• Guide to Addressing Complaints

    The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) Board of Education is devoted to providing the best possible education for all of our students. In particular, SMMUSD:

    • is dedicated to providing safe, secure, thriving school environments that promote respect for individuals, principles of fairness, and a sense of belonging;
    • is committed to equal opportunity in education for all individuals regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or association with a person or group with one or more of these actual or perceived characteristics;
    • views the “Williams Settlement” (which grew out of a lawsuit to ensure access to textbooks and instructional materials, well-maintained school facilities, and students being taught by qualified teachers) and related state legislation as consistent with our mission to provide a quality education to all students;
    • is committed to the best possible educational practices and materials to enable all of our students to succeed.

    SMMUSD places great emphasis on hiring well-qualified professional staff and places trust in its employees to advance our District's educational mission.  When a concern arises that falls within one of the categories listed below, it is desirable, whenever possible, to address the concern by approaching the responsible individual, discussing the concern, and trying to find a remedy without requiring formal administrative review. If that does not work, the Board of Education has adopted formal complaint procedures to address student, parent, and community concerns. Every effort will be made to resolve complaints in a manner that advances the educational mission of SMMUSD.

    Types of Complaints

    Due to differences in policies and regulations, there are different forms for different types of complaints. All completed forms may be mailed, faxed, or delivered by hand to the school or the district office. Types of complaints:

    • Complaints Against Employees (1323.1)
    • Complaints Concerning Instructional Materials (1312.2)
    • Uniform Complaint Procedures (1312.3)
    • Williams Uniform Complaint Procedures (1312.4)

    Complaints Against Employees

    If the complaint is directed toward a District employee and does not involve potential unlawful discrimination (see Uniform Complaints below for additional information on unlawful discrimination), the person should file a Complaint Against Employee form. Before filing such a complaint, individuals are encouraged to speak to the employee and/or the immediate supervisor (the principal is the supervisor at all school sites). If the concern is still not resolved, then the written complaint form listed below should be given to the immediate supervisor of the employee.

    Complaints Concerning Instructional Materials

    The Board of Education uses a comprehensive process to adopt district instructional materials that is based on selection criteria established by law and Board policy and includes opportunities for the involvement of district staff, parents/guardians, community members, and, as appropriate, students. Complaints concerning the content or use of instructional materials, including textbooks, supplementary instructional materials, library materials, or other instructional materials and equipment, shall be properly and fairly considered using established complaint procedures.

    Parents/guardians are encouraged to discuss any concerns regarding instructional materials with their child's teacher and/or the school principal. If the situation remains unresolved, a written complaint form listed below may be filed using the process specified in the below administrative regulation and exhibit.

    Uniform Complaint Procedures

    If the complaint is directed toward a District employee, and if that complaint regards alleged unlawful discrimination, the individual should file a Uniform Complaint Form. Before filing such a complaint, however, individuals are encouraged to speak to the employee and/or the immediate supervisor. If the concern is still not resolved, then it should be addressed in writing using the form below to the SMMUSD Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.

    Williams Uniform Complaint Procedures

    If the complaint is in regard to: the insufficiency of textbooks and instructional materials, teacher vacancy or misassignment, or the condition of school facilities, the written complaint form listed below should be completed and submitted to the school Principal.

    Notice Regarding Disability Harassment

    Students and/or school district staff shall not harass another person on campus or at a school activity. Disability harassment is a form of discrimination and intimidation, and may result in disciplinary or other action taken by the District.

    If you feel that you are being, or have been, subjected to, disability harassment, you need to immediately contact your teacher or any other school or district employee.

    Any student who engages in any type of harassment may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including expulsion. Any employee who allows or engages in harassment may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The Board expects students and/or staff to report incidents of harassment as soon as possible to the principal or to a responsible member of the staff who will help the complainant (the person making the complaint) make a report. Complaints of harassment can be filed in accordance with the District’s Uniform Complaint Procedures (see Uniform Complaint Procedures section above). Someone filing a written complaint that alleges violations of disability discrimination may also pursue civil law remedies, including, but not limited to, injunctions, restraining orders, or other remedies or orders.

    The District prohibits retaliatory behavior against any person making a complaint of harassment or any participant in the complaint process. Each complaint of harassment shall be promptly investigated and reports filed with the District.

    Disability harassment is intimidation or abusive behavior toward a student (because of a disability or an impairment) that creates a hostile environment and interferes with or denies a student’s participation in or receipt of benefits, services, or opportunities in the District’s programs or activities. A hostile environment is created when harassment is severe, persistent or pervasive. Disability harassment includes any unwelcome verbal, written or physical conduct, directed at the characteristics of a person’s disability or impairment, such as imitating manner of speech or movement, interference with necessary equipment, or exclusion from activities. Harassment of a student based on disability may decrease the student’s ability to benefit from his/her education and amount to a denial of Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Failure to respond adequately to disability harassment constitutes discrimination, in violation of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.