Dear Downtown High School Community:
We encourage all students who have experienced sexual harassment or assault to share their experience and get help. We want to make sure you know how to report any instance of sexual harassment or violence. We also want to remind you that you may contact our school's Wellness Center for support resources, including referrals to community resources.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment, I encourage you to report the harassment to a trusted SFUSD adult. In addition, SFUSD designates specific Title IX Site Officers at every District school. These Site Officers are specifically responsible for addressing incidents of sexual harassment that occur within their school community. Our school’s Title IX Site Officers are Julia Sobalvarro and Todd Williams.
If a student wishes to report a specific incident to SFUSD, please do so as described below. We want all students to feel safe and supported at Downtown High School. Students can report any concerns to their principal, Todd Williams, or to their Dean, Mrs. Sobalvarro, or to the District’s Title IX Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Reporting incidents of harassment to us will help ensure that we can investigate and take appropriate action on behalf of students. If you have any questions regarding the District policies, please reach out to me or Mrs. Sobalvarro.
What is SFUSD’s Sexual Harassment/Title IX Policy?
The District’s policy on sexual harassment now adopts the Title IX regulation’s new definition of sexual harassment and provides a formal grievance procedure for the investigation into such conduct and/or into allegations against students and staff members. Sexual Harassment is now defined as the following conduct that occurs at school or at school-related activity that includes:
- Unwelcome sexual conduct determined by a reasonable person to be so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive that it effectively denies a person equal access to the District’s education program or activity;
- A District employee conditioning the provision of an aid, benefit, or service of the District on a student or individual’s participation in unwelcome sexual conduct; or
- Sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking, as defined in AR 5145.7.
Conduct that meets this definition of sexual harassment will be investigated under the District’s new Formal Grievance Procedure, which is initiated when a student (the victim of the alleged conduct) or their parent/guardian submits a written formal complaint to the District’s Office of Equity.
These investigation procedures are outlined in SFUSD's sexual harassment policies: BP 5145.7 and AR 5145.7. Here is SFUSD's Title IX Complaint Procedure for a visual outline of the investigation process. Incidents that do not rise to the level of a formal Title IX Complaint, are investigated through the District’s Bullying & Harassment Policies: BP 5131.2 and AR 5131.2.
In addition to the resources linked above, for more information on the Title IX investigation process, please see the following resources:
- SFUSD’s Sexual Harassment and Gender Discrimination webpage
- Formal Title IX Complaint Process Chart
- Student and Family FAQ
The District’s Board Policy requires that for any allegation of sexual harassment, designated District staff will review the allegations and determine whether there is reliable information to pursue an investigation. Please note that if you are sharing your story anonymously, this limits the school and District’s ability to identify the students involved, to investigate and to provide the appropriate action.
What can the school do if something happens outside of school grounds?
Please know that given how the current law is written, when crimes or misconduct occur outside of school activities (such as over the summer, weekend, or other non-school sponsored events), the District does not have the legal authority to suspend or expel students for their conduct in the broader community. We still want to hear if students have experienced sexual harassment so we may offer school based support as appropriate and/or refer to the appropriate authorities. In those cases, we refer to the appropriate local authorities such as the San Francisco Police Department and Child Protective Services.
Even when we do not have jurisdiction to suspend or expel, we will still take action to intervene and communicate. In the event that any students are creating an unsafe school environment, we will work with students as well as their parents/guardians to address our safety and behavior expectations and the consequences of violating those expectations.
Why do we not hear more about what happens after a complaint of sexual harassment is made to the school or district?
In any case that SFUSD investigates we follow the guidelines of the Federal Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA) and bargaining agreements, local, state, and federal law governing the privacy and rights of employees. As such, we are unable to share the specifics of these investigations with anyone other than those who are directly associated with the complaint or investigation.
While there are laws that provide limitations for us during investigations, I want to reiterate that we take all concerns seriously and want to do everything we can to best support our students in every way possible. Please contact me with any questions.
415 695 5860 w
415 309 1625 c