Board Policy 5145.7
Board Policy 5145.7
San Francisco Unified School District and County Office of Education
Board Policy 5145.7
This Board Policy applies to the San Francisco Unified School District and the County Office of Education.
The Governing Board is committed to maintaining a safe school environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. The Board prohibits, at school or at school-sponsored or school-related activities, sexual harassment targeted at any student by anyone. The Board also prohibits retaliatory behavior or action against any person who reports, files a complaint or testifies about, or otherwise supports a Complainant in alleging sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title IX of the Education Amendments of the Civil Rights Act of 1972 and is prohibited by both federal and state laws. The United States Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights has defined sexual harassment as "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature 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 and activity. Sexual harassment also includes conduct where a student access to District aid, benefit, or services are conditioned on the students participation in unwelcome sexual conduct, or incidents of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking."
The District strongly encourages students who feel that they are being or have been sexually harassed on school grounds or at school-sponsored or school-related activities by another student or an adult to immediately contact a school site administrator or the District Title IX Coordinator. Any school employee who receives a report from a student or caregiver shall immediately notify the school and District Title IX Coordinator. Once notified, the Title IX Coordinator shall ensure the complaint is addressed through the procedures outlined in Administrative Regulation 5145.71.
Sexual Harassment that does not rise to the level defined under Title IX and this policy, shall be investigated under the District's Bullying & Harassment Board Policy and Administrative Regulation.
The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that all District students receive age-appropriate information on sexual harassment. Such instruction and information shall include:
- What acts and behavior constitute sexual harassment, including the fact that sexual harassment could occur between people of the same sex and could involve sexual violence;
- A clear message that students do not have to endure sexual harassment under any circumstance;
- Encouragement to report observed incidents of sexual harassment even where the alleged victim of the harassment has not complained;
- A clear message that student safety is the District's primary concern, and that any separate rule violation involving an alleged victim or any other person reporting a sexual harassment incident will be addressed separately and will not affect the manner in which the sexual harassment complaint will be received, investigated or resolved;
- A clear message that, regardless of a Complainant's noncompliance with the writing, timeline, or other formal filing requirements, every sexual harassment allegation that involves a student shall be investigated and action shall be taken to respond to that harassment, prevent recurrence, and address any continuing effect on students
- Information about the District's procedure for investigating complaints and the person(s) to whom a report of sexual harassment should be made;
- Information about the rights of students and parents/guardians to file a civil or criminal complaint, as applicable.
- A clear message that, as needed, the District will implement supportive measures to ensure any student who is a Complainant or victim of sexual harassment or a witness to any acts of sexual harassment retains access to the full services and benefits of their educational program.
Response to Report of Sexual Harassment
In the initial contact by the Principal or designee to the Complainant, the Principal or designee will:
(i) inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures;
(ii) consider the Complainant's wishes with respect to supportive measures;
(iii) inform the Complainant of the availability of supportive measures with or without the filing of a formal complaint; and
(iv) explain to the Complainant the process for filing a formal complaint.
Principals and/or Title IX Site Officers are responsible for notifying students and parents/guardians that formal complaints of sexual harassment can be filed under this Board Policy and AR 5145.7 and where to obtain a copy of the procedures.
All formal complaints will be reviewed by a district compliance officer to determine if the conduct is within the district's jurisdiction and that it reaches the legal definition of sexual harassment. Complaints that meet this criteria shall be investigated and resolved in accordance with law and District procedures specified within this Board Policy and in Administrative Regulation 5145.7.
The Superintendent or designee shall take appropriate actions to reinforce the District's sexual harassment policy.
Filing a Formal Title IX Complaint
If an individual has been a victim of sexual harassment, they may file a written, formal complaint. A written formal complaint shall be signed by either physical or digital signature and shall be presented to the District Title IX Coordinator, who shall maintain a log of complaints received. For purposes of the formal complaint, the individual who is alleged to be the victim of the conduct that could constitute sexual harassment will be referred to as the "Complainant" and the individual who has been reported to be the perpetrator of the conduct will be referred to as the "Respondent". The filing of a signed formal complaint will trigger the formal grievance investigation and procedures outlined below.
A formal complaint may be filed in person, by mail, or by email with the District Title IX Coordinator. The complaint may also be submitted to your school site administrator or Title IX Coordinator. Any administrator who receives a formal complaint is required to promptly provide the complaint to the District Title IX Coordinator. The Title IX Coordinator can be contacted at:
Office of Equity/Title IX Coordinator
555 Franklin Street, 3rd Floor
Telephone: (415) 355-7334
Fax: (415) 355-7333
All complaints shall be filed in accordance with the following:
- The allegations in the report, if validated through the preponderance of relevant and available evidence, constitutes sexual harassment under federal Title IX regulations and Board Policy; and
- At the time of filing, the Complainant must be participating in or attempting to participate in an education program or activity provided by the District; and
- The alleged sexual harassment occurred within the District's jurisdiction as defined by federal Title IX policy, which specifies that the incident must have occurred on school grounds and/or within the District's education programs or activities; and
- The formal complaint must be made in writing and include the Complainant's (or their legal guardian's) physical or digital signature, or otherwise indicate that the Complainant is the person filing the formal complaint.
In order to provide meaningful due process to all parties, when a Complainant decides to initiate a formal Title IX complaint, the Complainant may not remain anonymous from the Respondent. The Complainant and the Respondent will receive written notice upon the filing of a formal complaint.
The Title IX Coordinator may also sign a formal Title IX complaint when all other circumstances and jurisdictional requirements are met, including consideration of the best interests of the Complaint and the Complainant's wishes regarding how the District responds to the report.
If a Complainant is unable to put a complaint in writing due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, District staff shall assist in filing the complaint.
Formal Grievance Procedure
Upon receipt of any formal complaint that meets the federal criteria for a Title IX violation, the District will conduct an investigation into the allegations and render a determination with regard to those allegations in compliance with this Board Policy and with the procedures detailed in AR 5147.7. If a complaint is determined not to meet the required criteria, it will be investigated under the District's Bullying & Harassment Board Policy and Administrative Regulations by a school administrator or designee.
An investigator will be assigned the task of gathering evidence related to the allegations. The investigation may include interviewing the parties or witnesses, as well as reviewing relevant evidence. All parties will have equal opportunity to present witnesses and any evidence related to the allegations. Ten business days prior to the conclusion of the investigation, the Complainant and Respondent will be provided a copy of the investigative report and the opportunity to provide a written response to the Investigator. The Investigator will create an investigative report that fairly summarizes the relevant evidence. This will be shared with the Complainant and their family in a written investigative report.
After the parties receive the investigative report, the parties will have ten (10) business days to submit to the Decision-Maker written, relevant questions that a party wants asked of any party or witness. The Decision-Maker will determine the relevancy of the questions and allow limited follow-up questions and responses from each party. The report and parties' response will be submitted to the Decision-Maker for deliberation.
The Decision-Maker will conduct an evaluation of all relevant evidence and will issue a written determination regarding responsibility to both parties.
A party may appeal the final determination or dismissal of a complaint within 5 (five) business days of the issuance of the written determination on the following bases:
- A procedural irregularity occurred that affected the outcome of the matter (ie: the procedure described in this policy was not properly followed);
- There is new evidence, that was not reasonably available at the time the determination was made, that would affect the outcome of the matter; or
- The Title IX Coordinator, Investigator(s), or Decision-Maker(s) had a conflict of interest or bias for or against Complainants or Respondents generally or the individual Complainant or Respondent that affected the outcome of the matter.
The District will provide a response to any appeal within thirty (30) business days.
Dismissal of a Formal Complaint
If the conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined above, did not occur within the District's jurisdiction (ie: in a District education program or activity), or did not occur against a person in the United States, or occurred before August 14, 2020 then the formal complaint must be dismissed. The dismissal of a formal complaint does not preclude action under another provision of District policy. The formal complaint may also be dismissed if a Complainant submits, in writing, their request to withdraw the complaint, if the Respondent is no longer enrolled or employed by the District, or if circumstances prevent the District from gathering evidence sufficient to reach a determination.
Prompt written notice of the dismissal will be sent to the parties should the complaint be dismissed. If the alleged conduct falls under a different District policy, the Office of Equity will refer the complaint to the school site administrator for further follow up and/or investigation.
At anytime after a formal complaint has been filed, but prior to reaching a determination, the parties may agree to participate in an informal resolution process (such as a mediation or restorative action) that does not involve a full investigation and adjunction process. The District cannot require that parties participate in the informal resolution process. Prior to reaching a resolution, either party may withdraw from the informal resolution process and resume the formal complaint process. If the complaint is determined not to meet the criteria for a Title IX violation, all involved parties may agree to participate in an informal resolution process rather than proceeding to seek formal investigation and resolution through another Board Policy.
This process is not available where the complaint alleges that an employee sexually harassed a student.
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered to the complainant and the respondent. Supportive measures may include, for example, individualized safety and support plans, wellness check-in's, extensions of deadlines or other course related accommodations , or schedule changes, in accordance with law and Board policy. A formal complaint need not be filed to receive supportive measures. Upon receiving a report of sexual harassment, the District Title IX Coordinator or designee must promptly contact the parties to discuss the availability of supportive measures. The District Title IX Coordinator and Title IX Site Officers are responsible for coordinating the effective implementation of supportive measures. No supportive measures that prevent either the Complainant or Respondent from fully benefiting from the educational program or services will be put in place. No Respondent will be prevented from participating in any school-based program or event without due process.
In the case that an outcome is reached and students will continue to share a learning environment, mediation and/or restorative actions can be considered, depending on the circumstances. The District cannot require either party to participate in a mediation or restorative action.
Any student who engages in sexual harassment or sexual violence at school or at a school-sponsored or school-related activity is in violation of this policy and shall be subject to disciplinary action and/or interventions in accordance with board policies. California Education Code also permits discipline for unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature made by someone from or in the educational setting. For students in grades 4-12, disciplinary action may include suspension and/or expulsion, provided that, in imposing such discipline, the entire circumstances of the incident(s) shall be taken into account.
Any staff member found to have engaged in sexual harassment or sexual violence toward any student shall be subject to discipline up to and including dismissal in accordance with applicable policies, laws, and/or collective bargaining agreements.
Individuals experiencing harassment or discrimination also always have the right to file a civil complaint or a formal grievance with the Office for Civil Rights:
Office for Civil Rights (OCR)
U.S. Department of Education
50 Beale Street, Suite 7200
San Francisco, CA 94105-1813
Telephone: (415) 486-5555
Facsimile: (415) 486-5570
200-262.4 Prohibition of discrimination on the basis of sex
48900 Grounds for suspension or expulsion
48900.2 Additional grounds for suspension or expulsion; sexual harassment
48904 Liability of parent/guardian for willful student misconduct
48980 Notice at beginning of term
51.9 Liability for sexual harassment; business, service and professional relationships
1714.1 Liability of parents/guardians for willful misconduct of minor
12950.1 Sexual harassment training
CODE OF REGULATIONS, TITLE 5
4600-4687 Uniform complaint procedures
4900-4965 Nondiscrimination in elementary and secondary education programs
UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 20
1221 Application of laws
1232g Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act
1681-1688 Title IX, discrimination
UNITED STATES CODE, TITLE 42
1983 Civil action for deprivation of rights
2000d-2000d-7 Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964
2000e-2000e-17 Title VII, Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended
CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS, TITLE 34
99.1-99.67 Family Educational Rights and Privacy
106.1-106.71 Nondiscrimination on the basis of sex in education programs
Donovan v. Poway Unified School District, (2008) 167 Cal.App.4th 567
Flores v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, (2003, 9th Cir.) 324 F.3d 1130
Reese v. Jefferson School District, (2001, 9th Cir.) 208 F.3d 736
Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, (1999) 526 U.S. 629
Gebser v. Lago Vista Independent School District, (1998) 524 U.S. 274
Oona by Kate S. v. McCaffrey, (1998, 9th Cir.) 143 F.3d 473
Doe v. Petaluma City School District, (1995, 9th Cir.) 54 F.3d 1447
Providing a Safe, Nondiscriminatory School Environment for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students, Policy Brief, February 2014
Safe Schools: Strategies for Governing Boards to Ensure Student Success, 2011
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS PUBLICATIONS
Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence, April 2014
Dear Colleague Letter: Sexual Violence, April 4, 2011
Sexual Harassment: It's Not Academic, September 2008
Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties, January 2001
California Department of Education: http://www.cde.ca.gov
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr
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.
Revised: October 11, 2022
Revised: September 8, 2020
Revised: June 14, 2016
Revised: September 29, 2015
Revised: June 26, 2012 (Resolution #126-12Sp2)
Revised: March 14, 2006 (Resolution # 61-10Sp2)
First Adopted: March 2, 1976 (Resolution #62-3Sp1)
This page was last updated on October 18, 2022