US Department of Education Resolves Sexual Harassment Investigation of San Francisco Conservatory of Music

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) of the U.S. Department of Education announced today that the San Francisco Conservatory of Music has agreed to a resolution to ensure compliance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This resolution agreement will address the Conservatory’s handling of student-to-student sexual harassment, including sexual assault and stalking. The OCR conducted an investigation into a student’s complaint of being sexually assaulted twice and stalked in 2022 by another student, and found that the Conservatory’s response violated Title IX at each stage of the investigation and resolution.

According to the OCR, the Conservatory failed to provide the complainant with reasonable, individualized supportive measures to maintain equal access to education programs. As a result, the student lost access to specific classes, tutorials, and performances during the investigation. Additionally, the Conservatory did not follow proper procedures, including not providing written notice of its Title IX grievance process and alleged misconduct to both the complainant and the respondent, not allowing both parties to review relevant evidence in the investigative report, and not holding a live hearing.

At the determination stage, the Conservatory did not identify the allegations, make a determination on each alleged assault and stalking incident, or inform the student of her right to appeal a sexual assault determination. Furthermore, OCR found the Conservatory’s responses to the student’s multiple reports of the respondent violating an active avoidance order and stalking to be unreasonable given the circumstances. The OCR also determined that the Conservatory’s Title IX grievance procedures did not comply with the Department’s regulations and that the Conservatory did not fulfill its recordkeeping obligations under Title IX.

Under the resolution agreement, the Conservatory commits to taking necessary steps to ensure sex nondiscrimination in all education programs and activities.

“This resolution agreement with the San Francisco Conservatory of Music addresses its multiple failures to respond to alleged sexual assault and stalking as Title IX requires,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights. “Today’s agreement commits the Conservatory to comply with Title IX to protect all its students in the future.”

The commitments outlined in the resolution agreement include:

  • Reviewing and revising Title IX policies, grievance procedures, and Notice of Nondiscrimination to comply with regulations.
  • Providing training and issuing guidance to the Title IX Coordinator and staff responsible for responding to and investigating reports of sexual harassment.
  • Reporting information about all complaints of sexual harassment, including assault and stalking, to OCR for the 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024 academic years.
  • Taking measures to protect the student on campus or property under the Conservatory’s control, such as classrooms, performance spaces, and dorms.
  • Offering reimbursement for health-related costs stemming from the Conservatory’s noncompliant response to the student’s allegations.
  • Providing the student and respondent with a copy of the investigative report.
  • Allowing the student to retake any class without cost if her grade was negatively affected by the Conservatory’s handling of her reports of sexual assault, stalking, and order violations.

The resolution letter and agreement can be accessed on the Office for Civil Rights website.

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