What is sexual misconduct in relation to K-12 schools?
Sexual misconduct includes sexually inappropriate comments and/or behaviors of any kind, such as unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature toward a student by another student, or by a staff member, volunteer, or other adult. Behavior that occurs outside of school may still constitute sexual misconduct and a violation of district policy if that behavior disrupts a student’s ability to learn.
What are examples of sexual misconduct?
Sexual misconduct may include any sexual comment, image, video, or activity. The conduct is more serious if it is unwelcome, coerced, or forced, or if the student is too young to consent or has a disability that may be a barrier to the ability to consent. Sexual misconduct may even be a crime.
Examples of sexual misconduct may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Unwanted comments about a student’s body;
- Sending, saving, or posting sexual words, images, or videos to, from, or of a student;
- Unwelcome touching;
- Sexual activity in a school building or between a staff member and student in or outside of school
- Non-consensual sexual contact that occurs during school or non-school hours, and on or off school grounds, including dating violence.
What does “consent” mean?
Consent is defined as clear, active agreement and permission to engage in any form of verbal or nonverbal sexual communication or activity. The initiator of the sexual contact is responsible for obtaining consent before engaging in sexual contact of any kind, including talking, texting, posting, or touching.
Consent can be withdrawn at any point. Consent must be voluntary, and may not be valid if a person is subjected to any emotional, physical, reputational, or financial pressure, threat, intimidation, or coercion. Consent to engage in one sexual activity, or past agreement to engage in a particular sexual activity, cannot be presumed as consent to engage in a different sexual activity or to engage again in the same activity. Consent cannot be validly given by anyone who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
How do I report sexual misconduct?
A student, parent, staff member, or other third party who believes that a student has been subjected to inappropriate sexual conduct may report the incident to the principal/headmaster or the district’s Title IX coordinator. School employees are mandatory reporters of possible sexual misconduct toward students. In the Boston Public Schools, reports are made to the Office of Equity (at 617-635-9650 or firstname.lastname@example.org).
A school or district administrator will promptly investigate allegations of sexual misconduct, even when the incident is also being investigated by law enforcement. The district’s obligation is to determine if there has been a violation of an internal policy, including the student code of conduct. Interim measures to ensure the safety of the student(s) involved will be taken. If the investigation results in a finding of a policy violation, the district will take steps to end the misconduct, prevent any further misconduct, remedy its effects and take disciplinary action as appropriate under the circumstances.