Comprehensive Complaint Policy

Credo High School Uniform Complaint Procedures and Policy

Scope

Credo High School (“CHS” or “charter school”) policy is to comply with applicable federal and state laws and regulations.  CHS is the local agency primarily responsible for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations governing educational programs. Pursuant to this policy, persons responsible for conducting investigations shall be knowledgeable about the laws and programs which they are assigned to investigate. This complaint procedure is adopted to provide a uniform system of complaint processing for the following types of complaints:

(1)       Complaints of discrimination against any protected group including actual or perceived, including discrimination on the basis of age, sex, sexual orientation, gender, ethnic group identification, race, ancestry, national origin, religion, color, or mental or physical disability, or on the basis of a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics in any charter school program or activity.; and

(2)       Complaints of violations of state or federal law and regulations governing the following programs including but not limited to: special education, Title II, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, consolidated categorical aid, No Child Left Behind, migrant education, career technical and technical education training programs, child care and development programs, child nutrition program

CHS acknowledges and respects every individual’s rights to privacy. Discrimination complaints shall be investigated in a manner that protects the confidentiality of the parties and the integrity of the process. This includes keeping the identity of the complainant confidential, as appropriate and except to the extent necessary to carry out the investigation or proceedings, as determined by the executive director or designee on a case-by-case basis.

CHS prohibits any form of retaliation against any complainant in the complaint process, including but not limited to a complainant’s filing of a complaint or the reporting of instances of discrimination. Such participation shall not in any way affect the status, grades or work assignments of the complainant.

Compliance Officers

The CHS board of directors designates the following compliance officer(s) to receive and investigate complaints and to ensure CHS’s compliance with law:

Executive Director

Credo High School

Contact information to be determined

The executive director or designee shall ensure that employees designated to investigate complaints are knowledgeable about the laws and programs for which they are responsible.  Designated employees may have access to legal counsel as determined by the executive director or designee.

Notifications

The executive director or designee shall annually provide written notification of CHS’s uniform complaint procedures to students, employees, parents/guardians, the board, appropriate private officials or representatives, and other interested parties.

The executive director or designee shall make available copies of CHS’s uniform complaint procedures free of charge.

The notice shall:

1.              Identify the person(s), position(s), or unit(s) responsible for receiving complaints.

2.              Advise the complainant of any civil law remedies that may be available to him/her under state or federal discrimination laws, if applicable.

3.              Advise the complainant of the appeal process pursuant to Education Code 262.3, including the complainant’s right to take the complaint directly to the California Department of Education (“CDE”) or to pursue remedies before civil courts or other public agencies.

4.              Include statements that:

  • CHS is primarily responsible for compliance with state and federal laws and regulations;
  • The complaint review shall be completed within 60 calendar days from the date of receipt of the complaint unless the complainant agrees in writing to an extension of the timeline;
  • An unlawful discrimination complaint must be filed not later than six months from the date the alleged discrimination occurs, or six months from the date the complainant first obtains knowledge of the facts of the alleged discrimination;
  • The complainant has a right to appeal the charter school’s decision to the CDE by filing a written appeal within 15 days of receiving the charter school’s decision; and
  • The appeal to the CDE must include a copy of the complaint filed with the charter school and a copy of the charter school’s decision.

 

Procedures

The following procedures shall be used to address all complaints which allege that CHS has violated federal or state laws or regulations governing educational programs.  Compliance officers shall maintain a record of each complaint and subsequent related actions.

All parties involved in allegations shall be notified when a complaint is filed, when a complaint meeting or hearing is scheduled, and when a decision or ruling is made.

 

Step 1: Filing of Complaint

Any individual, public agency or organization may file a written complaint of alleged noncompliance by CHS.

A complaint alleging unlawful discrimination shall be initiated no later than six months from the date when the alleged discrimination occurred, or six months from the date when the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged discrimination.  A complaint may be filed by a person who alleges that he/she personally suffered unlawful discrimination or by a person who believes that an individual or any specific class of individuals has been subjected to unlawful discrimination.

The complaint shall be presented to the compliance officer who shall maintain a log of complaints received, providing each with a code number and date stamp.

If a complainant is unable to put a complaint in writing due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, charter school staff shall assist him/her in the filing of the complaint.

 

Step 2: Mediation

Within three days of receiving the complaint, the compliance officer may informally discuss with the complainant the possibility of using mediation.  If the complainant agrees to mediation, the compliance officer shall make arrangements for this process.

Before initiating the mediation of a discrimination complaint, the compliance officer shall ensure that all parties agree to make the mediator a party to related confidential information.

If the mediation process does not resolve the problem within the parameters of law, the compliance officer shall proceed with his/her investigation of the complaint.

The use of mediation shall not extend CHS’s timelines for investigating and resolving the complaint unless the complainant agrees in writing to such an extension of time.

 

Step 3: Investigation of Complaint

The compliance officer is encouraged to hold an investigative meeting within five days of receiving the complaint or an unsuccessful attempt to mediate the complaint.  This meeting shall provide an opportunity for the complainant and/or his/her representative to repeat the complaint orally.

The complainant and/or his/her representative shall have an opportunity to present the complaint and evidence or information leading to evidence to support the allegations in the complaint.

A complainant’s refusal to provide the school’s investigator with documents or other evidence related to the allegations in the complaint, or his/her failure or refusal to cooperate in the investigation or his/her engagement in any other obstruction of the investigation, may result in the dismissal of the complaint because of a lack of evidence to support the allegation.

CHS’s refusal to provide the investigator with access to records and/or other information related to the allegation in the complaint, or its failure or refusal to cooperate in the investigation or its engagement in any other obstruction of the investigation, may result in a finding, based on evidence collected, that a violation has occurred and may result in the imposition of a remedy in favor of the complainant.

 

Step 4: Response

OPTION 1:

Unless extended by written agreement with the complainant, the compliance officer shall prepare and send to the complainant a written report of the charter school’s investigation and decision, as described in Step #5 below, within 60 days of the charter school’s receipt of the complaint.

OPTION 2:

Within 30 days of receiving the complaint, the compliance officer shall prepare and send to the complainant a written report of CHS’s investigation and decision, as described in Step #5 below.  If the complainant is dissatisfied with the compliance officer’s decision, he/she may, within five days, file his/her complaint in writing with the board.

The board may consider the matter at its next regular board meeting or at a special board meeting convened in order to meet the 60-day time limit within which the complaint must be answered.  The board may decide not to hear the complaint, in which case the compliance officer’s decision shall be final.

If the board hears the complaint, the compliance officer shall send the board’s decision to the complainant within 60 days of the school’s initial receipt of the complaint or within the time period that has been specified in a written agreement with the complainant.

 

Step 5:  Final Written Decision

CHS’s decision shall be in writing and sent to the complainant.  CHS’s decision shall be written in English and in the language of the complainant whenever feasible or as required by law.

The decision shall include:

1.              The findings of fact based on evidence gathered.

2.              The conclusion(s) of law.

3.              Disposition of the complaint.

4.              Rationale for such disposition.

5.              Corrective actions, if any are warranted.

6.              Notice of the complainant’s right to appeal CHS’s decision within fifteen (15) days to the CDE and procedures to be followed for initiating such an appeal.

7.              For discrimination complaints arising under state law, notice that the complainant must wait until 60 days have elapsed from the filing of an appeal with the CDE before pursuing civil law remedies.

8.              For discrimination complaints arising under federal law such complaint may be made at any time to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

If an employee is disciplined as a result of the complaint, the decision shall simply state that effective action was taken and that the employee was informed of the charter school’s expectations.  The report shall not give any further information as to the nature of the disciplinary action.

 

Appeals to the California Department of Education

If dissatisfied with CHS’s decision, the complainant may appeal in writing to the CDE within fifteen (15) days of receiving the charter school’s decision.  When appealing to the CDE, the complainant must specify the basis for the appeal of the decision and whether the facts are incorrect and/or the law has been misapplied.  The appeal shall be accompanied by a copy of the locally filed complaint and a copy of CHS’s decision.

Upon notification by the CDE that the complainant has appealed CHS’s decision, the executive director or designee shall forward the following documents to the CDE:

1.              A copy of the original complaint.

2.              A copy of the decision.

3.              A summary of the nature and extent of the investigation conducted by CHS, if not covered by the decision.

4.              A copy of the investigation file, including but not limited to all notes, interviews, and documents submitted by all parties and gathered by the investigator.

5.              A report of any action taken to resolve the complaint.

6.              A copy of CHS’s complaint procedures.

7.              Other relevant information requested by the CDE.

The CDE may directly intervene in the complaint without waiting for action by CHS when one of the conditions listed in Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 4650 exists, including cases in which CHS has not taken action within 60 days of the date the complaint was filed with CHS.

 

Civil Law Remedies

A complainant may pursue available civil law remedies outside of CHS’s complaint procedures.  Complainants may seek assistance from mediation centers or public/private interest attorneys.  Civil law remedies that may be imposed by a court include, but are not limited to, injunctions and restraining orders.  For discrimination complaints arising under state law, however, a complainant must wait until 60 days have elapsed from the filing of an appeal with the CDE before pursuing civil law remedies. The moratorium does not apply to injunctive relief and is applicable only if CHS has appropriately, and in a timely manner, apprised the complainant of his/her right to file a complaint in accordance with 5 CCR 4622.

 

Policy Against Harassment

CHS is committed to providing a work and educational atmosphere that is free of unlawful harassment.  CHS’s policy prohibits sexual harassment and harassment based upon pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions, race, religion, creed, color, gender, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, marital status, age, sexual orientation, or any other basis protected by federal, state, local law, ordinance or regulation.  CHS will not condone or tolerate harassment of any type by any employee, independent contractor or other person with which CHS does business with.  This policy applies to all employee actions and relationships, regardless of position or gender. CHS will promptly and thoroughly investigate any complaint of harassment and take appropriate corrective action, if warranted. 

 

Prohibited Unlawful Harassment

·                Verbal conduct such as epithets, derogatory jokes or comments or slurs;

·                Physical conduct including assault, unwanted touching, intentionally blocking normal movement or interfering with work because of sex, race or any other protected basis;

·                Retaliation for reporting or threatening to report harassment

·                Deferential or preferential treatment based on any of the protected classes above. 

 

Prohibited Unlawful Sexual Harassment

In accordance with existing policy, discrimination on the basis of gender in education institutions is prohibited.  All persons, regardless of the gender, are afforded equal rights and opportunities and freedom from unlawful discrimination in education programs or activities conducted by CHS.

CHS is committed to provide a workplace free of sexual harassment and considers such harassment to be a major offense, which may result in disciplinary action, up to, and including dismissal, of the offending employee. 

Sexual harassment consist of sexual advances, request for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when: (1) submission of the conduct is either made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; (2) an employment decision is based upon an individual’s acceptance or rejection of that conduct; (3) that conduct interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. 

It is also unlawful to retaliate in any way against an employee who has articulated a good faith concern about sexual harassment against him or her against another individual. 

All supervisors of staff will receive sexual harassment training within six (6) months of their assumption of a supervisory position and will receive further training once every two (2) years thereafter.  All staff will receive sexual harassment training and/or instruction concerning sexual harassment in the workplace as required by law.

Each employee has the responsibility to maintain a workplace free from any form of sexual harassment.  Consequently, should any individual, in particular those with supervisory responsibilities, become aware of any conduct that may constitute sexual harassment or other prohibited behavior,

immediate action should be taken to address such conduct.  Employees and students are expected to act in a positive and professional manner and to contribute to a productive School environment that is free from harassing or disruptive activity.  Any employee who believes they have been sexually harassed or has witnessed sexual harassment is encouraged to immediately report such harassment to their supervisor or the executive director.  See the “Sexual Harassment Complaint Form.”

Sexual harassment may include, but is not limited to:

  • Physical assaults of a sexual nature, such as:
  • Rape, sexual battery, molestation or attempts to commit these assaults and
  • Intentional physical conduct that is sexual in nature, such as touching, pinching, patting, grabbing, brushing against another’s body, or poking another’s body.
  • Unwanted sexual advances, propositions or other sexual comments, such as:
  • Sexually oriented gestures, notices, remarks, jokes, or comments about a person’s sexuality or sexual experience.
  • Preferential treatment or promises of preferential treatment to an employee for submitting to sexual conduct, including soliciting or attempting to solicit any employee to engage in sexual activity for compensation or reward or deferential treatment for rejecting sexual conduct.
  • Subjecting or threats of subjecting an employee to unwelcome sexual attention or conduct or intentionally making performance of the employee’s job more difficult because of the employee’s sex. 
  •  Sexual or discriminatory displays or publications anywhere at the workplace by employees, such as:
  • Displaying pictures, cartoons, posters, calendars, graffiti, objections, promotional materials, reading materials, or other materials that are sexually suggestive, sexually demeaning or pornographic or bringing to work or possessing any such material to read, display or view at work.
  • Reading publicly or otherwise publicizing in the work environment materials that are in any way sexually revealing, sexually suggestive,  sexually demeaning or pornographic; and
  • Displaying signs or other materials purporting to segregate an employee by sex in an area of the workplace (other than restrooms or similar rooms). 

 

The illustrations of harassment and sexual harassment above are not to be construed as an all-inclusive list of prohibited acts under this policy. 

Complainants and witnesses under these policies will be protected from further harassment and will not be retaliated against in any aspect of their employment due to their participation, filing of a complaint or reporting sexual harassment.

CHS will investigate complaints promptly and provide a written report of the investigation and decision as soon as practicable.  The investigation will be handled in as confidential a manner as possible consistent with a full, fair, and proper investigation.

 

Employees may also direct their complaints to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (“DFEH”), which has authority to conduct investigation of the facts.  The deadline for filing complaints with the DFEH is one year from the date of the alleged unlawful conduct.  If the DFEH believes a complaint is valid and settlement efforts fail, the DFEH may seek an administrative hearing before the California Fair Employment and Housing Commission (“FEHC”) or file a lawsuit in court.  Both the FEHC and the courts have authority to award monetary and non-monetary relief in meritorious cases.  Employees can contact the nearest DFEH office or the FEHC by checking the State Government listings in the local telephone directory.

While in most situations a personal relationship is a private matter, these relationships are not appropriate in a professional setting, particularly where one of the parties has management or supervisory responsibilities.

 

General/Internal Complaint Policy

Suggestions for improving CHS are always welcome.  Your good-faith complaints, questions, and suggestions also are of concern to CHS.  We ask you to first discuss your concerns with your supervisor, following these steps:

  • Within a week of the occurrence, bring the situation to the attention of your immediate supervisor, who will then investigate and provide a solution or explanation;
  • If the problem persists, you may describe it in writing and present it to the executive director who will investigate and provide a solution or explanation.  We encourage you to bring the matter to the executive director as soon as possible after you believe that your immediate supervisor has failed to resolve it; and,
  • If the problem is not resolved, you may present the problem in writing to the board of CHS, who will attempt to reach a final resolution.  If you need assistance with the written complaint, contact the executive director for help.

This procedure, which we believe is important for both you and CHS, cannot guarantee that every problem will be resolved to your satisfaction.  However, CHS values your observations and you should feel free to raise issues of concern, in good faith, without the fear of retaliation.

 

Policy for Complaints Against Employees

CHS requires all employees to observe the highest standard of business and personal ethics in the conduct of their duties and responsibilities.  As representatives of CHS, employees must practice honesty and integrity in fulfilling responsibilities and comply with all applicable laws and regulations.

It is the responsibility of all employees to comply with school policies noted in the Employment Guidelines and to report violations or suspected violations in accordance with this Whistleblower Policy.

Depending on the nature of the complaint, the complainant will be provided information concerning the applicable policy and procedures to be followed.  If there is no applicable policy or procedures, the executive director (or designee) shall encourage the parties involved to seek an informal resolution of the issues.  If this is not possible due to the nature of the complaint or if informal resolution has been unsuccessfully attempted, the executive director (or designee) shall undertake a responsible inquiry into the complaint to ensure it is reasonably and swiftly addressed.  When appropriate, a written statement of the complaint will be obtained from the complainant.

If the complainant files a written complaint and no other school policy or procedure is applicable, the executive director (or designee) shall abide by the following process:

  • Within ten (10) working days of the receipt of the complaint, the executive director or designee shall use his or her best efforts to talk with the parties identified in the complaint and to ascertain the facts relating to the complaint.
  • In the event that the executive director (or designee) finds that a complaint against an employee is valid, the executive director (or designee) may take appropriate disciplinary action against the employee.  As appropriate, the executive director (or designee) may also simply counsel/reprimand employees as to their conduct without initiating formal disciplinary measures.
  • The executive director’s (or designee’s) decision relating to the complaint shall be final unless it is appealed to the board of directors of CHS.  The decision of the board of directors shall be final.

Confidentiality

Complainants will be notified that information obtained from the complainants and thereafter gathered will be maintained in a manner as confidential as possible, but in some circumstances absolute confidentiality cannot be assured.

 

Non-Retaliation

Complainants will be advised that they will be protected against retaliation as a result of the filing of any complaints or participation in any complaint process.

 

Resolution

The administration will investigate complaints appropriately under the circumstances and pursuant to the applicable procedures, and if necessary, take appropriate remedial measures to ensure effective resolution of any complaint.