This complaint procedure has been developed to handle complaints of discrimination, including sexual harassment, and complaints of other harassment or bullying in violation of District policies. Employees, applicants for employment, parents, students, and volunteers may file a complaint with the District alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, or bullying pursuant to this procedure. The complaint procedure includes the following steps:
- Complaint: Complainants may talk to their building principal or immediate supervisor to try to resolve the problem informally, if the Complainant feels comfortable doing so. If the complaint is based upon the conduct of the Complainant’s principal or immediate supervisor, or some other conflict of interest exists, the Complainant may contact that person’s immediate supervisor. Complaints should be reported as soon as possible after the event giving rise to the complaint.
- If the Complainant prefers to proceed with a formal complaint, or if the matter cannot be informally resolved, he or she may file a written complaint with the Executive Director of Teaching and Learning. Formal complaints should be filed by the Complainant within 300 days after the event giving rise to the complaint or it is determined the complaint cannot be informally resolved.
- Investigation: Within 10 working days of receipt of the complaint, a designated investigator will begin the investigation. If the investigator has a conflict of interest, an alternate shall be designated to investigate. An investigation may include interviewing and taking a written statement from the Complainant, the Respondent(s) named in the complaint, and those witnesses who have been identified as having relevant information pertaining to the complaint. Relevant documentation and other evidence may also be collected and considered. District employees, students and volunteers shall fully and fairly cooperate in the investigation. During the investigation, the Complainant and a Respondent may elect to have a union representative, friend, counsel or any other individual present with them during interviews and subsequent meetings.
- Findings: Within 30 working days of initiation of the investigation, the investigator shall complete the investigation and issue a written report including findings with respect to the individual allegations set out in the complaint and an ultimate finding as to whether the greater weight of the evidence, based on the entire record, indicates the District’s policies have been violated. The investigator will consider the totality of the circumstances presented in determining whether the conduct objectively constitutes discrimination, harassment, and/or bullying. In some cases, such as when many individuals are involved in the investigation or an extensive legal review must be done or there are extenuating circumstances beyond the District’s control, the investigation/findings process may be delayed and the investigator will inform the Complainant of the expected date of completion beyond 30 working days.
In the event the investigator finds:
- No violation of District policy, a summary of the findings will be shared by the investigator with the Complainant and the Respondent.
- A violation of the District’s policies, or no violation of the District’s policies but other inappropriate behavior on the part of the Respondent, a summary of the findings will be reviewed:
- By the investigator with the Complainant and the Respondent; and
- By the investigator and Respondent’s principal or the immediate supervisor, the director responsible for Respondent, and a representative of Human Resources Management, as may be appropriate. The Respondent’s principal or the Human Resources representative, as appropriate, will inform the Respondent of any decision regarding disciplinary action.
Corrective Actions. The District will take action to halt any improper discrimination, harassment, or bullying, and will take other appropriate corrective actions, including disciplinary measures which may consist of discharge, suspension, expulsion, or exclusion of a perpetrator to remedy the violation of District policies. If disciplinary action is warranted, documentation of the disciplinary action will be placed in the employee’s file or the student’s file.
The complaint will be considered closed after the investigator has provided the information to the Complainant and the Respondent and corrective actions in response to the complaint have been taken. The Complainant and the Respondent will receive notice as to the conclusion of the investigation.
Appeal. Within ten days of receipt of the notice as to conclusion of the investigation, the Complainant or the Respondent may file a written appeal with the District Superintendent, setting out the reason(s) why the decision should not stand. In the event of an appeal, the Superintendent/designee shall review the written record and may meet with the parties. The Superintendent/designee may affirm, reverse, modify or remand the matter for further proceedings and shall, within twenty (20) working days of receipt of the written appeal, provide this decision in writing to the parties.
Except in the event of a termination of a certified employee, the Superintendent’s/designee’s decision shall be final.
Retaliation; False Information. The District prohibits retaliation against an individual for filing a complaint, or assisting or participating in a complaint investigation, or opposing language or conduct that violates District policies, as long as the individual acted in good faith. Any individual found to have engaged in retaliation in connection with a complaint may be subject to disciplinary action. In addition, any individual intentionally providing false information in a complaint investigation may be subject to disciplinary action.
Applicability of Other Grievance Procedures. The District has established a grievance procedure to handle complaints of discrimination based on disability of a student and to handle concerns regarding accommodations of disabled students, and a parent, guardian, or student may utilize such grievance procedures as applicable. A parent or guardian who disagrees with the school district’s decision regarding a student’s identification, evaluation or educational placement of program accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 has a right to an impartial, third party hearing. They may contact Shelly Bosovich, 504 Coordinator, 901 Walnut Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309, or call 242-7714 to make arrangements. In addition, if there is another, more specific complaint procedure relating to a matter, such as those for complaints of abuse of students by school employees, the complaint shall be brought under such procedure rather than this procedure.
Confidentiality. The District will reasonably limit disclosure of information gathered in the course of receiving, investigating, and responding to a complaint filed under this policy, but cannot guarantee confidentiality to any party. Sensitive information will be handled in a manner consistent with the District’s legal obligations, and with the necessity to investigate allegations of misconduct and to take corrective action when misconduct has occurred.
Other Agencies. The District encourages individuals to use the internal complaint procedure. However, the Complainant may seek legal advice of his or her choosing or file a formal complaint with the Des Moines Human Rights Commission, the Iowa Civil Rights Commission, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office of Civil Rights of the United States Department of Education, or other agencies as may be appropriate. If the Complainant seeks other avenues of redress, the District may choose not to conduct its internal complaint procedures.
Notice. Notice of this complaint procedure shall be communicated to staff, students, and parents and others in the District community. It shall be included in handbooks and published in such other manner(s) as determined by the District.