Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Procedure and Complaint Form

Title IX Sexual Harassment Complaint Form

In accordance with the statutory provisions included in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and all other applicable federal and state laws, South Suburban College shall not discriminate, nor tolerate discrimination or harassment, on the basis of a person’s race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, sexual orientation, disability or any other factor as prohibited by law, rule or regulation. South Suburban College is committed to equal rights and will take the necessary steps to ensure that staff and students may work, learn, and study in an environment free from discrimination, sexual harassment, sexual violence or other harassment based on sex. All forms of illegal harassment and discrimination infringe upon mutual respect in all relationships, have the potential to result in serious harm to staff and student success, and shall not be tolerated by any employee, faculty, staff, student or community member at South Suburban College.

College Title IX policies and procedures have been instituted to prevent sexual harassment. These policies and procedures provide for the review, investigation and resolution of complaints. All individuals who suffer or witness behavior or actions that may be discriminatory or harassing shall make a report to the Title IX Coordinator. All complaints of sexual harassment will be handled with the maximum confidentiality possible. Findings of sexual harassment may result in discipline, up to and including suspension or termination, of a College employee, and discipline, up to and including suspension or dismissal, of a College student.

South Suburban College strictly prohibits retaliation against any individual for reporting, providing information, exercising one’s rights or responsibilities, or otherwise being involved in the process of responding to, investigating, or addressing allegations of sexual harassment Therefore, any retaliation, intimidation, threats, coercion, or discrimination against any such individual, undertaken or attempted either directly or by someone acting on behalf of another, will be addressed in the most serious way by South Suburban College, and individuals who engage in such actions are subject to discipline, up to and including suspension, exclusion, or dismissal from the College, consistent with South Suburban College policies, procedures and employment practices. Anyone who suffers from, or is aware of, possible retaliation in response to a complaint of sexual harassment, sexual violence or any form of harassment based on sex, should report such concerns to the Title IX Coordinator, who shall take appropriate actions to address the claims.

Sexual harassment complaints shall be made to:

Title IX Coordinator
Dr. Deborah Baness King
Vice President, Student & Enrollment Services
South Suburban College
15800 South State Street
South Holland, IL 60473
708-596-2000, ext. 5816
dking@ssc.edu

Prohibited Behavior

The College prohibits discrimination on the bases of age, disability, national origin, ancestry, race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, or marital status, sexual harassment, sexual violence, or other harassment based upon sex. Further, the College prohibits retaliation for having made a prior discrimination, sexual harassment, or sexual violence complaint.

Title IX defines sexual harassment to include any of three types of misconduct on the basis of sex, all of which jeopardize the equal access to education that Title IX is designed to protect:

  • Any instance of quid pro quo harassment by a school’s employee;
  • Any unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would find so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it denies a person equal educational access;
  • Any instance of sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).

Allegations of sexual harassment may be based on conduct that occurs on College property, off College property, or outside a College education program or activity if the alleged behavior affects the College environment or likelihood of student or employee success. All members of the College community shall report incidents of sexual harassment. South Suburban College investigates all allegations of sexual harassment.

Title IX Definitions:

Complainant – an individual who is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.

Third Party – any individual that has knowledge or has witnessed sexual harassment.

Respondent – an individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment.

Formal Complaint – a document filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a Respondent and requesting that the school investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. At the time of filing a formal complaint, a Complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in the education program or activity of the school with which the formal complaint is filed. A formal complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, by using the contact information required to be listed for the Title IX Coordinator, and by any additional method designated by the school.

Document Filed by a Complainant – a document or electronic submission (such as by e-mail or through an online portal provided for this purpose by the school) that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the formal complaint

Supportive Measures- individualized services reasonably available that are nonpunitive, non-disciplinary, and not unreasonably burdensome to the other party, while designed to ensure equal educational access, protect safety, or deter sexual harassment.

Title IX Sexual Harassment Grievance Process

Any individual who believes in good faith that he or she has been subjected to sexual harassment may file a complaint without fear of violence, retaliation or discipline. The College will complete a prompt investigation as set forth below, following notice of a complaint. Any individual (Complainant or third party) has the option to report allegations of sexual harassment to the Title IX Coordinator.  Any individual can also report allegations of sexual harassment to law enforcement and pursue a criminal action during the South Suburban College investigation. South Suburban College will not delay its own investigation merely because there is a simultaneous criminal investigation.

Step 1 – Filing a Complaint

Any person may report sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, in person, by mail, by telephone, or by e-mail, using the contact information listed for the Title IX Coordinator, or by any other means that results in the Title IX Coordinator receiving the person’s verbal or written report.  Such a report may be made at any time, including during non-business hours, by using the telephone number or e-mail address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the Title IX Coordinator.

Individuals are encouraged to file complaints through the Sexual Harassment Complaint Form online through the South Suburban College website.  All complaints must be signed and dated by the reporting individual. The signed Complaint Form may be submitted in person, by email or by mailing to the address listed above to the Title IX Coordinator.

The Title IX Coordinator shall contact the Complainant promptly to offer supportive measures, consider the Complainant’s wishes with respect to supportive measures, inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint, and explain to the complainant the process for filing a formal complaint.  Supportive measures are individualized services reasonably available that are nonpunitive, non-disciplinary, and not unreasonably burdensome to the other party while designed to ensure equal educational access, protect safety, or deter sexual harassment.

If the allegations in a formal complaint do not meet the definition of sexual harassment or did not occur in the school’s education program or activity against a person in the United States, South Suburban College must dismiss such allegations for purposes of Title IX. However, the complaints may be referred for consideration under the Student Code of Conduct or employee grievance procedure.

The Title IX Coordinator shall notify the Respondent of the complaint promptly and provide written notification of the allegations to both parties that includes the steps of the complaint process.

Step 2 – Investigation Process

Upon notification, the College will conduct a thorough investigation within a reasonable amount of time in relation to the Formal Complaint.  The investigatory time period may be extended by the Title IX Coordinator for justifiable reasons or by mutual consent of all involved parties. The Complainant and the Respondent shall be informed in writing of any time extensions.

Throughout the investigation, the parties shall have the following rights:

  • equal opportunity to present fact and expert witnesses and other inculpatory and exculpatory evidence
  • no restrictions related to discussing the allegations or gather evidence (e.g., no “gag orders”)
  • equal opportunity to select an advisor of the party’s choice who may be, but need not be, an attorney
  • written notice of any investigative interviews, meetings, or hearings
  • to receive all evidence directly related to the allegations, in electronic format or hard copy, sent to both parties and advisors, with at least 10 days for the parties to inspect, review, and respond to the evidence
  • to receive all investigative reports, sent to both parties and advisors, that fairly summarizes relevant evidence, in electronic format or hard copy, with at least 10 days for the parties to respond
  • dismissal of allegations of conduct that do not satisfy the definition of sexual harassment or did not occur in a school’s education program or activity against a person in the U.S. Such dismissal is only for Title IX purposes and does not preclude the school from addressing the conduct in any manner the College deems appropriate
  • Petition to withdraw the complaint, in writing (Complainant only) to the Title IX Coordinator stating that the Complainant desires to withdraw the formal complaint or allegations therein. If the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the school, or if specific circumstances prevent the school from gathering sufficient evidence to reach a determination, the school shall so advise the parties
  • Written notice of a dismissal (mandatory or discretionary) and the reasons for the dismissal (both parties).
  • Protection of the privacy of a party’s medical, psychological, and similar treatment records unless the College obtains the party’s voluntary, written consent to do so.

The investigation process includes collection of documents, witness statements, and other provided evidence from the Complainant and Respondent.

Step 3 – Live Hearing with Cross Examination

The College Title IX grievance process provides for a live hearing.  At the live hearing, the decision-maker permits each party’s advisor to ask the other party and any witnesses all relevant questions and follow-up questions, including those challenging credibility. Any cross-examination at the live hearing must be conducted directly, orally, and in real time by the party’s advisor of choice and never by a party personally.  At the request of either party, the entire live hearing (including cross-examination) may occur with the parties located in separate rooms with technology enabling the parties to see and hear each other. Only relevant cross-examination and other questions may be asked of a party or witness and the decision maker shall determine the relevance of each question prior to an answer being given. If a party does not have an advisor present at the live hearing, the College will provide, without fee or charge to that party, an advisor of the College’s choice to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.  Live hearings may be conducted with all parties physically present in the same geographic location or, at the College’s discretion, any or all parties, witnesses, and other participants may appear at the live hearing virtually.  An audio or audiovisual recording, or transcript, of any live hearing is mandated under Title IX.

The live hearing process and Title IX provides rape shield protections for Complainants deeming irrelevant questions and evidence about a Complainant’s prior sexual behavior unless offered to prove that someone other than the Respondent committed the alleged misconduct or offered to prove consent.

Step 4 – Written Findings

Upon completion of the hearing, the Decision Maker shall issue a written determination regarding responsibility with findings of fact, conclusions about whether the alleged conduct occurred, rationale for the result as to each allegation, any disciplinary sanctions imposed on the respondent, and whether remedies will be provided to the complainant. The written determination will be sent simultaneously to the parties along with information about how to file an appeal.  All final determinations made by the Decision Maker will utilize the preponderance of the evidence standard.

Step 5 – Right to Appeal

The Complainant or the Respondent may appeal the determination regarding responsibility, and from the College’s dismissal of a formal complaint or any allegations on the following basis: procedural irregularity that affected the outcome of the matter, newly discovered evidence that could affect the outcome of the matter, and/or Title IX personnel had a conflict of interest or bias, that affected the outcome of the matter. The appeal must be submitted in writing addressed to the Title IX Coordinator that the College President, or his or her designee, review the matter on appeal. The written request must be made within ten (10) days of the Step 4 Decision Maker Written Findings. If no Step 5 written request to appeal is received within the ten (10) days, the College will deem the investigation and case concluded and shall implement any recommendations or corrective actions.

Informal Resolution Option

The College, in its discretion, may choose to offer and facilitate informal resolution options, such as mediation or restorative justice, so long as both parties give voluntary, informed, written consent to attempt informal resolution.  Informal Resolution Rights include:

  • Freedom from any condition of enrollment or continuing enrollment, or employment or continuing employment, or enjoyment of any other right, waiver of the right to a formal investigation and adjudication of formal complaints of sexual harassment.
  • Voluntary participation in an informal resolution process.
  • Informal resolution option in response to a filed formal complaint.
  • At any time prior to agreeing to a resolution, any party has the right to withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the grievance process with respect to the formal complaint.

Informal resolution options shall not be available when allegations include that an employee sexually harassed a student.