Seattle College District Policy
TITLE: TITLE IX
TITLE IX GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
Seattle Colleges recognizes its responsibility to investigate, resolve, implement corrective measures, and monitor the educational environment and workplace to stop, remediate, and prevent discrimination on the basis of sex, as required by Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act, and Washington State’s Law Against Discrimination, and their implementing regulations. To this end, Seattle Colleges has enacted Policy 421 and adopted the following Title IX Grievance Procedure for receiving and investigating Sexual Harassment allegations arising during education programs and activities. Any individual found responsible for violating Seattle Colleges’ Title IX policy is subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal from the District’s educational programs and activities and/or termination of employment.
Application of this Title IX Grievance Procedure is restricted to allegations of “Sexual Harassment,” as that term is defined in 34 C.F.R. §106.30. Nothing in this procedure limits or otherwise restricts the District’s ability to investigate and pursue discipline based on alleged violations of other federal, state, and local laws, their implementing regulations, and other college policies prohibiting gender discrimination through processes set forth in the District’s code of student conduct, employment contracts, employee handbooks, and collective bargaining agreements.
For purposes of this Title IX Grievance Procedure, the following terms are defined as follows:
“Consent” means knowing, voluntary, and clear permission by word or action, to engage in mutually agreed upon sexual activity. Each party has the responsibility to make certain that the other has consented before engaging in the activity. For consent to be valid, there must be at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
A person cannot consent if they are unable to understand what is happening or are disoriented, helpless, asleep, or unconscious for any reason, including due to alcohol or other drugs. An individual who engages in sexual activity when the individual knows, or should know, that the other person is physically or mentally incapacitated has engaged in nonconsensual conduct.
Intoxication is not a defense against allegations that an individual has engaged in nonconsensual sexual conduct.
- “Claimant” means an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute Sexual Harassment.
- “Respondent” means an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute Sexual Harassment.
- “Formal Claim” means a writing submitted by the Claimant or signed by the Title IX coordinator alleging Sexual Harassment against a Respondent and requesting that the Seattle Colleges conduct an investigation.
- “Education Program or Activity” includes locations, events, or circumstances over which the Seattle Colleges exercised substantial control over both the Respondent and the context in which the alleged Sexual Harassment occurred. It also includes any building owned or controlled by a student organization officially recognized by the Seattle Colleges.
- “Grievance Procedure” is the process the Seattle Colleges uses to initiate, informally resolve, and/or investigate allegations that an employee or student has violated Title IX provisions prohibiting sexual harassment.
- “Supportive Measures” are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered as appropriate, as reasonably available, and without fee or charge to the Claimant or Respondent regardless of whether the Claimant or the Title IX Coordinator has filed a Formal Claim. Supportive Measures restore or preserve a party’s access to the Seattle Colleges’ education programs and activities without unreasonably burdening the other party, as determined through an interactive process between the Title IX Coordinator and the party. Supportive Measures include measures designed to protect the safety of all parties and/or the Seattle Colleges’ educational environment and/or to deter Sexual Harassment or retaliation. Supportive measures may include, but are not limited to, (i) counseling and other medical assistance, (ii) extensions of deadlines or other course-related adjustments, (iii) modifications of work or class schedules, (iv) leaves of absence, (v) increased security or monitoring of certain areas of campus, and (vi) imposition of orders prohibiting the parties from contacting one another in housing or work situations. Determinations about whether to impose a one-way no contact order must be made on a case-by-case basis. If supportive measures are not provided, the Title IX Coordinator must document in writing why this was clearly reasonable under the circumstances.
- “Summary Suspension” means an emergency suspension of a student Respondent pending investigation and resolution of disciplinary proceedings pursuant to the procedure and standards set forth in WAC 132F-121-250.
“Sexual Harassment,” for purposes of these Title IX Grievance Procedures, Sexual Harassment occurs when a Respondent engages in the following discriminatory conduct on the basis of sex:
- Quid pro quo harassment. A Seattle Colleges employee conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the Seattle Colleges on an individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct.
- Hostile environment. Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the Seattle Colleges’ educational programs or activities or Seattle Colleges employment.
Sexual assault. Sexual assault includes the following conduct:
- Nonconsensual sexual intercourse. Any actual or attempted sexual intercourse (anal, oral, or vaginal), however slight, with any object or body part, by a person upon another person, that is without Consent and/or by force. Sexual intercourse includes anal or vaginal penetration by a penis, tongue, finger, or object, or oral copulation by mouth to genital contact or genital to mouth contact.
- Nonconsensual sexual contact. Any actual or attempted sexual touching, however slight, with any body part or object, by a person upon another person that is without Consent and/or by force. Sexual touching includes any bodily contact with the breasts, groin, mouth, or other bodily orifice of another individual, or any other bodily contact in a sexual manner.
- Incest. Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a person known to be related to them, either legitimately or illegitimately, as an ancestor, descendant, brother, or sister of either wholly or half related. Descendant includes stepchildren, and adopted children under the age of eighteen (18).
- Statutory rape. Consensual intercourse between a person who is eighteen (18) years of age or older, and a person who is under the age of sixteen (16).
- Domestic violence. Physical violence, bodily injury, assault, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking committed by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, by a person similarly situated to a spouse of the victim under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of Washington, or by any other person against an adult or youth victim who is protected from that person’s acts under the domestic or family violence laws of the State of Washington, RCW 26.50.010.
Dating violence, Physical violence, bodily injury, assault, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, sexual assault, or stalking committed by a person (i) who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim; and (ii) where the existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
- The length of the relationship;
- The type of relationship; and
- The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship.
- Stalking. Engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to (i) fear for their safety or the safety of others; or (ii) suffer substantial emotional distress.
- “Title IX Administrators” are the Title IX Coordinator, Title IX investigators, the Student Conduct Officer, Student Conduct Committee members, a supervisor with authority under the generally applicable collective bargaining agreement or policy with disciplinary authority for an employee as pertaining to Title IX disciplinary proceedings only, and Seattle Colleges-provided advisors assigned to the parties by the Seattle Colleges during Title IX disciplinary proceedings.
“Title IX Coordinator” is responsible for processing Title IX claims and conducting and/or overseeing formal investigations and informal resolution processes under this Grievance Procedure. Among other things, the Title IX Coordinator is responsible for:
- Accepting and processing all Title IX reports, referrals, and Formal Claims.
- Executing and submitting a Formal Claim when appropriate and necessary.
- Handling requests for confidentiality.
- Determining during the Grievance Procedure (i) whether a Formal Claim should be dismissed either in whole or in part, and if so, (ii) providing notice to both parties about why dismissal was necessary or desirable, and (iii) referring the claim to the appropriate disciplinary authority for proceedings outside the jurisdiction of Title IX.
- Maintaining accurate records of all claims, reports, and referrals, and retaining investigation files, claims, reports, and referrals in compliance with the applicable records retention schedules or federal or state law, whichever is longer.
- Conducting investigations or assigning and overseeing investigations.
- Engaging in an interactive process with both parties to identify and provide supportive measures that ensure during the investigation and disciplinary processes that the parties have equitable access to education programs and activities and are protected from further discrimination or retaliation.
- Upon completion of an investigation, issuing or overseeing the issuance of a final investigation report to the parties and the appropriate disciplinary authority in compliance with this Grievance Procedure.
- Recommending non-disciplinary corrective measures to stop, remediate, and/or prevent recurrence of discriminatory conduct to disciplinary authorities and other Seattle Colleges administrators.
- “Advisors” can accompany parties at any time during the grievance process, at the party’s discretion. They can be any individual chosen by the party including, but not limited to, a family member, teacher, friend, or attorney. Their role during the grievance process is limited to providing support, taking notes, and/or caucusing with the party if needed. During the Grievance Procedure, the advisor may be a union representative if the party is a represented member. Note: advisors take on a larger role during a disciplinary hearing. Union representatives may not serve as advisors in this capacity; however, they may be present at any time during the disciplinary process.
C. Principles for Title IX Grievance Procedure
- Respondent shall be presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct unless or until a determination of responsibility is reached after completion of the grievance and disciplinary processes.
- Before imposing discipline, the Seattle Colleges is responsible for gathering and presenting evidence to a neutral and unbiased decision maker establishing responsibility for a Title IX violation by a preponderance of the evidence.
- The Seattle Colleges shall treat both the Claimant and Respondent equitably by providing Claimant with remedies against Respondent who has been found responsible for Sexual Harassment through application of the institution’s Title IX grievance and applicable Title IX disciplinary procedures and by providing Respondent with Title IX procedural safeguards contained in this Title IX Grievance Procedures and in the applicable Title IX disciplinary procedures.
- The investigator shall base investigation results on all relevant evidence, including both exculpatory and inculpatory evidence.
- Formal and informal resolutions will be pursued within reasonably prompt timeframes with allowances for temporary delays and extensions for good cause shown. Grounds for temporary delay include, but are not limited to campus closures, extraordinary disruptions to normal operations, and school breaks. Good cause supporting a request for an extension includes, but is not limited to: a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness being unavailable, concurrent law enforcement activity, and the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities. Both parties will receive written notice of any temporary delay or extension for good cause with an explanation of why the action was necessary.
A Respondent found responsible for engaging in Sexual Harassment may receive discipline up to and including dismissal from the Seattle Colleges. A description of other possible disciplinary sanctions and conditions that may be imposed against students can be found in WAC 132F-121-160.
An employee found responsible for Sexual Harassment may receive discipline up to and including dismissal from employment. A description of possible disciplinary sanctions and conditions that may be imposed against employees can be found at: http://resources.seattlecolleges.edu/intranet/getdocument.aspx?siteID=170&docID=1079&doctype=1079.
In proceedings against a student Respondent, the parties may appeal the Student Conduct Committee’s ruling to the President pursuant to WAC 132F-121-170 and Supplemental Title IX Student Conduct Code Procedures, WAC 132F-121-270 through WAC 132F-121-350.
In proceedings against an employee Respondent, the parties may appeal the Employee Disciplinary Decision to the Vice Chancellor for Human Resources pursuant to Procedure 421.
Title IX Administrators may not require, allow, rely upon, or otherwise use questions or evidence that seeks disclosure of privileged communications, unless the privilege has been effectively waived by the holder. This provision applies, but is not limited to information subject to the following:
- Spousal/domestic partner privilege;
- Attorney-Client and attorney work product privileges;
- Privileges applicable to members of the clergy and priests;
- Privileges applicable to medical providers, mental health therapists, and counsellors;
- Privileges applicable to sexual assault and domestic violence advocates; and
- Other legal privileges identified in RCW 5.60.060.
D. Title IX Administrators – Free from bias – Training requirements
- Title IX Administrators shall perform their duties free from bias or conflicts.
Title IX Administrators shall undergo training on the following topics:
- The definition of Sexual Harassment under these procedures,
- The scope of the Seattle Colleges’ educational programs and activities,
- How to conduct an investigation,
- How to serve impartially without prejudgment of facts, conflicts of interest, or bias,
- Use of technology used during an investigation or hearing,
- The relevance of evidence and questions, and
- Effective report writing.
- All Title IX Administrator training materials shall be available on the Seattle Colleges’ Title IX webpage.
E. Filing a Claim
Any employee, student, applicant, or visitor who believes that they have been the subject of Sexual Harassment should report the incident or incidents to the Seattle Colleges’ Title IX Coordinators identified below for each campus. If the claim is against the Title IX Coordinator, the Claimant should report the matter to the President’s office for referral to an alternate designee.
- Seattle College District Office:
Associate Director, Human Resources
Title IX / EEO Coordinator
Contact info: (206) 934-5428;
1500 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122, or
Director, Legal Compliance
Title IX / EEO Coordinator
Contact info: (206) 934-3873
1500 Harvard Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122
- Seattle Central College:
Human Resources Director
Title IX / EEO Coordinator
Contact info: (206) 934-4017
1701 Broadway, Seattle, WA 98122
- North Seattle College:
Human Resources Director
Title IX / EEO Coordinator
Contact info: (206) 934-4710
9600 College Way North, Seattle, WA 98103
- South Seattle College:
Human Resources Director
Title IX / EEO Coordinator
Contact info: (206) 934-6415
6000 16th Avenue S.W., Seattle, WA 98106
- The Seattle Colleges will seek to protect the privacy of the Claimant to the fullest extent possible, consistent with the legal obligation to investigate, take appropriate remedial and/or disciplinary action, and comply with the federal and state law, as well as Seattle Colleges policies and procedures. Although the Seattle Colleges will attempt to honor Claimants' requests for confidentiality, it cannot guarantee complete confidentiality. Determinations regarding how to handle requests for confidentiality will be made by the Title IX Coordinator.
The Title IX Coordinator will inform and attempt to obtain consent from the Claimant before commencing an investigation of alleged Sexual Harassment. If a Claimant asks that their name not be revealed to the Respondent or that the Seattle Colleges not investigate the allegation, the Title IX Coordinator will inform the Claimant that maintaining confidentiality may limit the Seattle Colleges' ability to fully respond to the allegations and that retaliation by the Respondent and/or others is prohibited. If the Claimant still insists that their name not be disclosed or that the Seattle Colleges not investigate, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether the Seattle Colleges can honor the request and at the same time maintain a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all members of the Seattle Colleges community, including the Claimant. Factors to be weighed during this determination may include, but are not limited to:
- The seriousness of the alleged Sexual Harassment;
- The age of the Claimant;
- Whether the Sexual Harassment was perpetrated with a weapon;
- Whether the Respondent has a history of committing acts of Sexual Harassment or violence or has been the subject of other Sexual Harassment or violence claims or findings;
- Whether the Respondent threatened to commit additional acts of Sexual Harassment or violence against the Claimant or others; and
- Whether relevant evidence about the alleged incident can be obtained through other means (e.g., security cameras, other witnesses, physical evidence).
- If the Seattle Colleges is unable to honor a Claimant’s request for confidentiality, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the Claimant of the decision and ensure that Claimant’s identity is disclosed only to the extent reasonably necessary to effectively conduct and complete the investigation in compliance with this Grievance Procedure.
- If the Seattle Colleges decides not to conduct an investigation or take disciplinary action because of a request for confidentiality, the Title IX Coordinator will evaluate whether other measures are available to address the circumstances giving rise to the claim and prevent their recurrence, and implement such measures if reasonably feasible.
G. Claim Resolution
The Title IX resolution processes are initiated when the Title IX Coordinator’s Office receives a claim alleging that a Respondent(s) sexually harassed a Claimant and requesting that the Seattle Colleges initiate an investigation (a Formal Claim). A Formal Claim must be either submitted by the Claimant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator on behalf of the Claimant on a form designated by the District. At the Seattle Colleges, formal claims are submitted via an online platform ( seattlecolleges.edu/reporting-forms ). Formal claims submitted to the Title IX Coordinator may be resolved through either informal or formal resolution processes. The Seattle Colleges will not proceed with either resolution process without a Formal Claim.
For purposes of this Title IX Grievance Procedure, the Claimant must be participating in or attempting to participate in a Seattle Colleges education program or activity at the time the Formal Claim is filed.
- Informal Resolution:
Under appropriate circumstances and if the impacted and responding parties agree, they may voluntarily pursue informal resolution during the investigation of a concern. Informal resolution is not appropriate when the allegations involve a mandatory reporting situation, an immediate threat to the health, safety or welfare of a member of the Seattle Colleges community, or in cases where an employee is alleged to have sexually harassed a student.
If an informal resolution is appropriate, the impacted party and the responding party may explore remedies or resolution through:
- Guided conversations or communications conducted by the Title IX coordinator / HRO representative or a mutually agreed upon third party;
- Structured resolution process conducted by a trained mediator; or
- Voluntarily agreed on alterations to either or both of the parties’ work or class schedules or student housing arrangements.
If the parties agree to an informal resolution process, the Seattle Colleges will commence the process within 10 days after the parties agree to this option and conclude within 30 days of beginning that process; subject to reasonably delays and extensions for good cause shown. The informal process is voluntary. Either the impacted or responding party may withdraw from the informal resolution process at any time, at which point the formal investigation process will resume.
If the impacted and responding party voluntarily resolve a report, the Seattle Colleges will record the terms of the resolution in a written agreement signed by both parties and provide written notice to both parties that the report has been closed.
- Formal Resolution
Formal resolution means that the Claimant’s allegations of Sexual Harassment will be subjected to a formal investigation by an impartial and unbiased investigator. The investigator will issue a report of the investigation findings. Upon completion of the investigation, the investigator will submit the final investigation report to the appropriate disciplinary authority to determine whether disciplinary proceedings are warranted.
H. Emergency Removal
If a student Respondent poses an immediate threat to the health and safety of the College Community or an immediate threat of significant disruption to Seattle Colleges operations, the Seattle Colleges’ student conduct officer may summarily suspend a Respondent pursuant to WAC 132F-121-250, pending final resolution of the allegations. Nothing in this Grievance Procedure prohibits the Seattle Colleges from placing non student employees on administrative leave pending final resolution of the allegations.
I. Investigation Notices
Upon receiving a Formal Claim and determining that allegations comport with Title IX claims, the Seattle Colleges will provide the parties with the following notices containing the following information:
- Notice of formal and informal resolution processes. A description of the Seattle Colleges’ grievance resolution procedures, including the informal resolution procedure.
The investigator will serve the Respondent and the Claimant with a Notice of Investigation in advance of the initial interview with the Respondent to allow the Respondent sufficient time to prepare a response to the allegations and to inform the Claimant that the Seattle Colleges has commenced an investigation. The investigation notice will:
- Include the identities of the parties (if known), a description of the conduct alleged constituting Title IX Sexual Harassment, and the time and location of the incident (if known).
- Confirm that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that the Seattle Colleges will not make a final determination of responsibility until after the grievance and disciplinary processes have been completed.
- Inform parties that they are both entitled to have an advisor of their own choosing, who may be an attorney.
- Inform parties they have a right to review and inspect evidence.
- Inform parties about student conduct code provisions and employment policies that prohibit students and employees from knowingly submitting false information during the grievance and disciplinary processes.
- Amended investigation notice. If during the course of the investigation, the Seattle Colleges decides to investigate Title IX Sexual Harassment allegations about the Claimant or Respondent that are not included in the investigation notice, the Seattle Colleges will issue an amended notice of investigation to both parties that includes this additional information.
- Interview and meeting notices. Before any interviewing or meeting with a party about Title IX allegations, the Seattle Colleges shall provide the party at least 48 hours in advance with a written notice identifying the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of the interview or meeting with sufficient time for the party to prepare for the interview or meeting.
J. Investigation Process - Dismissal
Mandatory dismissal. The Title IX Coordinator will dismiss the Title IX allegations, if during the course of a formal investigation under the Title IX Grievance Process, the investigator determines that the alleged misconduct in the Formal Claim:
- Does not meet the definition of Sexual Harassment under Title IX, even if proved; or
- Did not occur in the context of a College Education Program or Activity; or
- Occurred outside the United States.
Discretionary dismissal. The Seattle Colleges may dismiss a Title IX claim in whole or in part, if:
- The Claimant notifies the Title IX Coordinator in writing that they would like to withdraw the Formal Claim in whole or in part;
- Respondent is no longer enrolled with or employed by the Seattle Colleges; or
- Specific circumstances prevent the Seattle Colleges from gathering evidence sufficient to complete the investigation of the Title IX allegations in whole or in part.
- The Title IX Coordinator will provide both parties written notice if Title IX allegations are dismissed with an explanation for the dismissal.
- Mandatory or discretionary dismissal of a Title IX claim does not preclude the Seattle Colleges from investigating and pursuing discipline based on allegations that a Respondent violated other federal or state laws and regulations, Seattle Colleges conduct policies, and/or other codes and contractual provisions governing student and employee conduct.
K. Investigation Process – Consolidation of Formal Claims
When multiple Sexual Harassment allegations by or against different parties arise out of the same facts or circumstances, the Seattle Colleges may consolidate the investigation of Formal Claims, provided consolidation can be accomplished in compliance with confidentiality protections imposed by the Family Educational Records and Privacy Act (FERPA). This includes instances in which Claimant and Respondent have lodged Formal Claims against one another or when allegations of sexual assault are lodged by a single Claimant against multiple Respondents, or when multiple Claimants lodge sexual assault claims against single or multiple Respondents.
L. Investigation Process – Required Procedures
During the investigation, the Investigator:
- Will provide the parties with equal opportunity to present relevant statements, and other evidence in the form of fact or expert witnesses and inculpatory or exculpatory evidence.
- Will not restrict the ability of either party to discuss the allegations under investigation or gather and present relevant evidence, except when a no contact order has been imposed based on an individualized and fact specific determination that a party poses a threat to the health, safety, or welfare of another party and/or witnesses or when contact with a party and/or witness is prohibited by court order. A Seattle Colleges-imposed no contact shall be no broader than is necessary to protect the threatened party or witness and must provide the impacted party or their advisor with alternative means of gathering and presenting relevant evidence from the protected witness and/or party.
- Will allow each party to be accompanied by an advisor of their choosing, who may be an attorney, to any grievance related meeting or interview. Advisors’ roles during the investigation meetings or interviews will be limited to providing support and advice to the party. Advisors will not represent or otherwise advocate on behalf of the parties during the investigation process. An attorney representing a party must enter a notice of appearance with the Title IX Coordinator and the Investigator at least five (5) days before the initial interview or meeting they plan to attend, so that the Seattle Colleges can secure its own legal representation, if necessary.
- The investigator will provide both parties and their respective advisors with an equal opportunity to review the draft investigation report and to inspect and review any evidence obtained during the investigation that is directly related to the allegations raised in the Formal Claim, including inculpatory or exculpatory evidence, regardless of its source, as well as evidence upon which the investigator does not intend to rely in the final investigation report. After disclosure, each party will receive ten (10) days in which to submit a written response, which the investigator will consider prior to completion of the investigation report. If a party fails to submit a written response within ten (10) days, the party will be deemed to have waived their right to submit comments and the investigator will finalize the report without this information.
- The investigator will forward the final report to the Title IX Coordinator, who will distribute the report and evidence to the parties, as well as the disciplinary authority responsible for determining whether pursuing disciplinary action is warranted.
Board of Trustees – Revision & Adoption History
Companion Document : Pro
Adoption Date : 2020/08/13
Revision Date : 0001/01/01