Bullying and Harassment
The Governing Board recognizes the harmful effects of bullying and harassment on student learning and school attendance and desires to provide safe school environments that protect students from physical and emotional harm. District employees shall establish student safety as a high priority and shall not tolerate bullying or harassment of any student. No individual or group shall, through physical, written, verbal, or other means, harass, sexually harass, threaten, intimidate, retaliate, cyberbully, cause bodily injury to, or engage in hate-motivated behavior against any student or school personnel. Strategies for addressing bullying and harassment in District schools shall be developed with involvement of key stakeholders, including students, parents/guardians, and staff, and may be incorporated into the comprehensive safety plan, the local control and accountability plan, and other applicable District and school plans.
Bullying can be based on a protected class, as defined in SFUSD Board Policy 1312.3, SFUSD Board Policy 5145.9 and SFUSD Administrative Regulation 5131.2, or can be based on other unknown reasons. As appropriate, the Superintendent or designee may collaborate with law enforcement, courts, social services, mental health services, other agencies, and community organizations in the development and implementation of joint strategies to promote safety in schools and the community and to provide services for alleged targets and perpetrators of bullying. Recognizing that bullying and harassing behavior can also be hate-motivated behavior, the Superintendent's designee shall develop effective prevention strategies and response plans, providing assistance to students affected by hate-motivated behavior, and/or educating students who have perpetrated hate-motivated acts as set forth in BP 5145.9.
Protected Class: Unlawful discrimination, including discriminatory harassment, intimidation, and bullying targeted at any student by anyone, based on the student's actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or genetic information or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
Bullying (CA Education Code 48900(r)): For the conduct to meet the definition of bullying for the purpose of this offense, it must be “any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of any electronic act, and including one or more acts committed by a student or group of students, inclusive of acts described in Education Code sections 48900.2, 48900.3, or 48900.4, directed toward one or more students that has or can cause a reasonable student to experience one or one or more of the following:
- Fear of harm to themselves or property,
- Substantial detrimental effect on the student’s physical or mental health,
- Substantial interference with the student’s academic performance,
- Substantial interference with the student’s ability to fully participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.
Hazing (Education Code 48900(q)): A method of initiation or pre-initiation into an organization or group which is likely to cause serious bodily injury, personal degradation or disgrace resulting in physical or mental harm to a student.
Cyber Bullying: Includes, but is not limited to, transmission of communications or posting of harassing messages, direct threats, or other harmful texts, sounds, or images on the Internet, social networking sites, or other digital technologies using a cell phone or, computer, or any wireless communication device. Cyberbullying also includes breaking into another person’s electronic account and assuming that person’s identity in order to damage that person’s reputation. Cyber sexual harassment/bullying includes sharing of naked body parts or sexually suggestive pictures of another student through text message, social media, or other electronic means, which then creates a hostile school environment. This would be deemed cyber sexual bullying/harassment.
Student Conflicts: Not all incidents and student conflict amount to “bullying” or “harassment". Incidents that do not amount to bullying or harassment include, but are not limited to: disagreements or conflict between students, incidental injuries, a single incident, mutual combat between students, and if a particular student comes into contact/injures/upsets another student without that other student being the intended target.
Harassment: Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information. Prohibited harassment also includes intentionally engaging in harassment, threats, or intimidation, directed against school district personnel or students, that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to have the actual and reasonably expected effect of materially disrupting classwork, creating substantial disorder, and invading the rights of either school personnel or student by creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment.
Reporting Party: A student who reports that they are the victim of conduct that would constitute bullying or harassment.
Responding Party: A student who has been reported to have performed conduct that could constitute bullying or harassment.
ii. Examples of Bullying
- Physical bullying includes, but is not limited to, intentional, unwelcome acts of beating, biting, fighting, hitting, kicking, poking, punching, pushing, shoving, spitting, tripping.
- Social or relationship bullying includes spreading rumors, manipulating relationships, exclusion, blackmailing, isolating, rejecting, using peer pressure and ranking personal characteristics.
- Malicious teasing among individuals who are not friends with the intention of invoking, harm, fear or intimidation.
- Malicious teasing among individuals based on any member of the above listed “protected class.”
- Cyberbullying includes, but is not limited to, bullying through messages, texts, sounds or images. Sending or posting of unwanted comments, images, videos, and pictures that are done to intentionally harm or bully a student (whether it is based on protected class or not).
- Cyber sexual bullying/harassment includes when a student recipient receives an image and then shares that image to other students through text message, social media, or other electronic means, this is deemed to be cyber sexual bullying/harassment.
- Hazing includes, but is not limited to, requiring a student to eat or drink disgusting food/material, endure physical abuse, or engage in physically dangerous or humiliating activities as an initiation to join a student club or team.
iii. School Site Bullying and Harassment Investigations
Safe campuses require a multi-faceted approach with clear and consistent behavior expectations as well as strategies to prevent, respond to, and recover from incidents of bullying, hazing and harassment. The school principal participates in and directs all school staff to create an environment where the school community upholds the standards of respect and civility and understands that bullying and hazing are inappropriate, harmful and unacceptable. Towards this goal, schools shall:
- Set school-wide expectations that align with the District’s Safe and Supportive Schools Resolution that promote a safe, respectful, and bully-free school environment. These expectations shall be shared with all students, families, and staff.
- Each school site should have a mechanism for investigating reported complaints of bullying and harassment. The school’s reporting and investigation process must be communicated to all students, families, and staff.
- When an incident of bullying and harassment is reported to, or witnessed by, a school site staff, that staff member must inform an administrator. That administrator will identify the appropriate trained staff member to investigate and follow up. A staff member who receives a report of bullying, harassment, and/or intimidation, shall, within one school day or as soon as possible thereafter, report this to the site principal/administrator or designee. School site staff must be informed of this requirement.
- After a report or complaint is made, the responsible site principal/administrator or designee shall determine whether supportive measures are necessary to stop, prevent, or address the effect of bullying, harassment, and/or intimidation, including retaliation, harassment or bullying during and pending any informal resolution and/or investigations, such as placing students in separate classes or transferring a student to a class taught by a different teacher. Supportive measures will be implemented in a manner that minimizes the burden on the individual who was the target of the bullying and/or intimidation.
- The principal/administrator or designee shall determine who the appropriately trained school site staff member is to investigate. That investigator shall speak to the reporting student and gather a statement. If possible, the statement should be in writing and signed by the reporting student. Once the principal/administrator or designee speaks to the student and learns of an incident of alleged bullying or harassment, they should notify the student’s parent/guardian of the report and that the principal/administrator or designee is investigating.
- The investigator should be sure to follow up on all information learned during the investigation. This includes speaking to witnesses and reviewing documentation.
- The investigator should always be sure to interview the accused student and get a statement. If possible, the statement should be in writing. Once the principal/administrator or designee speaks to the accused student and gathers information, they should notify the student’s parent of the report and that the administrator is investigating.
- Once the investigation is concluded, the administrator should determine if the conflict can be resolved through restorative practices (RP). If RP is appropriate, the principal/administrator or designee should ensure that the person conducting the conference is trained in restorative practices, that all parties consent, and that it is done through the appropriate methods.
iv. Supportive Measures
Supportive measures are non-disciplinary, non-punitive individualized services offered to the reporting or responding party of a bullying or harassment investigation. Supportive measures may include, for example, wellness check-ins, extensions of deadlines or other course related adjustments, or 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. Upon receiving a report of bullying or harassment, the school site administrator, or designee, should promptly contact the students and families to discuss the availability of supportive measures.
v. Filing, Investigation and Resolution of Uniform Complaints Related to Bullying
School site staff should notify families of their right to file a Uniform Complaint if they are unsatisfied with the school site’s resolution of a bullying complaint. If a Uniform Complaint form alleging bullying or harassment on the basis of belonging to a protected class is submitted to the school site, it shall be forwarded to the Office of Equity for proper handling. The compliance officer shall contact the complainant and investigate and resolve the complaint in accordance with law and District procedures specified in AR 1312.3.
All complaints and allegations of sexual harassment shall be kept confidential except as necessary to carry out the investigation or take other subsequent necessary action. (5 CCR 4964)
However, when a student notifies the District of the harassment but requests confidentiality, the administrator shall inform them that the request may limit the District's ability to investigate the harassment 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. In certain circumstances, the District may not be able to honor the request of confidentiality in order to meet its legal requirements.
vii. Student Conflict
All school sites promote positive and supportive peer relationships. The District’s Safe and Supportive Schools policy by using:
- Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) to build safe, consistent, and predictable classrooms and schools;
- Restorative Practices to intentionally and proactively build positive community relationships among students, staff, and families;
- Trauma-informed practices to heal and support students impacted by trauma;
- Data systems to record, monitor, assess, and inform continuous improvement in these areas.
viii. Parent Notification/Involvement & Restorative Practices
Once an incident of bullying or harassment is reported by the student, school site staff should notify the student’s parent/guardian of the report and that the principal/administrator or designee is investigating. Parent/guardian notification does not need to occur prior to speaking to the student(s).
In addition, parents, guardians, advocates or other third parties may submit lawfully obtained evidence on behalf of their student, but may not otherwise participate in the investigative process or be present during the meeting of a student that is not their own, even if staff are present.
If RP is appropriate, the principal/administrator or designee should ensure that the person conducting the conference is trained in RP, that all parties consent, and that it is done through the appropriate methods. If a RP conference is not appropriate, principals/administrators or designees should seek to restore the relationship through other means. RP is not appropriate in cases of alleged sexual assault/battery and should be carefully considered before doing in cases of verbal, physical, or cyber sexual harassment.
Cyberbullying includes the creation or transmission of harassing communications, direct threats, or other harmful texts, sounds, or images, or images as defined in CA Education Code 48900 on the Internet, social media, or other technologies using a telephone, computer or any wireless communication device. Cyberbullying also includes breaking into another person's electronic account and assuming that person's identity in order to damage that person's reputation. When the circumstances involve Cyberbullying, individuals with information about the activity shall be encouraged to save and print any electronic or digital messages that they feel constitute Cyberbullying and to notify a teacher, the principal, or other employee so that the matter may be investigated.
If the administrators learn of off-campus Cyberbullying that disrupts the educational environment, they must seek to intervene as soon as possible in order to prevent the Cyberbullying from continuing. If the Cyberbullying is found to have been done outside of school hours, but is impacting a student's safe learning environment, the school can discipline the student who engaged in the Cyberbullying.
x. Bullying of a Protected Class
Every student has the right to be protected from bullying based on a protected class or by the rationale of being "hate-motivated"behavior. Bullying of a protected class include behavior done to degrade an individual on the basis of the student’s actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, national origin, nationality, ethnicity, ethnic group identification, age, religion, marital or parental status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or genetic information or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics.
Bullying based on a protected class will be investigated and resolved pursuant to Board Policy 5131.2 and Administrative Regulation 5131.2, in addition to SFUSD Administrative Regulation 5145.9 (“Hate-Motivated Behavior”).
xi. Prohibited Retaliation
The District also prohibits any form of retaliation against any individual who reports or participates in the reporting of bullying. Retaliation complaints shall be investigated and resolved in the same manner as a bullying or discrimination complaint.
This page was last updated on August 19, 2022