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School Board approves updates to hazing, discrimination policies; work continues on policies addressing harassment, child-abuse

The School Board on Nov. 12, 2019 approved updates to its policy on hazing, and to a separate policy governing non-discrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action.

The approvals affirm changes posed by the policy subcommittee and presented for first reading Oct. 8. [news article]

The update to the hazing policy, Policy ACAD, expands the definition of hazing and disallows a student's willingness to participate as justification for hazing. Changes to Policy AC - Nondiscrimination/Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action, complies with new state law that extends protection against discrimination to gender identity and expression.

In other policy news, Policy Committee Chair Hope Straw said work is continuing on policies regarding harassment and sexual harassment of students; and on policies regarding abuse and sexual abuse of children.

The committee held two meetings in October, attended by students, administrators, several staff members and the chief of Cape Elizabeth police. "We added one (meeting) because we had so much to talk about," Straw said.

Work on the harassment policies has focused on directly addressing the issue of sexual assault; clarifying confidentiality requirements for counselors, psychologists and other types of professional staff; and adhering to federal Title IX requirements and state reporting requirements. "We're sort of teasing out those issues and trying to get clarity around them, and at the same time trying to say, 'How do we put these details? How do we make sure they're in our policies and in the procedures?'," Straw said.

"It's complicated, but we are getting there," she said.

Discussion will continue at the next Policy Committee meeting scheduled for 3 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 26 in the Jordan Conference Room at Town Hall.