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Uniform Complaint Procedures

This document contains rules and instructions about the filing, investigation and resolution of a Uniform Complaint Procedures (“UCP”) complaint regarding an alleged violation by Connecting Waters Charter Schools (“CWCS”) (collectively “the Charter Schools”) of federal or state laws or regulations governing educational programs, including allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying and non- compliance with laws relating to pupil fees and our Local Control and Accountability Plan (“LCAP”).

This document presents information about how we process UCP complaints concerning particular programs or activities in which we receive state or federal funding. A UCP complaint is a written and signed statement by a complainant alleging a violation of federal or state laws or regulations, which may include an:

  1. Allegation of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying,
  2. Charging pupil fees for participation in an educational activity,
  3. Non- compliance with the requirements of our LCAP, or
  4. Non-compliance with the rights of lactating pupils on campus.

 

A complainant is any individual, including a person's duly authorized representative or an interested third party, public agency, or organization who files a written complaint alleging violation of federal or state laws or regulations, including allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying and non-compliance with laws relating to pupil fees or non-compliance with the requirements of our LCAP. If the complainant is unable to put the complaint in writing, due to a disability or illiteracy, we shall assist the complainant in the filing of the complaint.

 

Programs and activities that are implemented by our district and subject to the UCP in which we receive state or federal funding are:

 

Adult Education Programs; After School Education and Safety Programs; Agricultural Vocational Education; American Indian Education Centers and Early Child Education Program Assessments; California Peer Assistance and Review Programs for Teachers; Career Technical and Technical Education and Career Technical and Technical Training Programs; Child Care and Development Programs; Child Nutrition Programs; Compensatory Education; Consolidated Categorical Aid Programs; Economic Impact Aid; Education of Pupils in Foster Care and Pupils who are Homeless; Every Student Succeeds Act / No Child Left Behind Act; Limited English proficiency; Local Control Accountability Plans (including Charter Schools as described in EC §§ 47606.5 and 47607.3); Migrant Education; Physical Education Instructional Minutes; Pupil Fees; Reasonable Accommodations to a Lactating Pupil; Regional Occupational Centers and Programs; School Safety Plans; State Preschool, Bilingual Education; Special Education; and Tobacco - Use Prevention Education.

 

We will investigate all allegations of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying against any protected group as identified in Education Code section 200 and 220 and Government Code section 11135, including any actual or perceived characteristics as set forth in Penal Code section 422.55 or on the basis or a person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics in any program or activity conducted by the agency, which is funded directly by, or that receives or benefits from any state financial assistance.

 

A “pupil fee” is a fee, deposit, or other charge imposed on pupils, or a pupil's parents or guardians, in violation of state codes and constitutional provisions which require educational activities to be provided free of charge to all pupils without regard to their families' ability or willingness to pay fees or request special waivers. “Educational activities” are those offered by a school, school district, charter school, or county office of education that constitute a fundamental part of education, including, but not limited to, curricular and extracurricular activities.

 

A pupil fee includes, but is not limited to, all of the following:

1.  A fee charged to a pupil as a condition for registering for school or classes, or as a condition for participation in a class or an extracurricular activity, regardless of

whether the class or activity is elective or compulsory, or is for credit.

2.  A security deposit, or other payment, that a pupil is required to make to obtain a lock, locker, book, class apparatus, musical instrument, clothes, or other materials or equipment.

3.  A purchase that a pupil is required to make to obtain materials, supplies, equipment, or clothes associated with an educational activity.

 

A pupil fees complaint may be filed anonymously if the complaint provides evidence or information leading to evidence to support an allegation of noncompliance with laws relating to pupil fees. If the Charter Schools find merit in a pupil fees complaint the Charter Schools shall provide a remedy to all affected pupils, parents, and guardians that, where applicable, includes reasonable efforts by the Charter Schools to ensure full reimbursement to all affected pupils, parents, and guardians, subject to procedures established through regulations adopted by the state board. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to prohibit solicitation of voluntary donations of funds or property, voluntary participation in fundraising activities, or school districts, school, and other entities from providing pupils prizes or other recognition for voluntarily participating in fundraising activities.

 

The LCAP is an important component of the LCFF, the revised school finance system that overhauled how California funds its K-12 schools. Under the LCFF we are required to prepare an LCAP, which describes how we intend to meet annual goals for our pupils, with specific activities to address state and local priorities identified pursuant to Education Code Section 52060(d).

 

The Responsibilities of the Charter Schools

We have the primary responsibility to insure compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations. We shall investigate complaints alleging failure to comply with applicable state and federal laws and regulations including, including, but not limited to, allegations of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying or noncompliance with laws relating to all programs and activities implemented by the district that are subject to the UCP.

 

Notifications

We shall ensure annual dissemination of the written notice of our complaint procedures to students, employees, parents or guardians of its students, advisory committees’ member, appropriate private school officials or representatives, and other interested parties that includes information regarding unlawful pupil fees and LCAP requirements.

 

Our UCP Annual Notice shall be in English and in the primary language, pursuant to section

48985 of the Education Code, or mode of communication of the recipient of the notice. The Executive Director or designee shall make available copies of the Charter Schools’ uniform complaint procedures free of charge

 

The annual notice shall include the following:

  1. A statement that the Charter Schools are primarily responsible for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations.
     
  2. A statement that a pupil enrolled in a public school shall not be required to pay a pupil fee for participation in an educational activity.
     
  3. A statement identifying the responsible staff member, position, or unit designated to receive complaints.
     
  4. A statement that the complainant has a right to appeal the Charter Schools’ decision to the CDE by filing a written appeal within 15 days of receiving the Charter Schools’ decision.
     
  5. A statement advising the complainant of any civil law remedies that may be available under state or federal discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying laws, if applicable, and of the appeal pursuant to Education Code § 262.3.
     
  6. A statement that copies of the local educational agency complaint procedures shall be available free of charge.

 

Our UCP Annual Notice shall also include information regarding the requirements of Education Code sections 49010 through 49013 relating to pupil fees and information regarding the requirements of Education Code section 52075 relating to the LCAP.

 

Compliance Officer

The following person is responsible for receiving and investigating complaints and ensuring the Charter Schools’ compliance:

 

Name or title:  Sherri Nelson, Executive Director

Address: 12420 Bentley Street, Waterford, CA 95386

Phone:  800.808.9895x6              

E-mail address: snelson@cwcharter.org

 

The Executive Director or designee shall ensure that employees designated to investigate complaints are knowledgeable about the laws and programs for which they are responsible. Designated employees may have access to legal counsel as determined by the Executive Director or designee. Should a complaint be filed against the executive Director, the compliance officer for that case shall be the President of the Charter School Board of Directors.

 

Procedures

The following procedures shall be used to address all complaints which allege that the Charter Schools have violated federal or state laws or regulations governing educational programs.  Compliance officers shall maintain a record of each complaint and subsequent related actions.

 

All parties involved in allegations shall be notified when a complaint is filed, when a complaint meeting or hearing is scheduled, and when a decision or ruling is made.

 

  • Step 1: Filing of Complaint

 

Any individual, public agency or organization may file a written complaint of alleged noncompliance by the Charter Schools.

An unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation and bullying complaint shall be filed no later than six (6) months from the date the alleged discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying occurred, or six (6) months from the date the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying.

The time for filing a discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaint may be extended in writing by our Executive Director or designee, upon written request by the complainant setting forth the reasons for the extension. The period for filing a discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaint may be extended by our superintendent or his or her designee for good cause for a period not to exceed 90 calendar days following the expiration of the six (6) month time period. Our Executive Director shall respond immediately upon a receipt of a request for extension.

 

The complaint shall be filed by one who alleges that he or she has personally suffered unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying or by one who believes an individual or any specific class of individuals has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying prohibited by this part.

 

Pupil fee complaints shall be filed not later than one (1) year from the date the alleged violation occurred.

 

The Charter Schools prohibit any form of retaliation against any complainant in the complaint process, including but not limited to a complainant’s filing of a complaint or the reporting of instances of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying. Such participation shall not in any way affect the status, grades or work assignments of the complainant.

 

The Charter Schools acknowledge and respect every individual’s rights to privacy. Unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaints shall be investigated in a manner that protects (to the greatest extent reasonably possible) the confidentiality of the parties and the integrity of the process.  The Charter Schools cannot guarantee anonymity of the complainant. This includes keeping the identity of the complainant confidential.  However, the Charter Schools will attempt to do so as appropriate.  The Charter Schools may find it necessary to disclose information regarding the complaint/complainant to the extent necessary to carry out the investigation or proceedings, as determined by the Executive Director or designee on a case-by-case basis.

 

The complaint shall be presented to the compliance officer who shall maintain a log of complaints received, providing each with a code number and date stamp.

 

  • Step 2: Mediation

 

Within three (3) days of receiving the complaint, the compliance officer may informally discuss with the complainant the possibility of using mediation.  If the complainant agrees to mediation, the compliance officer shall make arrangements for this process.

        

Before initiating the mediation of an unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaint, the compliance officer shall ensure that all parties agree to make the mediator a party to related confidential information.

 

If the mediation process does not resolve the problem within the parameters of law, the compliance officer shall proceed with his/her investigation of the complaint.

 

The use of mediation shall not extend the Charter Schools’ timelines for investigating and resolving the complaint unless the complainant agrees in writing to such an extension of time.

 

  • Step 3: Investigation of Complaint

 

The compliance officer is encouraged to hold an investigative meeting within five (5) days of receiving the complaint or an unsuccessful attempt to mediate the complaint.  This meeting shall provide an opportunity for the complainant and/or his/her representative to repeat the complaint orally.

 

The investigation shall provide an opportunity for the complainant, or the complainant's representative, or both, to present evidence or information.

 

Refusal by the complainant to provide the investigator with documents or other evidence related to the allegations in the complaint, or to otherwise fail or refuse to cooperate in the investigation or engage in any other obstruction of the investigation, may result in the dismissal of the complaint because of a lack of evidence to support the allegations.

 

Refusal by the Charter Schools to provide the investigator with access to records and/or other information related to the allegation in the complaint, or to otherwise fail or refuse

to cooperate in the investigation or engage in any other obstruction of the investigation, may result in a finding based on evidence collected that a violation has occurred and may result in

the imposition of a remedy in favor of the complainant.

 

  • Step 4: Response

 

A UCP complaint will be investigated and a written report (also known as the Decision) issued to the complainant within sixty (60) days from the date of the receipt of the complaint, unless the complainant agrees in writing to an extension of time.

 

  • Step 5: Final Written Decision

 

We shall issue a written Decision based on the evidence and will send a copy to the complainant. The Charter Schools’ decision shall be written in English and in the language of the complainant whenever feasible or as required by law.

The decision shall include:

     (i)     the findings of fact based on the evidence gathered,

 

     (ii)     conclusion(s) of law,

 

      (iii)    disposition of the complaint,

 

      (iv)    rationale for such disposition,

 

       (v)     corrective actions, if any are warranted,

 

(vi)    notice of the complainant's right to appeal our Decision to the CDE within fifteen (15) days of the Decision and the procedures for initiating an appeal.

 

  1. For unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaints arising under state law, notice that the complainant must wait until sixty (60) days have elapsed from the filing of an appeal with the CDE before pursuing civil law remedies.

 

  1. For unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaints arising under federal law such complaint may be made at any time to the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights.

 

If an employee is disciplined as a result of the complaint, the decision shall simply state that effective action was taken and that the employee was informed of the Charter Schools’ expectations.  The report shall not give any further information as to the nature of the disciplinary action.

 

Appeals to the California Department of Education

If dissatisfied with the Charter Schools’ decision, the complainant may appeal in writing to the CDE within fifteen (15) days of receiving the Charter Schools’ decision.  When appealing to the CDE, the complainant must specify the basis for the appeal of the decision and whether the facts are incorrect and/or the law has been misapplied.  The appeal shall be accompanied by a copy of the locally filed complaint and a copy of the Charter Schools’ decision.

Upon notification by the CDE that the complainant has appealed the Charter Schools’ decision, the Executive Director or designee shall forward the following documents to the CDE:

  1. A copy of the original complaint.
     
  2. A copy of the decision.
     
  3. A summary of the nature and extent of the investigation conducted by the Charter Schools, if not covered by the decision.
     
  4. A copy of the investigation file, including but not limited to all notes, interviews, and documents submitted by all parties and gathered by the investigator.
     
  5. A report of any action taken to resolve the complaint.
     
  6. A copy of the Charter Schools’ complaint procedures.
     
  7. Other relevant information requested by the CDE.

 

The CDE may directly intervene in the complaint without waiting for action by the Charter Schools when one of the conditions listed in Title 5, California Code of Regulations, Section 4650 exists, including cases in which the Charter Schools have not taken action within sixty (60) days of the date the complaint was filed with the Charter Schools.

Civil Law Remedies

A complainant may pursue available civil law remedies outside of the Charter Schools’ complaint procedures.  Complainants may seek assistance from mediation centers or public/private interest attorneys.  Civil law remedies that may be imposed by a court include, but are not limited to, injunctions and restraining orders.  For unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaints arising under state law, however, a complainant must wait until sixty (60) days have elapsed from the filing of an appeal with the CDE before pursuing civil law remedies. The moratorium does not apply to injunctive relief and is applicable only if the Charter Schools have appropriately, and in a timely manner, apprised the complainant of his/her right to file a complaint in accordance with 5 CCR 4622.