The Board of Education personnel and student policies have undergone an update to include new legal language and the threat that the Internet poses to sexual discrimination and harassment.
The board unanimously approved the changes Tuesday. School district's lawyers have reviewed the changes.
Over the course of the 2013-14 school year, the administration will conduct a "systematic review"of the board's policies, according to Assistant Superintendent Tim Canty, who presented the changes.
Updated legal language was added to the Board of Education policies regarding equal opportunity and sexual harassment and discrimination concerning teachers and students.
"The primary language modifications -- just to bring some general feel to that -- is to provide greater specificity on the definition of exactly what sexual harassment means from a student's perspective and what implications that type of environment may have," Canty told the board. "To a large extent, the update in language does describe situations that could possibly interfere with a student's ability to participate in the education program."
The other changes of note, Canty said, address electronic communication. Added to the forms of sexual discrimination and harassment include sending or showing sexual emails and websites and using the email, instant messaging, texting, blogging, any form of social media, or any other way of digital communication to engage in sexual harassment or discrimination.
Sexual harassment is now defined in the policies as unwanted conduct that is sexual in nature and denies or limits a student's ability to take part and benefit in school.
In terms of equal opportunity for personnels, the language was updated to affirm the school's "obligation to provide equal opportunity for employment," Canty said. The equal opportunity guidelines for personnel and anti-discrimination for students is in line with Title IX guidelines. Title IX is a portion of the Education Amendments of 1972 that protects people from discrimination based on sex.
Also added to the non-discrimination of students includes a portion on gender identity and expression and is defined as "a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth."
Canty told the board that there are plans to inform the school community about the changes that were made.
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