4.61 Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationships Policy

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I. Purpose

Central Piedmont Community College employees are supported in carrying out the mission of the College through an atmosphere of professionalism, academic integrity, trust, and respect. Professionalism, academic integrity, trust, and respect are diminished when those in positions of power abuse their power. Actions of faculty members, supervising administrators, other employees, or students which harm the College's atmosphere of trust and respect undermine professionalism, damage the academic integrity of the College, and hinder the fulfillment of the College's educational mission.

Relationships between faculty members and students and between supervising administrators and employees they advise, counsel, supervise, or evaluate impose a special burden of responsibility and accountability. The same is true for clerical, secretarial, maintenance, technical/paraprofessionals, and professional staff, students, and administrators when acting in an advisory, counseling, instructional, supervisory, or evaluative role with respect to students or employees. There are substantial risks for faculty members engaging in sexual or romantic relationships with students they teach or, in the case of supervising administrators, with employees they supervise or evaluate.

II. Definitions

A. Faculty Member - any person employed by, or whose activities are supervised by, the College and who engages in advisory, counseling, instructional, or evaluative activities relative to any student who is enrolled in a course being taught by that individual or whose academic work is being supervised or evaluated by that individual. Students and non-faculty employees, when performing official College advisory, counseling, instructional, or evaluative roles with respect to students, are considered faculty for the purpose of this policy.

B. Supervising Administrator - all individuals who have responsibility for specific employees and their activities and who are classified as management. These specifically include the president, vice presidents, deans, managers, division directors, supervising administrators, coordinators, and all other supervisors. Non-administrative and classified employees, when performing assigned advisory, counseling, supervisory, or evaluative roles with respect to other employees, are considered supervising administrators for the purpose of this policy.

C. Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationships

1. Any sexual or romantic relationship between a faculty member or employee who engages in advisory, counseling, instructional, or evaluative activities and any student who is enrolled in a course being taught by that person or whose academic work is being supervised or evaluated by that person;

2. Any sexual or romantic relationship between a supervising administrator and someone the supervising administrator advises, counsels, evaluates, or directly or indirectly supervises in any way;

3. Any sexual or romantic relationship between any College employee and any student or employee who is less than 18 years of age.

III. Policy

No faculty member or supervising administrator shall initiate, pursue, or be involved in an improper sexual or romantic relationship with any employee or student who is advised, counseled, evaluated by, or supervised directly or indirectly or whose job performance is reviewed or evaluated by that person. The same is true for clerical, secretarial, maintenance, technical, paraprofessionals, and professional staff, students, and administrators when acting in an advisory, counseling, instructional, supervisory, or evaluative role with respect to students or employees supervised directly or indirectly by that person.

Friendships or mentoring relationships are not affected by this policy, nor is it the intent of this policy that such non-romantic relationships be discouraged or limited in any way.

IV. Procedures for Reporting and Investigating Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationships or Suspected Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationships

A. Any supervising administrator who receives an improper sexual or romantic relationship complaint, or who has knowledge of such a relationship, shall inform his/her immediate supervisor and the Director Institutional Equity. The Director Institutional Equity will investigate all improper sexual or romantic relationship complaints.

B. Any College employee may report an improper sexual or romantic relationship, or alleged improper sexual or romantic relationship, to his/her immediate supervisor. If the relationship involves the immediate supervisor, or if the employee prefers, the employee may report the relationship to the next level of management or to the Director Institutional Equity.

C. Any College student may report an improper sexual or romantic relationship or suspected improper sexual or romantic relationship to the appropriate department head. If the relationship involves the department head, or if the student prefers, the student may report the relationship to the appropriate dean or to the Director Institutional Equity.

D. In the event of an improper sexual or romantic relationship complaint, the following procedures will be followed:

1. An Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationship Complaint Form (ISRR 1) will be completed in detail and signed by both the complainant and the Director Institutional Equity.

2. Each improper sexual or romantic relationship complaint shall be investigated by the Director Institutional Equity, and a determination of the facts shall be made. The complainant and the respondent may expect a response to a complaint within thirty working days following the filing of a formal Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationship Complaint. The President or his designee may extend the response period if any investigation requires additional time to gather facts.

3. The Director Institutional Equity shall investigate the complaint by separately interviewing the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed and potential witnesses. The appropriate Improper Sexual or Romantic Relationship report form (ISRR2 for the accused or ISRR3 for witnesses) will be completed during each interview. Copies of completed forms will be retained by the Director Institutional Equity. While an effective investigation cannot promise complete confidentiality of information provided by complainants or witnesses, the Director Institutional Equity will keep such information and identities confidential to the extent possible.

4. Any employee involved in the investigation of an improper sexual or romantic relationship complaint must treat all information gained from the complainant(s) or witness(es) during the investigation as confidential and disclose such information only on a 'need-to-know' basis.

5. In extraordinary circumstances, the President or his designee may at any time during or after an investigation of an improper sexual or romantic complaint place the employee against whom a complaint has been filed on administrative leave per Policy 4.28 Administrative Leave.

6. Following the investigation of the complaint, the immediate supervisor of the accused, the unit vice president (or designee), the Associate Vice President of Human Resources, and the Director Institutional Equity will determine the validity of the complaint and recommend appropriate action to the President.

E. In the event that an improper sexual or romantic relationship complaint is made directly to the Director Institutional Equity, the Director shall report the complaint to the immediate supervisor of the employee against whom the complaint is filed and the unit vice president.

F. Any employee who fails to act promptly and in accordance with established procedures in response to an improper sexual or romantic relationship complaint is in violation of this policy and will be subject to disciplinary action as described in this policy. (See Section V. Disciplinary Action)

V. Disciplinary Action

CPCC will not tolerate improper sexual or romantic relationships nor will it tolerate any form of retaliation against any employee or student who has brought good faith concerns to the attention of the College or who has properly participated in the investigation or resolution of such concerns. A faculty member, supervising administrator, or other employee acting in an advisory, counseling, supervisory, or evaluative role with respect to employees or students who is involved in an improper sexual or romantic relationship or in any retaliatory activity will be deemed to have engaged in serious misconduct as defined in Policy 4.07 Appointment, Reappointment, Discipline and Dismissal of Full-Time Administrators; Policy 4.38 Employment, Discipline, and Dismissal of Full-Time Classified Employees; Policy 4.31 Appointment, Reappointment, Discipline and Dismissal of Full-Time Professional Employees; and Policy 4.08 Appointment, Reappointment, Discipline and Dismissal of Full-Time Faculty, Counselors and Librarians and will be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal. While disciplinary action taken against an employee or faculty member as a result of a complaint of an improper sexual or romantic relationship may be the subject of a grievance under Policy 4.32 Conflict Resolution and Grievance Process Policy, the Director Institutional Equity's investigation conclusions, or alleged lack of conclusions, shall not be subject to the grievance process.

The College recognizes that romantic relationships may develop between employees or faculty members that if undisclosed would lead to situations in violation of this policy. In such circumstances, the College encourages the employees or faculty members involved in such a relationship to disclose its existence to the Director Institutional Equity. In circumstances where such early, voluntary disclosure is made, the College shall have the option of waiving the investigation and disciplinary procedures contained in this policy and addressing the new relationship through other means, including reassignment. While no right of reassignment or continuing employment of one or both parties to the relationship is guaranteed, the College will, when appropriate, seek a resolution where no violation of this policy would result. This option is not available in the event of any improper sexual or romantic relationship involving a student.

Changes approved by Cabinet on January 25, 2005; June 5, 2006