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Sexual Misconduct Reporting and Investigation

Background Information

In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed and the Governor signed into law Senate Bill 155, to help ensure the safety of all K-12 students in Oregon.

Senate Bill 155 directs the Oregon Department of Education (department) to do three things. First, the bill requires the department to investigate allegations of suspected sexual misconduct that involve a student and an individual who is a school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer who is not licensed with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC). The bill directs the department to begin those investigations starting on July 1, 2020.

Second, the bill directs the department to provide verification information to education providers when they are hiring an individual as a school employee or bringing on a contractor, agent, or volunteer to provide services in schools. Education providers are required to verify with the department whether it has an ongoing investigation or a substantiated report of sexual misconduct for an applicant who is not licensed with TSPC before hiring that individual as a school employee. Education providers also are required to verify with the department whether it has an ongoing investigation or a substantiated report of sexual misconduct for any contractor, agent, or volunteer who is not licensed with TSPC before the education provider accepts any services from that individual.

Finally, the bill requires the department to provide notification to education providers when it receives notification from the Department of Human Services that a report of abuse involving a child and a person who is a school employee, contractor, agent or volunteer has been made.

Reporting Suspected Sexual Misconduct

Who can submit a report?

Anyone (educators, parents, members of the community, etc.) may submit a report of suspected sexual misconduct to the department.

Oregon law requires that a designated licensed administrator report to the department any incident of suspected sexual misconduct involving a student and a non-licensed school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer. ORS 339.388(2).

NOTE: If the person submitting a sexual misconduct report form is an educator, but is not the designated licensed administrator for the education provider, the law requires that you report suspected sexual misconduct to the designated licensed administrator for your school/school district. See ORS 339.388(1).

How do I submit a report of suspected sexual misconduct?

Please use the official Sexual Misconduct Report Form to submit a report of suspected sexual misconduct involving a school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer who is not licensed by TSPC. This form may be filled out online. There is a Sexual Misconduct Reporting Guide with additional instructions and information. Submit the form to the department online via a secure file transfer. To create a secure file transfer to the department:

  • Please visit the Secure File Transfer webpage;
  • Select the following email from the ODE Email List as the recipient of the secure file transfer ODE.ReportSexualMisconduct@ode.state.or.us;
  • Add your email to the “Email of person sending the file” section;
  • Attach your report in the “File being sent” section;
  • Add a message specifying that you are submitting a report of suspected sexual misconduct; and
  • Click “Send file.”
If you need to print the form to fill out by hand, there is a printable version of the form available. To have a copy of the printable version of the form mailed to you, email the Investigations and Complaints Unit or call (503) 947-4227. Reports filled out by hand can be mailed to the department’s Investigations and Complaints Unit at the following address:

Investigation and Complaints Unit
Oregon Department of Education
255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310

You may add one additional page, if needed, to allow more space for the description of the incident.

If you need assistance in making a report of suspected sexual misconduct or if you have questions about the form or the process, you may email a member of the Investigations and Complaints Unit or call (503) 947-4227.

Reports of suspected sexual misconduct that involve a student and a school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer who is licensed with the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission (TSPC) should be filed with TSPC. You can access the form to submit a report of sexual misconduct on the TSPC website or you can contact the agency by phone at 503-378-3586.

If you are not sure whether the individual involved in the report is licensed with TSPC, you may file a report with either TSPC or the department. The two agencies will work together to make sure that the correct agency receives and responds to the report.

The department is not a primary reporting agency for instances of abuse. If you need to report an incident of suspected physical or sexual abuse involving a child and a person who is a school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer, please contact law enforcement or the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). To make a report of abuse to DHS, please call the DHS hotline at 1-855-503-SAFE (7233).

If your report involves both sexual misconduct and abuse, please file a report of abuse with DHS prior to filing a report of sexual misconduct with the department.

Can I submit a report anonymously?

The department does not accept anonymous reports from education providers. If you are an employee of an education provider, you must include your contact information because you are required by law to report suspected sexual misconduct.

The department will accept anonymous reports from members of the community. However, the department strongly discourages anonymous reports as they impede the investigative process. Anonymous reports limit the department’s ability to investigate the allegations raised in the report, as the department will not be able to speak with the person making the report. Under the law, documents and materials used in an investigation of suspected sexual misconduct are confidential and not subject to public inspection. ORS 339.391(4).

Can I submit evidence or attachments with my report?

No. The department does not accept any evidence or attachments with a report of suspected sexual misconduct. If you have documents or other evidence that you would like to submit to the department, please indicate this on the report form. If the report is assigned for investigation, the assigned investigator will contact you to obtain any information or materials that are needed for the investigation.

What happens after I make a report?

After the department receives a report of suspected sexual misconduct, it will review the report to determine whether:

  1. The report alleges something that, if true, would constitute sexual misconduct; and
  2. A school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer who is not licensed with TSPC is alleged to have committed the sexual misconduct.
If the department determines that both of the above requirements are met, the department will open an investigation and send notice to the education provider of the investigation.

The department then investigates the allegations raised in the report. Unless there is good cause for a time extension, the department will issue its final report within 90 calendar days of receiving the report of suspected sexual misconduct.

An individual who receives a substantiated report of sexual misconduct has a right to a hearing. If a report of suspected sexual misconduct proceeds to an administrative hearing, the person who made the report may be asked to testify at the hearing.

Definitions

Who is an agent?

“Agent” means a person acting as an agent for an education provider in a manner that requires the person to have direct, unsupervised contact with students.

Who is a contractor?

“Contractor” means a person providing services to an education provider under a contract in a manner that requires the person to have direct, unsupervised contact with students.

Who is an education provider?

“Education provider” means:

  • A school district, as defined in ORS 332.002.
  • The Oregon School for the Deaf.
  • An educational program under the Youth Corrections Education Program.
  • A public charter school, as defined in ORS 338.005.
  • An education service district, as defined in ORS 334.003.
  • Any state-operated program that provides educational services to students.
  • A private school.

“Education provider” does not include:

  • The Oregon Youth Authority;
  • The Department of Corrections; or
  • The Department of Education, except when functioning as an education provider on behalf of:
    • The Oregon School for the Deaf;
    • An educational program under the Youth Corrections Education Program; or
    • A public charter school, as defined in ORS 338.005, that is sponsored by the Oregon Department of Education.

What is sexual misconduct?

“Sexual misconduct” means verbal or physical conduct or verbal, written or electronic communications by a school employee, a contractor, an agent or a volunteer that involve a student and that are:

  • Sexual advances or requests for sexual favors directed toward the student; or
  • Of a sexual nature that are directed toward the student or that have the effect of unreasonably interfering with the student’s educational performance, or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment.

“Sexual misconduct” does not include touching:

  • That is necessitated by the nature of the school employee’s job duties or by the services required to be provided by the contractor, agent, or volunteer; and
  • For which there is no sexual intent.

NOTE: SB 155 (2019) uses the term “sexual conduct.” The definitions for the terms are otherwise the same.

How does an education provider obtain verification information for an applicant or a person who will be providing services as a contractor, agent, or volunteer?

The department will begin providing verification information to education providers starting July 1, 2020.

The department is developing an online system for education providers to use to conduct verifications prior to hiring a school employee or bringing on a contractor, agent or volunteer to provide services. The department will update this page with more information when the system becomes available.

Until the online system is available, education providers can submit verification requests to the Investigations and Complaints Unit by filling out this verification template indicating for which individuals the education provider needs verification. Completed verification templates should be submitted to the department via secure file transfer. To create a secure file transfer to the department:

  • Please visit the Secure File Transfer webpage;
  • Select the following email from the ODE Email List as the recipient of the secure file transfer ODE.ReportSexualMisconduct@ode.state.or.us;
  • Add your email to the “Email of person sending the file” section;
  • Attach your completed verification template in the “File being sent” section;
  • Add a message specifying that you are submitting a request for verification information; and
  • Click “Send file.”

If you need assistance submitting a request for verification information or if you have questions about the verification process, you may email a member of the Investigations and Complaints Unit or call (503) 947-4227.

Notification of reports of abuse to DHS

When the department receives notice from the Department of Human Services (DHS) that a report of suspected abuse involving a child and a person who is a school employee, contractor, agent, or volunteer has been made, the department will send notification of the report to the appropriate education providers.

The department will send notice to any education provider that it determines must receive notice to ensure the safety of students.

Resources


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