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A-150-AR: Discrimination and Harassment


  • A-150
  • A-150-BR
  • B-150 Appeals
  • D-180 Resolution of Complaints/Concerns regarding Division Staff
  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom
  • Alberta Human Rights Act
  • Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FOIP)


The superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate is expected to use the following definitions when implementing this policy. It is important to note that behaviour giving rise to a complaint need not be intentional in order to be considered harassment or discrimination. It is sufficient that the offender knows, or ought reasonably to know, that the behaviour is offensive, unwelcome, and/or discriminatory.

  1. Definitions
    1. Discrimination is the denial of individual rights and freedoms in a manner which contravenes the Alberta Human Rights Act, and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. The Alberta Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religious beliefs or lack of, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, age, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status, sexual orientation of that person or class of persons.
    2. Harassment refers to unwelcome and offensive behaviour that consists of objectionable conduct, comment, material or display that demeans, belittles, intimidates or humiliates another person.  Harassment may include, but is not limited to, references related to age, nationality or ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation, physical/mental disability or race.  It may involve abuse of authority but does not include the legitimate exercise of an individual’s supervisory or administrative authority.
    3. Sexual Harassment is any unwelcome behaviour that is sexual in nature. It includes, but is not limited to, behaviour such as unwanted touching (e.g. pinching, patting, rubbing), leering, sexist jokes, the display of sexually suggestive material, derogatory, or degrading comments, sexually suggestive gestures and unwelcome propositions, innuendoes, demands or inquiries of a sexual nature. Unwanted sexual advances, unwanted requests for sexual acts, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
      1. such conduct undermines another individual's personal dignity by causing embarrassment, discomfort, humiliation or offence; or
      2. such conduct interferes with an individual's work performance or learning opportunities by creating an intimidating/hostile work or learning environment; or
      3. submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term of condition of employment or educational services; or
      4. submission to, or rejection of, such conduct affects decisions regarding that individual's employment or educational advancement including matters such as promotion, salary, benefits, job security, grades, or employment references.
  2. Administrator Responsibilities
    1. Not all reported incidents of discrimination or harassment require formal complaints before being addressed. One example might include the responsibility to monitor and enforce those parts of the policy that prohibit the display of pornographic or exploitive pictures, cartoons and graffiti in schools or on division premises. This includes pictures and/or messages on clothing. When a complaint is received, administrators must:
      1. encourage and, when appropriate, facilitate the use of Healthy Interactions for complaint resolution (Board Policy D-180);
      2. ensure there is fair treatment for all parties involved and follow the principles of natural justice;
      3. take appropriate corrective action;
      4. protect the complainant against possible reprisals; and
      5. direct or assist, if required, in the fact-finding process.
    2. In the case of complaints involving students, administrators must consider the age of students and special circumstances to determine whether parental/guardian involvement is required.
  3. Informal Complaint Process
    1. When the superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate receives an informal or verbal complaint, the following actions should be taken:
      1. provide the complainant and the respondent with information regarding discrimination and harassment, including board policy, regulations, and complaint resolution mechanisms;
      2. assist the complainant in speaking to the respondent directly, or speak to the respondent on the complainant's behalf to outline the allegations and attempt to resolve the complaint informally;
      3. advise students, employees, parents/guardians, volunteers, or a member of the public that assistance with complaint resolution is available through appointment of a neutral third party if requested, and to students through a teacher, counselor, or administrator;
      4. outline issues of confidentiality and limits to this when a complaint is received; and
      5. monitor the status of the complaint to see that all efforts are made to satisfactorily resolve it within 30 days from the date the complaint is received.
    2. A staff member involved in a complaint is encouraged to consult with a union or association representative to obtain legal advice. A student is encouraged to consult with a parent/guardian, teacher, counselor, administrator or to obtain legal advice.
    3. If a complainant indicates that a specific behaviour is offensive, unwelcome and/or intimidating, it is expected that the behaviour will be discontinued immediately.
    4. If a complainant confronts the respondent directly and resolves the problem at that level, no sanctions are applied by the organization.
    5. If the superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate is asked to speak to the respondent and the behaviour appears to be in violation of board policy, a written warning may be issued indicating that such behaviour is unacceptable. Failure to discontinue the behaviour may result in a formal discrimination or harassment complaint.
    6. If the superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate is unable to resolve the complaint, the complainant and respondent will be asked whether they are willing to enter into voluntary mediation in an attempt to resolve the complaint satisfactorily. Through the mediation process, a mutually acceptable resolution of the discrimination or harassment complaint may be worked out in which an educational and preventive focus is emphasized rather than sanctions or punishment. The goal is to ensure that the discrimination or harassment ceases and does not recur in the future. If both parties are willing to enter into mediation, a neutral third party acceptable to the complainant and the respondent will be appointed to serve as mediator. If the informal complaint is not resolved through mediation, a formal complaint can be filed. 
  4. Formal Complaint Resolution Process
    1. A formal complaint consists of a signed written statement outlining the charges, describing the specific incident or incidents, the dates (if available) and any witnesses who may have been present.
    2. Complainants are encouraged to file their complaints within one year (365 days) from the date of the incident(s) as cited in the letter of complaint.
    3. The complainant is responsible for notifying the person in authority if a complaint is filed with the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission, a union or association, the police or if civil court action is initiated while the charges are still under review by St. Albert Public Schools. The division may elect to process the complaint or stay the procedures pending the outcome of another investigation.
    4. A formal complaint will be investigated by the superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate providing no more than one year (365 days) has elapsed since the incident(s) outlined in the complaint. Under special circumstances, the superintendent may elect to consider a complaint received more than twelve months after the incident(s).
    5. The superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate who receives the complaint will verify that the allegations may represent a violation of board policy and regulations.
    6. The superintendent, principal, site supervisor, or designate who receives the harassment or discrimination complaint is responsible for notifying the respondent and the superintendent that a formal complaint has been received. The superintendent will be provided with a copy of the formal complaint and an outline of the procedures for resolving the complaint.
    7. An individual will be appointed by the superintendent or designate to conduct an investigation regarding the harassment complaint.
    8. The complainant and respondent will have an opportunity to provide oral or written submissions to the investigator and to respond to the other party's submission. The investigator will have the right to ask questions of the complainant, respondent, and anyone else believed to have relevant information.
    9. The complainant and respondent may each have someone present to provide advice and assistance (e.g. legal counsel, union representative, colleague, parent).
    10. The investigator's findings will be detailed in a report to the superintendent or designate.
    11. Every effort will be made to resolve a formal complaint within  90 days of the date on which the complaint was filed.
    12. If the results of the investigation support the allegations in the letter of complaint, a range of sanctions will be considered by the superintendent or designate.
    13. The complainant or the respondent may request that the   decision provided by a designate of the superintendent be reviewed by the superintendent.
    14. If the results of the investigation do not support the allegations, the complaint will be dismissed by the superintendent or designate and a letter will be issued indicating that the respondent has been cleared of all allegations. An individual who has been cleared of allegations of harassment or discrimination has the option of requesting that a copy of a letter to that effect be placed in the personnel file or student’s cumulative record.
    15. If evidence indicates that the complainant knowingly and willfully made false allegations in an attempt to cause harm to the respondent, a range of sanctions may be imposed on the complainant.
    16. Either the complainant or the respondent may appeal to the board of trustees if dissatisfied with the procedures or resolution of a formal complaint. This appeal must be filed to the board of trustees within 30 days of receiving the superintendents review decision.
    17. Either party has the right to seek civil redress through the courts or to file a complaint with their union, association, or the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission. A complaint can be submitted to the Alberta Human Rights and Citizenship Commission providing that it is filed within the time limits imposed by the legislation.
  5. Retaliation
    1. Mechanisms for addressing harassment are open to all individuals within St. Albert Public Schools. No student, staff member, parent/guardian or volunteer within St. Albert Public Schools shall take retaliatory action with the intent of dissuading or punishing an individual for participating in the complaint resolution process (i.e. complainant, witnesses, respondent, investigator). Sanctions may be imposed for retaliation.
  6. Record Keeping
    1. A secured file will be created by the person in authority which includes:
      1. the name(s) of the complainant(s) and respondent(s);
      2. the nature of the alleged harassment or discrimination; and
      3. a record of all meetings which specifies dates, attendees, and issues discussed.
    2. Final reports, and any record of associated sanctions, will be kept in personnel files or the student’s cumulative record for a minimum of two years.  At that time, depending upon the circumstances, these reports/records will be either destroyed or retained for such period as legal counsel advises.