SECTION 1. Section 3 of Chapter 151C of the General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, is hereby amended by striking lines 1-63, inclusive, and inserting in its place the following:
(a) Any person seeking admission as a student to any educational institution, or enrolled as a student in a vocational training institution, who claims to be aggrieved by an alleged unfair educational practice, hereinafter referred to as the complainant, may, independently, or through a parent or guardian, make, sign and file with the commission a verified complaint which shall set forth the particulars thereof and contain such other information as may be required by the commission. The attorney general may, in like manner, make, sign and file such complaint. The commission shall thereupon make an investigation in connection therewith; and after such investigation, if the commission shall determine that probable cause exists for crediting the allegations of the complaint, it shall attempt by informal methods of persuasion, conciliation or mediation to induce the elimination of such unfair educational practice.
(b) Where the commission has reason to believe that an applicant or applicants for admission to any educational institution, or enrolled student or students in a vocational training institution have been discriminated against, except that preferential selection by religious or denominational institutions of students on the grounds of religious or denominational affiliations shall not be considered an act of discrimination, the commission may on its own motion make an investigation.
(c) The commission shall not disclose what takes place during such informal efforts at persuasion, conciliation or mediation, and there shall not be offered in evidence in any proceeding the facts adduced in such informal efforts.
(d) A complaint pursuant to this section must be filed with the commission within 300 days after the alleged unfair educational practice was committed.
(e) If such informal methods fail to induce the elimination of the alleged unfair educational practice, the commission may issue and cause to be served upon such institution, hereinafter called the respondent, a certification of the complaint setting forth the alleged unfair educational practice charged for a hearing before the commission, at a place and time to be determined. The commission through the chairman may appoint a single commissioner or hearing officer to hold public hearings.
(f) The respondent shall have the right to answer the original and any amended complaint, and to appear at such hearing by counsel, present evidence and examine and cross-examine witnesses. The case in support of the complaint shall be presented before the commission by one of its attorneys or agents or by an attorney retained by the complainant.
(g) The commission shall have the power to subpoena witnesses, compel their attendance, administer oaths, take testimony under oath and require the production of evidence relating to the matter in question before it. The testimony taken at the hearing, which shall be public, shall be under oath and shall be recorded or transcribed and filed with the commission.
(h) If, upon all the evidence, the hearing commissioner or hearing officer shall determine that the respondent has engaged in an unfair educational practice, the commissioner or hearing officer shall state the findings of fact and conclusions, and shall issue and cause to be served upon the complainant and the respondent a copy of such findings and conclusions and an order requiring the respondent to cease and desist from such unfair educational practice. The commission may also take such affirmative action or issue any such other order as it may deem just and proper consistent with the provisions of Section 5 of Chapter 151B of the Massachusetts General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition, including reasonable attorney’s fees and costs to any prevailing complainant.
(i) If, upon all the evidence, the hearing commissioner or hearing officer shall find that a respondent has not engaged in any unfair educational practice, the hearing commissioner or hearing officer shall state the findings of fact and conclusions and shall issue and cause to be served on the complainant and respondent a copy of such findings and conclusions and an order dismissing the complaint as to such respondent.
(j) Any party aggrieved by the decision of the hearing commissioner or hearing officer shall have the right to file an appeal to the Full Commission, and if such an appeal is taken, the decision of the Full Commission shall constitute the final agency decision for purposes of Chapter 30A of the Massachusetts General Laws, as appearing in the 2012 Official Edition.
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