Policies and Procedures
Discrimination, including harassment, may affect student achievement and well being. It may also have an impact on the entire school climate. As a result, it is imperative that school districts have responsive complaint procedures and pupil nondiscrimination policies.
In this section, the district is asked to review whether its policies and procedures are in compliance with the requirements of the pupil nondiscrimination law. In doing so, the district should also assess whether the policies and procedures are effective in preventing discrimination, resolving complaints, and promoting corrective action.
The pupil nondiscrimination policies should be reviewed in order to determine whether all protected classes identified in the pupil nondiscrimination law are included. The policies should be broad enough to encompass all areas of school district operation. The district should also review whether the policies are, in fact, practiced, used and understood.
The district is further asked to review its discrimination complaint procedure. The district should consider whether its complaint procedure clearly explains where and how complaints should be filed, the required time limits, and the process used to investigate and resolve complaints. The procedure must provide for a written decision that informs the complainant of the right to appeal to the state superintendent and of the procedures for making an appeal. Finally, the district should consider whether its complaint procedure and nondiscrimination policies are publicized effectively so that all staff, parents, and students are well informed. An effective announcement that the district prohibits discrimination and harassment creates an expectation and shows commitment to a safe, welcoming school.
As a reminder, in reviewing specific complaints, confidential student information must be protected. See pages 70-71 for information on the specific requirements of Wisconsin's pupil nondiscrimination law.
By evaluating this area, school districts will have an opportunity to:
- Ensure that pupil nondiscrimination policies and complaint procedures are in compliance with Wisconsin's pupil nondiscrimination law.
- Review and improve the effectiveness of the district's policies and complaint procedure in preventing discrimination, resolving complaints, and in providing corrective action.
- Identify ways to effectively publicize pupil nondiscrimination policies and complaint procedures.
- Identify whether the nondiscrimination polices are understood and complied with by everyone.
- Does the district have a written board-approved policy or policies prohibiting discrimination against pupils on the basis of each of the following (s. 118.13, Stats.):
- national origin (including LEP)
- marital status
- parental status
- sexual orientation
- physical disability
- mental disability
- emotional disability
- learning disability
- Does the district have a board-approved policy or policies prohibiting discrimination against pupils in the following areas (PI 9.03):
- admission to any school, class, program, or activity
- standards and rules of behavior, including pupil harassment
- disciplinary areas, including suspensions and expulsions
- acceptance and adminstration of gifts, bequests, scholarships and other aids, benefits and services to pupils from private agencies, organizations, or persons
- an instructional and library media materials selection policy
- methods, practices, and materials used for testing, evaluating and counseling pupils
- opportunity for participation in athletic program or acitvities
- school-sponsored food service programs
- Do the pupil nondiscrimination policies generally apply to all areas of school operations, including school-sponsored programs and activities?
- In responding to the following questions, review the district's s. 118.13 pupil discrimination complaint procedure (PI 9.04).
- Is there a written procedure for filing, investigating and resolving complaints of pupil discrimination?
- Does the complaint procedure provide for written acknowledgement of the complaint within 45 days?
- Does the procedure require that a final decision be made within 90 days?
- Does the complaint procedure provide for a written decision?
- Does the procedure require that the written decision include notice of the right to appeal to the state superintendent and the procedure for making an appeal?
- Has the district designated an employee to receive pupil discrimination complaints? Identify the employee (PI 9.04):
- What training has the designated employee received in discrimination law and complaint investigation?
- How many and what types of complaints have been filed in at least the past three years?
- Consider all pupil discrimination complaints in answering the following questions:
- Did the investigative process operate effectively as a fact-finding device?
- What would improve the ability of the district to determine facts when a complaint has been filed?
- Did the complaint process operate effectively as a dispute resolution mechanism?
- Was the complaint process effective in developing and promoting strategies to eliminate or prevent discrimination?
- How can the process be improved to achieve the above objectives?
- Was the complaint process "user friendly"?
- Does the district publish an annual class 1 legal notice of its pupil nondiscrimination policies, including the name and address of the employee designated to receive complaints? (PI 9.05) For a definition of "class 1 legal notice", see page 71.
- For the following questions, review all schools, from the elementary through the high school level.
- Is a pupil nondiscrimination statement included in all student and staff handbooks?
- Is the pupil discrimination complaint procedure included in all student and staff handbooks?
- Is the complaint procedure and pupil nondiscrimination policy or policies explained in non-technical and age-appropriate language? Are they translated and provided in other languages in addition to English? Are they available in Braille or audio versions?
- How are staff and students informed of the person designated to receive complaints and how to contact him or her?
- Describe any other measures taken by the district to increase staff/student/parent/guardian knowledge of pupil nondiscrimination policies and complaint procedures.
- What are your recommendations for improvement? How will these recommendations be implemented?
Prepare a summary of your evaluation of the status of nondiscrimination and equality of educational opportunity with regard to the district's pupil nondiscrimination policies and complaint procedures. Include in the summary your findings, analysis, supporting information, and recommendations for improvement. Also include information on how your recommendations might be implemented. Include this summary as part of your report.