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Ellicottville Central Schools now have a policy preventing sexual, racial or religious harassment and intimidation of students.

Acting on recommendations made by the Allegany/Cattaraugus Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the Ellicottville School Board adopted the policy Tuesday night.

The policy distinguishes between "different treatment" racial harassment of students by district employees on the basis of race, color or national origin and "hostile environment" harassment resulting from the district's failure to correct racially hostile conduct of a physical, verbal, graphic or written nature.

Both forms of harassment limit students' participation in school services and activities and must be investigated by district authorities, regardless of whether or not a formal complaint was filed with the school's complaint officer, according to the policy.

Maximum penalties for harassment include termination if the offender is a school employee, suspension or expulsion if the offender is a student.

The policy requires the superintendent to design a way to resolve complaints, and calls for the district to provide awareness training to all students and staff and counseling to victims of harassment.

In another matter, the board also adopted a policy governing the use of the district's computer system by students and teachers.

In the case of students, parents are warned the school may not have control over networks and electronic communications otherwise deemed unsuitable by parents and may not be able to prevent access to some information, especially when students are able to enter the school's computer services from home or another remote location.

Students and parents must sign an agreement that acknowledges parents will set standards for computer access.

The policy governing staff use of the computer system allows limited privacy rights but establishes circumstances for a computer coordinator to look at files in cases where there is suspicion of violations.

A warning against expectations of privacy is included.

Students or teachers who misuse the computers may be disciplined and could be charged in criminal or civil court proceedings under the policy.

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