Title IX Coordinator receiving the person's report. Such a report may be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed for a Title IX Coordinator.
A “complainant" is a person who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
A “respondent" is an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.
Nothing in this Regulation diminishes the rights of parents and legal guardians to exercise advocacy and legal representation on behalf of their children.
Law enforcement investigations and criminal processes are conducted separately from the sexual harassment response process established under this Regulation.
Supportive and Remedial Measures
Upon initial receipt of knowledge or a compliant of sexual harassment the District treats complainants and respondents equitably by offering supportive measures to a complainant and by following a grievance process before imposing any disciplinary consequences or sanctions on a respondent.
A Title IX Coordinator is responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of supportive measures in response to a report or complaint of sexual harassment.
A Title IX Coordinator or deginee shall promptly contact the complainant to discuss the availability of supportive measures, consider the complainant's wishes with respect to supportive measures, inform the complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint, and explain the process for filing a formal complaint.
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the complainant or the respondent before or after the filing of a formal complaint or where no formal complaint has been filed. Such measures are designed to restore or preserve equal access to the recipient's education program or activity without unreasonably burdening the other party, including measures designed to protect the safety of all parties or the recipient's educational environment, or deter sexual harassment.
Supportive measures may include counseling, extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments, modifications of work or class schedules, mutual restrictions on contact between the parties, changes in work locations, leaves of absence for employees (including administrative leave), increased security and monitoring of certain areas on school property, and other similar measures.
The processes in JGI-R providing for the temporary removal of students in instances where they are believed to be a serious threat to themselves, or others are supportive measures.
Records of supportive measures are confidential to the extent that maintaining such confidentiality would not impair the ability of the recipient to provide the supportive measures.
The District shall only issue remedial and disciplinary measures against a respondent upon the conclusion of a formal complaint process. Remedial measures may include the same actions described as supportive measures, but remedies can include measures that punish or burden the respondent.
Long term suspensions and expulsions can only be issued as a disciplinary result if there has been a hearing that satisfies the requirements of O.C.G.A. 20-2-753. Other lesser student disciplinary measures can be issued without conducting a hearing based on the formal complaint process set forth in this regulation.
Lesser student disciplinary measures include a factual finding of bullying that can be considered pursuant to 20-2-751.4 and clearance to pursue a long-term suspension or expulsion based on acts that consist of or amount to acts of sexual harassment in a disciplinary proceeding conducted in accordance with JCEB and JCEB-R.
Other lesser student disciplinary measures that result from a completed formal complaint process include but are not limited to a change in educational setting, the loss of enrollment in a choice school or program, required participation in a counseling program, the creation of a behavior contract, special assignments, the loss of privileges, required acts of restitution, participation in detention or Saturday school, enrollment in an on-site-intervention program, administrative placement in another school, placement in an alternative education program upon the advice and recommendation of a district placement team, and loss of bus transportation privileges.
Emergency Removal of Students
Federal regulations allow for the emergency removal of a respondent student from their current educational setting under certain conditions prior to the completion of a formal grievance procedure.
In order to remove a student on an emergency basis, a Title IX Coordinator or investigative designee will direct or implement an individualized safety and risk analysis that assists in the determination as to whether emergency removal is necessary to protect a student or other individual from an immediate threat to physical health or safety.
Decisions to implement emergency removals should be made by a district placement team based on the individualized safety and risk analysis and any other contributions that are made during a district placement team meeting. The team will allow for participation by the student, the student's parents and/or legal representatives. The team may allow for the contribution of expert and fact witnesses when making its determination if this allowance does not result in a material delay of the process.
Subsequent input and evidence including contributions from expert and fact witnesses may be considered by the district placement team in a subsequent meeting when a student is on emergency removal status. The district placement team can suspend or end an emergency placement at any time.
The student shall have the right to challenge an emergency placement decision by appealing the decision with the Superintendent.
Emergency removals should not exceed 45 (forty-five) calendar days and should not interrupt the provision of educational services. An Emergency removal can be renewed an additional 45 (forty-five) calendar days by the district placement team. Any extension of an emergency removal must be based on an updated individualized safety and risk analysis.
When a professional evaluation is deemed necessary for a student to be cleared to return to school, the time of an emergency removal can be extended based on a failure or refusal to be evaluated.
The limitations on immediate remedial measures in the context of sexual harassment do not limit a teacher's ability to remove a student pursuant to the procedure set forth under JDF-R in instances where a student poses an immediate threat to the safety of the student's classmates or the teacher for any reason other than acts that amount to sexual harassment. If the behavior that is the basis of a JDF-R removal amounts to an act or acts of sexual harassment, the procedural requirements of an individualized safety and risk analysis and the right to challenge will supplement the existing JDF-R procedure in that particular matter.
The Formal Complaint Process, Generally
Any formal complaint must be signed in order to institute the formal grievance process. The standard formal complaint form utilized by the District is attached hereto as APPENDIX A – FORMAL GRIEVANCE FORM (PDF - 33 KB).
A Title IX Coordinator is the only person other than the complainant or the complainant's parent or legal guardian with the legal authority to sign a complaint. A Title IX Coordinator may implement a formal grievance procedure over the objection of the complainant.
The formal complaint process may be temporarily delayed due to concurrent law enforcement activity.
Formal complaints alleging sexual harassment are deemed filed when they are received in writing by the Title IX Coordinator with the complainant's signature. Complaints signed by a Title IX Coordinator are deemed filed when signed.
The District shall develop and publish a standard form for formal complaints of sexual harassment.
The parties to the formal complaint proceeding are the complainant and the respondent. There may be multiple complainants and respondents in a formal complaint proceeding.
The respondent is presumed to be not responsible for the alleged conduct until a determination has been made at the conclusion of the formal complaint process. The preponderance of the evidence standard is used to determine responsibility.
The District treats the identity of a person who complains or reports sexual harassment as confidential, including parties and witnesses, except as permitted by law or to carry out the purpose of these regulations.
The District has established processes intended to ensure that formal complaints are processed in a reasonably prompt manner. (See “The Formal Complaint Process with Standard Timelines" below)
A Title IX coordinator has the authority to designate a matter for resolution through a live hearing. The only currently approved reason for holding a live Title IX sexual harassment hearing is to avoid the necessity of conducting a subsequent live hearing in order to seek a disciplinary result that requires a live hearing under Georgia law.
The District may consolidate formal complaints against more than one respondent, by more than one complainant against one or more respondents, or by one party against another party, where the allegations arise out of the same facts or circumstances.
At any point during the formal complaint process, the District may offer to facilitate an informal process that does not require a full investigation. See APPENDIX H - Informal Dispute Forms (PDF - 378 KB)
An informal resolution process may not be used in the context of a complaint alleging that an employee harassed a student.
Any party who assumes an official facilitating role in an informal resolution process must be adequately trained as required by law.
Dismissal Prior to a Determination of Responsibility:
The District will dismiss the formal complaint if:
- the conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined in § 106.30;
the conduct as alleged did not occur in a District education program or activity; or
the conduct did not occur in the United States.
Dismissal on these grounds does not preclude the District from taking disciplinary action against a named respondent on some basis other than sexual harassment.
The District may dismiss a formal complaint or any allegations therein, if at any time during the investigation or hearing:
a complainant notifies a Title IX Coordinator in writing that the complainant would like to withdraw the formal complaint or any allegations therein;
- the respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the recipient; or
- specific circumstances prevent the District from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the formal complaint or allegations therein.
If a formal complaint is dismissed the District will promptly issue written notice of the dismissal and reason(s) thereof simultaneously to the parties.
Official Roles in the Formal Complaint Process
Individuals serving in official roles in the formal complaint process must be trained as required by law. Training materials will be made available on the District's website.
No person acting in an official role in the grievance process shall proceed in that role if they have a conflict of interest for or against any complainant or respondent. Any concern regarding a conflict of interest should be raised in writing with a Title IX Coordinator. Concerns about a conflict of interest attributable to a Title IX Coordinator should be submitted to the Superintendent in a prompt manner.
A Title IX Coordinator may serve as an Investigator in the formal complaint process or may direct that another employee shall serve in that capacity. The Investigator is responsible for compiling the evidence and any other investigative work product that is to be presented to the Decision Maker.
The Decision Maker will make decisions concerning responsibility, remediation and discipline based on the materials provided by the Investigator. A Title IX Coordinator may not serve as a Decision Maker.
The Formal Complaint Process with Standard Timelines
The District has the primary responsibility for gathering evidence and meeting any burden of proof.
Any stage in the formal complaint process may be delayed temporarily for good cause. Examples of good cause include, but are not limited to: law enforcement involvement, absence of a party, witness or advisor, translation or accommodation needs, or a state of emergency. When there is reason to delay the process, the District should issue written notice to both parties explaining the reason for the delay.
A District Title IX Coordinator or designee will issue written notice to all known parties to the complaints no less than five (5) business days after the receipt of a formal complaint.
APPENDIX B - NOTICE OF FORMAL GRIEVANCE OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT (PDF - 117 KB) includes prompts for the required elements of the written notice.
The Investigator will collect and compile evidence in a prompt manner. The evidence collection process should be completed in no less than thirty (30) days unless there is good cause for delay.
All parties will have any equal opportunity to present evidence and the District will not restrict a party's ability to discuss the allegations or gather and present evidence.
If the District conducts an interview in connection with a formal investigation the parties (including any advisor they have engaged) will have the same opportunities to have others present during interviews or other related proceedings. Parties who are invited or expected to attend any investigative interview, hearing, or other meeting should receive advanced written notice with the date, time, participants, purpose, and location. The District may conduct interviews outside the presence of all observing parties as long as (unofficial) transcripts or recordings of the interviews are made available in the evidence shared with the parties. Interviews maybe redacted as appropriate prior to sharing if content is not relevant to the complaint or is otherwise privileged or legally protected from disclosure.
All parties (including their advisors, if any) will have an equal opportunity to review all evidence that is directly related to the allegations in the formal complaint, including evidence on which the District does not intend to rely and any exculpatory or inculpatory evidence from any source. Access to this evidence shall be provided to the parties prior to the completion of the final investigation report and in time to give the parties at least 10 days to submit a written response which can include supplemental evidence. The investigator must consider prior to completing the investigation report.
Within 5 (five) business days after the expiration of the ten (10) day period for submitting written responses to the evidence, the Investigator will issue an investigative report that fairly catalogues and summarizes relevant evidence.
The report and the relevant evidence it catalogues will be shared with all parties and the Decision Maker on the date of issue.
The parties may submit objections to the investigative report any time within ten (10) business days from the issuance of the investigative report. The objections should be submitted electronically and shared with all parties at the time of submission.
Parties may submit rebuttals to objections within five (5) business days. Any rebuttal should be submitted electronically and shared with all parties at the time of submission.
With or without a hearing, each party will have the opportunity to submit proposed questions to be asked of any party or witness who has had their statements quoted, included, or referenced in the report or relevant evidence.
If there is no hearing, the questions must be submitted in writing to the Investigator and the Decision Maker within ten (10) days of the initial sharing of the report and relevant evidence.
If there is no hearing, the Decision Maker has five (5) business days from the expiration of the submission period to approve any propounded questions as appropriate and should be allowed. The key determining factor is whether the questions seek relevant and non-privileged information. The Decision Maker may modify questions based on concerns regarding relevance, privilege, and the form of the question. The Decision Maker may also submit their own questions for parties and witnesses at this time.
If there is no hearing, the Investigator will make reasonable and prompt efforts to propound the questions approved and issued by the Decision Maker to parties and witnesses for whom the questions are directed. The Investigator will use the means and method that the Investigator deems appropriate to seek answers. The answers to questions that the Investigator obtains will be shared with the Decision Maker and the parties upon the completion of this process. Parties are required to answer questions that the Decision Maker has approved. If non-party witnesses are unavailable or otherwise unwilling to answer questions that will be noted by the Investigator. This process should be completed in twenty (20) days unless there is good cause to extend the time.
If there is no hearing, the parties have five (5) business days to submit follow-up questions in writing to the Investigator and the Decision Maker. The Decision Maker will have five (5) business days from the expiration of the submission period to approve, modify and submit their own follow-up questions to the Investigator. The Investigator is then charged with making reasonable and prompt efforts to propound questions based as described above. The process of propounding follow-up questions and obtaining responses should be completed in fourteen (14) days unless there is good cause to extend the time.
The Decision Maker will issue a decision within ten (10) business days of the conclusion of the supplemental questioning process.
Parties who are unable to submit or receive timely electronic communications will receive assistance from the District upon request.
Notes on Evidence
Evidence about the complainant's sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, unless such evidence is offered to prove that someone other than the respondent committed the conduct alleged by the complainant, or if the questions and evidence concern specific incidents of the complainant's prior sexual behavior with respect to the respondent and are offered to prove consent.
The District will not require, allow, or use evidence or questions that constitute or seek legally privileged information, unless the privilege is waived.
The District will not access, consider, disclose, or otherwise use a party's records that are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, psychologist, or other recognized professional or paraprofessional acting in the professional's or paraprofessional's capacity, or assisting in that capacity, and which are made and maintained in connection with the provision of treatment to the party, unless the recipient obtains that party's voluntary, written consent to do so in a grievance process.
Educational records are largely irrelevant to allegations of sexual harassment. Examples of relevant educational records are records that describe instances where harassment is alleged to have taken place or include information that tends to demonstrate means, opportunity, intent or motive of harassment or allegations of harassment. The Investigator should minimize the scope of the disclosure of educational records in possession of the District to portions that are materially relevant to a particular sexual harassment dispute.
Questions as to whether behavior is a manifestation of a disability is not a defense to allegations of sexual harassment under the proceeding described in this regulation. If a manifestation determination is required, it will take place outside of the formal complaint process. The relevance or review of an educational record in a manifestation determination proceeding does not establish relevance in a sexual harassment proceeding.
The District may establish more extensive rules or standards of evidence for sexual harassment complaints as it deems appropriate.
Determination of Responsibility
The Decision Maker, who cannot be the Investigator or the Title IX Coordinator, shall make objective evaluations of all available evidence, both inculpatory and exculpatory, and will not make credibility determinations based on a party's status as complainant, respondent, or witness.
The Decision Maker will apply the preponderance of evidence standard to the facts presented and will issue a written determination of responsibility that:
- Identifies the allegations that potentially constitute sexual harassment;
- Describes the District's procedural steps taken from the receipt of the complaint to the determination;
- Includes findings of fact supporting the determination;
- Includes conclusions regarding application of the code of conduct or relevant conduct-based policies to the facts;
- Includes a statement of, and a rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination of responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions, and whether remedies to restore or preserve equal access to the recipient's education program or activity will be provided to the complainant; and
- Includes procedures and permissible basis for appeals.
Note: With respect to item “e" above, disciplinary sanctions include possible sanctions that could result and issue from a subsequent Fair Dismissal Act hearing or student disciplinary hearing.
Parties to a formal complaint process have the right to appeal a Determination of Responsibility, or the District's dismissal of a complaint or any allegations therein, for the following reasons:
- A procedural irregularity that affected the outcome;
- New evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of the determination and could affect the outcome;
- Conflict of interest on the part of a Title IX coordinator, investigator, or decision maker that affected the outcome.
A written appeal must be filed in writing with the Office of the Superintendent (through the Title IX Coordinator) within ten (10) days of the issuance of the Determination of Responsibility. See APPENDIX F- NOTICE OF APPEAL OF DETERMINATION OF RESPONSIBILITY (PDF - 84 KB)
A determination on the submitted basis for appeal will be provided to both parties using the attached APPENDIX G – NOTICE OF BASIS OF APPEAL (PDF - 47 KB).
Upon receipt of a written appeal (which raises an appealable issue), the District will provide written notification to all parties, and initiate the appeal process. All parties will have an equal opportunity to submit a written statement in support of, or challenging, the Determination of Responsibility. At the conclusion of the appeal the District will issue a written decision that will be provided to all parties simultaneously.
The Appellate Reviewer may not be a Title IX coordinator, investigator, or initial decision maker, and may not have a conflict of interest or bias against the parties. The decision maker must be trained in accordance with 34 CFR 106.45(b)(1)(iii).
Implementation of Remedies:
A Title IX Coordinator is responsible for effective implementation of any remedies.
The District will keep records related to reports of alleged sexual harassment for a minimum of seven years, including investigation records, disciplinary sanctions, remedies, appeals, and records of any action taken, including supportive measures. See APPENDIX D - ADMINISTRATIVE RECORD OF INVESTIGATION AND RESPONSE FORM (PDF - 72 KB)
Retaliation against any person for the purpose of interfering with Title IX rights or because the person has participated or refused to participate in any manner in a proceeding under Title IX regulations is prohibited. Complaints of retaliation may be addressed under the District's Title IX grievance process.