IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR INDIVIDUALS WHO MAY BE VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT, DATING VIOLENCE, DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, OR STALKING:
If you or someone you know may have been a victim of the behaviors listed above or any other type of violence, you are strongly encouraged to seek immediate assistance.
ASSISTANCE CAN BE OBTAINED 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK, FROM THE WCC POLICE DEPARTMENT (LOCATED IN/AT CLASSROOM BUILDING #7 AND AVAILABLE BY PHONE AT 336-838-6275).
During business hours (8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Thursday; 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Friday), you are also strongly encouraged to contact one of the following individuals:
Sherry Cox, MS
Executive Director of Human Resources/ Title IX Coordinator
Curriculum and Workforce Development & Community Education Students:
College Readiness and Workforce Development & Community Education Students:
For additional information about seeking medical assistance and emotional support, as well as important contact information for local law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and other resources, see Exhibit A at the end of this document.
I. APPLICABILITY, COMPLAINT INTAKE, AND OVERARCHING PROVISIONS
A. APPLICABILITY OF GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
As noted above, these Grievance Procedures apply to allegations of Sexual Harassment in WCC’s Education Program or Activity (and to related Retaliation, at the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator). WCC treats Complainants and Respondents equitably by providing remedies to a Complainant where WCC makes a determination of responsibility for Sexual Harassment against a Respondent under these Grievance Procedures and also by following these Grievance Procedures before imposing any disciplinary sanctions against a Respondent for Sexual Harassment.
B. OBLIGATION TO RESPOND AND INITIAL OUTREACH TO COMPLAINANT
When WCC has Actual Knowledge of Sexual Harassment (or allegations thereof) against a person in the United States in its Education Program or Activity, WCC is obligated to respond and to follow Title IX’s specific requirements, which are addressed and incorporated in these Grievance Procedures.
Promptly upon receiving allegations of Sexual Harassment against a person in the United States in WCC’s Education Program or Activity, the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator will contact the Complainant to discuss the availability of Supportive Measures with or without the filing of a Formal Complaint and to explain to the Complainant the process for filing a Formal Complaint.
C. FILING OF A FORMAL COMPLAINT
As noted in the Definitions section above, a Formal Complaint means a document filed by a Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator alleging Sexual Harassment against a Respondent and requesting that WCC investigate the allegation(s) of Sexual Harassment. At the time of filing a Formal Complaint, a Complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in WCC’s Education Program or Activity. A Formal Complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, by using the contact information listed in Exhibit A. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a Complainant” means a document or electronic submission that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the Formal Complaint.
When the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Title IX Coordinator believes that, with or without the Complainant’s desire to participate in a grievance process, a non-deliberately indifferent response to the allegations requires an investigation, the Title IX Coordinator/Deputy Title IX Coordinator has the discretion to initiate the grievance process by signing a Formal Complaint. Where the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title IX Coordinator signs a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title IX Coordinator is not a Complainant or otherwise a party under these Grievance Procedures. Furthermore, initiation of a Formal Complaint by the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title Coordinator is not sufficient alone to imply bias or that the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title IX Coordinator is taking a position adverse to the Respondent.
Once a Formal Complaint is initiated, an alleged victim will be referred to as a “Complainant,” and an alleged perpetrator will be referred to as a “Respondent.”
D. NOTICE OF ALLEGATIONS
Upon receipt of a Formal Complaint, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator will provide the Complainant and any known Respondent written notice of these Grievance Procedures and of the allegations of conduct potentially constituting Sexual Harassment, including sufficient details known at the time and with at least five days to prepare a response before any initial interview. Sufficient details include the identities of the parties involved in the incident, if known, the conduct allegedly constituting Sexual Harassment, and the date and location of the alleged incident, if known.
The written notice will include a statement that the Respondent is presumed not responsible for the alleged conduct and that a determination regarding responsibility is made at the conclusion of the grievance process. The written notice also will inform the parties that they may have an advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney and that at appropriate junctures the parties and their advisors may review and inspect evidence collected during the investigation. Additionally, the written notice will inform the parties of WCC’s prohibition on knowingly making false statements or knowingly submitting false information during the grievance process.
If, in the course of an investigation, WCC decides to investigate allegations of Sexual Harassment involving the Complainant or Respondent that are not included in the original written notice of allegations, WCC will provide notice of the additional allegations to the parties whose identities are known.
WCC will investigate the allegations in a Formal Complaint; however, WCC will dismiss a Formal Complaint or a portion of the allegations therein if (1) the conduct alleged in the Formal Complaint, even if substantiated, would not constitute Sexual Harassment; (2) at the time of filing the Formal Complaint the Complainant was not participating in or attempting to participate in WCC’s Education Program or Activity; (3) the conduct alleged in the Formal Complaint did not occur in WCC ’s Education Program or Activity; or (4) the conduct alleged in the Formal Complaint did not occur against an individual in the United States. Such a dismissal may take place at the conclusion of the investigation or at any time prior to the conclusion of the investigation.
Additionally, WCC may dismiss a Formal Complaint or a portion of the allegations therein if (1) the Complainant notifies the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator in writing that the Complainant would like to withdraw the Formal Complaint or any allegations therein; (2) the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed at WCC; or (3) despite efforts to do so, WCC is unable to gather evidence sufficient to reach a determination as to the Formal Complaint or allegations therein.
In the event the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator determines that dismissal of a Formal Complaint or a portion of the allegations is appropriate, the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator will promptly notify the parties in writing of the dismissal and the reasons for it. Dismissal does not impair WCC’s ability to proceed with any appropriate investigatory or disciplinary actions under the Sex Discrimination and Harassment Policy or another WCC policy or procedure and/or to provide Supportive Measures to the parties.
Either party may appeal a decision to dismiss a Formal Complaint or a portion of the allegations on the following grounds by submitting a written appeal to the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator five days of the issuance of the written notice of the dismissal: (1) procedural irregularity that affected the decision to dismiss; (2) new evidence that was not reasonably available at the time of dismissal and that could affect the outcome of the matter; or (3) the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator or other participant in the dismissal having a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the decision to dismiss.
The investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator will promptly notify the other party of the appeal, and the non-appealing party may submit a response to the appeal within three days of notification of the appeal.
The Title IX Coordinator will appoint an appeal officer and will contemporaneously share the appeal officer’s name and contact information with the Complainant and the Respondent.
Within two days of being provided the contact information for the appeal officer, the Complainant, or the Respondent may identify to the Title IX Coordinator in writing alleged conflicts of interest or bias on the part of the appeal officer. The Title IX Coordinator will consider such statements and will promptly assign a different appeal officer if the Title IX Coordinator determines that a material conflict of interest or material bias exists.
The Title IX Coordinator will forward the Formal Complaint and any documents upon which the dismissal decision was based, as well as the appeal and any response to the appeal to the appeal officer.
Within seven days of receipt of those materials, the appeal officer will determine whether any of the grounds for appeal warrant overturning or modifying the dismissal. The decision by the appeal officer is final.
The Complainant and the Respondent may be accompanied to any meeting or proceeding under these Grievance Procedures by the advisor of their choice, who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney. WCC will not limit the choice or presence of the advisor for either the Complainant or the Respondent in any meeting or grievance proceeding. Advisors, however, are not allowed to disrupt any such meeting or proceeding or to speak on behalf of the Complainant or the Respondent, with the exception of cross-examination during any hearing conducted under these Grievance Procedures, which must be conducted by an advisor and never personally by the Complainant or the Respondent.
Parties must provide the name and contact of their advisor to the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator in writing as soon as reasonably possible and must provide updated information if their advisor changes. All advisors will be required to assent to WCC’s Expectations for Advisors.
If a party does not have an advisor present at the hearing, WCC will provide, without any charge to that party, an advisor of WCC’s choice who may be, but is not required to be, an attorney, to conduct cross-examination on behalf of that party.
Absent accommodation for a disability, the Complainant and the Respondent may not be accompanied by more than one advisor or by other individuals during meetings or proceedings under these Grievance Procedures.
WCC considers the reporting and adjudication of Sexual Harassment to be of paramount importance. WCC does not condone underage drinking or the use of illegal drugs; however, WCC may extend amnesty to Complainants, Respondents, witnesses, and others involved in a grievance process from punitive sanctioning for illegal use of drugs and/or alcohol when evidence of such use is discovered or submitted in the course of a grievance process. Similarly, WCC may, in its discretion, provide amnesty for other conduct code violations that are discovered in the course of a grievance process.
WCC will make every reasonable effort to ensure that the investigation and resolution of a Formal Complaint occurs in as timely and efficient a manner as possible. The timelines set forth in these Grievance Procedures are guidelines and may be altered for good cause with written notice to the Complainant and the Respondent of any delay or extension and the reasons for the action. Good cause may include considerations such as the absence of a party, a party’s advisor, or a witness; concurrent law enforcement activity; natural disasters, pandemic restrictions, and similar occurrences; or the need for language assistance or accommodation of disabilities.
WCC will strive to complete its investigation and resolution of a Formal Complaint (not including an appeal, if applicable) within 90 days of the receipt of the Formal Complaint, absent extenuating circumstances. Hearings generally will take place within 20 days of the conclusion of the investigation. Within seven days of the conclusion of the hearing, both the Complainant and the Respondent will receive a final outcome letter.
Either party may request an extension of any deadline by providing the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator with a written request for an extension that includes reference to the duration of the proposed extension and the basis for the request. The investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator will review the request and will make a determination with regard to the request within three days.
I. WRITTEN NOTICE OF MEETINGS
WCC will provide, to a party whose participation is invited or expected, written notice of the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of all hearings, investigative interviews, or other meetings with sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate.
J. EFFECT OF COROLLARY CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION
WCC’s investigation may be delayed temporarily while criminal investigators are gathering evidence. In the event of such a delay, WCC will implement any appropriate Supportive Measures and will evaluate the need for other actions necessary to assist or protect the Complainant, the Respondent, and/or the WCC community.
Neither the results of a criminal investigation nor the decision of law enforcement to investigate or decline to investigate a matter is determinative of whether Sexual Harassment has occurred in the eyes of WCC.
K. EMERGENCY REMOVAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE LEAVE
WCC may remove a Respondent from WCC’s Education Program or Activity on an emergency basis, provided that WCC first undertakes an individualized safety and risk analysis, determines that an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual arising from the allegations of Sexual Harassment justifies removal, provides the Respondent with notice and an opportunity to challenge the decision immediately following the removal, and does so in accordance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as applicable.
Additionally, WCC may place a non-student employee Respondent on administrative leave during the pendency of WCC’s response to allegations of Sexual Harassment provided that it does so in accordance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act.
L. EFFECT OF RESPONDENT WITHDRAWAL, GRADUATION, OR RESIGNATION DURING GRIEVANCE PROCESS
At the discretion of WCC, a Respondent who withdraws or resigns from WCC during the pendency of a grievance process under these Grievance Procedures may be barred from WCC property and WCC activities and events and may be ineligible for re-enrollment or to be re-hired. If a Respondent completes all requirements to graduate during the grievance process, WCC may hold the Respondent’s diploma until full resolution of the Formal Complaint.
M. PRIVACY AND DISCLOSURE
Except as may be permitted by FERPA or as required by law or to carry out any investigation or resolution of sex discrimination or harassment allegations, WCC will keep private the identity of any individual who has made a report or complaint of sex discrimination or harassment (including any individual who has made a report or filed a Formal Complaint of Sexual Harassment,), any Complainant, any Respondent, and any witness.
WCC may report alleged Sexual Harassment to local law enforcement if warranted by the nature of the allegations at issue, and WCC administrators will share information regarding alleged Sexual Harassment, as appropriate and necessary, in order to address and resolve the allegation(s) at issue, prevent the recurrence of similar Sexual Harassment, and address the effects of the Sexual Harassment. Additionally, information regarding alleged Sexual Harassment may be used as a statistical, anonymous report for data collection purposes under the Clery Act.
To comply with FERPA, Title IX, and other applicable laws and to provide an orderly process for the presentation and consideration of relevant information without undue intimidation or pressure, grievance processes carried out under these Grievance Procedures are not open to the general public. Accordingly, documents prepared in connection with such processes; documents, statements, or other information introduced in interviews, meetings, and proceedings; and the final outcome letter may not be disclosed outside of those processes except as may be required or authorized by law.
As permitted by and subject to the limitations of FERPA, WCC reserves the right to notify parent(s) or guardian(s) of a student Respondent of the outcome of any investigation involving that Respondent, redacting names of any other students who do not consent to the disclosure of their information. At the written request of a party, WCC may include a party’s advisor on communications and share access to documents, including the investigation report. This access is subject to the advisor’s acknowledgment and agreement to maintain the confidentiality of the documents.
While WCC strongly encourages parties to maintain privacy in connection with a grievance process, WCC does not prohibit parties from discussing the allegations under investigation or in any way inhibit the parties from gathering or presenting relevant evidence. In addition, WCC’s policy does not prohibit disclosure of the final outcome letter by either the Complainant or the Respondent.
N. CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, BIAS, AND TRAINING
WCC will ensure that any individual designated by WCC as a Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinator, investigator, or decision-maker under these Grievance Procedures does not have a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or an individual Complainant or Respondent.
If any employee designated to participate in the investigation or resolution of a Formal Complaint is the Respondent or a relevant witness, then the Title IX Coordinator will appoint another employee to perform their duties. (If the Title IX Coordinator is the Respondent, then the President will appoint another qualified person to perform their duties.)
WCC also ensures that the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, and advisors receive training, as applicable, on the definition of Sexual Harassment; the scope of WCC’s Education Program or Activity; how to conduct an investigation and grievance process, including hearings, and appeals; and how to serve impartially, including by avoiding prejudgment of the facts at issue, conflicts of interest, and bias.
WCC further ensures that decision-makers receive training on issues of relevance of questions and evidence, including when questions and evidence about the Complainant’s sexual predisposition or prior sexual behavior are not relevant, and that investigators receive training on issues of relevance to create an investigative report that fairly summarizes relevant evidence. Additionally, WCC ensures that decision-makers receive training on any technology to be used at live hearings. Materials used to train the Title IX Coordinator, Deputy Title IX Coordinators, investigators, decision-makers, and advisors will not rely on sex stereotypes and promote impartial investigations and adjudications of Formal Complaints of Sexual Harassment.
O. BURDEN OF PROOF
At all times, the burden of proof and the burden of gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination regarding responsibility rest on WCC, not on either of the parties.
P. PRESUMPTION OF NO RESPONSIBILITY UNTIL DETERMINATION
Respondents are presumed to be not responsible for alleged Sexual Harassment until WCC makes a determination regarding responsibility pursuant to these Grievance Procedures.
R. OBJECTIVE EVALUATION OF ALL RELEVANT EVIDENCE; CREDIBILITY DETERMINATIONS
The investigators and decision-makers under these Grievance Procedures will objectively evaluate all relevant evidence, including both inculpatory and exculpatory evidence, and will not make any credibility determinations based on a person’s status as a Complainant, Respondent, or witness.
S. ACADEMIC FREEDOM
WCC affirms its commitment to academic freedom but notes that academic freedom does not allow any form of Sexual Harassment. WCC recognizes that an essential function of education is a probing of opinions and an exploration of ideas, some of which, because they are controversial, may cause students and others discomfort. This discomfort, as a product of free academic inquiry within a faculty member’s area(s) of expertise, shall in no way be considered or construed to constitute Sexual Harassment. Academic inquiry may involve teaching, research and extramural speech. Furthermore, nothing in this document shall be interpreted to prohibit bona fide academic requirements for a specific WCC program or activity. When investigating complaints that a party or the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title IX Coordinator believes may involve issues of academic freedom, the investigating Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX Coordinator will consult with the Vice President of Instruction with respect to contemporary academic practices and standards.
WCC will retain documentation (including but not limited to any Formal Complaint, notifications, recording or transcripts of interviews, investigative report, written findings of fact, petitions for appeal, notifications of decisions (including the final outcome letter), audio recordings of hearings, and written communication with the Complainant and Respondent), for no less than seven years.
U. CONSOLIDATION OF FORMAL COMPLAINTS
WCC may consolidate Formal Complaints as to allegations of Sexual Harassment against more than one Respondent, by more than one Complainant against one or more Respondents, or by one party against the other party where the allegations of Sexual Harassment arise out of the same facts or circumstances. Where a grievance process involves more than one Complainant or more than one Respondent, references in these Grievance Procedures to the singular “party,” “Complainant,” or “Respondent” include the plural, as applicable.
V. INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES
WCC will make arrangements to ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided appropriate accommodations, to the extent necessary and available, to participate in WCC’s grievance processes. Student requests for accommodation must be made to the Director of Disability, Inclusion, & Diversity. All other requests for accommodation must be made to the Executive Director of Human Resources.
II. THE INVESTIGATION
A. APPOINTMENT OF INVESTIGATORS AND CHALLENGING OF THE SAME
Unless a Formal Complaint is dismissed, one or more members of the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title IX Coordinator team will initiate the investigation. The lead investigator will contemporaneously share their names and contact information with the Complainant and Respondent.
Within two days of receiving notification from the lead investigator, the Complainant or the Respondent may identify to the lead investigator in writing any alleged conflicts of interest or bias on the part of the assigned investigators. The lead investigator will review this information with the Title IX Coordinator / Deputy Title IX Coordinator team and will pr