Title IX and Non-Discrimination Notice
Title IX and Non-Discrimination Notice
Alabama Virtual Academy at Eufaula City Schools (ALVA) is committed to providing an environment that is free from all forms of sex discrimination, which includes sex discrimination, sexual harassment (including sexual violence), as regulated by Title IX, and to ensuring the accessibility of appropriate grievance procedures for addressing all complaints regarding all forms of sex discrimination and sexual harassment. ALVA reserves the authority to independently deal with sex discrimination and sexual harassment whenever becoming aware of their potential existence, regardless of whether a complaint has been lodged in accordance with the grievance procedure. ALVA reserves the authority to address sex discrimination and sexual harassment even if the same, similar, or related circumstances are also being addressed under another policy, whether of ALVA or another entity. Furthermore, ALVA reserves the right to pursue sexual misconduct violations that fall outside of the scope of Title IX based on ALVA’s judgment that the alleged actions are contrary to any part of its code of conduct or employee handbook.
Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment means conduct of a sexual nature that meets any of following:
- Sex discrimination occurs when a person, because of their sex, is denied participation in or the benefits of any education program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.
- Sexual harassment means conduct on the basis of sex that satisfies one or more of the following:
- A school employee conditioning education benefits on participation in unwelcome sexual conduct (i.e., quid pro quo); or
- Unwelcome conduct that a reasonable person would determine is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the school’s education program or activity; or
- Sexual assault (as defined in the Clery Act), dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking as defined in the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Sexual harassment can be verbal, nonverbal, or physical.
ALVA does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to designated youth groups (U.S. Department of Education, 2010). ALVA does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities and provides equal access to education, applications, and employment.
Any individual who believes they may have experienced any form of sex discrimination or sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, disability, or age or who believes they have observed such actions taking place, may receive information and assistance regarding the ALVA’s policies and reporting procedures from any of the following:
Title IX Coordinator
U.S. Department of Education
Office for Civil Rights
Lyndon Baines Johnson Department of Education Bldg.
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20202-1100
Title IX Grievance Procedure at ALVA
Any student, parent/guardian, current or prospective employee or other individual within the school community who believes they have experienced and/or observed and/or is aware of sex discrimination or sexual harassment (“grievant”) should promptly report the matter to ALVA’s Title IX Coordinator, a school counselor, principal, or other school administrator.
A “formal complaint” is a document filed by a complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging sexual harassment against a respondent and requesting that the school investigate the allegation of sexual harassment. A “nonformal complaint” is any notification regardless of by mail, telephone, or email not utilizing the formal complaint form or not signed by a complainant or by the Title IX Coordinator.
Response to a Formal Complaint
In response to a formal complaint, ALVA will follow the defined grievance process within this procedure. With or without a formal complaint, ALVA, if it has actual knowledge of sexual harassment against a person in an education program or activity, will take certain steps such as offering supportive measures to the complainant to address student safety and provide equal access to the education program or activity while preserving the recipient’s discretion to address facts or circumstances present by a particular situation.
Complaints of alleged sex discrimination, including sexual harassment, brought forth by students, parents/guardians, current or prospective employees, and other members of the school community will be promptly investigated in an impartial and in as confidential a manner as reasonably possible so that corrective action can be taken if necessary.
ALVA will never use or attempt to use questions or evidence that is protected by a legally recognized privilege, unless the person holding the privilege waives the privilege.
ALVA cannot unilaterally access or consider a party’s records, if those records are made or maintained by a physician, psychiatrist, or other recognized professional and made for the purpose of providing treatment to the party. These records can only be accessed with a party’s voluntary written consent.
During the grievance process, questions or evidence about the complainant’s prior sexual behavior—even with the respondent accused of sexual harassment, and even in the cases where the respondent already possesses evidence about sexual history—are never deemed relevant, with only two narrow and limited exceptions.
The grievance procedures will be as follows:
1. It is the express policy of ALVA to encourage the prompt reporting of claims of sex discrimination and/or sexual harassment. Once the school has “actual knowledge” of sexual harassment or allegations of sexual harassment, the school will respond within 24 hours. “Actual knowledge” means notice or allegations received by Title IX Coordinator, school official with authority to institute corrective measures on behalf of ALVA, or any school employee. ALVA must treat a person as a complainant any time the school has notice that the person is alleged to be the victim of conduct that could constitute sexual harassment (regardless of whether the person themselves reported, or a third party reported the sexual harassment), and irrespective of whether the complainant ever chooses to file a formal complaint. Further, it should be noted, there is no time limit or statute of limitations on a complainant’s decision to file a formal complaint.
2. At the time the complaint is filed, the grievant shall promptly be given a copy of these grievance procedures and a description of the supportive measures offered by ALVA. A formal complaint form for such purpose can be found on our website and will also be provided to the grievant upon notification of such complaint. It is the responsibility of the Title IX Coordinator or designee to explain these procedures and measures and answer any questions anyone has. As it pertains to students, in appropriate circumstances, due to the age of the student making the complaint, a parent/guardian or school administrator may be permitted to fill out the form on the student’s behalf. In addition, if the grievant is a minor student, the Title IX Coordinator should consider whether a child abuse report should be completed in accordance with ALVA’s policy on the Reports of Suspected Child Abuse or Neglect of Children.
3. The Title IX Coordinator or designee shall investigate the complaint as promptly as practicable but in no case more than ten (10) working days from the date the complaint was received. The Title IX Coordinator or designee shall have the complete cooperation of all persons during the investigation.
4. The Title IX Coordinator will provide written notice to the parties identified in the complaint. The written notice will include the allegations and facts that may constitute sexual harassment, the presumption that the accused did not engage in prohibited conduct, notice that parties are entitled to an advisor of their choice, notice that parties can request to inspect and review certain evidence, a copy of the code of conduct, false statements (if any), the opportunity to engage in informal resolution, the right to appeal, the range of possible remedies and disciplinary sanctions following determination of responsibility, and which standard of evidence will be used to reach a determination.
5. The Title IX Coordinator or designee shall meet with all individuals reasonably believed to have relevant information, including the grievant and the individual(s) against whom the complaint was lodged and any witnesses to the conduct. The investigation shall be carried out by the school discreetly, maintaining confidentiality insofar as reasonably possible while conducting an effective investigation. The investigator will objectively evaluate all relevant evidence regardless of who it favors or disfavors. Where facts are in conflict, credibility determinations can be made. However, credibility determinations will not be based on a person’s status as a complainant, respondent, or witness. Following the evaluation, the investigator will prepare an investigative report and will share the report with all parties before a determination regarding responsibility is reached.
6. Prior to sharing the investigation report, the Title IX Coordinator must provide all parties a copy of the evidence used to form the basis of the report and allow all parties 10 days to submit a written response. All written responses received will be objectively reviewed and considered by ALVA’s investigator before issuing the report. Further, the Title IX Coordinator must afford each party the opportunity to submit written, relevant questions that a party wants asked of any party or witness, provide each party with the answers, and allow for additional, limited follow-up questions from each party.
7. Finally, ALVA’s identified decision-maker, not the Title IX Coordinator or investigator, will make a determination and provide written determination of responsibility to both parties simultaneously. The written determination will include:
- Identification of the allegations potentially constituting sexual harassment as defined in §106.30; 2027
- A description of the procedural steps taken from the receipt of the formal complaint through the determination, including any notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to gather other evidence, and hearings held;
- Findings of fact supporting the determination;
- Conclusions regarding the application of the recipient’s code of conduct to the facts;
- A statement of, and rationale for, the result as to each allegation, including a determination regarding responsibility, any disciplinary sanctions the recipient imposes on the respondent, and whether remedies designed to restore or preserve equal access to the recipient’s education program or activity will be provided by the recipient to the complainant; and
- The recipient’s procedures and permissible bases for the complainant and respondent to appeal.
8. If after an investigation, the decision-maker determines that there is reasonable cause to believe that sex discrimination or sexual harassment in violation of the school’s policy has occurred, ALVA shall take appropriate corrective action to ensure that the conduct ceases and will not recur. The Title IX Coordinator or designee shall also provide and/or arrange for support services that are individualized, non-disciplinary, non-punitive, protect the safety of all parties and educational environment, deter harassment, and are not unreasonably burdensome. Such support services may include, no contact orders, academic accommodations, health and mental health services, disability services, confidential counseling, or training where appropriate.
ALVA will consistently apply the same “standard of evidence” in all formal complaints in making a determination of responsibility. Per Title IX regulations, there are two “standard of evidence” options:
- Preponderance of evidence—A majority of the evidence proves a fact; mathematically, it would be more than 50% of the evidence.
- Clear and convincing evidence—A heightened standard which requires more than a preponderance of evidence to prove a fact. One definition of clear and convincing evidence is something that is highly and substantially more probable than not.
ALVA will apply the following “standard of evidence”—Clear and convincing evidence. The same standard of evidence for formal complaints will be applied for formal complaints against all parties, including but not limited to students, employees, and teachers.
Disciplinary Sanctions and Remedies
A range of different disciplinary sanctions or remedies may be implemented by the school following a determination of responsibility. Due to the unique nature of the situation and individual needs, the following is a non-exhaustive list of possible actions:
- Support services may be warranted and may include, no contact orders, academic accommodations, health and mental health services, disability services, confidential counseling or training where appropriate
- Verbal or written warning
- Altered schedules to eliminate interaction opportunities
- Exclusions from certain school activities
- Access to recorded class sessions in lieu of live participation
- Suspension or expulsion
Under § 106.45(b)(1)(viii), all parties have the right to appeal for specified reasons. Appeals must be submitted within 30 school days following the initial determination. This equal right amongst the accuser and accused will promote a fair process that will benefit everyone and ensure parity between the parties. Thus, when a complainant or a respondent disagrees with a decision of responsibility, they have the right to appeal on the basis of the following conditions:
(1) procedural irregularity that affected the outcome;
(2) new evidence that was not reasonably available when the determination of responsibility was made that could affect the outcome; or
(3) the Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or decision-maker had a conflict of interest or bias that affected the outcome.
Upon receipt of a written appeal request with evidence of one or more of the above conditions, the Title IX Coordinator will:
- notify the parties in writing and implement appeal procedures equally,
- provide both parties the equal opportunity to submit a written statement of support or disagreement to the appeal,
- identify a new and impartial decision-maker to review the original and newly submitted evidence, and
- after reviewing the new written statements, the new decision-maker will issue a decision to the parties simultaneously within 20 school days.
The determination regarding responsibility becomes final either on the date that the investigator provides the parties with the written determination of the result of the appeal, if an appeal is filed, or if an appeal is not filed, the date on which an appeal would no longer be considered timely.
Where deadlines are set forth in the grievance process, a temporary delay of the grievance process or the limited extension of timeframes for good cause are permitted with written notice by the Title IX Coordinator to the complainant and the respondent of the delay or extension and the reasons for the action. Good cause may include, but are not limited to, considerations such as the absence of a party or a witness; concurrent law enforcement activity; or the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities.
The Title IX Coordinator shall make all records of Title IX complaints and their disposition for a period of seven years.
Retaliation against an individual for filing a complaint or cooperating in an investigation is strictly prohibited, and ALVA will take actions necessary to prevent such retaliation.
Dissemination of Information
ALVA must provide name, title, contact information of the identified Title IX Coordinator on the school’s website. Further, the school shall notify applicants for admission and employment, students, parents/guardians of elementary and secondary school students, employees, sources of referral of applicants for admission and employment, and all unions or other professional organizations with a collective bargaining agreement with the institution that it does not discriminate on the basis of sex in the educational programs or activities which it operates, and that it is required by Title IX and its administrative regulations not to discriminate in such a manner. The notification shall be made in the form and manner required by law or regulation.
Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)
FERPA provides parents and students over 18 years of age (“eligible students”) certain rights regarding students’ education records, including:
1. The right to inspect and review the student’s education records within 45 days of the day ALVA receives a request for access. To request an inspection and review, the parent or eligible student should submit a written request to the academic administrator that identifies the record(s) they wish to inspect. The academic administrator makes arrangements for access and notifies the parent or eligible student of the time and place where the records may be inspected.
2. The right to request an amendment of the student’s education records that the parent or eligible student believes is inaccurate. Parents or eligible students may ask ALVA to amend a record that they believe is inaccurate. They should write to the academic administrator and clearly identify the part of the record they want changed and specify why it is inaccurate. If ALVA decides not to amend the record as requested by the parent or eligible student, ALVA notifies the parent or eligible student of the decision and advises them of the right to a hearing regarding the request for amendment. Additional information regarding the hearing procedures is provided to the parent or eligible student when notified of the right to a hearing.
3. The right to consent to disclosures of personally identifiable information contained in the student’s education records, except to the extent that FERPA allows disclosure without consent. One exception that permits ALVA to disclose information without consent is when ALVA discloses information to school officials with legitimate educational interests. A school official is a person employed by or contracted to provide services to or designated by the contractor to provide services to ALVA as an administrator, supervisor, instructor, or support staff member (including health or medical staff and law enforcement unit personnel); a person serving on the board of directors of the school; a person or company with whom ALVA has contracted to perform a special task (such as an attorney, auditor, medical consultant, or therapist); or a parent or student serving on an official committee, such as a disciplinary or grievance committee, or assisting another school official in performing his or her tasks. A school official has a legitimate educational interest if the official needs to review an education record to fulfill their professional responsibility. Upon request, ALVA discloses education records without consent to officials of another school district in which a student seeks or intends to enroll.
4. The right to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education concerning alleged failures by ALVA to comply with the requirements of FERPA. The Office that administers FERPA is:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Ave., SW
Washington, DC 20202-4605
5. FERPA requires that ALVA, with certain exceptions, obtain a parent’s or eligible student’s written consent prior to the disclosure of personally identifiable information from a child’s education records. However, ALVA may disclose “directory information” without written consent, unless the parent or eligible student has advised ALVA in writing that he/she does not want all or part of the directory information disclosed. The method for objecting to disclosure of directory information is specified below. The primary purpose of directory information is to allow ALVA to include the following information from education records in certain school publications or disclose it to certain parties. Examples include:
- Shipment of computer and school materials to and from student’s home
- Entry of student enrollment information into a computer database for use by school officials
- Sports activity sheets, such as for wrestling, showing weight and height of team members
6. FERPA permits the disclosure of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from students’ education records, without consent of the parent or eligible student, if the disclosure meets certain conditions found in § 99.31 of the FERPA regulations. Except for disclosures to school officials, disclosures related to some judicial orders or lawfully issued subpoenas, disclosures of directory information and disclosures to the parent or eligible student, §99.32 of the FERPA regulations require the school to record the disclosure. Parents and eligible students have a right to inspect and review the record of disclosures. A school may disclose PII from the education records of a student without obtaining prior written consent of the parents or the eligible student:
- To other school officials, including teachers, within the educational agency or institution whom the school has determined to have legitimate educational interests. This includes contractors, consultants, volunteers or other parties to whom ALVA has outsourced institutional services or functions, provided that the conditions listed in §99.31(a)(1)(i)(B(l)-(a)(1)(i)(B)(3) are met. [§ 99. 31(a)(1)]; and/or
- To officials of another school, school system or institution of postsecondary education where the student seeks or intends to enroll, or where the student is already enrolled if the disclosure is for purposes related to the student’s enrollment or transfer, subject to the requirements of § 99.34. [§ 99.31(a)(2)].
Data Use and Governance Policy
The Alabama State Board of Education’s Data Use and Governance Policy is based upon, but not limited to, maintaining compliance with FERPA. Said policy is also based on the knowledge that the appropriate use of data is essential to accelerating student learning, program and financial effectiveness and efficiency, and policy development.
This policy serves the purpose to ensure that all data collected, managed, stored, transmitted, used, reported, and destroyed by the department is done so in a way to preserve and protect individual and collective privacy rights and ensure confidentiality and security of collected data.
Data Collection Process
The Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) does not collect individual student data directly from students or families. This function is retained at the local school and system level through our state-funded and state-owned student data management system. Local school and system student data is transmitted daily to the state’s data management system from which state and federal reporting is completed. Each student is assigned a unique student identifier upon enrollment into the student management system to ensure compliance with the privacy rights of the student and his or her parents/guardians. No personally identifiable individual student data is shared in either state or federally required reporting.
All data elements collected and transferred to the U. S. Department of Education (USDOE) are based on the reporting requirements contained in EDFacts and include only aggregated data with no personally identifiable data.
View a listing of USDOE EDFacts reports.
This data is used by the USDOE for policy development, planning, and management and monitoring of individual states’ federally funded programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).
Data collected by the ALSDE is maintained within a secure infrastructure environment located within the department and within a remote location for backup. Access to data is limited to pre-identified staff that are granted clearance related to their job responsibilities of federal reporting, state financial management, program assessment, and policy development. Training in data security and student privacy laws is provided to these specific individuals on a regular basis in order to maintain their data use clearance along with a signed Data Use Policy assurance of confidentiality and privacy.
External Data Requests
The ALSDE maintains a managed external data request procedure managed through a Data Governance Committee. Each external data request is measured against a pre-determined set of qualifiers that includes, but are not limited to, applicability to the goals of the Alabama State Board of Education, data availability, report format ability, cost of report development, and adherence to FERPA requirements.
Third Party Data Use Assurances
The ALSDE provides one-way data feeds to approved service providers to carryout goals of the Alabama State Board of Education. These data feeds are sub-sets of the data system limited by executed agreements or individual Memorandums of Use (MOU) that meet all state and federal privacy laws and re-disclosure assurances set by the state.
Local School and School System Data Use Compliance
All of Alabama’s Local Education Agencies (LEAs) shall have a locally adopted student records governance and use policy. These policies and their implementation shall be monitored by the ALSDE as part of our comprehensive monitoring that requires annual assurances of compliance, on-site monitoring on a three-year cycle or more often based on deficiencies noted in annual assurances or prior comprehensive monitoring cycles, and investigations of reported non-compliance activities.
Notification of Rights Under the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA)
PPRA affords parents of elementary and secondary students certain rights regarding the conduct of surveys, collection and use of information for marketing purposes, and certain physical exams. These include, but are not limited to, the right to:
- Consent before students are required to submit to a survey that concerns one or more of the following protected areas (“protected information survey”) if the survey is funded in whole or in part by a program of the USDOE:
1. Political affiliations or beliefs of the student or student’s parent;
2. Mental or psychological problems of the student or student’s family;
3. Sex behavior or attitudes;
4. Illegal, anti-social, self-incriminating, or demeaning behavior;
5. Critical appraisals of others with whom respondents have close family relationships;
6. Legally recognized privileged relationships, such as with lawyers, doctors, or ministers;
7. Religious practices, affiliations, or beliefs of the student or student’s parent; or
8. Income, other than as required by law to determine program eligibility.
- Receive notice and an opportunity to opt a student out of:
1. Any other protected information survey, regardless of funding;
2. Any non-emergency, invasive physical exam or screening required as a condition of attendance, administered by the school or its agent, and not necessary to protect the immediate health and safety of a student, except for hearing, vision, or scoliosis screenings, or any physical exam or screening permitted or required under state law or the Individuals with Disabilities Act; and
3. Activities involving collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the purpose of marketing or selling or otherwise distributing the information to others. (This does not apply to the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for the exclusive purpose of developing, evaluating, or providing educational products or services for, or to, students or educational institutions.)
- Inspect, upon request and before administration or use:
1. Protected information surveys of students and surveys created by a third party;
2. Instruments used to collect personal information from students for any of the above marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes; and
3. Instructional material used as part of the educational curriculum if the instructional material will be used in connection with any survey, analysis, or evaluation as part of any survey funded in whole or in part by a program of USDOE. These rights transfer from the parents to a student who is 18 years old or an emancipated minor under state law.
ALVA has developed policies, in consultation with parents, regarding these rights, as well as arrangements to protect student privacy in the administration of protected information surveys and the collection, disclosure, or use of personal information for marketing, sales, or other distribution purposes. ALVA will directly notify parents of these policies at least annually at the start of each school year and after any substantive changes. ALVA will also directly notify, such as through U.S. mail or email, parents of students who are scheduled to participate in the specific activities or surveys noted below and will provide an opportunity for the parent to opt his or her child out of participation of the specific activity or survey. ALVA will make this notification to parents at the beginning of the school year if the district has identified the specific or approximate dates of the activities or surveys at that time. For surveys and activities scheduled after the school year starts, parents will be provided reasonable notification of the planned activities and surveys listed below and be provided an opportunity to opt their child out of such activities and surveys. Parents will also be provided an opportunity to review any pertinent surveys.
Following is a list of the specific activities and surveys covered under this direct notification requirement:
- Collection, disclosure, or use of personal information collected from students for marketing, sales, or other distribution.
- Administration of any protected information survey not funded in whole or in part by USDOE.
- Any non-emergency, invasive physical examination or screening as described above.
Parents who believe their rights have been violated may file a complaint with:
Family Policy Compliance Office
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue, SW
Washington, D.C. 20202
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
General Questions About the COPPA Rule
1. What is the COPPA Rule?
Congress enacted COPPA in 1998. COPPA required the Federal Trade Commission to issue and enforce regulations concerning children’s online privacy. The Commission’s original COPPA Rule became effective on April 21, 2000. The Commission published an amended Rule on January 17, 2013. The amended Rule took effect on July 1, 2013.
The primary goal of COPPA is to place parents in control over what information is collected from their young children online. The Rule was designed to protect children under age 13, while accounting for the dynamic nature of the internet. The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps and IoT devices, such as smart toys) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children, or on whose behalf such information is collected or maintained (such as when personal information is collected by an ad network to serve targeted advertising). The Rule also applies to operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13, and to websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children. Operators covered by the Rule must:
- Provide direct notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent, with limited exceptions, before collecting personal information online from children;
- Give parents the choice of consenting to the operator’s collection and internal use of a child’s information, but prohibiting the operator from disclosing that information to third parties (unless disclosure is integral to the site or service, in which case, this must be made clear to parents);
- Provide parents access to their child’s personal information to review and/or have the information deleted;
- Give parents the opportunity to prevent further use or online collection of a child’s personal information;
- Maintain the confidentiality, security, and integrity of information they collect from children, including by taking reasonable steps to release such information only to parties capable of maintaining its confidentiality and security;
- Retain personal information collected online from a child for only as long as is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected and delete the information using reasonable measures to protect against its unauthorized access or use; and
- Not condition a child’s participation in an online activity on the child providing more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in that activity.
2. Who is covered by COPPA?
The Rule applies to operators of commercial websites and online services (including mobile apps and IoT devices) directed to children under 13 that collect, use, or disclose personal information from children. It also applies to operators of general audience websites or online services with actual knowledge that they are collecting, using, or disclosing personal information from children under 13. The Rule also applies to websites or online services that have actual knowledge that they are collecting personal information directly from users of another website or online service directed to children.
3. What is personal information?
The Rule defines personal information to include:
- First and last name;
- A home or other physical address including street name and name of a city or town;
- Online contact information;
- A screen or user name that functions as online contact information;
- A telephone number;
- A social security number;
- A persistent identifier that can be used to recognize a user over time and across different websites or online services;
- A photograph, video, or audio file, where such file contains a child’s image or voice;
- Geolocation information sufficient to identify street name and name of a city or town; or
- Information concerning the child or the parents of that child that the operator collects online from the child and combines with an identifier described above.
4. Where can I find information about COPPA?