Dare school board seeks superintendent contract extension, learns about Title IX changes

Published 7:30 am Monday, August 31, 2020

On Thursday, Aug. 20, Dare County’s Board of Education met in special session for an extensive introduction to new Title IX rules and a two-hour closed session.

Back in open session, the board reported the following actions:

– Directed the board attorney to prepare a contract amendment to extend the contract of Superintendent John Farrelly to Sept. 8, 2024. The action did not include a salary increase or bonus.

– Approved the superintendent’s personnel recommendation to appoint Curtis Price as principal of Manteo Elementary School, effective Aug. 10, 2020 through June 30, 2022.

For well over an hour, school board attorney Richard A. Schwartz, with the law firm of Schwartz and Shaw in Raleigh, delivered training on the changes in Title IX regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Education. The regulations went into effect Aug. 14, 2020.

Broadly, the new federal regulations:

– Require a new process for handling formal complaints of sexual harassment.

– Set up new notice, training and record-keeping requirements.

– More closely align with U.S. Supreme decisions.

The new rules require new local board policies, which were before the Dare board for first reading. Schwartz reported that a number of pending lawsuits seek to prevent implementation.

Schwartz reported: “Schools are required to respond to sexual harassment allegations when it has actual knowledge of sexual harassment that occurred/is occurring in the school education program or activity.”

As defined in the new regulations, “actual knowledge means a mandated reporter has notice of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment.” A school with actual knowledge must respond promptly and in a manner that is not deliberately indifferent, said Schwartz.

In the K-12 context, said Schwartz, “all employees are mandated reporters.” All those reporters, such as teachers, substitutes, coaches, must have training.

A Title IX coordinator directs the response. For DCS, that will be Sandy Kinzel, associate superintendent of human resources. An investigator investigates the complaint. Both parties have an opportunity to comment on the investigation report. A presumption of innocence undergirds the established investigation and grievance process. The burden of proof rests with the Board of Education.

Determining responsibility is the role of a decision-maker who is not the Title IX coordinator. Appeals are based on procedural errors, newly discovered evidence or Title IX people had conflict-of-interest or bias.

An informal resolution is an option after a formal complaint is filed.

The new, revised and rescinded policies under consideration by the Dare County Board of Education address Title IX rules issued by the U.S. Department of Education. The policies carry the following titles:

New Policies: Discrimination and Harassment Prohibited by Federal Law, Title IX Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Sex, Title IX Sexual Harassment Prohibited Conduct and Reporting Process, Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process, Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Disabilities, Bullying and Harassing Behavior Prohibited, Assaults and Threats, School-Level Investigations, Staff-Student Relations, Discrimination and Harassment in the Workplace

Revised Policies: Responding to Complaints, First Amendment Appeal Procedure, Prohibition Against Retaliation, Student Behavior Policies, Student Searches

Rescinded Policies: Sexual Harassment, Harassment and Bullying

New and revised regulations are provided for information purposes only:

New Regulation: Title IX Sexual Harassment – Definitions

Revised Regulations: Code of Student Conduct Regulations, Student Attendance Regulations, Visitors to the Schools Regulations, Community Use of School Facilities Regulations, Use of School Facilities Regulations

READ ABOUT MORE NEWS AND EVENTS HERE.

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