Administrative Regulation on Hate-Motivated Behavior

Administrative Regulation 5145.9

San Francisco Unified School District and County Office of Education

Administrative Regulation 5145.9

Hate-Motivated Behavior

This Administrative Regulation applies to the San Francisco Unified School District and the County Office of Education.

Every student has the right to be protected from "hate-motivated" behavior. The Superintendent shall promote harmonious relationships that enable students to gain a true understanding of the civil rights and social responsibilities of people in our society.  Behavior or statements that degrade an individual on the basis of his/her race, ethnicity, culture, heritage, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical/mental attributes or religious beliefs or practices shall not be tolerated and may be considered “hate-motivated” speech or "hate-motivated" behavior. A “hate-motivated" comment or “bias incident” is biased conduct, speech, or expression that has an impact, but does not involve a criminal action.

Hate crimes (vandalism, physical assault, arson, etc.) are crimes which are motivated, in whole or in part, by bias, by the targeted individual or group’s characteristics or perceived characteristics of disability, gender, gender identity or expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, religious beliefs or association with a person or group who has one of these characteristics.  “Hate crimes” should be reported to law enforcement. 

School Climate

Everyday acts of intolerance and/or hate may manifest in a variety of ways: name-calling, slurs, sexual harassment, casual put downs regarding race, ethnicity, gender, size, abilities, perceived sexual orientation or gender identification. Administrators and teachers should actively work to promote a positive school climate. School staff are encouraged to: 

  • Work to establish a climate where casual slurs are uncommon and are challenged when they do occur. Set expectations of how students should speak to each other (in person and online), whether they are in or out of earshot of a teacher or administrator.
  • Create a no-slur school by stating clear support for a safe, open learning environment free of slurs. Be specific: no insults related to ability, appearance, culture, gender, home language, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or social class will be tolerated.
  • Engage students who appear to be isolated in school settings due to potential bias or stereotyping.
  • Check for signs of hostility, depression, or a marked change in behavior or academic performance, and reach out to the student’s parents or guardians and/or the school counselor as appropriate.
  • Model inclusive, pro-social behavior and interrupt moments of bias among staff.

If a "hate-motivated" comment or action occurs, school staff should be prepared to discuss how the school will respond. The school should also be prepared to respond to "hate-motivated" incidents that happen in the community or off-campus if the incidents have an impact on its students or school environment.


Any student who feels that they are a victim of "hate-motivated" behavior shall immediately contact the principal or any trusted staff member with whom the student has a relationship.  Reports can be made in writing or verbally and all complaints should be reported to a site administrator. If the student believes that the situation has not been remedied by the principal or designee, the student may file a complaint with the District’s Office of Equity in accordance with District Uniform Complaint Procedures (Board Policy 1312.3).

Staff who receive notice of "hate-motivated" behavior or personally observe such behavior shall notify the principal.

Grievance Procedures & Investigation

When a staff member first hears "hate speech" or "bias speech," they should immediately interrupt, address, and admonish the student making such comments. The staff member should do an initial inquiry with the victim-student to determine if a full investigation is needed.  Included in that initial inquiry should be questions regarding the harm that the student has suffered, frequency and persistence of the behavior, and the history between the students. If the administrator determines that a full investigation is needed to learn more about the incident and/or to determine what happened, s/he should reference and complete the SFUSD’s Office of Equity “Hate Speech/Discrimination Investigation Form” as they conduct their investigation.  At the completion of the investigation, the administrator is responsible for providing the Investigation Form and supporting documents to the Director of Equity.

Once an administrator receives a report of "hate-motivated" behavior, and determines that a full investigation is needed, the administrator/investigator should begin their investigation immediately. If the administrator determines that a full investigation is needed, the administrator shall conduct a thorough and equitable investigation into the allegations and inform the victim-student/family regarding the status of the investigation.  During the course of the investigation, the administrator should consider the following factors:


  • Put safety first,
  • Denounce the act,
  • Investigate,
  • Involve others where necessary,
  • Provide accurate information and dispel misinformation,
  • Support targeted students,
  • Seek justice, avoid blame, and
  • Promote healing.


A student who has been found to have demonstrated "hate-motivated" behavior shall be subject to discipline in accordance with law, Board Policy, and Administrative Regulation.

Once the full investigation is complete, the administrator should:


  • Debrief with their school site, investigation team, and staff to discuss the investigation process to review lessons learned,
  • Expand the discussion to include relevant students, parents and guardians and community members, keeping in mind that an individual student's disciplinary record is confidential under state law and FERPA,
  • Take notes about all suggestions and comments and include those with the Investigation Form, and
  • Discuss all follow-up steps and use them to create a road map for change (if needed).


As necessary, the District shall provide counseling and appropriate sensitivity training and diversity education for students exhibiting "hate-motivated" behavior.  The District shall also provide counseling, guidance and support, as necessary, to those students who are the victims of "hate-motivated" behavior.

The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that staff receive training on recognizing "hate-motivated" behavior and on strategies to help respond appropriately to such behavior.

At the beginning of each school year, students and staff shall receive a copy of the District's Administrative Regulation on "hate-motivated" behavior in the Student and Parent Handbook.  The District shall provide age-appropriate instruction to help promote an understanding of and respect for human rights, diversity, and tolerance in a multicultural society and to provide strategies to manage conflicts constructively. 

Reference: Teaching Tolerance, Responding to Hate and Bias at School


Please note that compare references, or “cf”, refer to CSBA model policies and do not necessarily indicate that the San Francisco Unified School District has adopted the referenced policy.

This page was last updated on June 6, 2022