Grievance Policy & Procedure – Persons with Disabilities

Sage Montessori Charter School is committed to the rights of student, parents and employees with disabilities as set forth in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the New Mexico Human Rights Act. SMCS affords all students equal educational and extra-curricular opportunities and prohibits discrimination and harassment in any program or activity or program of or sponsored by SMCS.

This Grievance Procedure applies to complaints alleging discrimination by employees, other students or third parties.

School personnel who become aware of disability discrimination shall promptly and effectively act to end the discrimination and prevent it from reoccurring and, where appropriate, remedy the effect on the person who was discriminated against. Remedial measures generally include counseling both the person or persons who have been harmed by the discrimination and the person or persons who are responsible for the discrimination and implementing monitoring programs to follow up on resolved issues of disability discrimination. In addition, if there is a finding of discrimination, appropriate discipline for the person responsible for the discrimination will be imposed.

Disability Discrimination/Harassment

Disability discrimination under Section 504 and Title II is defined as treating a student differently based upon their disability or excluding a student or group of students based on their disability. Discrimination may include a policy or practice of excluding students with disabilities from participating in sports or other school activities.

Disability harassment under Section 504 and Title II is intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student based on disability that creates a hostile environment by interfering with or denying a student’s participation in or receipt of benefits, services, or opportunities in the institution’s program. Harassing conduct may take many forms, including verbal acts and name-calling, as well as nonverbal behavior, such as graphic and written statements, or conduct that is physically threatening, harmful, or humiliating.

When harassing conduct is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive that it creates a hostile environment, it can violate a student’s rights under the Section 504 and Title II regulations. A hostile environment may exist even if there are no tangible effects on the student where the harassment is serious enough to adversely affect the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the educational program. Examples of harassment that could create a hostile environment are:

•             Several students continually remark out loud to other students during class that a student with dyslexia is “retarded” or “deaf and dumb” and does not belong in the class; as a result, the harassed student has difficulty doing work in class and her grades decline.

•             A student repeatedly places classroom furniture or other objects in the path of classmates who use wheelchairs, impeding the classmates’ ability to enter the classroom.

•             A teacher subjects a student to inappropriate physical restraint because of conduct related to his disability, with the result that the student tries to avoid school through increased absences.

•             A school administrator repeatedly denies a student with a disability access to lunch, field trips, assemblies, and extracurricular activities as punishment for taking time off from school for required related to the student’s disability.

Disability Harassment that adversely affects a student’s education may also be a denial of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA, as well as under Section 504 and Title II.

Retaliation Prohibited

No individual shall suffer retaliation for filing a grievance under this policy or for participating in the investigation of a grievance. Retaliation means some type of adversarial or punitive action taken against an individual as the result of filing a complaint or participating in the complaint process. Retaliation against any individual for filing a grievance under this policy or for their participation in the investigation of a grievance shall be grounds for a subsequent grievance under this policy.

Confidentiality

SMCS will protect the privacy of the complainant, the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed and the witnesses as much as possible, consistent with our legal obligations to investigate, take appropriate action, and conform to any legal disclosure or discovery obligations.

Filing a Complaint under this Policy

To file a complaint of disability discrimination/harassment under this policy, contact the SMCS Head Administrator. The name and contact information of the current SMCS Head Administrator can be found on the SMCS website sagecharterschoolabq.org or by contacting the school. In the event the complaint is against the Head Administrator, individuals should contact the President of the Governing Body or their designee. The name and contact information of the current President of the Governing Body can be found on the SMCS website sagecharterschoolabq.org or by contacting the school

Complaints may be made in any form, though written complaints are preferable.

A complaint should be filed as soon as possible following the alleged harassment or discrimination.  A complaint will not be accepted for investigation if it is filed more than forty-five (45) days after the last date on which the alleged harassment or discrimination occurred. Extensions may be granted upon a showing that the person was prevented from filing as a result of his/her disability, if the delay was caused by the School or for other good cause shown for the delay.  Delay in filing a complaint may hinder the ability of the Head Administrator to conduct a complete investigation and may impact the final result of any investigation.

The Head Administrator will conduct an investigation of the complaint. This investigation will include but is not limited to reviewing written materials, interviewing witnesses and allowing parties the opportunity to present witnesses or other evidence.

Within 45 days of the filing of the complaint, the Head Administrator will provide written notice to the parties and the Governing Body of the outcome of the investigation and, where appropriate, meet with the parties to discuss consequences, disciplinary action or remedial measures to be taken. This may include, where appropriate, steps the school will take to prevent the recurrence of harassment/discrimination. Parents/guardians of students involved shall participate in these meetings. If disciplinary action is taken, adequate notice will be given to students of their due process rights.

Appeal

If either party disagrees with the determination of the Head Administrator, they will have ten (10) school days from the date of the written notice of the outcome to submit a written appeal to the President of the Governing Body or their designee.

The President of the Governing Body or their designee will review the written notice of the outcome and determine, in writing, as to whether the findings are upheld or overturned. This determination will be issued within fifteen (15) school days of the receipt of the written appeal.

Theses timelines may by waived or extended the Head Administrator or the President of the Governing Body or their designee for good cause shown.