Schools adopt hate-based conduct policy

The Board of Education adopted a new hate-based conduct policy, prohibiting “any form” of hate-based conduct by students, school district employees and “third parties subject to the control of the board,” during its April 26 meeting.

The adopted policy includes a change proposed by board member Deborah Low following the board’s March 29 review of the policy proposal — the inclusion of intervention in the list of repercussions faced by students who engage in hate-based conduct.

Superintendent Kevin Smith thanked Low for the recommendation, which he called “a really student-focused recommendation to make sure that we are focusing on not just handing out consequences but educating students as well.”

The district defines hate-based conduct as “conduct that attacks, threatens, intimidates, degrades or otherwise infringes on the rights of a person based on such person’s actual or perceived race, religion, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, age, disability (including pregnancy), genetic information, gender identity or expression, veteran status, or any other basis prohibited by state or federal law.”

The policy prohibits hate-based conduct on school grounds, at school-sponsored activities, including on school buses, and off school grounds “if such conduct is seriously disruptive of the educational process.”

It also prohibits “discrimination and/or retaliation against an individual who reports or assists in the investigation of an act of hate-based conduct.”

Hate-based conduct encompasses written, verbal and electronic communications as well as physical acts that may cause physical or emotional harm, property damage, or a hostile environment. It may also include conduct that violates other board policies such as those covering sexual harassment, non-discrimination, and bullying.

Those guilty of hate-based conduct may be subject to criminal prosecution. Students may face a variety of interventions including expulsion. Employees could be at risk of losing their jobs.

Click here to view the policy.