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Guiding Principles and Behavior Expectations

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 Behavior expectations

6) Guiding Principles and Behavior Expectations

a) Introduction

The foundation of SFUSD’s Guiding Principles for All School Communities is the belief that all students, staff and families deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The fundamental goal of the guiding principles and behavior expectations is for students to learn to be responsible for themselves and their actions, and to make genuine, positive contributions to their community.

SFUSD is committed to providing a positive school environment where young people feel connected and safe and where learning is maximized. All SFUSD staff are encouraged and expected to model the guiding principles and behavioral standards and to teach/reinforce those skills needed to build and maintain positive relationships, to resolve conflict, and to strengthen pro-social behavior.

b) Essential Components of Learning/Reinforcing Successful Behaviors

All SFUSD schools commit to:

1. Academic Rigor: Engaging Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment

Students who are engaged in learning are less likely to engage in misconduct.  To support positive behavior, our curriculum is rigorous, standards-based, and inquiry-based.  Lessons are built around essential questions, with culturally relevant and responsive content that connects to students’ lives.

2. Positive Behavior Support

Positive behavior support is defined as positive expectations and responses to student behaviors.  In SFUSD schools, positive values and behaviors are explicitly taught, modeled, and practiced daily. 

3. Restorative Practices

Restorative Practices (RP) is the preferred approach to address student behavior issues in SFUSD school communities.  Restorative Practices are based on principles and processes that emphasize the importance of positive relationships as central to building community, and repairs/restores relationships when harm has occurred.

RP reflects the importance SFUSD places on relationships – among students, and between teachers and students. This approach provides students with opportunities to develop self-discipline and positive behaviors in a caring, supportive environment. RP views conflict primarily through the lens of the harm caused to people and relationships, and emphasizes the priority to meet the needs of those affected by this harm. A restorative disciplinary paradigm views conflict or misbehavior as an opportunity for students to learn about the consequences of their actions, develop empathy with others, and experience how to make amends in a way that strengthen the community bonds that may have been damaged.

c) Aims

  • To promote the physical, psychological, emotional and social wellbeing of students
  • To teach children self-discipline and an understanding of the consequences of their behavior
  • To provide children with an understanding of the limits of acceptable behavior, the reasons for these limits, and consistency in the management of their behavior
  • To provide good role models for acceptable behavior
  • To educate students towards self-directed, cooperative and respectful behavior
  • To promote, nurture and protect healthy relationships among members of the community
  • To enable students to be accountable for the real consequences of their actions
  • To encourage respect, healing and restoration both for those who are harmed, and for those who cause harm
  • To enable students to build personal responsibility by developing skills of reflection and empathy with others
  • To guide teachers in their responses to student behavior
  • To inform students and parents about expectations of student behavior


The San Francisco Unified School District is committed to creating safe and caring school communities where all students and families feel welcomed, valued and respected.  We strive to provide all students with fair and clear academic and behavioral expectations as well as the supports needed to achieve success.  

 SFUSD asks that all students commit to the following Guiding Principles:

1.   Respect

I treat others the way I want to be treated

I respect laws, rules and school authority

I treat people fairly and respect their rights

I respect private and public property

2.   Responsibility

I take responsibility for my actions

I am responsible for how I respond to others

I return what I borrow in a timely manner

3.   Appreciation of Differences

I look for the good in others

I respect each person’s right to be different

I see cultural diversity as an opportunity to learn

4.   Honesty

I am honest with myself and others

I act with integrity

I avoid spreading rumors or gossip

5.   Safety

I engage in safe activities

I keep my body and mind healthy

I choose things that help me become my “best self”

6.   Life-Long Learning

I come to school prepared to learn

I give my best in everything I do

I am open to new skills & positive solutions

When we live by the Guiding Principles, we:


And we DO NOT accept:


d) Student Bill of Rights and Responsibilities

Student Bill of Rights (Board Policy 5134)

It is impossible to list all of the rights of students.  Therefore, the following list of rights shall not be construed to deny or limit others retained by students on their own campus in their capacity as members of the student body or as citizens.

Students have the right to:

1.   a meaningful education that will be of value to them for the rest of their lives.

2.   the maintenance of high educational standards.  The maximum potential of the student must be developed.  Students will have the right to have announced any proficiency tests adopted by the Board of Education.

3.   a meaningful curriculum and the right to voice their opinions in the development of such curriculum.

4.   physical safety and protection of personal property.

5.   safe buildings and sanitary facilities.

6.   consultation with teachers, counselors and administrators and anyone else connected with the school.

7.   respect from teachers and administrators, which would exclude their being subjected to cruel and unusual punishments, especially those which are demeaning or derogatory, or which diminish their self-esteem or exclude them from their peers.

8.   free election of their peers in the student government and the right to seek and hold office.

9.   democratic representation on administrative committees affecting students and student rights.

10. participation in the development of rules and regulations to which they are subject and the right to be notified of such rules and regulations.

11. see their own personal files, cumulative folders, transcripts, deans’ files, etc., in conformity with provisions laid out in the California State Education Code (Section 49061-49078), and to be notified if adverse comments are placed in such records.

12. be involved in school activities if they so desire without being subject to discrimination on any basis, provided they meet with the reasonable qualifications of sponsoring organizations.

13. present petitions, complaints or grievances to school authorities and to receive prompt authoritative replies regarding the disposition of their petitions, complaints or grievances.

14. not be penalized in any way by the school administration for the beliefs they hold provided they do not violate the rights of others.

15. exercise their constitutionally protected rights of free speech and assembly.  Students have the right under state and federal law to free speech, and cannot be punished for their speech unless it is obscene, libelous or slanderous; incites pupils as to create a clear and present danger of the commission of unlawful acts on school premises or the violation of lawful school regulations; or causes a substantial disruption to the orderly operation of the school environment.  Although students may be disciplined for bullying, students cannot be punished for speech merely on the basis that someone might find it offensive or insulting.  California State Education Code Section 48907 states the rights of students to:

A.   wear political buttons, armbands or any other badges of symbolic expression.

B.   use bulletin boards designated by the Principal without prior censorship requirements or approval by the administration or the Board of Education.

C.   distribute political leaflets, newspapers, or other printed matter both inside and outside of school property without prior authorization of, restriction by, school administration or the Board of Education, provided, however, the time of such distribution may be limited to before and after school, during lunch, or other free periods so as to prevent interference with classroom activities.

D.   form political and social organizations.

E.   determine their own appearances if that appearance is not disruptive to the learning process in the classroom or is unsafe.

F.   reasonable use of public address systems in school without prior censorship; however, the time of announcements may be limited to before and after school, during lunch or other free periods so as to prevent interference with class procedures.

Student Responsibilities

It is impossible to list all specific student responsibilities, but it is important for students to do their best to behave in a responsible manner at all times in order to achieve school success and avoid negative consequences.

1.  It is your responsibility to:

arrive at school and class on time.

inform and obtain parent’s permission before being absent.

ask permission before leaving class.

receive permission before leaving the school campus.

2.  It is your responsibility to:

be prepared for class with appropriate materials.

participate in class activities.

follow classroom procedures.

complete assignments, including assigned homework.

have pride in one’s work, and the work of others.

progress to the best of your ability toward promotion and/or graduation requirements.

3.  It is your responsibility to:

demonstrate cooperation and responsible behavior in the classroom and at school activities.

show respect for staff members, teachers, adult supervisors, classified employees, guest speakers, substitute teachers, and other students.

learn and follow the guiding principles and behavior expectations prescribed in the Student and Family Handbook.

use respectful  communication to resolve conflicts.

respect the property of others.

be honest.

use respectful language.

show concern for the welfare of the school and student body.

have respect for the differences of others.

avoid the use of rude, defiant, disrespectful words or gestures, or profane/vulgar language.

4.  It is your responsibility to:

keep the campus clean and free from litter.

keep the restrooms clean.

keep the walls of your campus free from graffiti.

keep all equipment, lockers, desks, and books free from being defaced or damaged.

help keep the campus safe by reporting outsiders who should not be on campus.

use school property only when permission is granted, and use it properly.

follow check-out procedures for school equipment.

return school equipment promptly and in good condition.

5.  It is your responsibility to:

take home all information sheets and printed material intended to be given to your family.

return to school all requested forms.

ask visitors to report to the school office.

dress and groom appropriately.

give true identification when asked.


 General Expectations of Behavior

 SFUSD recognizes the mutual dependence of rights and responsibilities of staff, students and parents.





Students have the right to:


  • Learn
  • Be treated fairly and courteously
  • Ask for and received support from teachers, administration, parents, and when appropriate students
  • A safe, clean and healthy school environment



Students have the responsibility to:


  • Respect other’s opinions and be cooperative, committed and engaged
  • Care for others and behave in a socially acceptable manner
  • Respect property
  • Punctually attend all scheduled classes
  • Completing all set work conscientiously and to the best personal standard

Staff have the right to:

  • Teach
  • Be treated fairly and courteously by students, parents and colleagues
  • Ask for and receive support from colleagues, administration, parents and students
  • A safe, clean and healthy school environment

Staff have the responsibility to:


  • Maintain a knowledge of the curriculum and how students learn
  • Communicate clear expectations
  • Model respect, fair treatment and problem solving behaviors
  • Model professionalism, participate in meetings, share ideas, support colleagues
  • Promote a positive and cooperative school atmosphere


Parents/Caregivers have the right to:


  • Be fully informed of their child’s progress
  • Have access to their child’s teachers through appropriate channels
  • Be provided with information on general school activities

Parents/Caregivers have the responsibility to:

  • Actively participate in their child’s education by sending them to school daily, and encouraging punctuality
  • Maintain close communication with the school and support school programs and policies
  • Attend parent teachers conferences and informational sessions
  • Assist their child with work and with study habits where appropriate



e) State and Federal Policies

Corporal Punishment

(State Education Code 49000 & 49001)

1.   No student shall be subject to the infliction of corporal punishment by any person employed by or engaged in the public schools of the San Francisco Unified School District.

2.   A person employed by or engaged in a public school may use an amount of force that is reasonable and necessary to quell a disturbance threatening physical injury to a person or damage to property, for purpose of self-defense, or to obtain possession of weapons or other dangerous objects within the control of the pupil.

Detention After School

(CAC, Title V, Section 353)

Although school staff are highly encouraged to use non-punitive disciplinary method, school staff may utilize after-school detention for disciplinary reasons in dealing with minor school infractions.  After school detention is limited to not more than one hour at the end of the school day. 

Radios, Cell Phones, Mobile Communication Devices, MP3/Music Players and Other Electronic Signaling Devices

Students may possess electronic signaling devices, including but not limited to pagers, cellular/digital telephones for voice usage, digital imaging or text messaging or other mobile communication devices, MP3/music players, and gaming equipment.  Students who possess such devices at school must comply with the following guidelines:

·        “Off and away.” All personal electronic signaling devices must be turned off during instructional time so as not to disrupt classroom instruction. Such devices may only be turned on when authorized by a teacher to enhance classroom instruction. In this circumstance, electronic signaling devices may only be used within the specific parameters provided by the teacher, for the purpose and time period identified by the teacher.  

·        Passing period is considered part of the school day and electronic signaling device usage will not be permitted.

·        Students may not use personal electronic signaling devices at school to take pictures, film or video of students or school staff (including teachers, administrators or staff) , or otherwise infringe on the privacy rights of others, without the prior written consent of the student or staff person.

·        Use of these devices, to the extent permitted above, must comply with the SFUSD Acceptable Use Agreement and the Internet Safety Administrative Regulation for Students. (See pages 106-107 and 100-104 of this Handbook).

·        Any use that disrupts the educational process or school programs or activities is prohibited.

·        Any use that violates SFUSD rules, policies or regulations, or federal or state law is prohibited, including but not limited to cyberbullying or cheating on assignments or tests.

·        Students shall not be prevented from using a cell phone in an emergency except where the use inhibits the ability of school district employees to effectively communicate instructions for the safety of students, or if such use is otherwise disruptive or endangers the safety of students or staff.

Use of Electronic Devices for Health Reasons

In addition to the use described above, a student will be allowed to use an electronic signaling device on campus if a parent, guardian, or caregiver of the child provides a written note from a licensed physician and surgeon indicating that such a device is essential for the health of the student. The use of the device must be limited to purposes related to the health of the student.

Violation of Use Guidelines

Students who fail to store their devices “off and away” may be directed to turn off the device and/or staff may confiscate the device and return it to the student later in the period, day or week; or may require the parent to come to school to recover the device.  It will be left to the discretion of the staff member to determine the appropriate response depending on the particular circumstances.  A student’s right to carry such devices may be revoked for repeated violation of these guidelines except where deemed medically necessary.  School staff will take reasonable steps to store confiscated devices in a secure manner, but SFUSD and the school accept no responsibility for replacing lost, stolen or damaged electronic signaling devices.

Students using electronic signaling devices or district-owned equipment to harass, threaten or bully; cheat on tests or assignments; violate privacy rights of others; solicit assistance from people outside of the immediate school campus to commit acts of violence; or any other acts in violation of the law or District Policy will be subject to discipline in accordance with SFUSD restorative disciplinary practices, State Education Code and District Policy.

School Property - Restitution 

(State Education Code 48904 & Board Policy 5139)

The San Francisco Board of Education has established as its policy that the following action be taken to recover loaned school district property or to seek restitution:

That the school principal shall notify the parent/guardian/caregiver of the student in writing before withholding the student’s grades, diploma, and/or transcript.

That when the student and parent/guardian/caregiver are unable to pay for the damages or return the property, the principal shall offer a program of voluntary work in lieu of payment and be available at the discretion of the principal.

That implementation of this policy shall not be interpreted as denying the student a right to the normal use of texts and other school property while actively enrolled in school.  (See Transfer of Records section on page 94.)


School officials may search any individual student, his/her property, or district property under his/her control when there is a reasonable suspicion that the search will uncover evidence that he/she is violating the law, Board policy, administrative regulation, or other rules of the district or the school. Reasonable suspicion shall be based on specific and objective facts that the search will produce evidence related to the alleged violation.  Mere curiosity, rumor or innuendo do not constitute reasonable suspicion.  The types of student property that may be searched by school officials with reasonable suspicion include, but are not limited to, lockers, desks, purses, backpacks, student vehicles parked on district property, cellular phones, or other electronic communication devices.** 

Any search of a student, his/her property, or district property under his/her control shall be limited in scope and designed to produce evidence related to the alleged violation. The search shall not extend beyond that which is necessary to produce evidence of the violation(s) for which there is reasonable suspicion.  Factors to be considered by school officials when determining the scope of the search shall include the danger to the health or safety of students or staff, including but not limited to the possession of weapons, drugs, or other dangerous instruments, and whether the item(s) to be searched by school officials are reasonably related to the contraband or evidence to be found. In addition, school officials shall consider the intrusiveness of the search in light of the student's age, gender, and the nature of the alleged violation.

**Merely possessing a cell phone or other electronic device, or having it on, will not alone justify a search of its contents.  However, a student’s cell phone or other electronic device may be searched if there is reasonable suspicion that the phone or device contains evidence of his/her violation of law, Board policy, rules or regulations, and the search is otherwise in accordance with the standards articulated above.  For example, any search of a cell phone or other electronic device must be limited in scope to the original justification for the search and not overly intrusive.  A cell phone that has been confiscated by staff may only be searched in accordance with the standards articulated herein.

Employees shall not conduct strip searches or body cavity searches of any student.

Solicitation - Before, During And After School

(State Education Code 51520)

During school hours, and within one hour before the time of opening and within one hour after the time of closing of school, pupils of the public school shall not be solicited on school premises by teachers or others to subscribe or contribute to the funds of, to become members of, or to work for, any organization not directly under the control of the school authorities, unless the organization is a nonpartisan, charitable organization organized for charitable purposes by an act of Congress or under the laws of the state, the purpose of the solicitation is nonpartisan and charitable, and the solicitation has been approved by the county board of education or by the governing board of the school district in which the school is located.


Students leaving assigned school grounds and entering another school campus without the authorization of a school employee is strictly prohibited. Violators will be reported to the police department.  (Penal Code Sections 653G and 602).

Any student who brings outsiders onto campus with the intent to cause disruption, fight, theft, assault, etc., is subject to a restorative conference, suspension and/or expulsion. 

f) SFUSD Policies

Automobiles on Campus

Students Using Automobiles to and from School

All pupils using automobiles to drive to and from school shall be required to file with the principal of the school written permission from their parent/guardian/caregiver to do so.  The automobile must be registered with the principal of the school.  The pupil must agree, in writing, to obey all rules and regulations regarding use of automobiles during the school day.  Violation of the rules shall constitute cause for appropriate disciplinary action.  (Board Policy 5131) 

It shall be the policy of the school district to not allow students to drive their cars during lunch period except in extreme emergency with the permission of the school principal or designee.

Bus Safety Rules

Riding the yellow school bus to and from school is a privilege.  Students must obey the rules or lose the privilege.  Students who ride the bus are expected to:

Be on time at the bus stop.

Show good manners at the bus stop.  This includes staying near the bus stop area, keeping off private property, not disturbing plants or shrubs.  Bus stops are a part of school jurisdiction and all school rules apply.

Obey the bus driver.

School Bus Rules and Conduct

1.   Students must follow safety procedures.

2.   Students must not destroy property.

3.   Students must not fight, push, or trip.

4.   Students must not eat, drink, or litter on the bus.

5.   Students must not use unacceptable language.

6.   Students must remain seated until the bus driver arrives at the stop, and the bus door is opened.


The following consequences will occur for student misconduct on the school bus:

First offense

(A)  Conference with the student.

(B)  Parent/guardian/caregiver will be notified.

(C)  Warning citation will be issued.

Second offense

Restorative conference with student and parent/guardian (and others impacted by student behavior).

Third offense

(A)  Written notification to parent/guardian/caregiver.

(B)  Student will be denied bus transportation for 3-5 days.

Fourth offense

After notifying the parent/guardian/caregiver, permanent suspension from all SFUSD bus transportation for the remainder of the school year.

Rules on Public Transportation

San Francisco Unified School District students are expected to observe the above rules when riding public transportation.  Reported misconduct on public transportation to and from school or from a school-related activity will be grounds for school disciplinary action.

Closed School Campus

By Board of Education policy, all Elementary and Middle Schools have closed campuses for the safety and welfare of all students.  Therefore, students are not allowed off-campus unless they have a Permit to Leave School issued by the Counselor or Head Counselor.  High School campuses are closed unless arrangements for open campus have been made by site administration.  The Principal will disseminate campus rules to parents/guardians/caregivers.  Neither the school district nor any officer or employee thereof shall be liable for the conduct or safety of any pupil during such time as the pupil has left the school grounds during the lunch period.

Dress/Appearance Standards

Students shall dress appropriately for daily attendance at school.  Students who attend schools which have a uniform policy are expected to be in uniform every day.  If special circumstances in adhering to this policy should arise, please contact the individual school’s principal for assistance.  The type and style of clothing (except for schools with uniforms) and hairdo are individual and personal.  The school shall be concerned only when these are extreme and could cause school distraction or disruption or be unsafe. 

Examples of inappropriate clothing include:

·   garments where the torso is exposed, i.e., tube tops, half shirts, halters.

·   clothing or buttons which show obscene words or pictures, or sexually suggestive statement.

·   clothing related to juvenile gang-related activities.

·   garments where the entire thigh is exposed, such as micro minis or short shorts.

·   bathing suits or cut-offs.

·   the wearing and carrying of tobacco promotional items, or the wearing and carrying of items promoting controlled substances (illegal drugs) and/or alcohol,

·   sagging pants (where undergarment is exposed).

Schools may set their own policies relating to hats, caps and other head coverings, provided that any permitted head coverings may not be obscene or promote illegal activity.  There shall be no restriction on student head coverings worn for religious purpose; and students shall be permitted to wear head coverings in the schools’ outdoor spaces, as required by state law.        

*Suspension or expulsion shall not be used as a punishment for the violation of a dress code, head covering policy or uniform policy.

Skateboards, Skates, Scooters and Bicycles

 To ensure the safety of all students, skateboards, skates, scooters and bicycles may not be used during school hours while on school grounds.

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