State law requires districts to adopt dating violence policies.
Code of the District of Columbia 38-952.01. Definitions.
For the purposes of this chapter, the term:
- (1) “Dating partner” means any person who is involved in a relationship with another person that is primarily characterized by social interaction of a sexual, romantic, or intimate nature, whether casual, serious, or long-term.
- (2) “Dating violence” means abusive or coercive behavior where a dating partner uses threats of, or actually uses, physical, emotional, economic, technological, or sexual abuse to exert power or control over a current or former dating partner.
- (3) “School” means a public, public charter, independent, private, or parochial school organized or authorized to operate under the laws of the District that offers instruction at any level or grade from pre-kindergarten through 12.
- (4) “Sexual assault” means any of the following offenses: §§ 22-3002 (first degree sexual abuse); 22-3003 (second degree sexual abuse); 22-3004 (third degree sexual abuse); 22-3005 (fourth degree sexual abuse); 22-3006 (misdemeanor sexual abuse); or 22-3018 (attempts to commit sexual offenses).
- (5) “Sexual harassment” means any unwelcome or uninvited sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated physical conduct, stalking, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that can be reasonably predicted to:
- (A) Place the victim in reasonable fear of physical harm to his or her person;
- (B) Cause a substantial detrimental effect to the victim’s physical or mental health;
- (C) Substantially interfere with the victim’s academic performance or attendance at school; or
- (D) Substantially interfere with the victim’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.
Code of the District of Columbia 38-952.02. Policy to prevent and address student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence.
(a) Beginning in the 2019-2020 school year, schools shall adopt and implement a policy to prevent and address student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence. The policy shall include:
- (1) A statement prohibiting student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence, including an acknowledgment that schools that know or reasonably should know of student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence shall take immediate and appropriate action to investigate whether such acts occurred;
- (2) Protocols for the school’s response to allegations of student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence, including procedures to:
- (A) Interrupt or stop each specific act of student-on-student sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence, prevent its recurrence, and address its effects, whether or not the incident is the subject of a criminal investigation;
- (B) Refer complainants to services and advocacy organizations;
- (C) Provide information to complainants regarding the investigatory process;
- (D) Institute and resolve disciplinary action; and
- (E) Protect the confidentiality of complainants in accordance with the Revised Sexual Harassment Guidance: Harassment of Students by School Employees, Other Students, or Third Parties, dated January 19, 2001, as issued by the Department of Education;
- (3) The school’s plan to effectuate its obligations, and inform students of their rights, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, approved June 23, 1972 (86 Stat. 373; 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.) (“Title IX”), the Scott Campbell, Stephanie Roper, Wendy Preston, Louarna Gillis, and Nila Lynn Crime Victims’ Rights Act of 2004, approved October 30, 2004 (118 Stat. 2260; 18 U.S.C. § 3771), Unit A of Chapter 14 of Title 2, and Chapter 19 of Title 23 of the District of Columbia Official Code, including mechanisms to:
- (A) Protect the safety of complainants as necessary during the investigation of student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence; and
- (B) Develop and implement a prompt, fair, and impartial procedure for students to file complaints regarding student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence, that:
- (i) Is conducted by school officials or agents who, at a minimum, receive annual training on:
- (I) Issues related to student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence; and
- (II) How to conduct an investigation that protects the safety of complainants and promotes accountability;
- (ii) Provides the complainant and the accused with the same opportunities to have others present during any school disciplinary proceeding, including the opportunity to be accompanied to any proceeding by an advisor or advocate of their choice; provided, that the school may establish restrictions regarding the extent to which an advisor or advocate may participate in the proceeding, as long as the restrictions apply equally to both parties;
- (iii) Establishes a standard for resolving complaints; and
- (iv) Requires contemporaneous notification, in writing, to both the complainant and the accused, of:
- (I) The result of any school disciplinary proceeding that arises from an allegation of a student-on-student act of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence;
- (II) The school’s procedures for the complainant and the accused to appeal the result of the institutional disciplinary proceeding, if such procedures are available;
- (III) Any change to the result; and
- (IV) When such results become final;
- (4) Protocol to identify appropriate counseling and intervention strategies for students alleged to have committed student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence, including guidelines for reporting such incidents to the Child and Family Services Agency if the student’s behavior indicates that he or she may be the victim of child sexual abuse or child abuse;
- (5) Guidance concerning the applicability of the policy to student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence that occur at school, school events and activities, over social media, and during travel to and from school, school events, and activities; and
- (6) A list of appropriate resources, services, and information for students and families affected by student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence, including school-based supports. (b) Beginning in the 2020-2021 school year, schools shall provide:
- (1) Training for staff, at the time of hiring and at a minimum every 2 years thereafter, utilizing evidence based Standard and developed in consultation with community-based sexual violence or abuse experts, on:
- (A) Identifying, responding to, and reporting student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence, including any mandatory reporting requirements under District or federal law which may be triggered by such incidents;
- (B) Communicating universal prevention techniques to students that increase their ability to set and communicate about appropriate boundaries, respect boundaries set by others, and build safe and positive relationships; and
- (C) Receiving reports and disclosures from students regarding student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or dating violence in a supportive, appropriate, and trauma-informed manner; and
- (2) Information for parents on recognizing the warning signs of student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence, as well as effective, age-appropriate methods for discussing such topics with students. (c) Schools shall provide the policy described in subsection (a) of this section to staff, parents, and, in a developmentally appropriate manner, students, and shall make the policy publicly available, including on the school’s website. (d) The Office of the State Superintendent for Education, in consultation with schools, direct service providers, mental health professionals, governmental and community-based sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence experts, community partners, parents, and students, shall:
- (1) Develop, maintain, and make available to schools a model policy on preventing and addressing student-on-student acts of sexual harassment, sexual assault, and dating violence that may be utilized to satisfy the requirements of subsection (a) of this section;
- (2) Develop, maintain, and make available to schools a list of training resources, including community organizations, that may be utilized by schools to inform their development of the policy required pursuant to subsection (a) of this subsection; and
- (3) Make training and other resources required by this section available.
Model Policy to Prevent and Address Student-on-Student Acts of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Dating Violence
The model policy is intended to guide LEAs in developing and adopting their own policies to prevent and address student-on-student acts of sexual harrassment, sexual assault, and dating violence in accordance with the requirements of the School Safety Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018.