7.3 Uniform Complaint Procedures

Uniform Complaint Procedures

(SFUSD Board Policy 1312.3 and Administrative Regulation 1312.3)

i. Policy

The District has the primary responsibility to ensure compliance  with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing educational programs. The Board encourages the early, informal resolution of complaints whenever possible and appropriate. To resolve complaints which cannot be resolved through such an informal process, the Board has adopted a uniform system of complaint processes as specified in 5 CCR 4600-4694 and the accompanying administrative regulation. 

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 (CA Education Code 46015)
  • Adult education programs (CA Education Code 8500-8538, 52334.7, 52500-52617)
  • After School Education and Safety programs (CA Education Code 8482-8484.65)
  • Agricultural career technical education (CA Education Code 52460-52462)
  • Career technical and technical education and career technical and technical training programs (CA Education Code 52300-52462)
  • Child care and development programs (CA Education Code 8200-8498)
  • Compensatory education (CA Education Code 54400)
  • Consolidated categorical aid programs (CA 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 (CA 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 (CA Education Code 48645.7, 48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1, 51225.2)
  • Every Student Succeeds Act (CA Education Code 52059; 20 USC 6301 et seq.)
  • Local control and accountability plan (CA Education Code 52075)
  • Migrant education (CA Education Code 54440-54445)
  • Physical education instructional minutes (CA Education Code 51210, 51222, 51223)
  • Student fees (CA Education Code 49010-49013)
  • Reasonable accommodations to a lactating student (CA Education Code 222)
  • Regional occupational centers and programs (CA Education Code 52300-52334.7)
  • School plans for student achievement as required for the consolidated application for specified federal and/or state categorical funding (CA Education Code 64001)
  • School safety plans (CA Education Code 32280-32289)
  • School site councils as required for the consolidated application for specified federal and/or state categorical funding (CA Education Code 65000)
  • State preschool programs (CA Education Code 8235-8239.1)
  • State preschool health and safety issues in license-exempt programs (CA 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.

The District shall investigate and seek to resolve, in accordance with our Uniform Complaint Procedure, complaints alleging failure to comply with applicable state and federal laws and regulations including, but not limited to, allegations of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, bullying, or noncompliance with laws relating to all programs and activities implemented by the District that are subject to the Uniform Complaint Procedure. A copy of the Uniform Complaint Form is available in this Handbook at chapter 7.12.

All individuals who file a complaint in accordance with the District’s Uniform Complaint Procedures Policy are protected from retaliation. (CA Education Code 234.1, 5 CCR §4621(a)) All individuals who file a complaint in accordance with the District's Uniform Complaint Procedure are advised of the right to pursue civil law remedies under state or federal discrimination harassment, intimidation or bullying laws.

When an allegation that is not subject to the Uniform Complaint Procedure is included in a Uniform Complaint, the District shall refer the non-Uniform Complaint allegation to the appropriate staff or agency and shall resolve the Uniform Complaint -related allegation(s) through the District's Uniform Complaint Procedure.

Non-Uniform Complaints Referred to Outside Agencies

The following complaints shall not be subject to the District's Uniform Complaint Procedure but shall be referred to the specified agency: (5 CCR 4611)

  1. Any complaint alleging child abuse or neglect shall be referred to the County Department of Social Services, the County Protective Services Division, and the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  2. Any complaint alleging health and safety violations by a child development program shall, for licensed facilities, be referred to the Department of Social Services.

Student Expulsion Appeals

Any appeal of a student expulsion alleging that the Board of Education failed to meet state legal requirements as specifically described in CA Education Code 48922 will be investigated and resolved by the District in accordance with the specific procedures set forth in AR 1312.3 - Uniform Complaint Procedures.

Other Complaints Not Subject to the UCP

These complaints are not subject to the District's uniform complaint procedures (UCP):

  • Americans with Disabilities Act: Any complaint alleging physical barriers to accessing District  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 specified in Administrative Regulation 1312.5 - ADA Grievance Process 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 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 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: When a dispute between the District and the parent/guardian of a student with disabilities cannot be resolved at the school level, the District encourages Alternative Dispute Resolution. A parent/guardian may also pursue mediation and/or a due process hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), or file a complaint with the California Department of Education.
  • 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 office

The District designates the individual identified below as the employee responsible for coordinating the District's response to complaints and for complying with state and federal civil rights laws. The individual also serve as the Compliance Officer specified in AR 5111.4, Nondiscrimination/Harassment as the responsible employee to handle complaints regarding sex discrimination. The individual shall receive and coordinate the investigation of complaints and shall 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

The Compliance Officer may assign another employee to investigate the complaint. In no instance shall an employee be designated to investigate a complaint if they are mentioned in the complaint or have a conflict of interest that would prohibit them from fairly investigating the complaint. 

iv. Notifications

  • The Superintendent or designee shall annually provide written notification of the district's uniform complaint procedures to students, employees, parents/guardians of its students, schools, the district advisory committee members, school advisory committees, appropriate private school officials or representatives, and other interested parties that includes all required information. (CA Education Code 234.1, 262.3, 49010, 52075, 5CCR 4610, 4620-4621)
  • 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) The annual notification, complete contact information of the Compliance Officer, and information related to Title IX as required pursuant to CA Education Code 221.61 shall be posted on the District website.
  • 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 position(s) in the District responsible for receiving and investigating complaints and ensuring District compliance, and the identity(ies) of the person(s) currently occupying that position, if known.
    2. Advise that person(s), employee(s) or position(s) responsible in the District for compliance and/or investigations  shall 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 opportunity to appeal the District’s Investigation Report to the California Department of Education (CDE), (except when the District has used its uniform complaint procedures to address a complaint not described in 5 CCR 4610(b)).  This includes, if applicable, the complainant's right to take a complaint directly to the (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 has the primary responsibility to ensure 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, including curricular and extracurricular activities. 
      • A Complaint regarding student fees or the Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP) may be filed anonymously if the complainant provides evidence or information leading to evidence to support the complaint.
      • The District will post a standardized notice of educational rights of foster youth, homeless students, former juvenile court school students now enrolled in the District, children of military families, migrant students, and immigrant students enrolled in a newcomer program, as specified in CA Education Code 48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1, and 51225.2, and the complaint process.
      • The complainant has a right to appeal the District's Investigation Report to the CDE by filing a written appeal within 30 days of receiving the District's  Investigation Report.
      • The appeal to the CDE must include a copy of the complaint filed with the District and a copy of the District's Investigation Report.
      • Copies of the District’s UCP are available free of charge.
      • In order to identify appropriate subjects of state preschool health and safety issues pursuant to Section 1596.7925 of the Health and Safety Code (HSC section 1596.7925). A notice shall be posted in each California state preschool program classroom in each school in the District notifying parents, guardians, students, and teachers of both of the following:
        1. The health and safety requirements under Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations apply to California state preschool programs pursuant to HSC section 1596.7925.
        2. The location at which to obtain a form to file a complaint.

The District’s annual UCP notification shall also indicate which of its California state preschool programs are operating as exempt from licensing and which are operating pursuant to requirements under Title 22 of the Code of Regulations. (5 CCR 4691)

v. Complaint Procedures

The District will provide an opportunity for complainants and/or representatives to present evidence or information. 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 

The complaint shall be presented to the Compliance Officer who shall maintain a log of complaints received, providing each with a code number and a date stamp.

All complaints shall be filed in accordance with the following:

  • Complaints shall be filed not later than one year from the date the alleged violation occurred, except as stated in section 5 below. For complaints relating to Local Control and Accountability Plans (LCAP), the date of the alleged violation is the date when the reviewing authority approves the LCAP or annual update that was adopted by the LEA.
  • A written complaint alleging District violation of applicable state or federal law or regulations governing the programs specified in the accompanying Board policy the programs specified in the accompanying Board policy , may be filed by any individual, public agency, or organization. (5 CCR 4630).
  • Any complaint alleging noncompliance with law regarding the prohibition against requiring students to pay student fees, deposits, and charges or any requirement related to the LCAP may be filed anonymously if the complaint provides evidence, or information leading to evidence, to support an allegation of noncompliance. (CA Education Code 4630(c)(2), 49013(b), 52075(b)).
  • A state preschool health and safety issues complaint pursuant to HSC section 1596.7925 may be filed anonymously. A complainant who identifies himself or herself is entitled to a response if he or she indicates that a response is requested. A complaint form shall include a space to mark to indicate whether a response is requested. If Section 48985 of the CA Education Code is otherwise applicable, the response, if requested, and report shall be written in English and the primary language in which the complaint was filed.
  • Any complaint seeking to appeal the governing board’s decision to expel a student under the criteria of CA Education Code 48922 must be filed within 30 days of the Board’s vote to expel the student. The complainant must indicate the specific basis for the appeal under one or more of the 4 listed criteria of CA Education Code 48922.
  • A complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or bullying, may be filed only by a person who alleges that they personally suffered unlawful discrimination; by a person who believes that any specific class of individuals has been subjected to it; or by a duly authorized representative who alleges that an individual student has been subjected to unlawful discrimination. The complaint shall be initiated no later than six months from the date when the alleged discrimination occurred, or six months from the date when 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. (5 CCR 4630).
  • When a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination or bullying is filed anonymously, the Compliance Officer shall pursue an investigation or other response as appropriate, depending on the specificity and reliability of the information provided and the seriousness of the allegation.
  • When the complainant or alleged victim of unlawful discrimination or bullying requests confidentiality, the Compliance Officer shall inform him/her that the request may limit the District's ability to investigate the conduct or take other necessary action. When honoring a request for confidentiality, the District will nevertheless take all reasonable steps to investigate and respond to the complaint consistent with the request.
  • 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 CCR 4600).

Step 2: Mediation 

  1. 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.

  2. Mediation shall be offered to resolve complaints that involve more than one student and no adult. However, mediation shall not be offered or used to resolve any complaint involving an allegation of sexual assault or where there is a reasonable risk that a party to the mediation would feel compelled to participate.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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

  1. 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.
  2. Within 1 business day of initiating the investigation, the Compliance Officer shall provide the complainant and/or their representative with the opportunity to present the information contained in the complaint to the Compliance Officer. 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.
  3. In conducting the investigation, the Compliance Officer shall collect all available documents and review all available records, notes, or statements related to the complaint, and shall interview the alleged victim(s), any alleged offenders, and other relevant witnesses privately, separately, and in a confidential manner.
  4. 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)

Step 4: Report of Findings 

Unless extended by written agreement , or otherwise provided herein, the Compliance Officer shall prepare and send to the complainant a written report of the District's investigation and decision, as described in the section “Final Written Investigation Report” below, within 60 calendar days of the District's receipt of the complaint. (5 CCR 4631) The written report of the investigation and decision for expulsion appeals shall be sent within 23 school days of the District receipt of the complaint.

Step 5: Final Written Investigation Report 

The district's investigation report  shall be in writing and sent to the complainant. (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)

If the complaint involves a limited-English-proficient student or parent/guardian and the student involved attends a school at which 15 percent or more of the students speak a single primary language other than English, then the Investigation Report shall also be translated into that language. In all other instances, the District shall ensure meaningful access to all relevant information for parents/guardians with limited English proficiency.

For all complaints, the investigation report  shall include (5 CCR 4631):

  1. The findings of fact based on the evidence gathered.  In reaching a factual determination, the following factors may be taken into account:
    1. Statements made by any witnessed
    2. The relative credibility of the individuals involved
    3. How the complaining individual reacted to the incident
    4. Any documentary or other evidence relating to the alleged conduct
    5. Past instances of similar conduct by any alleged offender
    6. Past false allegations made by the complainant
    7. The conclusion(s) of law
    8. Disposition of the complain
  2. The conclusion(s) providing a clear determination as to each allegation as to whether the district is in compliance with the relevant law 
  3. Corrective actions, if any are warranted 
  4. 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. The Investigation Report may also include follow-up procedures to prevent recurrence or retaliation and for reporting any subsequent problems.
  6. 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)
  7. For complaints of retaliation or unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, or bullying, the disposition of the complaint shall include a determination for each allegation as to whether retaliation or unlawful discrimination has occurred.

The determination of whether a hostile environment exists may involve consideration of the following:

  1. How the misconduct affected one or more students' education
  2. The type, frequency, and duration of the misconduct
  3. The relationship between the alleged victim(s) and offender(s)
  4. The number of persons engaged in the conduct and at whom the conduct was directed
  5. The size of the school, location of the incidents, and context in which they occurred
  6. Other incidents at the school involving different individuals

For complaints alleging unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, and bullying, based on state law, the Investigation Report shall also include a notice to the complainant that:

  1. They may pursue available civil law remedies outside of the District's complaint procedures, including seeking assistance from mediation centers or public/private interest attorneys, 60 calendar days after the filing of an appeal with the CDE. (CA Education Code 262.3)
  2. ​​The 60 days moratorium does not apply to complaints seeking injunctive relief in state courts or to discrimination complaints based on federal law. (CA Education Code 262.3)
  3. Complaints alleging discrimination based on race, color, national origin, sex, gender, disability, or age may also be filed with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights at www.ed.gov/ocr within 180 days of the alleged discrimination.

Notwithstanding the requirements above, for complaints alleging failure to meet the legal requirements outlined in CA Education Code 48922 (expulsion appeals), the Investigation Report shall include:

  1. Findings of fact based on the record of the expulsion hearing (expulsion packet and evidence, hearing transcript, written expulsion findings) and arguments submitted by complainant and the District;
  2. Conclusions of law on whether the complaint is supported by one or more of the 4 criteria in CA Education Code 48922;
  3. The disposition of the complaint, and corrective actions if warranted, within the legal options listed in CA Education Code 48923;
  4. ​​​​​​​The rationale for the decision; and
  5. ​​​​​​​Notice of the complainant's right to appeal the District's decision within 30 calendar days to the CDE and procedures to be followed for initiating such an appeal.
    1. The findings of fact based on the evidence gathered (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
    2. 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)
    3. Corrective actions, if any are warranted (5 CA Code of Regulations 4631)
    4. 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)
    5. 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)
    6. 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.
  6. 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)
  7. 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.  

vi. Confidentiality

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

Any complainant who is dissatisfied with the District's final written investigation report may file an appeal in writing to the CDE within 30 calendar days of receiving the District's Investigation Report. (CA Education Code 49013, 52075; 5 CCR 4632) 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)

viii. Civil law remedies

A complainant may pursue available civil law remedies outside of the district's complaint procedures including seeking assistance from mediation centers or public/private interest attorneys, 60 calendar days after the filing of an appeal with the CDE. (CA Education Code 262.3)  

This page was last updated on August 19, 2022