NYC Department of Education
Did you know that if you attend a New York City public school, there are city-specific rules that govern how your school must respond to student-on-student sexual harassment. They can be found here.
Even though as of October 7, 2021, the Title IX definition of sexual harassment is very narrow, all NYC Department of Education (DOE) schools must respond to the following forms of sexual harassment1:
Sexual harassment that happens in school during, before, or after school hours; at school-sponsored events; while traveling in vehicles funded by the DOE; or off school property if the harassment could hurt the school community)
Stalking (tech-based or in person)
Verbal, nonverbal, physical, written, or electronically communicated sexual harassment
Spreading lies or rumors of a sexual nature
Pressure or requests for sexual activities or favors
Leering, sexual flirting, or propositions
Sexually coercive behavior such as unwanted and consistent pressure to perform sexual acts
Physical conduct of a sexual nature (touching someone’s body or clothes, patting, kissing, pinching, grabbing, etc.)
Sexual comments, innuendos, insults, threats, or jokes
Graphic, verbal, or written comments about someone’s body
Recording, posting, displaying, and/or distributing without permission, sexually oriented or suggestive images, videos, audio recordings, pictures, or drawings
Reporting Sexual Harassment
Students, parents, and individuals other than staff can report an incident verbally, in writing, or online to the Principal or person acting as Principal, the Sexual Harassment Prevention (SHP) liaison, or any other school staff member. Search for your school on this database to find the appropriate contact information.
The report can be anonymous.
A staff member must report allegations to the SHP liaison or to the Principal within one school day. Within two days of making the report, the school must submit a Complaint/Reporting form to the principal/designee or SHP liaison.
If you have questions about reporting, you can contact the legal team at Day One.
A Note about Retaliation
New York City Regulations protect against retaliation. That means adverse action against victims for reporting an incident or participating in an investigation can be considered retaliation and is not allowed.
If someone retaliates against a student, parent, or DOE employee who makes a good faith report about harassment, or who participates in a harassment investigation, the person retaliating can be investigated and disciplined. Retaliation includes things like threats, harassment, and punishment in response to making a report.
The School’s Internal Investigation
Every report must be investigated by the school. Within five schools days of receiving a report, the school must:
Interview the alleged victim
Ask the alleged victim to prepare a written statement about what happened
Interview the accused student, and tell them to immediately stop the alleged conduct
Ask the accused student to prepare a written statement
Interview any witnesses and have them submit written statements
Obtain any relevant evidence, such as photos, screenshots of messages, or voice recordings
The school has ten school days to submit their investigative findings.
When the investigation is done, the Principal/Sexual Harassment Prevention liason must do the following:
Decide whether all the evidence proves the allegations
If they think the allegations are true, decide within ten days of receiving the report whether the conduct violates the DOE’s regulations
Unless the alleged victim told the school not to notify their parent(s), tell the parent(s) of the alleged victim and the parent(s) of the accused student in writing what the conclusion of the investigation is
If the school finds that the claims are true, let the parents know within ten days of the report to contact the school for more information
Remedies and Accommodations
While the investigation is underway or upon completion, the school can provide the following accommodations and supports:
Referral to in-school or out-of-school medical services
Referral for counseling, support, mental services, and/or education either on or off campus
Academic supports and adjustments (e.g., change in classes, lunch/recess, or after-school program schedules)
Development of an individualized support plan with remedies established on a case-by-case basis
Students who were found to have violated Chancellor’s Regulation A-831 are subject to disciplinary responses
If you would like these accommodations or others, ask the person investigating the sexual harassment. They must decide on a case-by-case basis whether to grant you these supports.
You can read the entire NYC regulation here.
1See Chancellor’s Regulation A-831 re: Student-to-Student Sexual Harassment