Equity and Inclusion in Hingham Public Schools

Welcome to the HPS Equity and Inclusion page of our website! On this page we hope to provide updates, information and resources relative to our work to improve the learning and working experiences of our students, faculty, and staff. Please explore the drop-down menus below for more information across a number of district-led initiatives.

HPS Equity and Inclusion Working Group

The Hingham Public Schools Equity & Inclusion Working Group was formed in 2019 and has been charged with conducting an Equity Audit of the district’s operations, programs, and services.  The purpose of the Equity Audit is to better inform the district’s multi-year Equity and Inclusion Plan that will be announced in June 2021.

The Equity & Inclusion Working Group has worked to define educational equity in the district, develop a Vision of Equity in HPS, conducted a SWOT (Strength, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis with feedback from teachers, the district’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC), and with the district’s Parent-Teacher Organization (PTOs) to inform the group as the work in the district began. The Working Group is current conducting a series of Courageous Conversations with affinity groups in the district, overseeing the district’s Equity Audit, and meets regularly to discuss implementation and roll-out strategy relative to the district’s developing Equity and Inclusion Plan.

To learn more about the district’s work, please feel free to contact any member of the Hingham Public Schools Equity & Inclusion Working Group:

Dr. James M. LaBillois, Assistant Superintendent of Schools, Working Group Chair

Nes Correnti, Hingham School Committee Member

Suzanne Vinnes, HPS Director of Student Services

Carols Perez, HPS METCO Director

Mary Eastwood, South Elementary School Principal

Erica Pollard, HPS Director of World Languages

Boris Samarov, Grade 4 Teacher – PRS

Heather Andersen, Special Educator – Foster

Melissa Goldman, Reading Specialist – HMS

Carolyn Bixby, Grade 3 Teacher – Foster

Kara Roth, English Teacher – HHS

Lindsey Troy, Special Educator – HMS

Jenna Nelson, Reading Specialist – HMS

HPS Equity Definition & Vision

Hingham Public Schools has defined Educational Equity as:

the shared responsibility of all members of our school community to address the opportunity gaps that exist within our society and impact our student’s ability to reach their full potential.

Hingham Public Schools has established a Vision of Educational Equity to help guide us toward ensuring that:

…regardless of student background, experience, and knowledge, HPS students will be provided opportunities and resources to develop socially, emotionally, and academically in a safe, supportive, enriching, and bias-free environment.

Why Is This Important?

The mission of Hingham Public Schools is to provide challenging and comprehensive educational programs in a safe and supportive environment, enabling all students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for success as local and global citizens.  

A diverse, equitable, welcoming, and inclusive community is central to our mission and we know varied perspectives generate better ideas to solve the complex problems of a rapidly changing, increasingly interconnected world. Therefore, we seek to engage all community members around our multiple identities, among them: race, skin color, sex, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, religion, national origin, ethnicity, ability/disability, socio-economic status, homeless status, physical and intellectual differences, pregnancy or pregnancy related condition, veteran status, military service, foster care status or other legally protected identity/status. 

We believe all members of our community – students, parents, guardians, caregivers, faculty and staff – deserve the right to be fully seen, authenticated and affirmed. This sense of belonging is a basic human need, which must be met in order for any member to reach their full potential. We also recognize that each member of our community has different needs, experiences and opportunities and by exploring these differences, we gain understanding, compassion, and empathy for each other. 

We pledge to challenge ourselves to regularly evaluate and refine curricula, policies, practices and procedures and commit to providing the appropriate services and resources to ensure every student has what they need to perform at their optimal level.

We know that our strength as a community comes from the diversity of experiences and perspectives brought to us by everyone in our town. However, the only way we can all benefit from this strength is to celebrate those differences and teach our children to understand why we celebrate them. We must, as a community, begin to model the world we hope our children can one day create.

HPS Equity Audit

Hingham Public Schools is in process of conducting a comprehensive audit of district operations, programming, and procedures across a variety of dimensions. Please click below on the dimensions of resource equity below to review the questions is district is asking as part of this audit.

Dimensions of Resource Equity

Teaching Quality & Diversity

Do all students have access to experienced teachers?

Do all students have access to effective teachers?

Do all students have access to teachers who stay in their school year after year?

Do all students have access to teachers of the same racial background?

Empowering & Rigorous Curriculum

Do all students have access to consistently rigorous curricula and instructional materials?

Do all students have access to and complete the MASS Core?

Do all students have access to advanced courses/programs?

Do all students learn from teachers with rigorous and engaging instruction and high expectations for student learning?

Do all students learn from teachers who prepare for lessons during expert-supported, content-focused planning time?

Instructional Time & Attention

Do all students receive extra time during the school day in any subjects they need additional support in?

Do all students have access to additional out-of-school opportunities to help meet their learning needs?

Student Supports & Intervention

Do all students have access to an effective RTI process?

Do all students have access to effective early intervention support?

Do all students have access to social-emotional supports?

Do all students have access to a rigorous and unbiased special education identification process?

Do all students have access to a rigorous and unbiased Section 504 identification process?

High Quality Early Learning

Do all kindergarteners have access to high-quality PK programs?

School Culture & Climate

Do all students feel connected and engaged in their school community?

Do all students feel safe in their schools?

Do all students have access to a rigorous and unbiased school discipline process?

Family Academic Engagement

Do all families feel welcomed and included in the school environment?

Do all families partner with their student’s school to meet their students’ learning goals?

Diverse & Inclusive Schools

Do all students attend school and enroll in classes with peers from diverse racial and economic backgrounds?

School Funding

Do schools with high rates of high-needs students receive additional dedicated resources (funding or staffing) through the school budget process?

School Leader Quality & Diversity

Do all students attend school with an experienced principal?

Do all students attend school with an effective principal?

Do all students attend school with a principal who stays in their school year after year?

Do all students attend school with a principal who shared their racial background?

Learning-Ready Facilities

Do all students attend school with clean air and water?

Do all students attend school with space, equipment, and technology necessary to enable rigorous instruction?

During the 2020-2021 Academic Year the district is focusing the following questions for a deep analysis:

Dimension of Resource EquityDiagnostic QuestionDistrict OperationsImpact at School LevelImpact at Student LevelData Sources
Instructional Time and AttentionDo all students receive extra time during the school day in any subjects they need additional support in?Average instructional minutes in core subjects for below proficient students compared to above proficient students at the district levelVariation in average instructional minutes in core subjects for below proficient students compared to above proficient students by schoolVariation in average instructional minutes in core subjects for below proficient students compared to above proficient students by student groupInternal – schedules, HTSS: Academic minutes by grade and focus areas; PK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12. Elementary RTI, secondary Title I, HHS ?, HMS extra help program
Instructional Time and AttentionDo all students have access to additional out-of-school opportunities to help meet their learning needsAvailability of out-of-school opportunities at the district level (eg, types and quantity of out-of-school programs available in the district)Variation of availability of out-of-school opportunities that may differ by school (eg., some schools in a specific neighborhood access afterschool programs while others do not)Variation of out-of-of school opportunities that may differ by student groupInternal data from schools RE: out-of-school time support (homework support groups, PTO funded activities (PRS Voyagers, etc), Kids in Action
Student Supports and Intervention
Do all students have access to an effective RTI process?
Quality of RTI process documentation & staff expertise at the district levelVariation in quality of RTI process implementation & staff experience by school
Variation in RTI access or experience by student group
HTSS data, RTI participation, etc.
Student Supports and InterventionDo all students have access to effective early intervention support?Quality of early intervention process documentation & supports at district levelVariation in quality of early intervention process implementation & supports by schoolVariation in early intervention access or experience by student groupData from Early Intervention into PK, referral rates
Student Supports and InterventionDo all students have access to social-emotional supports?Measures of access and effectiveness of social-emotional supports at the district levelVariation in Measures of access and effectiveness of social-emotional supports by schoolVariation in Measures of access and effectiveness of social-emotional supports by student groupHTSS data, screening information and data, participation rates by student groups, etc.
Student Supports and InterventionDo all students have access to a rigorous and unbiased special education identification process?Identification rates of SWD at the district level.Variation in identification rates by schoolVariation in identification rates by student groupEligibility rates by student group, DESE data

Student Supports and Intervention
Do all students have access to a rigorous and unbiased Section 504 identification process?
Identification rates of Section 504 Eligible students at the district level.Variation in identification rates by schoolVariation in identification rates by student groupEligibility rates by student group

In addition, the district has contracted with data consults to examine the extent to which all students have access to upper level and advanced classes across grades 7-12. This statistical analysis will examine longitudinal trends in student data across multiple dimensions.

Results of this first round of data will be included in the district’s multi-year Equity and Inclusion Plan that will be announced in June 2021.

Harvard RIDES Partnership

Hingham Public Schools has partnered with the Reimagining Integration for Diverse and Equitable Schools (RIDES) housed in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. As part of this partnership members of the district’s Equity & Inclusion Working Group are working with a number of other districts across the Commonwealth to support our Equity Work and learn how to implement an Equity Improvement Cycle. This training is currently in progress and the district will share more information as it becomes available.

Click HERE to learn more about the Harvard RIDES program.

Suffolk University Center for Restorative Justice Partnership

Hingham Public Schools has partnered with the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University to train the school and district administrators on the implementation of Restorative Practices within all district schools. The district has determined the use of Restorative Practices to be essential to the ongoing work of combating issues of bias and discrimination within our school community. The district will begin its training on June 4, 2021 and will continue with in-depth trainings during two currently scheduled two-day summer institutes during the summer of 2021 (one for our elementary team and the second for our secondary team). More information will be forthcoming as the district moves toward piloting of these practices during the 2021-2022 school year.

Click HERE to learn more about the Center for Restorative Justice at Suffolk University.

Implicit Bias Training (March, 2020)

On March 3, 2020 Hingham Public Schools formally launched the district’s Equity and Inclusion Initiative with a keynote delivered by Mr. Johnny Cole, Director of Equity and Inclusion for the Lexington Public Schools.

The session began with an overview of the district’s initiative, presented by Assistant Superintendent Dr. LaBillois. Following this overview presentation, Mr. Cole trained the district’s faculty, staff, and administration on issues of implicit bias and called upon all members of the school community to be deeply reflective of their own personal and professional biases. Following this session, all faculty and administrators participated in a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) examining the district and preparing to provide feedback to the Equity and Inclusion Working Group on the implementation of the Equity and Inclusion Plan.

You can view Dr. LaBillois’s presentation HERE.

You can view Mr. Cole’s presentation HERE.

SWOT Analysis

In March of 2020 a SWOT Analysis was conducted with district faculty, staff, and administration. A review of the results of this analysis can be found HERE.

During the Fall of 2020 the district conducted a SWOT analysis with the district’s Special Education Parent Advisory Council, as well as with all 6 school Parent-Teacher Organizations. A copy of the presentation from these sessions can be found HERE.

Results of the community SWOT analysis will be shared once data is reviewed and compiled.

Courageous Conversations Series

What are Courageous Conversations? 

Engaging in courageous conversations is about challenging current practices and fostering improvement and growth through conversation, listening to and acting on feedback, and providing feedback that will lead to improvements in student achievement and well-being. In courageous conversations, whether in the context of performance appraisal, mentoring, or coaching, individuals are encouraged to express their views openly and truthfully, rather than defensively or with the purpose of laying blame. When two or more people converse to deepen understanding or make an informed decision, they are engaging in two types of conversations – dialogue and discussion.

  • Dialogue is a reflective learning process in which two or more people seek to understand each other’s viewpoints and deeply held assumptions. It is a conversation in which talking and listening by all parties creates a flow of meaning. 
  • Discussion is a conversation in which two or more people intend to come to some form of closure – either by making a decision, reaching agreement, or identifying priorities. Discussion involves convergent thinking focused on tasks. 

Both dialogues and discussions are considered “courageous” when the participants expose the values and check the validity of the assumptions that underlie their actions and views. Building an atmosphere of trust and respect is key to both enabling individuals to participate in courageous conversations and establishing a culture in which courageous conversations and feedback are seen as necessary for improvement.

What are the Courageous Conversations about? 

The district is seeking current students, alumni, faculty/staff, parents, and community members to discuss their experiences living, working, and going to school in Hingham across a variety of dimensions with members of the Equity and Inclusion Working Group.  We are interested in hearing the experiences of members of our community who are black, indigenous, or persons of color (BIPOC), whose first language is not English, who worship across various religious institutions, who are LGBTQ-plus, who are bi-racial, women, athletes, artists, have disabilities, or who may be gifted and talented.  This list is not meant to be exhaustive, but to give you a sense of the groups we’ll be speaking to as part of this initiative.  We’re also open to hearing from anyone who feels they have experiences to share that would result in our district becoming more equitable and inclusive.  

How do I participate?

If you’re interested in participating in one of these Courageous Conversations, please complete this brief SURVEY.  Once your information and interest is documented, a member of the district’s Equity and Inclusion Working group will be in touch to schedule a time for your Courageous Conversation.  These meetings will occur in small-groups facilitated by district staff.  

Hingham School Committee Civil Rights Policies and Procedures

The Hingham School Committee has adopted several key policies that protect the rights of district faculty, staff, and students. Please explore these policies and procedures below.

DISTRICT CIVIL RIGHTS COMPLAINT OFFICERS

2020-2021

Susan D’Amato

Director of Human Resources

220 Central Street

Hingham, MA 02043

781-741-1500

sd’[email protected]

Dr. James M. LaBillois

Assistant Superintendent of Schools

220 Central Street

Hingham, MA 02043

781-741-1500

[email protected]

Civil Rights

Hingham Public Schools does not discriminate in its educational and/or operational programs or activities on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, age, religion or religious creed, disability or handicap, sex or gender (including pregnancy), gender identity and/or expression (including a transgender identity), sexual orientation, military or veteran status,  genetic information, or any other characteristic protected under applicable federal, state or local law.  

COORDINATOR OF TITLE VI OF THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT OF 1964 FOR HINGHAM PUBLIC SCHOOLS

The person serving as the Coordinator of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 for the Hingham Public Schools is Susan D’Amato, Director of Human Resources for the Hingham Public Schools.  Title VI “prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits based on race, color and national origin.”  Anyone having questions or concerns about Title VI with respect to the Hingham Public Schools should contact Ms. D’Amato at the School Department, 220 Central Street, Hingham, Massachusetts 02043.  She can be reached by telephone at (781)741-1500, by email at sd’[email protected], or by fax at (781)749-7457.

COORDINATOR OF TITLE IX OF THE EDUCATION AMENDMENTS OF 1972

The person serving as Coordinator of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 for the Hingham Public Schools is Susan D’Amato, Director of Human Resources for the Hingham Public Schools.  Title IX “prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits in education programs based on sex.”  Anyone having questions or concerns about Title IX with respect to the Hingham Public Schools should contact Ms. D’Amato at the School Department, 220 Central Street, Hingham, Massachusetts 02043.  She can be reached by telephone at (781)741-1500, by email at sd’[email protected], or by fax at (781)749-7457.

COORDINATOR OF SECTION 504 OF THE REHABILITATION ACT OF 1973

The person serving as Coordinator of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 for the Hingham Public Schools is Heather Rodriguez, Director of School Counseling Services for the Hingham Public Schools.  Section 504 “prohibits discrimination, exclusion from participation, and denial of benefits based on disability.”  Anyone having any questions or concerns about Section 504 with respect to the Hingham Public Schools should contact Ms. Rodriguez at Hingham High School, 17 Union Street, Hingham, Massachusetts 02043.  She can be reached by telephone at (781)741-1560, by email at [email protected], or by fax at (781)741-1515.

SCHOOL DISTRICT HOMELESS EDUCATION LIAISON & FOSTER CARE & ACTIVE MILITARY POINT OF CONTACT

The person serving as School District Education Liaison for Homeless Children and Youth, Children and Youth in Foster Care, and Military Connected Families for Hingham Public Schools is Dr. James M. LaBillois, Assistant Superintendent.  The McKinney-Vento Education Act for Homeless Children and Youth requires that each child of a homeless individual and each homeless youth have equal access to the same free, appropriate public education as provided to other children and youth.  There are similar protections and educational continuity considerations for children and youth in foster care, as well as those children in military connected families.  Anyone having questions or concerns about the legal rights of homeless children and youth, children and youth in foster care, and military connected families should contact Dr. LaBillois at the School Department, 220 Central Street, Hingham, Massachusetts 02043.  He can be reached by telephone at (781)741-1500, by email at [email protected], or by fax at (781)749-7457.

TITLE II, ADA COMPLIANCE LIAISON

The person serving as the contact for concerns about school facilities and compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act of 1990 is Susan D’Amato, Director of Human Resources.  Anyone having questions or concerns about Title II with respect to the Hingham Public Schools should contact Ms. D’Amato at the School Department, 220 Central Street, Hingham, Massachusetts 02043.  She can be reached by telephone at (781)741-1500, by email at sd’[email protected], or by fax at (781)749-7457.

The grievance procedure for any individual who believes that s/he has been discriminated against follows below.                                                        

Civil Rights Grievance Procedure
  1. Any employee or student who believes that he or she has been discriminated against should contact in writing the appropriate coordinator as soon as possible, normally within thirty days of the discrimination.
  2. The Coordinator will meet with the person(s) to discuss the situation within seven days of receiving the written complaint.
  3. The Coordinator will have fourteen days to respond to the grievance in writing.
  4. If the grievance is not settled at this level, a representative from the Office of Civil Rights or the Department of Education will be contacted for remediation.

Equal Opportunity Employment

It is the policy of the Hingham Public Schools to offer equal employment opportunities to all qualified candidates regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, or disability.

                                                                                                       12/5/77 // 2/14/94 // 9/24/12

Anti-Harassment

It is the policy of the Hingham Public Schools to promote and maintain a working and educational environment that is free from all forms of harassment.  The most productive and satisfying work environment is one in which work and work-related activities are accomplished in a spirit of mutual trust and respect. Harassment is a form of discrimination that is offensive, impairs morale, undermines the integrity of employment relationships and causes serious harm to the productivity, efficiency and stability of our organization.

All employees have a right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassing conduct, including sexual harassment. Harassment on the basis of an employee’s race, color, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, marital status, veteran status, sexual preference or disability is expressly prohibited under this policy.  Harassment on any basis (race, sex, age, disability, etc.) exists whenever the conduct interferes with an employee’s work or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Sexual harassment violates state and federal law; and, therefore, the policies of the Hingham Public Schools.   Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:  (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly, a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or success as a student; (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or educational decisions affecting such individual, or; (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working or educational environment.

While it is not possible to list all those additional circumstances that may constitute sexual harassment, the following are some examples of conduct which, if unwelcome, may constitute sexual harassment depending upon the totality of the circumstances including the severity of the conduct and its pervasiveness:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances – whether or not they involve physical touching;
  • Sexual epithets, jokes, written or oral references to sexual conduct, gossip regarding one’s sex life; comment on an individual’s body, comment about an individual’s sexual activity, deficiencies, or prowess, and sexually explicit emails or the use of social media to share such references, and
  • Displays of sexually suggestive objects, pictures, and cartoons.

Harassment on the basis of any other protected characteristic is also strictly prohibited. Such harassment can be defined as conduct that shows hostility or aversion toward an individual because of his or her protected characteristic and that has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Each employee of the Town of Hingham is personally responsible for:

  • Ensuring that his/her conduct does not harass any student or other employee or applicant for employment, or other individual in the workplace or school;
  • Cooperating in the investigation of informal reports or formal complaints of alleged harassment by providing any information she/he possesses concerning the matters being investigated; and
  • Otherwise cooperating with efforts to prevent and eliminate harassment and to maintain a working and learning environment free from such unlawful discrimination.

Grievance Officers for all forms of harassment:

Alleged Violations Between School Department Employees

For any alleged harassment violations between School Department employees, the Superintendent of Schools has designated the Director of Student Services as the Grievance Officer.  He or she is vested with the authority and responsibility of processing or referring to an appropriate administrator or one of the Town Grievance Officers all harassment complaints in accordance with the procedure outlined under Procedure 2.6A.  The Director of Student Services may be contacted at the School Administration Offices, telephone 741-1500.

Town Grievance Officers:

Human Resources Director       (781) 804-2479

Assistant Town Administrator   (781) 804-2401

Public Health Nurse                 (781) 804-2371

                                                                                                       2/14/94 // 1/10/05 // 4/11/11

EMPLOYEE ANTI-HARASSMENT PROCEDURE (2.6A)

  1. Any employee of the Hingham Public Schools who believes that he or she has been subjected to any form of harassment will report the incident(s) to the Grievance Officer as soon as possible, normally within thirty working days of a harassment incident. In the event that an employee grievant does not feel comfortable making the grievance as outlined above, he/she is free to file the grievance with any administrator above him/her in the organizational chart. That administrator will then coordinate the processing of the grievance with the Grievance Officer.
  2. The Grievance Officer or designated administrator will attempt to resolve the problem in a formal and expeditious manner through the following process:
    1. In order to obtain a clear understanding of that individual’s statement of facts, the Grievance Officer will confer with the individual who feels he or she was subjected to harassment.  After meeting with the grievant, the grievant or Grievance Officer shall put the complaint of harassment in writing.  In the event that the Grievance Officer puts the complaint in writing, the grievant will review the written grievance for its accuracy and sign it.
    2. The Grievance Officer or designated administrator will then meet with the alleged harasser in order to obtain his or her response to the complaint.
    3. The Grievance Officer or designated administrator may hold as many meetings with the parties as is necessary to gather facts.
    4. The Grievance Officer or designated administrator will meet with other individuals who may have pertinent information.
    5. The Grievance Officer or designated administrator will review any pertinent documents.
    6. In a grievance involving students, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or the Hingham Police Department may be involved to assure student safety and to comply with mandated reporting requirements.
  3. The investigation will be thorough, but processed in as expeditious a manner as is possible.  Upon completion of the investigation, the Grievance Officer shall prepare a report outlining the findings.  Any employee found to have engaged in harassment in violation of this policy will be subject to disciplinary actions up to and including termination of employment.  The investigation report and all documentation shall be kept in a confidential file.  In the event there is a finding of no harassment, the grievant may appeal the decision to the appropriate body, either the Board of Selectmen or the Superintendent of Schools.
  4. The Grievance Officer will write a summary of the investigation and the disciplinary action, if any.  Both the complainant and the harasser shall receive the summary.  If a complaint is substantiated, the summary shall be placed in the personnel file of the harasser.  If the complaint is unsubstantiated, the summary shall be kept in a confidential file for a period of three (3) years.
  5. Grievants are not limited to a formal grievance procedure but may seek relief from other   agencies, including the following:

The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

John F. Kennedy Building

475 Government Center

Boston, MA  02203

800-669-4000

The Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD)  

One Ashburton Place, Room 601

Boston, MA 02108

(617) 727-3990

The Office of Civil Rights of the Department of Education

Region I

33 Arch Street, Suite 900

Boston, MA  02110

617-289-0111

The Hingham Public Schools announces that any retaliatory action of any kind taken by an employee or student against any other employee or student as a result of the person’s seeking redress under these procedures or cooperating in any proceeding under these procedures, is prohibited and shall be regarded as a separate and distinct grievable matter under this procedure.

Homeless Students

The Hingham Public School District has adopted the definition of homeless children and youth as found in Section 725 (2) of the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Act (2002 reauthorization).  A student determined to be homeless will be enrolled immediately in the school of the district in which he/she is temporarily residing or be provided with transportation if he/she chooses to remain in his/her school of origin until the end of the school year in which permanent housing is found.  Students determined to be homeless, or who fit the Massachusetts Department of Education’s definition of “unaccompanied youth,” are entitled to attend and fully participate in all classes, school activities, and educational opportunities and to benefit from all services provided to other students in the Hingham Public Schools.  This includes automatic eligibility for Title I and Free/Reduced Lunch programs.   See Procedure 6.3A “Responsibilities of School Principals and Registrars in Relation to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act of 2002.”  Also, see Procedures 6.3A for a definition of homelessness, the dispute resolution process, and a summary of general implementation procedures.

Students in Foster Care

Hingham Public Schools ensures the educational stability of students in foster care and their equal access to the same free and appropriate public education through high school graduation as provided to other students as required by law. The Hingham School Committee is committed to supporting district and community efforts to ensure that students in foster care have access to high-quality, stable educational experiences. 

Foster care students continue to attend their school of origin unless after a collaborative decision-making process it is determined to be in the student’s best interest to enroll in and attend school in the district in which a foster care provider or facility is located (if different). When it is not in the student’s best interest to remain in the school of origin, the student may be immediately enrolled (and attend) the new school district, even if records normally required for enrollment cannot be quickly produced. Hingham Public Schools has designated the Assistant Superintendent of Schools as the district’s Foster Care point of contact to ensure collaboration with DCF and the provision of transportation to the student’s school of origin, if needed. See Procedure 6.3B

LEGAL REFS: Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA);

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering Connections Act)

6.3B PROCEDURE 

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE (REGULATIONS)

Best Interest Determination. Decisions about whether a student in foster care should continue to attend the school of origin should be made collaboratively by DCF, the student (as appropriate), the student’s family and/or foster family (and if different, the person authorized to make educational decisions on behalf of the student), the school and district of origin, and (when different) the local district where the student is placed. Best interest determinations should focus on the needs of each individual student and take into account a variety of factors. Every effort should be made to reach agreement regarding the appropriate school placement of a student in foster care. However, if there is disagreement regarding school placement for a student in foster care, DCF will finalize the best interest determination.

Hingham Public Schools may seek review of DCF’s decision by utilizing a Foster Care School Selection Dispute Resolution Process established by DESE and DCF. Decisions made through this process are not subject to review. Under the law, to promote educational stability, students should continue to attend their schools of origin while best interest determinations are being made.

Transportation. The district of origin must collaborate with DCF on how transportation will be provided and arranged to ensure that students in foster care who need transportation to remain in their school of origin will receive such transportation while they are in foster care.

Transportation options may include using Title I funds, establishing regional collaborations among districts, coordinating with existing routes for transportation, seeking help from foster parent(s), etc. Absent other agreements between the district and DCF, the district of origin is responsible for providing transportation to and from the school of origin.

Immediate Enrollment. If it is in the best interest of a student in foster care to leave the school of origin, the student must be enrolled in school in the local school district immediately. To minimize disruption of the student’s education, the law requires the district to enroll the student in a new school without delay, without waiting to receive the typical student enrollment documentation (other than emergency contact information). The enrolling school must immediately contact the child’s school and district of origin to obtain the relevant records and documentation, and the school and district of origin should immediately transfer those records. 

To facilitate enrollment, DCF representatives will present the district with a form that indicates that the student is in foster care, along with their state-agency identification badge, when enrolling students. 

Military-Connected Families

In an effort to facilitate the placement, enrollment, graduation, data collection and provision of special services for students transferring into or out of the District because of their parents being on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services, Hingham Public Schools supports and will implement its responsibilities as outlined in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children.  The Hingham School Committee believes it is appropriate to remove barriers to educational success imposed on children of military families because of their parents’ frequent moves and deployment. See Procedure 6.3C

LEGAL REFS: Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children

6.3C PROCEDURE

EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR MILITARY CHILDREN (REGULATIONS).

Definitions:

Children of military families means school aged children, enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade (including IDEA eligible students aged 3-22), in the household of an active duty member of the uniformed service of the United States, including members of the National Guard and Reserve serving on active duty.

Deployment means the period one month before the service members’ departure from their home station on military orders through six months after return to their home station.

Education(al) records means official records, files, and data directly related to a student and maintained by the school including, but not limited to, records encompassing all the material kept in the student’s cumulative folder.

The requirements, applicable to eligible students, which must be fulfilled, are listed below.  Eligible students are those who are children of active duty personnel, active duty personnel or veterans who have been severely injured and medically discharged, and active duty personnel who die on active duty within one year of service.  Students are not eligible for the provisions of the Compact if they are children of inactive Guard or Reserves, retired personnel, veterans not included above or U.S. Department of Defense personnel and other federal civil service employees and contract employees.

Hingham Public School’s responsibilities to eligible children include the following:

  • Sending schools must send either official or unofficial records with the moving students and District receiving schools must use those records for immediate enrollment and educational placement.
  • Simultaneously, the receiving school must request official records and the sending schools shall respond within 10 school/working days with the records.
  • Immunization requirements of the District may be met within 30 days from the date of enrollment (or be in progress).
  • Receiving schools must honor placement of students in all courses from the sending school.  These include, but are not limited to, Honors, International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, vocational-technical, and career pathway courses if those courses are offered in the receiving school.
  • In compliance with federal law, special education students must be placed by the existing IEP with reasonable accommodations in the receiving school.
  • The District will exercise, as deemed appropriate, the right to waive prerequisites for all courses and programs, while also maintaining its right to re-evaluate the student to ensure continued enrollment, as deemed appropriate.
  • Students of active duty personnel shall have additional excused absences at the discretion of the building principal for visitations relative to leave or deployment.
  • An eligible student living with a noncustodial parent or other person standing in loco parentis shall be permitted to attend the school in which he or she was enrolled while living without the custodial parent without any tuition fee imposed.
  • Hingham High School will accept exit or end-of-year exams required from the sending state, national norm-referenced tests, or alternate testing instead of testing requirements for graduation in the District (receiving state.)  If this is not possible, the alternative provision of the Interstate Compact shall be followed in order to facilitate the on-time graduation of the student in accordance with Compact provisions.

Bullying & Harassment

Students are to maintain an environment free of harassment of any kind, including but not limited to harassment based upon race, color, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.  Students are to treat one another with courtesy and respect at all times.   No student shall be subjected to acts of harassment, retaliation (or intimidation), bullying, or cyberbullying as defined under Procedures 6.16 A.  Procedures for reporting, investigating, and resolving alleged issues of harassment, retaliation, bullying or cyberbullying are described in school handbooks, and in the district’s Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan, and are summarized herein under Procedures 6.16A.

c. 71, S37 O 

BULLYING AND HARASSMENT PROCEDURE (6.16A)

Definitions:

Harassment includes, but is not limited to, such things as: threats, unsolicited remarks, gestures, physical contact, or the display of written materials or pictures. 

Bullying is the repeated use by one or more students of a written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination thereof, directed at a target student that:

  • causes physical or emotional harm to the target student or to the student’s property
  • places the target student in reasonable fear of harm to him/herself, or of damage to his/her property
  • creates a hostile environment at school for the target student
  • infringes on the rights of the target student at school or
  • materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of the school

Cyberbullying means bullying through the use of technology or any electronic communication, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, any transfer of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds,  data or intelligence of any nature transmitted in whole or in part by a: wire,  radio,  electromagnetic means,  photo electronic or photo-optical system including, but not limited to, electronic mail, instant messages, or facsimile communications.

Cyberbullying also shall include the creation of a web page or blog in which the creator assumes the identity of another person or knowingly impersonates another person as author of posted comments or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Cyberbullying also shall include the distribution by electronic means of a communication to more than one person or the posting of material on an electronic medium that may be accessed by one or more persons, if the distribution or posting creates any of the conditions enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Bullying and cyberbullying may occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at home and in locations outside of the home.  When bullying and cyberbullying are alleged, the full cooperation of parents and families is expected.

Bullying is prohibited:

  • on school grounds
  • on property immediately adjacent to school grounds
  • at school –sponsored or school-related activities
  • at functions or programs whether on or off school grounds
  • at school bus stops
  • on school buses or other vehicles owned, leased, or used by the Hingham Public Schools, or
  • through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased, or used by the school district

Bullying and cyberbullying are prohibited at a location, activity, function, or program that is not school-related or through the use of technology or an electronic device that is not owned, leased, or used by the Hingham Public Schools if the act or acts in question:

  • create a hostile environment at school for the target student;
  • infringe on the rights of the target student at school; and/or,
  • materially and substantially disrupt the orderly operation of the school.

Prevention and Intervention Plans

The principal of each school is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the school bullying prevention and interventions plan within his/her school environment.  Parents and students shall be made aware annually of the school plan and such plan shall be reviewed (and updated as needed) at least biennially.  An overview of the components of the plan follows:

Reporting

Students who believe that they are targets of bullying, observe an act(s) of bullying, or who have reasonable grounds to believe that these behaviors are taking place, are expected to report such incidents promptly to a member of the school staff.  The target student, however, shall not be subject to discipline for failing to report bullying.

Each school in the district has designated and made known to students a means for anonymously reporting incidents of bullying.  However, no formal disciplinary action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.  As well, any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary action. 

Parents or guardians or members of the community are urged to report an incident of bullying as soon as is practicable.

Any member of the school staff shall report immediately to the principal or his/her designee an instance of bullying that the staff member has become aware of or has witnessed.

Investigation Procedures

The principal or designee, upon receipt of a viable report, of bullying or cyber-bullying, shall promptly notify the parents or guardians of both the alleged target and aggressor students; and actions being taken to investigate and to prevent further acts of bullying shall be discussed.

The principal or designee shall investigate promptly the report of bullying as described on the district’s reporting form.  The investigation may include interviewing the alleged target and aggressor students, staff members, or other witnesses.  Upon receipt of a report of alleged bullying (and during the period of investigation), school staff shall assess the alleged target student’s needs for protection and create and implement a safety plan to restore a sense of safety for that student.  Confidentiality shall be used to protect a person who reported bullying, provides information during the investigation of bullying, or is witness to or has reliable information about an act of bullying.

In most instances, the investigation shall be completed within two weeks of the date of the report.  The parents or guardians of the target and aggressor student(s) shall be contacted promptly upon completion of the investigation and informed of the results of the investigation and, if bullying or retaliation is found, what actions are in place to prevent further acts of bullying or retaliation and the procedures for responding to bullying.  Information shared will be respectful of the rules of confidentiality that guide school operations.  If the investigation requires a longer period, the principal or designee will contact the parents on a regular basis to update them on the status of the investigation or about related matters.

Responses to Bullying or Cyberbullying

If the principal or designee determines that bullying has occurred he/she shall take appropriate disciplinary action as described in the Discipline Code; in certain cases, the principal shall consult with the school resource officer or seek legal advice as to whether criminal charges are warranted.  If that is the determination, the Hingham Police Department shall be formally notified.

To respond to student needs that are identified by the school, academic or counseling support, interventions, or referral to an outside agency may be provided to target or aggressor students. Available resources and referral procedures are described in the Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan.

Each school will document all incidents of bullying that are reported; and the principal shall maintain a file for review as part of the investigation and to meet other mandated reporting requirements.

Retaliation and Intimidation

Retaliation against or intimidation of a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying is prohibited; and such acts are subject to disciplinary procedures.

Training and Assessment

Annual training shall be provided for school employees who have significant contact with students in preventing, identifying, responding to, and reporting incidents of bullying.

Age-appropriate, evidence-based instruction on bullying prevention is incorporated into the instructional program for students at all levels as per the school and district bullying prevention and intervention plans.

Publication and Notice

Annual written notice of the relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plans shall be provided to students and their parents or guardians, using age-appropriate terminology and via print or electronic means.

Annual written notice of the plans shall be provided to all staff; and the faculty and staff at each school shall be trained annually on the plan applicable to the school.

Relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plans that relate to the responsibilities and duties of the faculty and staff shall be included in the school handbook and/or the district’s employee handbook, as appropriate to the employee category.

The district bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be posted on the district website.

LEGAL REFERENCES: Title VII Section 703, Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended

                                            Federal regulations 74676 issued by the EEO Commission

                                             Title IX  of the U,S, 1972 Civil Rights Act

                                             603 CMR 26.00

                                             MGL 71: 37 O

                                             MGL 265:43, 43a

                                             MGL 268:13b

                                             MGL 269: 14a

                                         MGL, 151 C

                                             MGL, 76:5

Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Hingham Public Schools employees are hereby notified of their right to be free from discrimination due to pregnancy or a condition related to pregnancy, including the right to reasonable accommodations for conditions related to pregnancy. 

The Pregnant Workers Fairness Act amends state law to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, such as lactation or the need to express breast milk for a nursing child. Hingham Public Schools shall provide reasonable accomodations to pregnant employees. A reasonable accommodation is one that allows the employee to perform the essential functions of the job while experiencing a pregnancy-related condition, without undue hardship to the employer.  Within 10 days of providing notice of pregnancy the district shall notify the pregnant of their right to reasonable accommodations. 

Free Bystander Trainings

Hollaback! is a non-profit organization that provides a number of free trainings on issues of bias, discrimination, and harassment. Click HERE to learn more about this organization and the free bystander trainings they provide.