San Francisco

Hundreds of SF Students Walk Out Over District's Handling of Sexual Assault Complaints

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Hundreds of students from at least eight different San Francisco high schools walked out Friday to protest against San Francisco Unified’s handling of sexual assault complaints.

Students have been calling on the district to change how educators respond to allegations of sexual assault and harassment.

Students claim their experiences and even complaints of assault and abuse from fellow students aren’t being heard or acted upon by the district. 

“I think it really shows where the loyalties of SFUSD lie when they're not standing up for us and those who really need it,” said Tansin, Mission High School senior.

But the school district says it's doing all it can.

“We’re gonna continue to listen to our students, we’re gonna continue to work hard to make sure they are feeling heard,” said Faauuga Moliga, vice president of the district school board. “We’re gonna continue to work alongside our families and students to make sure that they get what they need."

Some San Francisco students were planning to walk out of class Friday morning to protest how they say the school district handles sexual assault complaints. Kris Sanchez reports.

The district said it is committed to taking all avaliable steps to make educate, prevent, and address any incidents of sexual harassment that occur in our schools.

The district also admitted to challenges, saying some of the reports they get involve incidents off campus --  which limits their ability to get involved.

Some students say it's too little too late.

“To me it kind of felt like a slap in the face if that makes sense,” said Sufiya Khan, senior at the School of the Arts. “This is something we have been actively speaking about, they know about. And now that there’s a massive protest they now stand in solidarity with us.”

Students said they needed to take matters into their own hands to protect one another. Going as far as writing the names of alleged abusers on bathroom walls on campus.

Last month, hundreds of students staged a similar walkout, saying they don't believe the district is doing a good enough job of holding the sexual assailants accountable.

Reesa Tayag, a senior at Lowell High told NBC Bay Area the administration swept her complaint under the rug. She said the student who assaulted her was suspended from his club activity for only a month and is still allowed to be in the same classroom with her.

"I would move myself, and then he'll move himself to be right near me, so I'm, like, can we not do that?" Tayag said. "I thought we made it clear that we are going to have our boundaries set, but … it’s me taking myself out of that class is what makes me feel comfortable, and … Sorry, we just saw him, my assaulter in the hallway."

A friend of Tayag's sitting in on the virtual interview explained they were sitting in the library with the door open, and they saw Tayag's assailant walk by the opening.

District officials did not respond to a specific question regarding Tayag's case, but Superintendent Vincent Matthews shared a letter with families, saying in part: "We want to reiterate that each and every student concern is taken seriously. Sexual harassment has no place in our schools. SFUSD is committed to taking all appropriate steps to make sure we educate, prevent, and address any incidents of sexual harassment that occur in our schools."

The letter includes links for students to report incidents of sexual harassment and tells families that the district also wants students to feel like they can share incidents that happen outside of school.

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