Complaint Procedures for Responding to a Report of Sexual Misconduct
When New England Conservatory receives any complaint of misconduct it will promptly investigate the allegation in a fair and expeditious manner. New England Conservatory will make every effort to proceed in such a way as to maintain confidentiality to the extent practicable under the circumstances. If it is determined that inappropriate conduct has occurred NEC will act promptly to eliminate the offending conduct, and where appropriate we will also impose disciplinary action.
Timeframe for Investigating a Complaint
A formal complaint shall normally be investigated within sixty (60) working days from the date upon which the complainant had knowledge or should have had knowledge of the alleged act(s) of which he or she complains. Where, however, the act complained of is one of a continuing nature, has a continuing effect, or, in the judgment of the designated person warrants proceeding, the time limit may be reasonably extended. If the Title IX Coordinator or Direct Report or the President believes that he or she is unable to make an objective judgment when a complaint filed under these procedures comes before him/her, then s/he will so advise the parties and will appoint a designee to serve as a replacement.
On the basis of the investigation, the Title IX Officer or designee will make a determination regarding whether the accused violated NEC Policy. The Officer or designee who conducted the investigation will meet individually with the individual who made the complaint and the individual or individuals against whom the complaint was made, to report the results of the investigation and, where a remedy is determined to be appropriate, to inform the parties of the steps that will be taken to remedy the situation. This report may or may not be in the form of a written report, and will be delivered to the complainant and accused at the conclusion of the investigation.
If, upon receipt of the Officer or designee’s findings either party takes exception, he or she may appeal by notifying the Director of Human Resources via a written Letter of Appeal and stating the basis of the Appeal within ten (10) working days of her/his receipt of the investigation’s findings.
Complaint Procedure Steps:
Step 1: Reporting
Members of the NEC community are strongly encouraged to promptly report all incidents of sexual misconduct. Prompt reporting of such incidents makes investigation of the incident more effective and enhances the ability of NEC to take action. Any individual who believes he or she has been subjected to sexual misconduct by another NEC employee may initiate a complaint by speaking to his/her supervisor or Department Head, Dean of Students, Associate Dean of Students or the Director of Human Resources.
If accused is a staff member or faculty member report to:
Marianne Wisheart, 617-585-1229
Room 203, St. Botolph Building
Director of Human Resources, Title IX Coordinator, Faculty and Staff
If accused is a student report to:
Suzanne Hegland, 617-585-1313
Dean of Students, Chair of Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Committee and Title IX Coordinator for Student against Student Sexual Assault, Students
Student Services, Room 244, St. Botolph Building
Rebecca Teeters, 617-585-1311
Assistant Dean of Students/Academic and International Student Advisor, Alternate Chair of Sexual Misconduct Disciplinary Committee and Alternate Title IX Coordinator for Student against Student Sexual Assault, Students
Student Services, Room 244, St. Botolph Building
In addition to filing a complaint within NEC, individuals may also file a criminal complaint with the Boston Police. The standards for finding a violation of law are different from the standards used by NEC in determining whether there has been a violation of NEC’s policy. The filing of a complaint of sexual misconduct with NEC is independent of any criminal investigation or proceeding (although NEC’s investigation may be delayed temporarily while the criminal investigators are gathering evidence) and NEC may not wait for the conclusion of any criminal proceeding to start its own investigation.
Step 2: Filing a complaint with NEC
You may file a complaint with the Title IX coordinator, who will explain your options, initiate an investigation, and pursue a resolution. Possible sanctions for the accused, if found responsible, range from a formal warning, suspension, expulsion (for students), and termination (for employees). Notice of a formal complaint can be made in person or orally to an appropriate official, but NEC strongly encourages submission of grievances in writing, by email attachment as a MS Word or pdf document, in other written form to the Title IX Coordinator.
The grievance should clearly and concisely describe the alleged incident(s), when and where it occurred, and the desired remedy sought. The grievance should be signed by the initiator or, in the case of an email submission, sent as an email attachment, in letter format and should contain the name and all contact information for the grievant. Any supporting documentation and evidence should be referenced within the body of the formal grievance. Additionally, the initiator of a formal grievance should submit any supporting materials in writing as quickly as is practicable.
Step 3: Investigation
A prompt and impartial investigation of the complaint is conducted by qualified Conservatory Investigators or by their designee. (For example, for a complaint against a student, this would be the Dean of Students or Associate Dean of Students.)
Investigations of the complaint will consist of the following actions:
1. providing a copy of the written complaint or statement to the person accused;
2. requesting and reviewing the response of the person accused;
3. providing a copy of that response to the complainant if the accused provides a written response to the complaint;
4. reviewing relevant Conservatory policies and documents, and reviewing documents of both parties;
5. interviewing persons identified by both parties as ones having information pertinent to the allegations;
6. interviewing other persons having information pertinent to the allegations;
7. collecting further evidence relevant to the investigation;
8. presenting the evidence to each party and considering any rebuttal; and
9. any such other steps as the Title IX coordinator believes are necessary.
Step 4: Determination Based on Preponderance of the Evidence.
On the basis of the documentation, interviews, and other relevant information gathered through the investigation, the Title IX officer or designated officer will make a determination regarding whether the person accused violated Conservatory policy, using the preponderance of the evidence.
Step 5: Statement of Findings and Recommendation.
The Title IX officer or designated officer will provide a written Statement of Findings and Recommendations to the parties, Senior Administration and the President. This Statement of Findings and Recommendation will be provided in summary to the complainant and the accused.
Step 6: Appeals
The conclusions in an investigation report of a policy violation (or no violation) are generally final and cannot be appealed by either the complainant or the respondent, unless either person can raise one or more of the following grounds:
- There was a substantial procedural error (the process was not followed in a way that could have significantly affected the outcome);
- There is a finding of fact in the report that is material (would be important to the outcome of the case) that is not supported by the information provided to the investigator; or
- There is new and specific information that is material to the outcome of the case and that was not considered at the time of the Formal Review.
The decision by the manager of what action to take in response to the conclusions of an investigation report (e.g., a warning or required training) cannot be appealed.
All appeals must be submitted in writing to the Director of Human Resources within ten business days of receipt of the investigation report. The Director of Human Resources will review the request and determine if one of the three grounds for an appeal has been asserted. If so, the human resources director will notify the complainant and the respondent that the appeal will be considered.
The Director of Human Resources decides an appeal (see below for appeal path for faculty), and will:
- Review the investigation report and any other relevant records or information he or she determines appropriate to consider
- If necessary to consider the appeal, confer with the complainant, respondent or other participants
- Determine if one of the three grounds for appeal applies
If the Director of Human Resources decides that no ground for appeal applies, he or she will notify the parties that the appeal has been denied. If the Director of Human Resources determines that a ground for appeal does apply, he or she will:
- Affirm, modify, or overrule the conclusions in the investigation report, or
- Refer the matter for additional investigation, reconsideration, or informal resolution
The Director of Human Resource’s decision or referral will be made in writing within ten business days of receiving an appeal.
A copy of the appeal decision will be sent to the complainant, respondent, Senior Administration, and the President. If any conclusions of the investigation are modified or overturned in the appeal, the Senior Administration will reconsider any prior decision based on those modified or overturned conclusions, and will inform the complainant, and respondent of the results of the reconsideration.
In the case of an appeal of conclusions against a faculty member, the same process applies but the appeal is submitted to the Dean and Provost of the College and/or President for review within ten days following the date of notice of such action. If extenuating circumstances exist, the time limit may be extended by the Administration, with an appropriate extension for any further action which the Administration must take. At least one personal conference by either the Dean of the College or the President, at the President’s discretion, shall be granted as a matter of right. The taking of an appeal shall not interfere with nor delay any action taken by the Administration, nor any schedule established for such action. The Administration shall use its best efforts to afford a conference as soon as is reasonably convenient. The Dean and Provost of the College considering the appeal will inform the human resources officer of the appeal, and will consult with the human resources office on the process.
Faculty Appeal Review by Special Jury
- Any full-time or modified full-time faculty member who has been adversely affected by action taken under Title IX and who is dissatisfied with the results of an appeal to the Administration, and any full-time or modified full-time faculty member who has been employed for more than three years by the Conservatory as a faculty member and who has been adversely affected by action taken pursuant to Title IX and who is dissatisfied with the results of an appeal to the Administration may, by writing, request a review by a special jury of Conservatory faculty and other professional members of the Conservatory. Such written requests shall be submitted to the President no later than fifteen (15) days after the personal conference with the Dean of the College or the President and, in any event, no later than thirty (30) days after the date of the written appeal to the Administration. The time limit may be extended only by written agreement of the President.
- Members of the Jury will be selected by joint agreement of the President of the Conservatory and the Chairperson of the Faculty Senate. No agreement on membership within two weeks of the request will require each party to choose two members and this group of four shall decide by majority vote on a fifth member, all within one week of the expiration of the initial two-week period. If either party does not appoint two members or if a fifth member has not been selected within such week, the jury will consist of those who have been chosen and shall proceed. If there is a vacancy in the office of the President or if the President is absent or unable to act for any reason, a substitute named by the Board of Trustees may act in his or her stead. If there is a vacancy in the office of the Chairperson of the Faculty Senate or if the Chairperson is absent or unable to act for any reason, the Steering Committee of the Faculty Senate may act in his or her stead.
- The Jury will review the case made by the President, accompanied by related materials plus any materials the faculty member wishes to present. The faculty member will be permitted to make a personal appearance if desired. Inaction or stalemate by the Jury will not interfere with the President’s original decision. After review, the Jury may, but shall not be required, to make a recommendation in writing to the President, which shall be submitted within thirty (30) days after selection of the Jury. The time limit may be extended only by written agreement of the President.
- The President shall consider such recommendation, if timely made, and, thereupon, shall in good faith make a decision, which shall be final and binding on all parties and which shall not be further appealable. If, after consideration of the Jury’s recommendation, the President decides to impose a lesser sanction or take action more favorable to the faculty member than originally imposed, he or she may do so and such action shall not be grounds for further appeal or review.
Complaints by or against Students
This policy applies to a work-related complaint filed by a student against an employee (including a supervisor) if the issue arose in a NEC work setting. If a complaint is made against a student who is working at NEC, the student process outlined in the link below through the Office of Student Services may be followed. However, a formal complaint against a student employed by NEC will usually be addressed through the Office of Student Services even if the issue arose in a work setting. See the Student Sexual Misconduct Policy: http://necmusic.edu/student-services/policies/sexual-misconduct
In the event that the investigation reveals that sexual misconduct, discrimination, or other inappropriate or unprofessional conduct (even if not unlawful) has occurred, further action will be taken, including disciplinary action, such as but not limited to reprimand, change in work assignment, loss of privileges, mandatory training or suspension and/or immediate termination or expulsion (if student).
All actions taken to investigate and resolve complaints through this procedure shall be conducted with as much privacy, discretion and confidentiality as possible without compromising the thoroughness and fairness of the investigation. All persons involved are to treat the situation with respect. To conduct a thorough investigation, the Investigator(s) may discuss the complaint with witnesses and those persons involved in or affected by the complaint, and those persons necessary to assist in the investigation or to implement appropriate disciplinary actions. NEC respects an employee’s desire for confidentiality and will always strive to protect an employee’s right to privacy. However, confidentiality can limit the Conservatory’s ability to conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate disciplinary action. Additionally, the Conservatory may be required to break confidentiality if the reported incident poses a credible threat to the safety of the NEC community or the public at large.
No Retaliation for Filing a Complaint of Sexual Misconduct or Unlawful Discrimination
Retaliation against any individual for making a complaint of sexual misconduct or of any unlawful discrimination or for assisting in the investigation of such a complaint is illegal and will not be tolerated. Any acts of retaliation will be subject to appropriate disciplinary action, such as but not limited to reprimand, change in work assignment, and loss of privileges, mandatory training or suspension and/or immediate termination or expulsion (if student).