7.6 Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

(SFUSD Board Policy 5145.7)

The Governing Board is committed to maintaining an educational environment that is free from harassment and discrimination. The Board prohibits sexual harassment of students by other students, employees or other persons, at school or at school-sponsored or school-related activities. The Board also prohibits retaliatory behavior or action against persons who complain, testify, assist or otherwise participate in the complaint process established pursuant to this policy and the administrative regulation. This policy extends to San Francisco County Office of Education, including community school programs and activities.

i. Prohibited 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 definition “sexual harassment” as conduct, performed on the basis of sex, that satisfies one or more of the following:

  1. 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;
  2. Unwelcome 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; or
  3. Instances of sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, or stalking. Please see Administrative Regulation 5145.7 for full definitions. 

All district employees are expected to immediately report actual or suspected discrimination or harassment to the principal or district’s compliance officer. 

Additional information can be found below and at www.sfusd.edu/departments/office-equity

ii.  Filing a Formal Complaint

If an individual has been a victim of sexual harassment, they may submit a written, formal complaint to the Office of Equity (see sec. 7.11 of the Student and Family Handbook for the Title IX Formal Complaint Form.)

The filing of a 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 Title IX Coordinator. The complaint may also be submitted to your school site administrator. Any administrator who receives a formal complaint is required to promptly provide the complaint to the 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

Email: equity@sfusd.edu

All complaints shall be filed in accordance with the following:

  1. The allegations in the report, if found true, would constitute sexual harassment under Title IX
  2. 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
  3. The alleged sexual harassment occurred within the District's education program or activity against a person in the United States
  4. 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.

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.

iii. Formal Grievance Procedure

District Roles
The following administrative roles shall compromise the team implementing the formal Title IX grievance procedure.

  • Investigator: The individual responsible for gathering evidence related to the allegations. The investigator will create an Investigation Report which shall summarize the relevant evidence. The Report shall be submitted to the Decision-Maker for consideration.

  • Decision-Maker: The individual responsible for evaluating all relevant evidence in order ro make a determination regarding the formal complaint/ The Decision-Maker is responsible for issuing a written determination of findings to the parties. The Decision-Maker cannot by the Title IX Coordinator.

  • Title IX Appeal Officer: The individual responsible for evaluating an appeal for the final determination of a formal complaint. The Title IX Appeal Officer may not be the investigator, decision-maker, or Title IX Coordinator.

Written notice of all investigative interviews or other meetings must be provided to any individual whose participation is invited or expected to be provided with sufficient time for the party to prepare to participate. Notice must include the date, time, location, participants, and purpose of the meeting.

Parties will have the opportunity to select an advisor of their choice to accompany them to any related meeting or proceedings related to the formal complaint.

The decision-maker cannot be the same person as the Title IX Coordinator or the investigator. The written determination must include the allegations, a description of the steps taken to investigate the incident, findings of fact supporting the determination, conclusions regarding violation of District policy and rationale for such determination, and procedures for appeal. The written determination must be provided to the parties simultaneously.

The formal grievance procedure shall be completed within ninety (90) school days after the submission of a formal complaint. Extensions to this timeframe will be allowed for good cause and written notice of such extensions will be provided to both the Complainant and the Respondent. Good cause may include, but are not limited to, the following considerations: school being out of session; absence of a party or witnesses; delay in scheduling interviews; or concurrent law enforcement or other agency activity.

iv.  Dismissal of a Formal Complaint

If the conduct alleged in the formal complaint would not constitute sexual harassment as defined above, did not occur in direct relationship to a District education program or activity, or did not occur against a person in the United States, 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.

Incidents that do not rise to the level of sexual harassment as defined in this policy must still be investigated by the school site in an accordance with the District's Bullying & Harassment Policies (BP 5131.2/AR 5131.2)

v.  Supportive Measures

When an incident of sexual harassment is reported, the principal or designee, in consultation with the Title IX Coordinator, shall determine whether supportive measures are necessary pending the results of the investigation. Supportive measures are nondisciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered to the complainant or the respondent. A formal complaint need not be filed to receive supportive measures.The principal/designee or Title IX Coordinator shall take immediate measures necessary to stop the harassment and protect students and/or ensure their access to the education program. To the extent possible, such supportive measures shall not disadvantage the complainant or victim of the alleged harassment.

Supportive interim measures may include wellness check-ins, extensions of deadlines or other course related adjustments, placing the individuals involved in separate classes or transferring a student to a class taught by a different teacher, in accordance with law and Board policy.

vi. Notifications

A copy of the District’s Sexual Harassment Policy shall:

  1. The Sexual Harassment Policy will be distributed to school sites (High School, Middle School, and Elementary School and the Child Development Centers) with instructions that it must be posted in all main office spaces, including staff lounges and student government rooms; main administration building, including Counseling/Dean offices; Wellness Center facilities; and/or other prominent locations where notices are regularly posted regarding rules, regulations, procedures, or standards of conduct..
  2. A Sexual Harassment Policy Poster will be posted in each restroom and locker room for Middle and High School Sites.
  3. Each year the Sexual Harassment Policy will be printed in the Handbook which is distributed to all parents.
  4. The Sexual Harassment Policy will be posted on the SFUSD Website under the Office of Equity.
  5. The Sexual Harassment Policy shall be included in any other notifications that are sent to parents/guardians at the beginning of each school year. (CA Education Code 48980)
  6. The Sexual Harassment Policy shall be displayed in a prominent location near the school principal’s office. (CA Education Code 212.6)
  7. The Sexual Harassment Policy shall be provided as part of any orientation program conducted for new students at the beginning of each quarter, semester, or summer session. (CA Education Code 212.6)
  8. The Sexual Harassment Policy shall appear in any school or district publication that sets forth the schools’ or District’s comprehensive rules, regulations, procedures, and standards of conduct. (CA Education Code 212.6)
  9. The Sexual Harassment Policy shall be provided to employees and employee organizations.

vii. Enforcement

The Superintendent or designee shall take appropriate actions to reinforce the District’s sexual harassment policy. As needed, these actions may include any of the following:

  1. Removing vulgar or offending graffiti
  2. Providing staff in-service and student instruction or counseling
  3. Notifying parents/guardians
  4. Notifying Child Protective Services
  5. Taking appropriate disciplinary action. In addition, the principal or designee may take disciplinary measures against any person who is found to have made a complaint of sexual harassment that they knew was not true.

viii. Instruction/information 

The Superintendent or designee shall ensure that all district students receive age-appropriate instruction and information on sexual harassment. Such instruction and information shall include: 

  1. What acts and behavior constitute sexual harassment, including the fact that sexual harassment could occur between people of the same gender 
  2. A clear message that students do not have to endure sexual harassment from any individual
  3. Encouragement to report observed instances of sexual harassment, even where the victim of the harassment has not complained 
  4. 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
  5. Information about the District's procedure for investigating complaints and person(s) to whom a report of sexual harassment should be made.   

ix. Disciplinary measures 

  1. Any student who engages in sexual harassment of anyone at school or at a school-sponsored or school-related activity is in violation of this policy and shall be subject to disciplinary action. For students in grades 4 through 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. 
  2. The District will also take any appropriate action against any employee who engages in sexual harassment/discrimination.

x. Record-keeping 

The Superintendent or designee shall maintain a record of all reported cases of sexual harassment. In accordance with District policy, upon completion of the investigation, the Office of Equity will destroy all interview notes and recordings. The rest of the case file will be retained in accordance with the District policy for 7 years

xi. Retaliation

The San Francisco Board of Education prohibits retaliation in any form for the filing of a complaint, the reporting of instances of discrimination, or participation in complaint procedures.  Such participation shall not in any way affect the status, work assignment of the complainant or the grades of a student/complainant.

This page was last updated on October 22, 2021