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Policies and Procedures

West Virginia Northern Community College is committed to providing a workplace and educational environment, as well as other benefits, programs, and activities, that are free from sexual harassment and retaliation. To ensure compliance with federal and state civil rights laws and regulations, and to affirm its commitment to promoting the goals of fairness and equity in all aspects of the educational program or activity,

West Virginia Northern Community College has developed internal policies and procedures that provide a prompt, fair, and impartial process for those involved in an allegation sexual harassment or retaliation. West Virginia Northern Community College values and upholds the equal dignity of all members of its community and strives to balance the rights of the parties in the grievance process during what is often a difficult time for all those involved.

The core purpose of this policy is the prohibition of sexual harassment and retaliation. When an alleged violation of this policy is reported, the allegations are subject to resolution using West Virginia Northern Community College’s “Process A” or “Process B,” as determined by the Title IX Coordinator, and as detailed below.

When the Respondent is a member of the West Virginia Northern Community College community, a grievance process may be available regardless of the status of the Complainant, who may or may not be a member of the West Virginia Northern Community College community. This community includes, but is not limited to, students,1 student organizations, faculty, administrators, staff, and third parties such as guests, visitors, volunteers, and invitees.

The procedures below may be applied to incidents, to patterns, and/or to the campus climate, all of which may be addressed and investigated in accordance with this policy.

1 For the purpose of this policy, the West Virginia Northern Community College defines “student” as any individual who has accepted an offer of admission, or who is registered or enrolled for credit or non-credit bearing coursework, and who maintains an ongoing relationship with West Virginia Northern Community College.


Notice/Complaints of Sexual Harassment and/or Retaliation

Notice or complaints of sexual harassment and/or retaliation may be made using any of the following options:

  1. File a complaint with, or give verbal notice to, the Title IX Coordinator or a Deputy Coordinator.

    Stephanie Kappel
    Title IX Coordinator
    President’s Office
    1704 Market Street
    Wheeling, WV 26003
    skappel@wvncc.edu
    304-214-8801

    www.wvncc.edu/offices-and-services/title-ix-/5251

    Chris Kefauver
    Deputy Coordinator for Academic Affairs
    ckefauver@wvncc.edu
    304-214-8875

    Ardell Mayhugh
    Deputy Coordinator for Human Resources
    amayhugh@wvncc.edu
    304-214-8902

    Debbie Bennett
    Deputy Coordinator for the New Martinsville Campus
    dbennett@wvncc.edu
    304-510-8761

    Lisa Soly
    Deputy Coordinator for the Weirton Campus
    lsoly@wvncc.edu
    304-723-7515

    Such a report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by using the telephone number or email address, or by mail to the office address, listed for the Title IX Coordinator or any other official listed.

  2. Report online, using the reporting form posted at https://www.wvncc.edu/offices-and-services/incident-report/7320. The West Virginia Northern Community College tries to provide supportive measures to all Complainants. Because reporting carries no obligation to initiate a formal response, and as the West Virginia Northern Community College respects Complainant requests to dismiss complaints unless there is a compelling threat to health and/or safety, the Complainant is largely in control and should not fear a loss of privacy by making a report that allows the West Virginia Northern Community College to discuss and/or provide supportive measures.
  3. Report using the sexual harassment hotline 1.800.884.7242 (Sexual Assault Help Center 24 Hour Crisis Hotline). 

A Formal Complaint means a document submitted or signed by the Complainant or signed by the Title IX Coordinator alleging a policy violation by a Respondent and requesting that West Virginia Northern Community College investigate the allegation(s).

A complaint may be filed with the Title IX Coordinator in person, by mail, or by electronic mail, by using the contact information in the section immediately above, or as described in this section. As used in this paragraph, the phrase “document filed by a Complainant” means a document or electronic submission (such as by electronic mail or through an online portal provided for this purpose by West Virginia Northern Community College that contains the Complainant’s physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicates that the Complainant is the person filing the complaint, and requests that the West Virginia Northern Community College investigate the allegations.

If notice is submitted in a form that does not meet this standard, the Title IX Coordinator will contact the Complainant to ensure that it is filed correctly.


Supportive Measures


Jurisdiction of West Virginia Northern Community College

All allegations are acted upon promptly by West Virginia Northern Community College once it has received notice or a formal complaint. Complaints can take 60-90 business days to resolve, typically. There are always exceptions and extenuating circumstances that can cause a resolution to take longer, but West Virginia Northern Community College will avoid all undue delays within its control.

Any time the general timeframes for resolution outlined in West Virginia Northern Community College procedures will be delayed, West Virginia Northern Community College will provide written notice to the parties of the delay, the cause of the delay, and an estimate of the anticipated additional time that will be needed as a result of the delay.

This policy applies to the education program and activities of West Virginia Northern Community College, to conduct that takes place on the campus or on property owned or controlled by West Virginia Northern Community College, at West Virginia Northern Community College-sponsored events, or in buildings owned or controlled by West Virginia Northern Community College’s recognized student organizations. The Respondent must be a member of West Virginia Northern Community College’s community in order for its policies to apply.

This policy can also be applicable to the effects of off-campus misconduct that effectively deprive someone of access to West Virginia Northern Community College’s educational program. The West Virginia Northern Community College may also extend jurisdiction to off-campus and/or to online conduct when the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator determines that the conduct affects a substantial West Virginia Northern Community College interest.

Regardless of where the conduct occurred, West Virginia Northern Community College will address notice/complaints to determine whether the conduct occurred in the context of its employment or educational program or activity and/or has continuing effects on campus or in an off-campus sponsored program or activity. A substantial West Virginia Northern Community College interest includes:

  1. Any action that constitutes a criminal offense as defined by law. This includes, but is not limited to, single or repeat violations of any local, state, or federal law;
  2. Any situation in which it is determined that the Respondent poses an immediate threat to the physical health or safety of any student or other individual;
  3. Any situation that significantly impinges upon the rights, property, or achievements of oneself or others or significantly breaches the peace and/or causes social disorder; and/or
  4. Any situation that is detrimental to the educational interests or mission of West Virginia Northern Community College.

If the Respondent is unknown or is not a member of West Virginia Northern Community College community, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator will assist the Complainant in identifying appropriate campus and local resources and support options and/or, when criminal conduct is alleged, in contacting local or campus law enforcement if the individual would like to file a police report.

Further, even when the Respondent is not a member of West Virginia Northern Community College’s community, supportive measures, remedies, and resources may be accessible to the Complainant by contacting the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator.

In addition, West Virginia Northern Community College may take other actions as appropriate to protect the Complainant against third parties, such as barring individuals from West Virginia Northern Community College property and/or events.

All vendors serving West Virginia Northern Community College through third-party contracts are subject to the policies and procedures of their employers.

When the Respondent is enrolled in or employed by another institution, the Title IX Coordinator can assist the Complainant in liaising with the appropriate individual at that institution, as it may be possible to allege violations through that institution’s policies.

Similarly, the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator may be able to assist and support a student or employee Complainant who experiences sexual harassment or retaliation in an externship, or other environment external to West Virginia Northern Community College where sexual harassment policies and procedures of the facilitating or host organization may give recourse to the Complainant.


Policy on Nondiscrimination

West Virginia Northern Community College adheres to all federal, state, and local civil rights laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and education. West Virginia Northern Community College does not discriminate in its admissions practices [except as permitted by law], in its employment practices, or in its educational programs or activities on the basis of sex/gender. As a recipient of federal financial assistance for education activities, West Virginia Northern Community College is required by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to ensure that all of its education programs and activities do not discriminate on the basis of sex/gender.  Sex includes [sex, sex stereotypes, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, and pregnancy or parenting status].

West Virginia Northern Community College also prohibits retaliation against any person opposing discrimination or participating in any discrimination investigation or complaint process internal or external to the institution.  Sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking are forms of sex discrimination, which are prohibited under Title IX and by West Virginia Northern Community College policy.

Any member of the campus community, guest, or visitor who acts to deny, deprive, or limit the educational, employment, residential, or social access, opportunities and/or benefits of any member of the West Virginia Northern Community College community on the basis of sex is in violation of the EEOC policy.

Any person may report sex discrimination (whether or not the person reporting is the person alleged to have experienced the conduct), in person, by mail, by telephone, by video, or by email, using the contact information listed for the Title IX Coordinator (below). A report may be made at any time (including during non-business hours) by filing an incident report at www.wvncc.edu/offices-and-services/incident-report/7320

Stephanie Kappel
Title IX Coordinator
President’s Office
1704 Market Street
Wheeling, WV 26003
skappel@wvncc.edu
304-214-8801


Definition of Sexual Harassment


Definition of Retaliation


Mandated Reporting

All West Virginia Northern Community College employees (faculty, staff, administrators) are expected to report actual or suspected sexual harassment or retaliation to appropriate officials immediately, though there are some limited exceptions.

In order to make informed choices, it is important to be aware of confidentiality and mandatory reporting requirements when consulting campus resources. On campus, some resources may maintain confidentiality and are not required to report actual or suspected sexual harassment or retaliation. They may offer options and resources without any obligation to inform an outside agency or campus official unless a Complainant has requested the information be shared.

If a Complainant expects formal action in response to their allegations, reporting to any Mandated Reporter can connect them with resources to report crimes and/or policy violations, and these employees will immediately pass reports to the Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator (and/or police, if desired by the Complainant), who will take action when an incident is reported to them.

The following sections describe the reporting options at West Virginia Northern Community College for a Complainant or third-party (including parents/guardians when appropriate):

  1. Confidential Resources

    If a Complainant would like the details of an incident to be kept confidential, they may speak with a licensed professional counselor via Well-Connect, an app that provides mental health services to the Northern student population.

  2. Anonymous Notice to Mandated Reporters

    At the request of a Complainant, notice may be given by a Mandated Reporter to the Title IX Coordinator anonymously, without identification of the Complainant. The Mandated Reporter cannot remain anonymous themselves.

    If a Complainant has requested that a Mandated Reporter maintain the Complainant’s anonymity, the Mandated Reporter may do so unless it is reasonable to believe that a compelling threat to health or safety could exist. The Mandated Reporter can consult with the Title IX Coordinator on that assessment without revealing personally identifiable information.

    Anonymous notice will be investigated by West Virginia Northern Community College to the extent possible, both to assess the underlying allegation(s) and to determine if supportive measures or remedies can be provided.

    However, anonymous notice typically limits West Virginia Northern Community College’s ability to investigate, respond, and provide remedies, depending on what information is shared.

    When a Complainant has made a request for anonymity, the Complainant’s personally identifiable information may be withheld by a Mandated Reporter, but all other details must be shared with the Title IX Coordinator. Mandated reporters may not be able to maintain requests for anonymity for Complainants who are minors.

  3. Mandated Reporters and Formal Notice/Complaints

    All employees of West Virginia Northern Community College (including student employees), with the exception of those who are designated as Confidential Resources, are Mandated Reporters and must promptly share with the Title IX Coordinator all known details of a report made to them in the course of their employment.

    Employees must also promptly share all details of behaviors under this policy that they observe or have knowledge of, even if not reported to them by a Complainant or third-party.

    Complainants may want to carefully consider whether they share personally identifiable details with non-confidential Mandated Reporters, as those details must be shared with the Title IX Coordinator.

    Generally, disclosures in climate surveys, classroom writing assignments or discussions, human subjects research, or at events such as “Take Back the Night” marches or speak-outs do not provide notice that must be reported to the Coordinator by employees, unless the Complainant clearly indicates that they desire a report to be made or a seek a specific response from West Virginia Northern Community College.

    Supportive measures may be offered as the result of such disclosures without formal West Virginia Northern Community College action.

    Failure of a Mandated Reporter, as described above in this section, to report an incident of sexual harassment or retaliation of which they become aware is a violation of West Virginia Northern Community College policy and can be subject to disciplinary action for failure to comply.

    Though this may seem obvious, when a Mandated Reporter is engaged in harassment or other violations of this policy, they still have a duty to report their own misconduct, though West Virginia Northern Community College is technically not on notice when a harasser is also a Mandated Reporter unless the harasser does in fact report themselves.

    Finally, it is important to clarify that a Mandated Reporter who is themselves a target of harassment or other misconduct under this policy is not required to report their own experience, though they are, of course, encouraged to do so.

Federal Timely Warning Obligations

Parties reporting sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and/or stalking should be aware that under the Clery Act, West Virginia Northern Community College must issue timely warnings for incidents reported to them that pose a serious or continuing threat of bodily harm or danger to members of the campus community.

West Virginia Northern Community College will ensure that a Complainant’s name and other identifying information is not disclosed, while still providing enough information for community members to make safety decisions in light of the potential danger.


False Allegations and Evidence

Deliberately false and/or malicious accusations under this policy are a serious offense and will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action. This does not include allegations that are made in good faith but are ultimately shown to be erroneous or do not result in a policy violation determination.

Additionally, witnesses and parties knowingly providing false evidence, tampering with or destroying evidence, or deliberately misleading an official conducting an investigation can be subject to discipline under West Virginia Northern Community College policy.


Interim Resolution Process for Alleged Violations of the Policy on Sexual Harassment

The parties may each have an Advisor2 of their choice present with them for all meetings, interviews, and hearings within the resolution process, if they so choose. The parties may select whoever they wish to serve as their Advisor as long as the Advisor is eligible and available.3

Choosing an Advisor who is also a witness in the process creates potential for bias and conflict-of-interest. A party who chooses an Advisor who is also a witness can anticipate that issues of potential bias will be explored by the hearing Decision-maker(s).

2 This could include an attorney, advocate, or support person. The law permits one Advisor for each party (witnesses are not entitled to Advisors within the process, though they can be advised externally).

3 “Available” means the party cannot insist on an Advisor who simply doesn’t have inclination, time, or availability. Also, the Advisor cannot have institutionally conflicting roles, such as being a Title IX administrator who has an active role in the matter, or a supervisor who must monitor and implement sanctions.


Right to an Advisor

Resolution proceedings are private. All persons present at any time during the resolution process are expected to maintain the privacy of the proceedings in accordance with West Virginia Northern Community College policy. Although there is an expectation of privacy around what Investigators share with parties during interviews, the parties have discretion to share their own knowledge and evidence with others if they so choose, with the exception of information the parties agree not to disclose related to Informal Resolution, discussed below. West Virginia Northern Community College encourages parties to discuss any sharing of information with their Advisors before doing so.


Informal Resolution


Alternate Resolution Mechanism

The Respondent may accept responsibility for all or part of the alleged policy violations at any point during the resolution process. If the Respondent indicates an intent to accept responsibility for all of the alleged misconduct, the formal process will be paused, and the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether Informal Resolution can be used according to the criteria above.

If Informal Resolution is applicable, the Title IX Coordinator will determine whether all parties and West Virginia Northern Community College are able to agree on responsibility, sanctions, and/or remedies. If so, the Title IX Coordinator implements the accepted finding that the Respondent is in violation of West Virginia Northern Community College policy and implements agreed-upon sanctions and/or remedies, in coordination with other appropriate administrator(s), as necessary.

This result is not subject to appeal once all parties indicate their written assent to all agreed upon terms of resolution. When the parties cannot agree on all terms of resolution, the Formal Grievance Process will resume at the same point where it was paused.

When a resolution is accomplished, the appropriate sanction or responsive actions are promptly implemented in order to effectively stop the sexual harassment or retaliation, prevent its recurrence, and remedy the effects of the discriminatory conduct, both on the Complainant and the community.

The Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Coordinator, with the consent of the parties, may negotiate and implement an agreement to resolve the allegations that satisfies all parties and West Virginia Northern Community College. Negotiated Resolutions are not appealable.


Grievance Process Pool

The Formal Grievance Process relies on a pool of administrators (“the Pool”) to carry out the process. Members of the Pool are announced in an annual distribution of this policy to all students, parents/guardians of students, employees, prospective students, and prospective employees.

The list of Pool members and a description of the Pool can be found at www.wvncc.edu/offices-and-services/title-ix-home-under-construction/5251


Formal Grievance Process: Notice of Investigation and Allegations


Notice of Investigation and Allegation Template


Investigation Process


Hearing Process


Deliberation, Decision-making, and Standard of Proof

The Decision-maker(s) will deliberate in closed session to determine whether the Respondent is responsible or not responsible for the policy violation(s) in question. If a panel is used, a simple majority vote is required to determine the finding. The preponderance of the evidence standard of proof is used. The hearing facilitator may be invited to attend the deliberation by the Chair, but is there only to facilitate procedurally, not to address the substance of the allegations.

When there is a finding of responsibility on one or more of the allegations, the Decision-maker(s) may then consider the previously submitted party impact statements in determining appropriate sanction(s).

The Chair will ensure that each of the parties has an opportunity to review any impact statement submitted by the other party(ies). The Decision-maker(s) may – at their discretion – consider the statements, but they are not binding.

The Decision-maker(s) will review the statements and any pertinent conduct history provided by the Vice President of Student Services and will recommend the appropriate sanction(s) [in consultation with other appropriate administrators]

The Chair will then prepare a written deliberation statement and deliver it to the Title IX Coordinator, detailing the determination, rationale, the evidence used in support of its determination, the evidence not relied upon in its determination, credibility assessments, and any sanctions or recommendations.

This report is typically three (3) to five (5) pages in length and must be submitted to the Title IX Coordinator within two (2) business days of the end of deliberations, unless the Title IX Coordinator grants an extension. If an extension is granted, the Title IX Coordinator will notify the parties.


Notice of Outcome

Using the deliberation statement, the Title IX Coordinator will work with the Chair to prepare a Notice of Outcome. The Title IX Coordinator will then share the letter, including the final determination, rationale, and any applicable sanction(s) with the parties and their Advisors within 5 business days of receiving the Decision-maker(s)’ deliberation statement.

The Notice of Outcome will then be shared with the parties simultaneously. Notification will be made in writing and may be delivered by one or more of the following methods: in person, mailed to the local or permanent address of the parties as indicated in official West Virginia Northern Community College records, or emailed to the parties’ West Virginia Northern Community College-issued email or otherwise approved account. Once mailed, emailed, and/or received in-person, notice will be presumptively delivered.

The Notice of Outcome will articulate the specific policy(ies) reported to have been violated, including the relevant policy section, and will contain a description of the procedural steps taken by West Virginia Northern Community College from the receipt of the misconduct report to the determination, including any and all notifications to the parties, interviews with parties and witnesses, site visits, methods used to obtain evidence, and hearings held.

The Notice of Outcome will specify the finding on each alleged policy violation; the findings of fact that support the determination; conclusions regarding the application of the relevant policy to the facts at issue; a statement of, and rationale for, the result of each allegation to the extent West Virginia Northern Community College is permitted to share such information under state or federal law; any sanctions issued which West Virginia Northern Community College is permitted to share according to state or federal law; and any remedies provided to the Complainant designed to ensure access to West Virginia Northern Community College’s educational or employment program or activity, to the extent West Virginia Northern Community College is permitted to share such information under state or federal law (this detail is not typically shared with the Respondent unless the remedy directly relates to the Respondent).

The Notice of Outcome will also include information on when the results are considered by West Virginia Northern Community College to be final, any changes that occur prior to finalization, and the relevant procedures and bases for any available appeal options.


Sanctions


Withdrawal or Resignation While Charges Pending

  1. Students: If a student has an allegation pending for violation of the Policy, West Virginia Northern Community College may place a hold on a student’s ability to graduate and/or to receive an official transcript/diploma.

    Should a student decide to not participate in the resolution process, the process proceeds absent their participation to a reasonable resolution. Should a student Respondent permanently withdraw from West Virginia Northern Community College, the resolution process ends, as West Virginia Northern Community College no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the withdrawn student.

    However, West Virginia Northern Community College will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues, variables that may have contributed to the alleged violation(s), and any ongoing effects of the alleged sexual harassment and/or retaliation. The student who withdraws or leaves while the process is pending may not return to West Virginia Northern Community College. Such exclusion applies to all campuses of West Virginia Northern Community College. A hold will be placed on their ability to be readmitted. They may also be barred from West Virginia Northern Community College property and/or events.

    If the student Respondent only withdraws or takes a leave for a specified period of time (e.g., one semester or term), the resolution process may continue remotely and that student is not permitted to return to West Virginia Northern Community College unless and until all sanctions have been satisfied.

  2. Employees: Should an employee Respondent resign with unresolved allegations pending, the resolution process ends, as West Virginia Northern Community College no longer has disciplinary jurisdiction over the resigned employee.

    However, West Virginia Northern Community College will continue to address and remedy any systemic issues, variables that contributed to the alleged violation(s), and any ongoing effects of the alleged harassment or retaliation.

    The employee who resigns with unresolved allegations pending is not eligible for rehire with West Virginia Northern Community College, and the records retained by the Title IX Coordinator will reflect that status.

Appeals


Long-Term Remedies/Other Actions

Following the conclusion of the resolution process, and in addition to any sanctions implemented, the Title IX Coordinator may implement additional long-term remedies or actions with respect to the parties and/or the campus community that are intended to stop the sexual harassment and/or retaliation, remedy the effects, and prevent reoccurrence.

These remedies/actions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Referral to counseling and health services
  • Education to the individual and/or the community
  • Disciplinary action against employees, including changes to work arrangements or work schedule, progressive discipline, demotion, suspension, or termination.
  • Provision of campus safety escorts
  • Climate surveys
  • Policy modification and/or training
  • Implementation of long-term contact limitations between the parties
  • Implementation of adjustments to academic deadlines, course schedules, etc.

At the discretion of the Title IX Coordinator, certain long-term support or measures may also be provided to the parties even if no policy violation is found.

When no policy violation is found, the Title IX Coordinator will address any remedies owed by West Virginia Northern Community College to the Respondent to ensure no effective denial of educational access.

West Virginia Northern Community College will maintain the privacy of any long-term remedies/actions/measures, provided privacy does not impair West Virginia Northern Community College’s ability to provide these services.


Disabilities Accommodations in the Resolution Process

West Virginia Northern Community College is committed to providing reasonable accommodations and support to qualified students, employees, or others with disabilities to ensure equal access to West Virginia Northern Community College’s resolution process.

Anyone needing such accommodations or support should contact a member of the Title IX team, who will review the request and, in consultation with the person requesting the accommodation and the Title IX Coordinator, determine which accommodations are appropriate and necessary for full participation in the process.


For complete details, please see WVNCC Title IX Policy and Procedures Manual.

If the alleged incident does not fall under Title IX (process A), the issue may be subject to review and process under one of WVNCC’s rules, policies and/or associated procedures (process B).


Links to College Rules and Federal Laws

Title IX

Title IX Definitions

Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013

WVNCC Interpersonal Violence Rule

WVNCC Harassment and Discrimination Rule

WVNCC Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Rule

WVNCC Student Code of Conduct

WVNCC Disciplinary Action Rule

WVNCC Workplace Standards of Conduct

WVNCC Computer and Internet Usage Rule

 

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