Title IX Definition
Title IX is a federal law that was passed in 1972 to ensure that male and female students and employees in educational settings are treated equally and fairly. Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that received Federal financial assistance. Title IX states that "
"No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance."
Some of the key issue areas in which recipients of Federal funds have Title IX obligations are: recruitment, admissions, and counseling; financial assistance; athletics; sex-based harassment; treatment of pregnant and parenting students; discipline; single-sex education; and employment. Also, a recipient may not retaliate against any person for opposing an unlawful educational practice or policy, or mad charges testified, or participated in any complaint action under Title IX.
The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) vigorously enforces Title IX to ensure that institutions that receive federal financial assistance from the US Department of Education comply with the law. OCR also provides technical assistance and information and guidance to schools, universities, and other agencies to assist them in voluntarily complying with the law.
Title IX and Sexual Harassment
Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, which can include sexual harassment or sexual violence. Title IX outlines specific responsibilities that school districts have to address sexual harassment and sexual violence including:
- The responsibility to respond promptly and effectively. Schools must take immediate action to eliminate sexual harassment or sexual violence, prevent its recurrence and address its effects.
- Even if a student or his/her parent does not want to file a complaint or does not request that the school take any action on a student's behalf, if a school knows or reasonably should know about possible sexual harassment or sexual violence, it must promptly investigate to determine what occurred and then take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.
- A criminal investigation into allegations of sexual harassment or sexual violence does not relieve the school of its duty under Title IX to resolve complaints promptly and equitably.
Rights and Responsibilities
The rights of a pupil and the public and the responsibilities of a public school, private school, school district, county office of education, or charter school under Title IX, shall include, but shall not be limited to:
- California Department of Education: Equal Opportunity & Access
- United States Department of Education/Civil Rights
- California Legislative Information
Fountain Valley School District Board Policies
Fountain Valley School District Board Policy contains multiple sections that address sexual harassment. Specifically, FVSD Board Policy 5145.7 addresses the topic as it pertains to students, and FVSD Board Policies 4119.11, 4219.111, and 4319.11 address the topic as it pertains to employees - and when applicable, interns, volunteers, and job applicants. The aforementioned policies also include detailed descriptions of the procedures that are followed by FVSD when a complaint is filed.
Filing a Title IX Complaint
Please utilize the Uniform Complaint process according to Fountain Valley School District's Board Policy 1312.3 for all discrimination complaints, including Title IX concerns.
How to file a complaint:
- Utilize the Uniform Complaint Form
- Send or deliver the form to the office of Jerry Gargus, Ed.D., Title IX Coordinator, Director of Educational Services, (714) 843-3268 or email@example.com
Reporting Process, Complaint Investigation, and Resolution
The following procedures are outlined in FVSD Administrative Regulation 5145.7. A PDF version of this section is publicly available on the FVSD website using the Board Policy "search" function.
The procedures read as follows:
Any student who believes that he/she has been subjected to sexual harassment by another student, an employee, or a third party; or who has witnessed sexual harassment is strongly encouraged to report the incident to his/her teacher, the principal, or any other available school employee. Within one school day of receiving such a report, the school employee shall forward the report to the principal or the district's compliance officer identified in AR 1312.3. In addition, any school employee who observes an incident of sexual harassment involving a student shall, within one school day, report his/her observation to the principal or a district compliance officer. The employee shall take these actions, whether or not the alleged victim files a complaint.
When a report or complaint of sexual harassment involves off-campus conduct, the principal shall assess whether the conduct may create or contribute to the creation of a hostile school environment. If he/she determines that a hostile environment may be created, the complaint shall be investigated and resolved in the same manner as if the prohibited conduct occurred at school.
If a verbal or informal report of sexual harassment is submitted, the principal or compliance officer shall inform the student or parent/guardian of the right to file a formal written complaint in accordance with the district's Uniform Complaint procedures. Regardless of whether a formal complaint is filed, the principal or compliance officer shall take steps to investigate the allegations and, if sexual harassment is found, shall take prompt action to stop it, prevent a recurrence, and address any continuing effects.
If a complaint of sexual harassment is initially submitted to the principal, he/she shall, within two school days, forward the report to the compliance officer to initiate an investigation of the complaint. The compliance officer shall contact the complainant and investigate and resolve the complaint in accordance with law and district procedures specified in AR 1312.3.
In investigating a sexual harassment complaint, evidence of past sexual relationships of the victim shall not be considered, except to the extent that such evidence may relate to the victim's prior relationship with the respondent.
In any case of sexual harassment involving the principal, compliance officer, or any other person to whom the incident would ordinarily be reported or filed, the report may instead be submitted to the Superintendent or designee who shall determine who shall investigate the complaint.
All complaints and allegations of sexual harassment shall be kept confidential except as necessary to carry out the investigation or take other subsequent necessary action. (5 CCR 4964)
However, when a complainant or victim of sexual harassment notifies the district of the harassment but requests confidentiality, the compliance officer shall inform him/her that the request may limit the district's ability to investigate the harassment or take other necessary action. When honoring a request for confidentiality, the district will nevertheless take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request.
When a complainant or victim of sexual harassment notifies the district of the harassment but requests that the district not pursue an investigation, the district will determine whether or not it can honor such a request while still providing a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students.
Statute of Limitations
A complaint alleging unlawful discrimination (such as discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying) may be filed only by a person who alleges that he/she personally suffered the unlawful discrimination or by a person who believes that an individual or any specific class of individuals has been subjected to it. The complaint shall be initiated no later than six months from the date when the unlawful discrimination occurred, or six months from the date when the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged unlawful discrimination. The time for filing may be extended for up to 90 days by the Superintendent or designee for good cause upon written request by the complainant setting forth the reasons for the extension (5 CCR 4630).
Title IX Coordinator & Training Resources
Title IX requires that each school district have at least one person designated as the Title IX Coordinator. For the Fountain Valley School District, the contact information is provided below:
Jerry Gargus, Ed.D.
Title IX Coordinator
Director of Educational Services
FVSD ensures that appropriate staff participate in comprehensive Title IX training. For the 2020-21 school year, the training occurred on Monday, October 10, 2020. The materials used to provide that training are posted below.