SCARBOROUGH — Updates to the district’s Child Abuse Reporting, Prevention, and Education Policy will include an educational component for students in Scarborough Schools.

On Nov. 5, the Board of Education approved a first reading to update a number of policies involving harassment, sexual harassment, discrimination, hazing, and child abuse and neglect.

The changes to the policies come from recent changes to the law, said board member and policy committee member Alicia Giftos.

What is defined as child abuse and neglect was recently updated, she said.

“There is a requirement that child sexual abuse prevention education occurs for students and that is going to be implemented in our schools,” Giftos said. “We did have a discussion. We’ll meet the director of curriculum for how that is going to occur. It’s going to incur really sort of age-appropriate discussions and education and really just being able to have those conversations with children in language they understand and that’s appropriate for them.”

The sexual harassment and discrimination harassment are divided into two separate policies, she said.

Overlooking the complaint procedure for harassment, the committee used attorney suggestions, Giftos said. The committee wanted to take complaints seriously but also keep due processing in mind.

“We did have some individualization in policy in making changes to some of these policies, trying to consider how potential victims would feel and what that process would be like as a victim, when they’re making their statements and going through the complaint policy, how overwhelming that must be,” she said.

The board also discussed whether a student over the age of 18 would still be able to have a parent present in the complaint process in the instance of harassment, and Giftos said that the student is still entitled to that parent’s presence.

“A lot of the debate we had was around the informal resolution process, and the concern I think was how the informal resolution process might be intimidating to somebody who’s making a complaint of harassment or bullying,” she said. “Speaking for myself, I tried to think about what that process would be like if I were the person in that situation and making that complaint … We did add language into the policy that was not necessarily recommended initially. That reiterates that right to an attorney or a rep to accompany you to the informal res process and that informal res process is voluntary.”

Board member Sarah Leighton thanked Giftos and members of the committee and district for putting thought into the policy changes.

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