1312.3 AR - Uniform Complaint Procedures
- 1000 Community Relations
The County Superintendent of Schools acknowledges his/her primary responsibility to ensure compliance with applicable state and federal laws and regulations governing educational programs of the San Diego County Office of Education (County Office). The County Superintendent of Schools establishes the Uniform Complaint Procedures presented in this administrative regulation for the filing, investigation, and prompt and equitable resolution of complaints regarding an alleged violation of federal or state laws or regulations governing educational programs and activities in accordance with County Board Policy 1312.3 – Uniform Complaint Procedures.
Except as may otherwise be specifically provided in other County Office policies, these Uniform Complaint Procedures shall be used to investigate and resolve only the complaints specified in the accompanying County Board policy.
The County Office designates the individual(s), position(s), or unit(s) identified below as responsible for receiving, coordinating, and investigating complaints and for complying with state and federal civil rights laws. The individual(s), position(s), or unit(s) also serve as the compliance officer(s) for handling complaints regarding unlawful discrimination, harassment, sexual harassment, intimidation, or bullying.
Assistant Superintendent, Human Resources or Designee
San Diego County Office of Education
6401 Linda Vista Road, Room 404
San Diego, CA 92111-7399
Complaints received by one compliance officer may be assigned to another compliance officer to investigate and resolve the complaint. The complainant and respondent shall be promptly notified if another compliance officer is assigned to the complaint.
Compliance officers shall not have a bias or conflict of interest that would prohibit the fair investigation or resolution of the complaint. Any complaint against a compliance officer that raises a concern about the compliance officer's ability to investigate the complaint fairly and without bias shall be filed with the County Superintendent of Schools or designee for determination of how the complaint will be investigated.
Employees assigned to investigate and resolve complaints shall have training in and be knowledgeable about the laws and programs at issue in the complaints to which they are assigned. Training provided to such employees shall cover current state and federal laws and regulations governing the program; applicable processes for investigating and resolving complaints, including those alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying; applicable standards for reaching decisions on complaints; and appropriate corrective measures. Assigned employees may have access to legal counsel as determined by the County Superintendent or designee.
A determination shall be made whether interim measures are necessary during an investigation and while the result is pending. Necessary interim measures shall be implemented and remain in place until it is determined that they are no longer necessary or until the County Office issues its final written decision, whichever occurs first.
The County Office’s UCP policy and procedures shall be posted in all County Office schools and offices, including staff lounges and student government meeting rooms. (Education Code 234.1)
In addition, the County Superintendent or designee shall annually provide written notification of the County Office's UCP to students, employees, parents/guardians of County Office students, County Office school advisory committee members, school advisory committee members, appropriate private school officials or representatives, and other interested parties. (5 CCR 4622)
The notice shall include:
- A statement that the County Office is primarily responsible for compliance with federal and state laws and regulations, including those related to prohibition of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying against any protected group, and a list of all programs and activities that are subject to UCP as identified in the section "Complaints Subject to UCP" in the accompanying County Board policy
- The title of the position responsible for processing complaints, the identity of the person(s) currently occupying that position if known, and a statement that such persons will be knowledgeable about the laws and programs that they are assigned to investigate
- A statement that a UCP complaint, except a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, must be filed no later than one year from the date the alleged violation occurred
- A statement that a UCP complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying must be filed no later than six months from the date of the alleged conduct or the date the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged conduct
- A statement that a student enrolled in a public school shall not be required to pay a fee for participation in an educational activity that constitutes an integral fundamental part of the County Office's educational program, including curricular and extracurricular activities
- A statement that 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
- A statement that the County Office will post a standardized notice of the educational and graduation requirements of foster youth, homeless students, children from military families, and former juvenile courts school students now enrolled in the County Office, as specified in Education Code 48645.7, 48853, 48853.5, 49069.5, 51225.1, and 51225.2, and the complaint process
- A statement that complaints will be investigated in accordance with the County Office’s UCP and a written decision will be sent to the complainant within 60 days from the receipt of the complaint, unless this time period is extended by written agreement of the complainant
- A statement that, for programs within the scope of the UCP as specified in the accompanying County Board policy, the complainant has a right to appeal the County Office's investigation report to the California Department of Education (CDE) by filing a written appeal, including a copy of the original complaint and the County Office's decision, within 30 calendar days of receiving the County Office's decision
- A statement advising the complainant of any civil law remedies, including, but not limited to, injunctions, restraining orders, or other remedies or orders that may be available under state or federal laws prohibiting discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, if applicable
- A statement that copies of the County Office's UCP are available free of charge
The annual notification, complete contact information of the compliance officer(s), and information related to Title IX as required pursuant to Education Code 221.61 shall be posted on the County Office and County Office school web sites and may be provided through County Office-supported social media, if available.
All students and parents/guardians, including students and parents/guardians with limited English proficiency, shall have access to the relevant information provided in the County Office's policy, regulation, forms, and notices concerning the UCP.
If 15 percent or more of students enrolled in a particular County Office school speak a single primary language other than English, the County Office's UCP policy, regulation, forms, and notices shall be translated into that language, in accordance with Education Code 234.1 and 48985. In all other instances, the County Office shall ensure meaningful access to all relevant UCP information for parents/guardians with limited English proficiency.
Filing of Complaints
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. If a site administrator not designated as a compliance officer receives a complaint, the site administrator shall notify the compliance officer.
All complaints shall be filed in writing and signed by the complainant. If a complainant is unable to put a complaint in writing due to conditions such as a disability or illiteracy, County Office staff shall assist in the filing of the complaint. (5 CCR 4600)
Complaints shall also be filed in accordance with the following rules, as applicable:
- A complaint alleging County Office violation of applicable state or federal law or regulations governing the programs specified in the accompanying County Board policy may be filed by any individual, public agency, or organization. (5 CCR 4600)
- Any complaint alleging noncompliance with law regarding the prohibition against 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. A complaint about a violation of the prohibition against the charging of unlawful student fees may be filed with the principal of the school or with the County Superintendent or designee.
- A UCP complaint, except for a UCP complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, shall be filed no later than one year from the date the alleged violation occurred. For complaints related to the LCAP, the date of the alleged violation is the date when the Superintendent of Public Instruction (SPI) approves the LCAP that was adopted by the County Board. (5 CCR 4630)
- A complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying may be filed only by a person who alleges having personally suffered unlawful discrimination, a person who believes that any specific class of individuals has been subjected to unlawful discrimination, or a duly authorized representative who alleges that an individual student has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying. (5 CCR 4630)
- A complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying shall be initiated no later than six months from the date that the alleged unlawful discrimination occurred, or six months from the date that the complainant first obtained knowledge of the facts of the alleged unlawful discrimination. The time for filing may be extended for up to 90 days by the County 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, harassment, intimidation, 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 a complainant of unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying or the alleged victim, when not the complainant, requests confidentiality, the compliance officer shall inform the complainant or victim that the request may limit the County Office's ability to investigate the conduct or take other necessary action. When honoring a request for confidentiality, the County Office shall nevertheless take all reasonable steps to investigate and resolve/respond to the complaint consistent with the request.
Within three business days after receiving the complaint, the compliance officer may informally discuss with all the parties the possibility of using mediation to resolve the complaint. 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. If the parties agree to mediation, the compliance officer shall make all arrangements for this process.
Before initiating the mediation of a complaint alleging retaliation or unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, the compliance officer shall ensure that all parties agree to permit the mediator access to all relevant confidential information. The compliance officer shall also notify all parties of the right to end the informal process at any time.
If the mediation process does not resolve the problem within the parameters of law, the compliance officer shall proceed with an investigation of the complaint.
The use of mediation shall not extend the County Office's timelines for investigating and resolving the complaint unless the complainant agrees in writing to such an extension of time. If mediation is successful and the complaint is withdrawn, then the County Office shall take only the actions agreed upon through the mediation. If mediation is unsuccessful, the County Office shall then continue with subsequent steps specified in this administrative regulation.
Investigation of Complaint
Within 10 business days after the compliance officer receives the complaint, the compliance officer shall begin an investigation into the complaint.
Within one business day of initiating the investigation, the compliance officer shall provide the complainant and/or the complainant's representative with the opportunity to present the information contained in the complaint to the compliance officer and shall notify the complainant and/or representative of the opportunity to present the compliance officer with any evidence, or information leading to evidence, to support the allegations in the complaint. Such evidence or information may be presented at any time during the investigation.
In conducting the investigation, the compliance officer shall collect all available documents and review all available records, notes, or statements related to the complaint, including any additional evidence or information received from the parties during the course of the investigation. The compliance officer shall individually interview all available witnesses with information pertinent to the complaint and may visit any reasonably accessible location where the relevant actions are alleged to have taken place. At appropriate intervals, the compliance officer shall inform the parties of the status of the investigation.
To investigate a complaint alleging retaliation or unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, the compliance officer shall interview the alleged victim(s), any alleged offender(s), and other relevant witnesses privately, separately, and in a confidential manner. As necessary, additional staff or legal counsel may conduct or support the investigation.
A complainant's refusal to provide the County Office's investigator with documents or other evidence related to the allegations in the complaint, failure or refusal to cooperate in the investigation, or any other obstruction of the investigation may result in the dismissal of the complaint because of a lack of evidence to support the allegation. Refusal by the County Office to provide the investigator with access to records and/or information related to the allegations in the complaint, failure or refusal to cooperate in the investigation, or any other obstruction of the investigation may result in a finding based on evidence collected that a violation has occurred and in the imposition of a remedy in favor of the complainant. (5 CCR 4631)
Timeline for Investigation Report
Unless extended by written agreement with the complainant, the investigation report shall be sent to the complainant within 60 calendar days of the County Office's receipt of the complaint.
If the complainant is dissatisfied with the compliance officer's decision, the complainant may, within five business days, file the complaint in writing with the County Board if the complaint is within the subject matter jurisdiction of the County Board, and with the County Superintendent for all other complaints.
If filed with the County Board, the County Board may consider the matter at its next regular County Board meeting or at a special County Board meeting convened in order to meet the 60-day time limit within which the complaint must be answered. When required by law, the matter shall be considered in closed session. The County Board may decide not to hear the complaint, in which case the compliance officer's decision shall be final.
If the County Board hears the complaint, the compliance officer shall send the County Board's decision to the complainant within 60 calendar days of the County Office's initial receipt of the complaint or within the time period that has been specified in a written agreement with the complainant. If a complaint is submitted to the County Superintendent, the same response timelines apply. (5 CCR 4631)
For any complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying, the respondent shall be informed of any extension of the timeline agreed to by the complainant, and, in the same manner as the complainant, may file a complaint with the County Board if dissatisfied with the decision regarding a matter that is within the County Board's jurisdiction.
For all complaints, the County Office's investigation report shall include: (5 CCR 4631)
- The findings of fact based on the evidence gathered
- A conclusion providing a clear determination for each allegation as to whether the County Office is in compliance with the relevant law
- Corrective action(s) whenever the County Office finds merit in the complaint, including, when required by law, a remedy to all affected students and parents/guardians and, for a student fees complaint, a remedy that complies with Education Code 49013 and 5 CCR 4600
- Notice of the complainant's right to appeal the County Office's investigation report to CDE, except when the County Office has used the UCP to address a complaint not specified in 5 CCR 4610
- Procedures to be followed for initiating an appeal to CDE
The investigation report may also include follow-up procedures to prevent recurrence or retaliation and for reporting any subsequent problems.
In consultation with County Office legal counsel, information about the relevant part of an investigation report may be communicated to a victim who is not the complainant and to other parties who may be involved in implementing the investigation report or are affected by the complaint, as long as the privacy of the parties is protected. In a complaint alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying, notice of the investigation report to the alleged victim shall include information about any sanction to be imposed upon the respondent that relates directly to the alleged victim.
If the complaint involves a limited-English-proficient (LEP) student or parent/guardian, then the County Office's response, if requested by the complainant, and the investigation report shall be written in English and the primary language in which the complaint was filed.
For complaints alleging unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on state law, the investigation report shall also include a notice to the complainant that:
- The complainant may pursue available civil law remedies outside of the County Office's complaint procedures, including, but not limited to, injunctions, restraining orders or other remedies or orders, 60 calendar days after the filing of an appeal with CDE. (Education Code 262.3)
- The 60 days moratorium does not apply to complaints seeking injunctive relief in state courts or to discrimination complaints based on federal law. (Education Code 262.3)
- 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.
When a complaint is found to have merit, the compliance officer shall adopt any appropriate corrective action permitted by law. Appropriate corrective actions that focus on the larger school or County Office environment may include, but are not limited to, actions to reinforce County Office policies; training for faculty, staff, and students; updates to school policies; or school climate surveys.
For complaints involving retaliation or unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, appropriate remedies that may be offered to the victim but not communicated to the respondent may include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Academic support
- Health services
- Assignment of an escort to allow the victim to move safely about campus
- Information regarding available resources and how to report similar incidents or retaliation
- Separation of the victim from any other individuals involved, provided the separation does not penalize the victim
- Restorative justice
- Follow-up inquiries to ensure that the conduct has stopped and there has been no retaliation
For complaints of retaliation or unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying involving a student as the respondent, appropriate corrective actions that may be provided to the student include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Transfer from a class or school as permitted by law
- Parent/guardian conference
- Education regarding the impact of the conduct on others
- Positive behavior support
- Referral to a student success team
- Denial of participation in extracurricular or cocurricular activities or other privileges as permitted by law
- Disciplinary action, such as suspension or expulsion, as permitted by law
When an employee is found to have committed retaliation or unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, appropriate action shall be taken, up to and including dismissal, in accordance with applicable law and collective bargaining agreement.
The County Office may also consider training and other interventions for the larger school community to ensure that students, staff, and parents/guardians understand the types of behavior that constitute unlawful discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying, that the County Office does not tolerate it, and how to report and respond to it.
When a complaint is found to have merit, an appropriate remedy shall be provided to the complainant or other affected person.
However, if a complaint alleging noncompliance with the law regarding student fees, deposits, and other charges, physical education instructional minutes, courses without educational content, or any requirement related to the LCAP is found to have merit, the County Office shall provide a remedy to all affected students and parents/guardians subject to procedures established by regulation of the State Board of Education. (Education Code 49013, 51222, 51223, 51228.3, 52075)
For complaints alleging noncompliance with the law regarding student fees, the County Office, by engaging in reasonable efforts, shall attempt in good faith to identify and fully reimburse all affected students and parents/guardians who paid the unlawful student fees within one year prior to the filing of the complaint. (Education Code 49013; 5 CCR 4600)
Appeals to the California Department of Education
Any complainant who is dissatisfied with the County Office's investigation report on a complaint regarding any specified federal or state educational program subject to UCP may file an appeal in writing with CDE within 30 calendar days of receiving the County Office's investigation report. (5 CCR 4632)
The appeal shall be sent to CDE with a copy of the original locally filed complaint and a copy of the County Office's investigation report for that complaint. The complainant shall specify and explain the basis for the appeal, including at least one of the following: (5 CCR 4632)
- The County Office failed to follow its complaint procedures.
- Relative to the allegations of the complaint, the County Office's investigation report lacks material findings of fact necessary to reach a conclusion of law.
- The material findings of fact in the County Office's investigation report are not supported by substantial evidence.
- The legal conclusion in the County Office's investigation report is inconsistent with the law.
- In a case in which the County Office found noncompliance, the corrective actions fail to provide a proper remedy.
Upon notification by CDE that the County Office’s investigation report has been appealed, the County Superintendent or designee shall forward the following documents to CDE within 10 days of the date of notification: (5 CCR 4633)
- A copy of the original complaint
- A copy of the County Office's investigation report
- 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
- A report of any action taken to resolve the complaint
- A copy of the County Office's UCP
- Other relevant information requested by CDE
If notified by CDE that the County Office's investigation report failed to address allegation(s) raised by the complaint, the County office shall, within 20 days of the notification, provide CDE and the appellant with an amended investigation report that addresses the allegation(s) that were not addressed in the original investigation report. The amended report shall also inform the appellant of the right to separately appeal the amended report with respect to the allegation(s) that were not addressed in the original report. (5 CCR 4632)
Health and Safety Complaints in License-Exempt Preschool Programs
Any complaint regarding health or safety issues in a license-exempt California State Preschool Program (CSPP) shall be addressed through the procedures described in 5 CCR 4690-4694.
In order to identify appropriate subjects of CSPP health and safety issues pursuant to Health and Safety Code 1596.7925, a notice shall be posted in each license-exempt CSPP classroom in the County Office notifying parents/guardians, students, and teachers of the health and safety requirements of Title 5 regulations that apply to CSPP programs pursuant to Health and Safety Code 1596.7925 and the location at which to obtain a form to file any complaint alleging noncompliance with those requirements. For this purpose, the County Superintendent or designee may download and post a notice available from CDE's web site. (Education Code 8212; 5 CCR 4691)
The County Office's annual UCP notification distributed pursuant to 5 CCR 4622 shall clearly indicate which of its CSPP programs are operating as exempt from licensing and which CSPP programs are operating pursuant to requirements under Title 22 of the Code of Regulations. (5 CCR 4691)
Any complaint regarding specified health or safety issues in a license-exempt CSPP program shall be filed with the preschool program administrator or designee, and may be filed anonymously. The complaint form shall specify the location for filing the complaint, contain a space to indicate whether the complainant desires a response to the complaint, and allow a complainant to add as much text as desired to explain the complaint. (Education Code 8212; 5 CCR 4690)
If it is determined that the complaint is beyond the authority of the preschool program administrator, the matter shall be forwarded to the County Superintendent or designee in a timely manner, not to exceed 10 working days, for resolution. The preschool administrator or the County Superintendent or designee shall make all reasonable efforts to investigate any complaint within their authority. (Education Code 8212; 5 CCR 4692)
Investigation of a complaint regarding health or safety issues in a license-exempt CSPP program shall begin within 10 days of receipt of the complaint. (Education Code 8212; 5 CCR 4692)
The preschool administrator or designee shall remedy a valid complaint within a reasonable time period not to exceed 30 working days from the date the complaint was received. If the complainant has indicated on the complaint form a desire to receive a response to the complaint, the preschool administrator or County Superintendent's designee shall, within 45 working days of the initial filing of the complaint, report the resolution of the complaint to the complainant and CDE's assigned field consultant. If the preschool administrator makes this report, the information shall be reported at the same time to the County Superintendent or designee. (Education Code 8212; 5 CCR 4692)
If a complaint regarding health or safety issues in a license-exempt CSPP program involves an LEP student or parent/guardian, then the County Office's response, if requested by the complainant, and the investigation report shall be written in English and the primary language in which the complaint was filed.
If a complainant is not satisfied with the resolution of a complaint, the complainant has the right to describe the complaint to the County Board at a regularly scheduled hearing and, within 30 days of the date of the written report, may file a written appeal of the County Office's decision to the SPI in accordance with 5 CCR 4632. (Education Code 8212; 5 CCR 4693, 4694)
All complaints and responses are public records. (5 CCR 4690)
Summarized data on the nature and resolution of all CSPP health and safety complaints, including the number of complaints by general subject area with the number of resolved and unresolved complaints, shall be reported to the County Board at a regularly scheduled County Board meeting. (5 CCR 4693)
Board Policy: 1312.3
Administrative Regulation: 1312.3, 1312.4
Derivation: Adopted 12/13/95. Amended 7/23/96, 7/11/03, 12/20/04. Amended and Renamed 4/30/07. Amended 4/20/11, 9/14/11, 5/8/13. Technical Revision 6/24/13, 9/10/13.
Amended 9/11/15, 10/12/016. Technical Revision 10/20/16. Amended 12/12/18. Amended 5/10/23.
Legal Reference: Education Code
200-262.4, 8200-8498, 8500-8538, 18100-18203, 32280-32289, 35186, 46015, 48645.7, 48853-48853.5, 48985, 49010-49014, 49060-49079, 49069.5, 49701, 51210, 51222, 51223, 51225.1-51225.2, 51226-51226.1, 51228.1-51228.3, 52060-52077, 52075, 52300-52462, 52500-52616.24, 54400-54425, 54440-54445, 54460-54529, 59000-59300, 64000-64001, 65000-65001
Health and Safety Code
Code of Regulations, Title 2
Code of Regulations, Title 5
3080, 4600-4670, 4680-4687, 4690-4694, 4900-4965
United States Code, Title 20
1221, 1232g, 1681-1688, 6301-6576, 6801-7014
United States Code, Title 29
United States Code, Title 42
2000d-2000e-17, 2000h-2-2000h-6, 6101-6107, 11431-11435, 12101-12213
Code of Federal Regulations Title 28
Code of Federal Regulations, Title 34
99.1-99.67, 100.3, 104.7, 106.1-106.82, 106.8, 106.30, 106.44, 106.45, 110.25
Fiscal Management Advisory 12-02, Pupil Fees, Deposits, and Other Charges, California Department of Education, April 24, 2013; Addendum to Fiscal Management Advisory 12-02, Pupil Fees, Deposits, and Other Charges: Cap and Gown for High School Graduation Ceremony, California Department of Education, October 4, 2013: www.cde.ca.gov/re/lr/fm
Uniform Complaint Procedures Monitoring, California Department of Education, July 2022: https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/cp/uc/ucpmonitoring.asp
San Diego County Office of Education Web site: www.sdcoe.net/board-of- education/board-bylaws-policies-administrative-regulations
U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights: http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr
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