Marin Academy believes in equal opportunity and has a tradition of dedication, high performance, personal development, and proper personal behavior. It is therefore expected that every adult and student will treat every teacher, staff member, student, and campus visitor with respect, courtesy, and support. Marin Academy will not tolerate physical violence, threats, taunts (including taunting, demeaning or offensive jokes), and verbal or cyber harassment of any kind. Harassment can violate the law and/or school policy.
Failure to meet this expectation is grounds for reprimand, suspension, or dismissal. Students who feel they are experiencing harassment in any form, whether from an adult or another student, should report the incident to their Class Dean; should that not be feasible, every student has recourse to the Dean of Students, Lynne Hansen, Academic Dean, KaTrina Wentzel, Dean of Equity and Inclusion, or the Head of School. Any allegation of harassment reported to one of these persons will be investigated thoroughly, objectively, promptly, effectively, and in as confidential a manner as possible, subject to investigation and legal requirements, and appropriate disciplinary action will be taken. Marin Academy cautions against anyone using pressure to discourage harassment victims from using the above procedures to make a complaint or witnesses from providing information regarding any complaint and will not tolerate retaliation against anyone who makes a complaint or who cooperates as a witness. If harassment is proven, there will be prompt and effective remedial action.
First, it is important for all community members to understand that harassment is determined by the perceptions of the reasonable accuser, administration (Head of School and deans), and law—not the intentions of the one who has been accused, whether the act is oral, written, physical, sexual, psychological, or cyber. Harassment occurs when conduct or statements have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or offensive environment for a reasonable person experiencing the conduct or statements, regardless of the actor’s intent.
Harassment: objectively offensive, intimidating, threatening, abusive, or harmful conduct directed by a student or adult toward one or more students or adults when either (1) there is a real or perceived imbalance of power between those involved and the conduct reoccurs or forms a pattern; or, (2) the conduct materially and substantially interferes with the student’s or adult’s educational opportunities, performance, or ability to participate in school functions, activities, or programs.
Harassment can be, but need not be, based on an individual’s actual or perceived race, color, ethnicity, creed, religion, ancestry, national origin, disability, genetic characteristics, medical condition, sex, marital or registered domestic partner status, gender identity and expression, familial status, socioeconomic status, citizenship status, physical appearance, sexual orientation, academic status related to student performance, disability, status with regard to public assistance, age, pregnancy, military service or veteran status, or any additional protected characteristic defined in California or Federal law. Harassment as defined in this policy includes abusive relationships, cyberbullying, hazing, and sexual harassment as defined below.
Abusive Relationships: any relationship involving any type of harassment by an individual or group toward another individual or group, regardless of whether requests to cease such contact have been made. This includes contact that occurs both in and outside of school, as even conduct outside the school can create a hostile or offensive environment when individuals must interact at school. MA reserves the right to interview students, involve students in a counseling process, contact parents, and require students to participate in a contractual process which may include, but is not limited to, on- going participation in groups, no contact contract, and one-to-one counseling. If deemed necessary or required, appropriate legal authorities may be contacted. School administration also reserves the right to refuse attendance to students not abiding by these provisions.
Cyberbullying: harassment that occurs when an electronic device—including, but not limited to, a computer or cell phone—is used to transfer the harassment sign, signal, writing, image, sound, or data. This transfer of information can include a post to a social network, internet website, group, or individual. Harassment may involve, but is not limited to, conduct that causes physical harm or reasonable fear of harm to a student or a student’s property, violates a student’s reasonable expectation of privacy, defames a student, or constitutes intentional infliction of emotional distress against a student. Harassing behaviors include but are not limited to cruelty, taunting, name calling, put-downs, intimidation, libel or slander, and posting of threats of any kind toward another person or group, whether it occurs in or outside of school. This form of harassment includes, but is not limited to denigration, impersonation, outing, trickery, posting inappropriate images of self and others, and/ or cyberstalking. Note that cyberbullying can occur on a personal or school-owned device and on a personal, private, public, or school network or internet service.
Hazing: any harassing activity undertaken by a student or group of students towards another student or group of students with the purpose of “initiation” into MA, a student organization, or a team. Hazing includes, but is not limited to, any physical, sexual, verbal, or psychological abuse that is demeaning, harmful, or embarrassing to anyone as a purported “rite of passage.” Hazing, like other harassment, can violate the law and/or school policy.
Sexual Harassment: physical, psychological, or any behavior that offends, shames, taunts, hurts, threatens, intimidates, dismisses, and ultimately violates the gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation of another person. This form of harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwanted sexual advances; sexual gestures; sexual jokes; sexual comments; sexual symbols; inappropriate questioning; unwanted and unwelcome touching; inappropriate remarks about one’s clothing; rumors of a sexual nature. Please see the full sexual harassment policy.
- Harassment is prohibited:
- On school property, school-provided transportation, or at designated locations where students wait for school-provided transportation.
- During any school-sponsored or school-sanctioned program, activity, event or trip.
- Using school computers, electronic technology, networks, forums, or mailing lists.
- Using any electronic technology (school-owned or otherwise) off the school premises that materially and substantially disrupts a student’s learning or school environment.
- Outside of school where conduct constitutes harassment under any of the definitions above and therefore has the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or offensive environment between community members at school.
- Apparent permission or consent by a student does not mean that harassment will be tolerated or allowed. The offending actor may not accurately perceive whether their conduct or statements are perceived as welcome or unwelcome or offensive to the person(s) experiencing the conduct or statements.
Retaliation is prohibited by any student or school employee against anyone who in good faith asserts, alleges, reports, or provides information pertaining to an alleged incident of harassment or other prohibited conduct. The School will take appropriate action against any student or school employee who engages in retaliation. Filing a false accusation of harassment is also prohibited.
Reporting and Response
An initial report may be oral or written and is intended to be non-threatening for the one reporting the incident(s). The Dean of Students is responsible for receiving reports of harassment and serves as the primary individual to address policy and procedural matters and will ensure this policy and its procedures are fairly and fully implemented. If the complaint involves the Dean of Students or reporting to the Dean of Students is not feasible, the complaint should be made to the Head of School. If the complaint involves the Head of School or reporting to the Head is not feasible, the complaint should be made to the Chair or a Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees.
Students who believe that they have been harassed or have witnessed harassment are strongly encouraged to bring their concerns to the Dean of Students but may bring their concerns to any school employee or to any of the officials listed in the previous paragraph. Having proof is an important part of reporting harassment; therefore, whenever possible, individuals should save emails, text messages, voice mail messages, and other documentation. As difficult as it can be to tell another person, reporting the experience is the first step toward reestablishing a safe and respectful environment for that person possibly experiencing harassment, the witness, and the school. Thus, if a student has received some form of harassment, (inclusive of the forms cited above, but not limited to), or has knowledge of anyone (student, faculty, staff, visitor, volunteer, or group) involved in a form of harassment, the student is encouraged to report it.
Any employee who witnesses an incident or who possesses reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that harassment has occurred shall:
- Immediately intervene to protect the safety of the student subjected to the incident and other students involved, as appropriate to the context.
- Make reasonable efforts to address and resolve the incident, including reporting the incident to the Dean of Students or any of the officials listed in the first paragraph of this Reporting.
- Cooperate fully in any investigation and resolution of the harassment or bullying or other prohibited incident as defined in this Harassment Policy.
Any independent contractor or volunteer who witnesses harassment or who possesses reliable information that would lead a reasonable person to believe that harassment has occurred is strongly encouraged to report the bullying incident to the Dean of Students or any of the officials listed in the first paragraph of this Reporting and Response section or any other school employee and to cooperate fully in any investigation and resolution of the bullying incident.
Anonymous reports will be accepted and investigated by the administration. However, no disciplinary action will be determined solely on the basis of an anonymous report unless it is proven through the investigation. Anonymous reports can be more difficult to investigate (due to possible inability to interview the reporter), so we encourage reporting without anonymity and remind complainants and other reporters of our policy prohibiting retaliation against complainants or reporters.
Investigation of an alleged harassment or bullying incident shall be initiated as soon as possible. The investigation should determine whether the reported incident constitutes a case of harassment, whether in a legal sense or as a violation of school policies and behavioral expectations even if not unlawful. The determination should take into consideration the totality of the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, including, but not limited to:
- The developmental ages and maturity levels of the parties involved.
- The level of harm, surrounding circumstances, and nature of the behavior.
- Past incidences or past or continuing patterns of behavior.
- The relationship between the parties involved.
- The context in which the alleged incidents occurred.
- At the appropriate time in the investigation, the school administration will notify the parents/ guardians of the student(s) involved and will investigate in a confidential manner to the extent possible.
The range of discipline will be determined by the administration and may include, but is not limited to, on campus restriction, parent conference, suspension, loss of co-curricular/athletic eligibility, loss of ability to participate on a school trip, service to the school, and/or expulsion. In addition, the Dean of Students, Class Dean, and Dean of Equity and Inclusion will work to design and implement measures to correct and prevent further prohibited conduct, protect and provide support for the target of the harassment, and take corrective action for any documented systemic problems related to harassment. This will include repair to the school community, with which the student in violation of the policy will be expected to comply.
Sexual harassment is physical, psychological, or any other behavior that offends, shames, taunts, hurts, threatens, intimidates, dismisses, and ultimately violates the gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation of another person. Sexual harassment can violate the law and/or school policies. This form of harassment includes, but is not limited to, unwanted sexual advances, sexual gestures, sexual jokes, sexual comments, sexual symbols, inappropriate questioning, unwanted and unwelcome touching, inappropriate remarks about one’s clothing, body type, gender, orientation, or sexual activity, displaying pornography, and/or promoting rumors of a sexual nature.
Gender Harassment: a form of sexual harassment that consists primarily of repeated comments, jokes, actions, and innuendos directed at a person or group because of their actual or assumed gender or gender identity or expression.
Orientation Harassment: a form of sexual harassment that consists primarily of repeated comments, jokes, actions, and innuendos directed at a person or group because of their actual or assumed sexual orientation.
Sexual Abuse: physical, psychological, and other behavior that abuses the gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation of another.
Sexual Exploitation: sexual, physical and/or emotional contact between an adult employee and a student, regardless of who initiated the contact (the employee or the student).
Sexual harassment may include but is not limited to:
- Unwanted sexual advances.
- Making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances.
- Offering educational or employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors.
- Inappropriate personal questions of a sexual nature.
- Sexual remarks about a person’s clothing, body, or sexual activity.
- Suggestive remarks, verbal abuse, epithets, slurs, and jokes.
- Public display of sexually explicit, offensive, or demeaning objects, posters, photographs, etc.
- Leering or ogling.
- Offensive touching in any form.
- Repeated expressions of sexual or “romantic” interest after being informed the interest is unwelcome.
The School explicitly prohibits sexual conduct, invited or otherwise, by adult faculty or staff with students: there are no circumstances in which sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, expressions of sexual or “romantic” interest, or other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature are allowable. This includes sexual behavior by an adult toward any student, even if the student is 18 years old or older. Sexual harassment is not social or courting behavior. It is best seen as an assertion of power.
In the case of perceived adult to student sexual harassment, students, employees, or parents should report the incident to a teacher, school counselor, dean, or the Head of School, or if necessary to the Chair or a Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. This information will be handled with care and with seriousness. The incident(s) will be promptly and objectively investigated and remedied. Outside professionals may be brought in to assist in the investigation in some cases.
While sexual harassment most often takes place in a situation of power differential between persons, it also may occur between persons of the same status such as student to student. Sexual harassment between peers includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexually stereotyped insults, demeaning propositions, and sexist “jokes” are prohibited. A significant factor in sexual and other prohibited harassment among peers is that the behavior is repeated, uninvited, and unwanted. Reporting and investigation of sexual harassment will follow the general harassment reporting and investigation procedures.
MA’s procedures are not intended to deny the right of any individual to pursue legal action under state and federal civil or criminal codes.