Uniform Complaint Procedures
A. Purpose and Authority
- The San Francisco Board of Education recognizes that the District is primarily responsible for complying with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing educational programs. The District shall investigate and resolve complaints alleging violations of federal or state laws or regulations governing specific educational programs, the prohibition against requiring students to pay fees, deposits or other charges for participating in educational activities and unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying in accordance with the District’s uniform complaint procedures. This policy extends to San Francisco County Office of Education, including community school programs and activities. A copy of the Uniform Complaint Form is available in this Handbook.
- 1. The District's uniform complaint procedures (UCP) shall be used to investigate and resolve complaints regarding the following programs and activities:
- Accommodations for pregnant and parenting students (Education Code 46015)
- Adult education programs (Education Code 8500-8538, 52334.7, 52500-52617)
- After School Education and Safety programs (Education Code 8482-8484.65)
- Agricultural career technical education (Education Code 52460-52462)
- Career technical and technical education and career technical and technical training programs (Education Code 52300-52462)
- Child care and development programs (Education Code 8200-8498)
- Compensatory education (Education Code 54400)
- Consolidated categorical aid programs (Education Code 33315; 34 CFR 299.10-299.12)
- Course periods without educational content, when students in grades 9-12 are assigned to such courses more than one week in any semester or in a course the student has previously satisfactorily completed, unless specified conditions are met (Education Code 51228.1-51228.3)
- Discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or bullying in district programs and activities, including in those programs or activities funded directly by or that receive or benefit from any state financial assistance, based on the person's actual or perceived characteristics of race or ethnicity, color, ancestry, nationality, national origin, immigration status,ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital status, pregnancy, parental status, physical or mental disability, medical condition, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or genetic information, or any other characteristic identified in CA Education Code 200 or 220, Government Code 11135, or CA Penal Code 422.55, or based on the person’s association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics (5 CA Code of Regulations 4610)
- Educational and graduation requirements for students in foster care, homeless students, students from military families, students formerly in a juvenile court school, migrant students, and immigrant students participating in a newcomer program (Education Code 48645.7, 48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1, 51225.2)
- Every Student Succeeds Act (Education Code 52059; 20 USC 6301 et seq.)
- Local control and accountability plan (Education Code 52075)
- Migrant education (Education Code 54440-54445)
- Physical education instructional minutes (Education Code 51210, 51222, 51223)
- Student fees (Education Code 49010-49013)
- Reasonable accommodations to a lactating student (Education Code 222)
- Regional occupational centers and programs (Education Code 52300-52334.7)
- School plans for student achievement as required for the consolidated application for specified federal and/or state categorical funding (Education Code 64001)
- School safety plans (Education Code 32280-32289)
- School site councils as required for the consolidated application for specified federal and/or state categorical funding (Education Code 65000)
- State preschool programs (Education Code 8235-8239.1)
- State preschool health and safety issues in license-exempt programs (Education Code 8212)
- Any complaint alleging retaliation against a complainant or other participant in the complaint process or anyone who has acted to uncover or report a violation subject to this policy.
- Any other state or federal educational program the Superintendent of Public Instruction or designee deems appropriate.
- 2.. Other Complaints Not Subject to the UCP
- Americans with Disabilities Act: Any complaint alleging physical barriers to accessing SFUSD programs, services, activities and facilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 will be investigated and resolved by the District in accordance with the procedure described online here.
- Section 504: Any complaint alleging disagreements with decisions or actions taken or not taken in regard to a student's Section 504 evaluation or plan under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 will be investigated and resolved by the District in accordance with the procedure specified in SFUSD Administrative Regulation 6164 - Section 504 Grievance process.
- Employment Discrimination or Harassment: Any complaint alleging employment discrimination or harassment shall be investigated and resolved by the District in accordance with the procedures specified in SFUSD Administrative Regulation 4030 - Nondiscrimination in Employment.
- Williams Complaints: In addition, the District's Williams Uniform Complaint Procedures, SFUSD Administrative Regulation 1312.4, shall be used to investigate and resolve any complaint related to sufficiency of textbooks or instructional materials, emergency or urgent facilities conditions that pose a threat to the health or safety of students or staff, or teacher vacancies and misassignments. (CA Education Code 35186) Complaints alleging health and safety violations in license-exempt California State Preschool programs are subject to Williams Uniform Complaint Procedure.
- Special Education Complaints: Any complaint alleging District violation of applicable state or federal law or regulations governing special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, including Due Process and FAPE concerns, should be filed with the California Department of Education. (5 CCR 3200-3204). Complaints of Disability discrimination can still be filed in accordance with this policy.
- Nutrition Services: Any complaint alleging noncompliance of the district's food service program with laws regarding meal counting and claiming, reimbursable meals, eligibility of children or adults, or use of cafeteria funds and allowable expenses shall be filed with or referred to CDE in accordance with BP 3555 - Nutrition Program Compliance. (5 CCR 15580-15584) Any allegation of discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in the district's food service program shall be filed with or referred to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in accordance with BP 3555 - Nutrition Program Compliance. (5 CCR 15582).
ii. Right to seek additional assistance
All complainants have the right to seek additional assistance in the filing and processing of their Uniform Complaints. Complainants may seek help from public or private agencies such as legal assistance agencies, local mediation centers, from private attorneys or from the Categorical Programs Complaints Management Unit. If the complainants elect to seek help and/or retain the services of these public or private agencies, the District shall not bear the costs for these services.
iii. Compliance coordinator
- a. The Superintendent or his designees shall ensure that employees designated to investigate complaints are knowledgeable about the laws and programs for which they are responsible. Such employees may have access to legal counsel as determined by the Superintendent or his designee.
- b. The Board of Education designates the following compliance officer to receive and investigate complaints and to ensure district compliance with law:
Keasara Williams, Executive Director, Office of Equity
555 Franklin Street, Room 306
San Francisco, CA 94102 - Telephone: (415) 355-7334
Facsimile: (415) 355-7333 - Email: Equity@sfusd.edu
- a. The Superintendent or designee shall annually provide written notification of the district's uniform complaint procedures to students, employees, parents/guardians, the district advisory committee, school advisory committees, appropriate private school officials or representatives, and other interested parties. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4622)
- b. The District's uniform complaint procedures policy and administrative regulation shall be posted in all district schools and offices, including staff lounges and student government meeting rooms. If 15 percent or more of students enrolled in a particular district school speak a single primary language other than English, the district's policy, regulation, forms, and notices concerning uniform complaint procedures shall be translated into that language. (CA Education Code 234.1, 48985)
- c. The Superintendent or designee shall make available copies of the district's uniform complaint procedures free of charge. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4622) The notice shall:
- 1. Identify the person(s), position(s), or unit(s) responsible for investigating complaints.
- 2. Advise that person(s), position(s), or employee(s) responsible in the District for compliance and/or investigations will be knowledgeable about the laws/programs that they are assigned to investigate.
- 3. Advise the complainant of any civil law remedies that may be available to them under state or federal discrimination laws, if applicable
- 4. Advise the complainant of the appeal process, including, if applicable, the complainant's right to take a complaint directly to the California Department of Education (CDE) or to pursue remedies before civil courts or other public agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in cases involving unlawful discrimination.
- 5. Include statements that:
- The district is primarily responsible for compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing educational programs.
- The complaint review shall be completed within 60 calendar days from the date of receipt of the complaint unless the complainant agrees in writing to an extension of the timeline
- Except in cases alleging retaliation, unlawful discrimination, or bullying, complaints shall be filed not later than one year from the date the alleged violation occurred.
- A complaint alleging retaliation, unlawful discrimination, or bullying must be filed not later than six months from the date it occurred, or six months from the date the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged discrimination. The time for filing may be extended for up to 90 days by the Superintendent or designee for good cause upon written request by the complainant setting forth the reasons for the extension.
- A student enrolled in a public school shall not be required to pay a fee for their participation in an educational activity that is an integral fundamental part of the Districts educational program.
- The Board is required to adopt and annually update the LCAP in a manner that includes meaningful engagement of parents/guardians, students, and other stakeholders in the development and/or review of the LCAP.
- The complainant has a right to appeal the district's decision to the CDE by filing a written appeal within 30 days of receiving the district's Investigation Report.
- Copies of the District’s UCP are available free of charge.
- The appeal to the CDE must include a copy of the complaint filed with the district and a copy of the district's decision.
- The following procedures shall be used to address all complaints which allege that the district has violated federal or state laws or regulations governing educational programs. Compliance officers shall maintain a record of each complaint and subsequent related actions, including all information required for compliance with 5 CA Code of Regulations 4631 and 4633.
Step 1: Filing of Complaint
- a. Any individual, public agency, or organization may file a written complaint of alleged noncompliance by the district. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4630)
- b. Any complaint seeking to appeal the decision to expel a student under the criteria of Education Code 48922 must be filed within 20 days of the Board’s vote to expel the student. The complaint must indicate the specific basis for the appeal under one or more of the 4 listed criteria of CA Education Code 48922.
- c. A complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying shall be initiated no later than six months from the date when the alleged discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying occurred, or six months from the date when the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying.
- d. A complaint alleging that the district violated federal or state laws or regulations governing applicable educational programs, including student fees, must be filed not later than one year from the date the alleged violation occurred. A complaint may be filed by a person who alleges that they personally suffered unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying, or by a person who believes that an individual or any specific class of individuals has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4630)
- e. A complaint alleging noncompliance with the law regarding the prohibition against requiring students to pay student fees, deposits, and charges may be filed anonymously if the complaint provides evidence or information leading to evidence to support an allegation of noncompliance. (CA Education Code 49013)
- f. The complaint shall be presented to the Office of Equity which shall maintain a log of complaints received, providing each with a code number and a date stamp.
- g. If a complainant is unable to put a complaint in writing due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, district staff shall assist him/her in the filing of the complaint. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4600)
Step 2: Mediation
- a. The compliance officer may informally discuss with the complainant the possibility of using mediation. If the complainant agrees to mediation, the compliance officer shall make all arrangements for this process.
- b. Before initiating the mediation of a discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaint, the compliance officer shall ensure that all parties agree to make the mediator a party to related confidential information.
- c. If the mediation process does not resolve the problem within the parameters of law, the compliance officer shall proceed with their investigation of the complaint.
- d. The use of mediation shall not extend the district's timelines for investigating and resolving the complaint unless the complainant agrees in writing to such an extension of time. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
Step 3: Investigation of Complaint
- a. Within 10 business days after receiving the UCP complaint, the compliance officer shall begin an investigation into the complaint.The compliance officer is encouraged to hold an investigative meeting to provide an opportunity for the complainant and/or their representative to repeat the complaint orally.
- b. The complainant and/or their representative shall have an opportunity to present the complaint and evidence or information leading to evidence to support the allegations in the complaint. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- c. A complainant's refusal to provide the district's investigator with documents or other evidence related to the allegations in the complaint, or their failure or refusal to cooperate in the investigation or their engagement in any other obstruction of the investigation, may result in the dismissal of the complaint because of a lack of evidence to support the allegation. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- d. The district's refusal to provide the investigator with access to records and/or other information related to the allegation in the complaint, or its failure or refusal to cooperate in the investigation or its engagement in any other obstruction of the investigation, may result in a finding, based on evidence collected, that a violation has occurred and may result in the imposition of a remedy in favor of the complainant. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
Step 4: Response
- a. Unless extended by written agreement with the complainant, the compliance officer shall prepare and send to the complainant a written “investigation report” of the district's investigation and decision, as described in Step #5 below, within 60 days of the district's receipt of the complaint. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
Step 5: Final Written Investigation Report
- a. The district's investigation report shall be in writing and sent to the b. complainant. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- The district's investigation report shall be written in English and in the language of the complainant whenever feasible or as required by law.
- c. The investigation report shall include:
- i. The findings of fact based on the evidence gathered (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- ii. The conclusion(s) providing a clear determination as to each allegation as to whether the district is in compliance with the relevant law (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- iii. Corrective actions, if any are warranted (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- iv. Notice of the complainant's right to appeal the district's Investigation Report within 30 days to the CDE and procedures to be followed for initiating such an appeal (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
- v. For discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying complaints, notice that the complainant must wait until 60 days from the filing of an appeal with the CDE before pursuing civil law remedies (CA Education Code 262.3)
- vi. If an employee is disciplined as a result of the complaint, the investigation report shall simply state that effective action was taken and that the employee was informed of district expectations. The report shall not give any further information as to the nature of the disciplinary action.
- d. If a complaint alleging noncompliance with the laws regarding student fees, deposits, and other charges is found to have merit, the district shall provide a remedy to all affected students and parents/guardians, which, where applicable, shall include reasonable efforts to ensure full reimbursement to them. (CA Education Code 49013)
- e. All parties involved in allegations shall be notified when a complaint is filed, when a complaint meeting or hearing is scheduled, and when a decision or ruling is made.
The San Francisco Unified School District and the California State Department of Education shall ensure that complainants are protected from retaliation and that the identity of a complaint alleging discrimination will remain confidential as appropriate.
vii. Appeals to the California Department of Education
- If dissatisfied with the district's investigation report, the complainant may appeal in writing to the CDE within 30 calendar days of receiving the district's investigation report. When appealing to the CDE, the complainant must specify the basis for the appeal of the investigation report and whether the facts are incorrect and/or the law has been misapplied. The appeal shall be accompanied by a copy of the locally filed complaint and a copy of the district's investigation report. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4632)
- Upon notification by the CDE that the complainant has appealed the district's investigation report, the Superintendent or designee shall forward the following documents to the CDE within 10 days of the date of notification: (5 CA Code of Regulations 4633)
- 1. A copy of the original complaint
- 2. A copy of the investigation report
- 3. A copy of the investigation file, including but not limited to all notes, interviews, and documents submitted by the parties and gathered by the investigator
- 4. A report of any action taken to resolve the complaint
- 5. A copy of the district's complaint procedures
- 6. Other relevant information requested by the CDE
- The CDE may directly intervene in the complaint without waiting for action by the district when one of the conditions listed in 5 CA Code of Regulations 4650 exists, including cases in which the district has not taken action within 60 days of the date the complaint was filed with the district.
viii. Civil law remedies
A complainant may pursue available civil law remedies outside of the district's complaint procedures under state or federal discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying laws. Complainants may seek assistance from mediation centers or public/private interest attorneys. Civil law remedies that may be imposed by a court include, but are not limited to, injunctions and restraining orders. For complaints alleging discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying based on state law, a complainant must wait until 60 days have elapsed from the filing of an appeal with the CDE before pursuing civil law remedies. The moratorium does not apply to injunctive relief or complaints alleging discrimination, harassment, intimidation or bullying based on federal law, and is applicable only if the district has appropriately, and in a timely manner, apprised the complainant of their right to file a complaint in accordance with 5 CA Code of Regulations 4622.