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]

Kathryn Roberts

Interim 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

The School Committee subscribes to the fullest extent to the principle of the dignity of all people and of their labors and will take action to ensure that any individual within the HPS District who is responsible for hiring and/or personnel supervision understands that applicants are employed, assigned, and promoted without regard to their race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, homeless status for students, physical and intellectual differences, pregnancy or pregnancy related condition, veteran status or Foster care status is expressly prohibited.

Every available opportunity will be taken in order to assure a diverse workforce and that each applicant for a position is selected on the basis of qualifications, merit, and ability.

LEGAL REF.:  M.G.L. 151B:4;

BESE Regulations 603 CMR 26:00

CROSS REF.:  AC, Nondiscrimination

Anti-Harassment

The HPS Districts will promote and maintain an environment that is free from all forms of harassment. The most productive and satisfying environment is one in which 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 relationships and causes serious harm to the productivity, efficiency and stability of the HPS District.

Harassment of any kind including but not limited to harassment on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, homeless status for students, physical and intellectual differences, pregnancy or pregnancy related condition, veteran status or Foster care status is expressly prohibited. Harassment on any basis exists whenever the conduct interferes with or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment. All individuals have a right to an environment free from discrimination and harassing conduct.

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

Any person in the District, including staff, parents, volunteers, students, and visitors is personally responsible for:

–  Ensuring that their conduct does not harass any student or other staff or applicant for employment, or other individual in the workplace or school;

–  Parents/Guardians and volunteers are personally responsible for ensuring that their conduct does not harass any student, 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 they possess 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 Staff

For any alleged harassment violations between School Department staff, the Superintendent or designee is vested with the authority and responsibility of processing or referring to an appropriate administrator or one of the Town Grievance Officers.

Town Grievance Officers: 
Human Resources Director(781) 804-2479
Assistant Town Administrator(781) 804-2401
Public Health Nurse(781) 804-2371

SEXUAL HARASSMENT

All persons associated with the HPS District including, but not necessarily limited to, the School Committee, staff, and students, are expected to conduct themselves at all times so as to provide an atmosphere free from sexual harassment. Any person who engages in sexual harassment while acting as a member of the school community will be in violation of this policy. Further, any retaliation against an individual who has complained about sexual harassment or retaliation against individuals for cooperating in an investigation of a sexual harassment complaint is similarly unlawful and will not be tolerated.

The Committee takes allegations of sexual harassment seriously, and will respond promptly to complaints of sexual harassment. Where it is determined that such inappropriate conduct has occurred, the Committee will act promptly to eliminate the conduct and impose such corrective action as is necessary, including disciplinary action where appropriate.

Please note that while this policy sets forth goals of promoting a workplace and school environment that is free of sexual harassment, the policy is not designed or intended to limit the Committee´s authority to discipline or take remedial action for workplace or school conduct which is deemed unacceptable, regardless of whether that conduct satisfies the definition of sexual harassment.

Definition of Sexual Harassment:  Unwelcome sexual advances; requests for sexual favors; and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature may constitute sexual harassment where:

1.  Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of a person´s employment or educational development.

2.  Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment or education decisions affecting such individual.

3.  Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual´s work or educational performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment.

The Grievance Officer:     [Title IX Officer, 220 Central St. Hingham, MA 02043 781-741-1500]

The Superintendent will annually appoint a sexual harassment grievance officer who will be vested with the authority and responsibility of processing all sexual harassment complaints in accordance with the procedure set out below:

Complaint Procedure:

1.  Any member of the school community who believes that they have been subjected to sexual harassment will report the incident (s) to the grievance officer. All complaints shall be investigated promptly and resolved as soon as possible.

2.  The grievance officer will attempt to resolve the problem in an informal manner through the following process:

The grievance officer will confer with the charging party in order to obtain a clear understanding of that party´s statement of the facts, and may interview any witnesses.

a.  The grievance officer will then attempt to meet with the charged party in order to obtain their response to the complaint.

b.  The grievance officer will hold as many meetings with the parties as is necessary to establish the facts.

c.  On the basis of the grievance officer´s perception of the situation they may:

•  Attempt to resolve the matter informally through reconciliation.

•  Report the incident and transfer the record to the Superintendent or designee, and notify the parties by certified mail.

3.  After reviewing the record made by the grievance officer, the Superintendent or designee may attempt to gather any more evidence necessary to decide the case, and thereafter impose any sanctions deemed appropriate, including a recommendation to the Committee for termination or expulsion. At this stage of the proceedings the parties may present witnesses and other evidence, and may also be represented. The parties, to the extent permissible by law, shall be informed of the disposition of the complaint. All matters involving sexual harassment complaints will remain confidential to the extent possible. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred, the Committee will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct.

4.  The grievance officer, upon request, will provide the charging party with government agencies that handle sexual harassment matters.

LEGAL REFS.:  Title VII, Section 703, Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended 45

Federal Regulation 74676 issued by EEO Commission

Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. 1681 et seq. (Title IX)

Board of Education 603 CMR 26:00

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

As required by law, the HPS District will work with homeless children and youth and unaccompanied youth1 (collectively, “homeless students”) as well as their parents/guardians to provide stability in school attendance and other services. Special attention will be given to ensuring the enrollment and attendance of homeless students not currently attending school. Homeless students will be provided District services for which they are eligible, including pre-school programs, Title I, similar state programs, special education, bilingual education, vocational and technical education programs, gifted and talented programs, school nutrition programs, summer programming and extracurricular activities.

Homeless students are defined as lacking a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, including:

1.  Sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or similar reason;
2.  Living in motels, hotels, trailer parks or camping grounds due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
3.  Living in emergency or transitional shelters;
4.  Being abandoned in hospitals;
5.  Living in public or private places not designed for or ordinarily used as regular sleeping accommodations for human beings;
6.  Living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, transportation stations or similar settings; and
7.  Migratory children living in conditions described in the previous examples.

Students Remaining in Schools of Origin

It is presumed to be in the best interest of homeless students to remain in their schools of origin, i.e. the school that the student was attending at the time they became homeless, or the last school the student attended prior to becoming homeless. Homeless students may continue to attend their school of origin for as long as they remain homeless or until the end of the academic year in which they obtain permanent housing. For homeless students who complete the final grade level served by the school of origin, the term “school of origin” shall also include the receiving school in the same school district educating students at the next grade level.

Homeless students are entitled to transportation comparable to that provided for all other students attending school in the District. The District will transport students who are sheltered or temporarily residing within the District to the students´ school of origin.  For homeless students attending a school of origin located outside the District in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing, the District in which the school of origin is located will coordinate with the district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing to provide the transportation services necessary for the student, and these districts will divide the cost equally. Formerly homeless students who find permanent housing mid-school year will continue to receive transportation services until the end of the school year.

Students Enrolling in District Where Sheltered or Temporarily Residing

Parents/guardians may elect to enroll homeless students in the school district in which the student is sheltered or temporarily residing, rather than having the student remain in the school of origin. Enrollment changes for homeless students should take place immediately.

If homeless students are unable to provide written proof of their shelter or temporary residence in the district, the homeless liaison will work with the family seeking enrollment to determine homelessness. Information regarding a homeless student´s living arrangement shall be considered a student education record, and not directory information. Records containing information about the homeless student´s living arrangement may not be disclosed without the consent of the parent/guardian or satisfaction of another student-privacy related exemption.

If the student does not have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be permitted to enroll under a personal exception. Students and families should be encouraged to obtain current  immunization records as soon as possible, and the District liaison is directed to assist. Emergency contact information is required at the time of enrollment consistent with District policies, including compliance with the state’s address confidentiality program when necessary. After enrollment, the District will immediately request available records from the student’s previous school.

Attendance rights by living in attendance areas, other student assignment policies, or intra and inter-district choice options are available to homeless families on the same terms as families who reside in the District. Accordingly, the District will provide transportation services to school in a manner comparable to the transportation provided for all other students in the District.

Dispute Resolution 

If the District disagrees with a parent/guardian´s decision to keep a student enrolled in the school of origin and considers enrollment in the district where the student is sheltered or temporarily residing to be in the student´s best interest, the District will explain to the parent/guardian, in writing and in a language the parent/guardian can understand,2 the rationale for its determination and provide parent/guardian with written notice of their rights to appeal the District´s determination to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education3.  During the pendency of any such appeal, the student should remain enrolled in the school selected by the parent/guardian, receiving transportation to school and access to other available services and programs. 

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education´s Advisory on Homeless Education Assistance contains additional information about educating homeless students and the appeal process.  This advisory is available at the following link:  http://www.doe.mass.edu/mv/haa/mckinney-vento.docx

Homeless Liaison    

The Superintendent shall designate an appropriate staff person to be the District’s liaison for homeless students and their families. The district’s liaison for homeless students and their families shall coordinate with local social service agencies that provide services to homeless children and youths and their families; other school districts on issues of transportation and records transfers; and state and local housing agencies responsible for comprehensive housing affordability strategies. This coordination includes providing public notice of the educational rights of homeless students in locations such as schools, family shelters and soup kitchens. The District’s liaison will also review and recommend amendments to District policies that may act as barriers to the enrollment of homeless students. The liaison shall ensure District staff receive professional development and other support on issues involving homeless students.

LEGAL REFS.:  The McKinney-Vento Act and Title I, Part A, as Amended by the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015

This policy was updated and approved by the Hingham School Committee on: 5/10/21 //  5/23/22

Students in Foster Care

The purpose of this policy is to ensure the educational stability of students in foster care.  Educational stability has a lasting impact on students’ academic achievement and wellbeing, and the School Committee is committed to supporting all efforts to ensure that students in foster care have equal access to high-quality, stable educational experiences from preschool (if offered) through high school graduation.

Irrespective of the location of a foster care placement, students in foster care will 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 the student resides in foster care. Enrollment of students in the district where they reside in foster care will take place immediately upon such a determination.

The District has designated a point of contact for students in foster care. The District and the point of contact will collaborate with DCF to ensure that students can access transportation and the other services to which they may be entitled.

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 (or, if different, the person authorized to make educational decisions on behalf of the student), the school and district of origin, and (when appropriate) the local district where the student is placed. Best interest determinations should focus on the needs of each individual student and account for unique factors about the student and their foster care placement. Every effort should be made to reach agreement regarding the appropriate school placement of a student in foster care; however, DCF will finalize the best interest determination if the relevant parties cannot agree on the best school for the student to attend. 

The District can 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. To the extent feasible and appropriate, the District will ensure that a child remains in their school of origin while the disputes are being resolved to minimize disruptions and reduce the number of moves between schools.

Transportation

The district of origin must collaborate with DCF on how transportation will be arranged and provided 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 parents/guardians, 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 immediately enrolled in the district in which the student resides in foster care. During enrollment of students in foster care, DCF representatives will present the district with a form indicating that the student is in foster care, along with a state-agency identification badge.

If the student does not have immediate access to immunization records, the student shall be permitted to enroll under a personal exception. Students and families should be encouraged to obtain current immunization records as soon as possible, and the District liaison is directed to assist. Emergency contact information is required at the time of enrollment consistent with District policies, including compliance with the state’s address confidentiality program when necessary. After enrollment, the District will immediately request available records from the student’s previous school.

Attendance rights by living in attendance areas, other student assignment policies, or intra and inter-district choice options are available to students in foster care (homeless families) on the same terms as families who reside in the District. Accordingly, the District will provide transportation services to school in a manner comparable to the transportation provided for all other students in the District.

LEGAL REFS:  Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)

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

This policy was updated and approved by the Hingham School Committee on: 5/10/21 //  5/23/22

Military-Connected Families

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/guardians being on active duty in the U.S. Armed Services, the District supports and will implement its responsibilities as outlined in the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunity for Military Children Interstate Compact. The District believes it is appropriate to remove barriers to educational success imposed on students of military families resulting from frequent moves required by parents’/guardians’ military deployment.

Definitions

Students of military families:  School aged students, enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade, 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:  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:  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.

Eligible students are children of military families as well as the children of veterans who have been severely injured and medically discharged, and children of active duty personnel who died on active duty. Children of retired active duty personnel are also eligible to receive services for one year following the discharge due to severe injury, or the retirement or death of an active military parent. The Interstate Compact does not apply to children of inactive Guard or Reserves, veterans and retired personnel not included above, or U.S. Department of Defense personnel and other federal civil service employees and contract employees.

The District’s responsibilities to eligible students 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.

•  Upon enrollment of an eligible student, the receiving school must request official records and the sending schools shall respond within 10 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 initially 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 and space is available. The receiving schools must also initially honor placement of like programs to those of the student in the sending state, including, but not limited to, Gifted and Talented programs, and English as a Second Language programs. Receiving schools are not precluded from performing subsequent evaluation to ensure the appropriate placement and continued enrollment of the student in courses and programs.

•  In compliance with federal law, the District will assume financial and programmatic responsibility for the special education programs of students with existing IEPs drafted in other states.

•  As appropriate, the District will exercise the right to waive prerequisites for all courses and programs, while also maintaining its right to re-evaluate the student to ensure continued enrollment, also as deemed appropriate.

•  Students of active duty personnel shall have additional excused absences, as necessary, 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 continue to attend the school in which they were enrolled while living with the custodial parent/guardian, without any tuition fee imposed.

•  The District 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 to facilitate the on-time graduation of the student in accordance with Interstate Compact provisions.

LEGAL REFS:  M.G. L. 15E;

Bullying & Harassment

The School Committee is committed to providing a safe, positive and productive educational  environment where students can achieve the highest academic standards. No student shall be  subjected to harassment, intimidation, bullying, or cyber-bullying. 

“Bullying” as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 370 is the repeated use by one or more students or staff of a  written, verbal, or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture, or any combination  thereof, directed at a target that:

• causes physical or emotional harm to the target or damage to the target´s property;hostile   o places the target in reasonable fear of harm to themselves, or of damage to their property;  o creates a hostile environment at school for the target;
•  infringes on the rights of the target at school; or
•  materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a   school.

“Cyber-bullying” as defined in M.G.L. c. 71, § 370 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
•  photo-electronic or photo-optical system, including, but not limited to, electronic mail,  internet communications, instant messages or facsimile communications.

Cyber-bullying shall also 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 content or messages, if the creation or impersonation creates any of the conditions  enumerated in the definition of bullying.

Cyber-bullying shall also 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 cyber-bullying may occur in and out of school, during and after school hours, at  home and in locations outside of the home. When bullying and cyber-bullying are alleged, the  full cooperation and assistance of parents/guardians and families are expected.

For the purpose of this policy, whenever the term bullying is used it is to denote either bullying,  or cyber-bullying.

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 HPS District; or, o Through the use of technology or an electronic device owned, leased or used by the  District;

Bullying and cyber-bullying 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 District if the act or acts in question:

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

Hingham Public Schools Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

The Superintendent and/or designee shall oversee the development of a prevention and  intervention plan, in consultation with all District stakeholders, which may include teachers, staff,  professional support personnel, school volunteers, administrators, community representatives,  local law enforcement agencies, students, parents/guardians, consistent with the requirements  of this policy, as well as state and federal laws. The bullying prevention and intervention plan  shall be reviewed and updated at least biennially and posted on the District website.

The Principal is responsible for the implementation and oversight of the bullying prevention and  implementation plan within their school.

As required by M.G.L. c. 71B section 3, whenever the evaluation of the Individualized Education  Program team indicates that the child has a disability that affects social skills development or that  the child is vulnerable to bullying, harassment or teasing because of the child’s disability, the  Individualized Education Program shall address the skills and proficiencies needed to avoid and  respond to bullying, harassment or teasing. Neither a skill deficit nor the existence of an IEP or 504 plan will be used as either a justification or bullying or as a rationale for reduced consequences for aggressors.

Reporting

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

Each school shall have a means for anonymous reporting by students of incidents of bullying.  An anonymous reporting form shall be posted on the District website. No formal disciplinary  action shall be taken solely on the basis of an anonymous report.

Any student who knowingly makes a false accusation of bullying shall be subject to disciplinary  action.

Parents/guardians, or members of the community, are encouraged to report an incident of  bullying as soon as possible.

Staff shall immediately report any instance of bullying they have witnessed or become aware of  to the Principal or designee.

Investigation Procedures

The Principal or designee, upon receipt of a viable report, shall promptly contact the  parents/guardians of a student who has been the alleged target or alleged perpetrator of  bullying. The actions being taken to prevent further acts of bullying shall be discussed.

The Principal or designee shall promptly investigate the report of bullying, using a  Bullying/Cyber-bullying Report Form which may include interviewing the alleged target, alleged  perpetrator, staff, students and/or witnesses.

Staff shall assess an alleged target´s needs for protection and create and implement a safety  plan that shall restore a sense of safety for that student.

Confidentiality shall be used to protect students who report bullying, provide information during  an investigation of bullying, or are witness to or have reliable information about an act of  bullying.

If the Principal or designee determines that bullying has occurred they shall take appropriate  disciplinary action and if it is believed that criminal charges may be pursued against the  perpetrator, the Principal shall consult with the school´s resource officer and the Superintendent  to determine if criminal charges are warranted. If it is determined that criminal charges are  warranted, the local law enforcement agency shall be notified.

The investigation shall be completed within 14 school days from the date of the report. At a  minimum the Principal or their designee shall contact the parents/guardians as to the status of  the investigation on a weekly basis. The parents/guardians shall be contacted upon completion  of the investigation and informed of the results, including whether the allegations were found to  be factual, whether a violation of this policy was found, and whether disciplinary action has or  shall be taken.

Disciplinary actions for students who have committed an act of bullying or retaliation shall be in  accordance with District disciplinary policies.

Each school shall document any incident of bullying that is reported per this policy and a file  shall be maintained by the Principal or designee. A monthly report shall be provided to the  Superintendent.

Confidentiality shall be maintained to the extent consistent with the District´s obligations under  law.

Retaliation

Retaliation against a person who reports bullying, provides information during an investigation of  bullying, or witnesses or has reliable information about bullying, shall be prohibited.

Target Assistance

The District shall provide counseling or referral to appropriate services, including guidance,  academic intervention, and protection to students, both targets and perpetrators, affected by  bullying, as necessary.

Training and Assessment

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

Age-appropriate, evidence-based instruction on bullying prevention shall be incorporated into  the curriculum for all K to 12 students.

Publication and Notice

Annual written notice of the relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan  shall be provided to students and their parents/guardians, in age-appropriate terms.

Annual written notice of the bullying prevention and intervention plan shall be provided to all  staff. Staff shall be trained annually on the bullying prevention and intervention plan applicable  to the school.

Relevant sections of the bullying prevention and intervention plan relating to the duties of staff  shall be included in the school employee handbook.

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

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

Federal Regulation 74676 issued by EEO Commission

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972

603 CMR 26.00

M.G.L. 71:37O265:4343A268:13B269:14A

REFERENCES: Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education´s Model  Bullying Prevention and Intervention Plan

CROSS REFS.: AC, Nondiscrimination

ACAB, Sexual Harassment

JBA, Student-to-Student Harassment JIC, Student Discipline

JICFA, Prohibition of Hazing

This policy was updated and approved by the Hingham School Committee on 6/06/22

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 accommodations 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.