Development of Desired Outcomes and Strategies— Communication and Problem Solving Policies and Processes
Feedback the board has received through the recent staff survey indicates that there are significant concerns and issues that, as the board discussed them fell into two categories:
1) Inadequate communication. The board has identified general concerns regarding communication both internal and external stakeholders of the district.
2) Lack of Clarity on Processes on how concerns and complaints are to be addressed.
In order to be able to create a positive path forward we will work together to identify desired outcomes for these two areas. We will discuss strategies and supports to allow the board and administration to accomplish these outcomes.
Below are a number of important background pieces for the board to consider in their discussions. These are current policies and procedures, followed by pertinent language from union agreements.
Policy 1005 Key functions of the Board
Policy 3207 Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying
Procedure 3207 Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation, and Bullying
Policy 3210 Nondiscrimination
Procedure 3210 Nondiscrimination
Policy 4000 Public Information Program
Policy 4010 Staff Communications
Policy 4220 Complaints Concerning Staff or Programs
Procedure 4220 Complaints Concerning Staff or Programs
Policy 5270 Resolution of Staff Complaints
Procedure 5270 Resolution of Staff Complaints
Policy 5271 Reporting Improper Governmental Action
Procedure 5271 Reporting Improper Governmental Action
Policy 6590 Sexual Harassment
Procedure 6590P Sexual Harassment
Collective Bargaining Agreement Language
Collective Bargaining Agreements supersede board policy and must be considered in any discussion of policy, practice, and process. In searching for the word "complaint through all bargaining agreements with Woodland employees I found the following
WEA CBA 9.2 Due Process
No employee shall be disciplined or adversely affected without just cause. The specific grounds forming the basis for disciplinary action will be made available to the employee. Appropriately voicing opinions to a supervisor, asking questions, or disagreeing with an administrator shall not be considered just cause.
An employee shall be entitled to have present a representative of the Association during any meeting. When a request for such representation is made, no action shall be taken with respect to the employee until such representative of the Association is present.
The District agrees to follow a policy of progressive discipline and any disciplinary action taken against an employee shall be appropriate to the behavior which precipitates said action. Any complaint made against an employee by a parent, student or other person will be promptly called to the attention of the employee. Any complaint not called to the attention of the employee may not be used as the basis for any disciplinary action against the employee. The district will provide documentation of the complaint upon employee request.
Any criticism of any employee by a supervisor, administrator, or other agent of the employer shall be made in confidence and never in the presence of students, parents of students, other employees, or at public gatherings. All critiques made shall be confidential.
WEA CBA 9.3 Formal Complaints
If any employee files a formal complaint with the District, the employee shall be entitled upon request to a written response summarizing the District’s response to the complaint.
WEA CBA Section 9.4(2) Grievances
(2) GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES – The certificated employee shall file the grievance within ten (10) working days from the grievable event or when the certificated employee learned of the event, whichever is later. Prior to filing a grievance, an informal meeting shall be held between the principal or other appropriate supervisor and the certificated employee, who may be accompanied by an Association representative. Either the employee or the supervisor may provide documentation of the informal meeting. If the grievance is not resolved at this meeting, formal grievance procedures may be instituted. However, disagreements not settled at this level do not automatically lead to formal grievances. If any individual certificated employee has a personal complaint which he/she desires to discuss with the supervisor, he/she is free to do so without recourse to the grievance procedure.
WSA Agreement Section 4.1.4-4.1.6
4.1.4 Any complaint made against an employee by a parent, student or other person will be promptly (within two (2) workdays) called to the attention of the employee. No such complaint may be used against an employee for any purpose whatsoever unless the employee has signed a written record indicating he/she received notice of the complaint.
4.1.5 When an allegation is made and no investigation takes place, documents regarding the allegation will be destroyed within thirty (30) calendar days of the time the allegation is made.
4.1.6 In any situation in which documents are destroyed pursuant to this section, the allegation shall not be used against the employee in any subsequent allegation, investigation, reprimand, discipline or adverse action proceeding. No such allegations will be used as the basis of or referenced in any evaluation. In any case, no school district employee or elected or appointed official shall disclose or discuss the allegation under any circumstances.
Sample School Public Relations Policies
The Board of Directors believes it is the responsibility of each Board member, as well as each employee of the District, to actively pursue a two-way communications program that highlights the educational experiences in the city's public schools and promotes effective school/home/community partnerships.
The Board recognizes that citizens have a right to know what is occurring in their public school system; that Board members and all school administrators have an obligation to see that all publics are kept systematically and adequately informed; and that the District will benefit from seeing that citizens get all information, good and bad, directly from the system itself.
The Board affirms the following objectives:
- To maintain an effective two-way communication system between the District and its various publics which ensures:
- Dissemination of accurate, timely information about school policies, programs, procedures, achievements, decisions, critical issues;
- Interpretation of decisions and action;
- Elimination of rumors and misinformation;
- Programs and practices designed to provide an open climate which will elicit ideas, suggestions, reactions from the community and employees alike;
- An effective working relationship with the news media.
- To maintain a Public Information Office which will coordinate the District's communication efforts.
- To develop and maintain an organizational environment where all District staff members are aware that they share the responsibility for communication of school policies, programs and activities to parents, members of the educational and other communities.
- To maintain a written plan of communication policies and guidelines which will be available to employees and to the public upon request.
- To support the establishment of a Communications Review Committee to review and evaluate District-wide two-way communication efforts.
The Board of Directors of any school district shall have authority to authorize the expenditure of funds for the purpose of preparing and distributing information to the general public to explain the instructional program, operation and maintenance of the schools of the district:
Provided, that nothing contained herein shall be construed to authorize preparation and distribution of information to the general public for the purpose of influencing the outcome of a school district election.
Board members believe it is essential to the development of excellence in the education of youngsters that the maximum possible knowledge about the goals, achievements, activities and operations of the school district be conveyed to the students, staff and citizens.
The Board therefore reaffirms its commitment to openness in relationships with its patrons. The Board further believes that the citizens, as well as the staff and students, should be consulted and involved in the problem-solving and decision-making processes at as early a stage as possible. This involvement should be solicited actively and honestly through a wide variety of means.
Source: Tacoma (Wash.) Public Schools
Policies That Work: Public Information Programs
The public schools belong to and derive their strength from the people of the community. For a community to be supportive of its schools, the people must be knowledgeable of the aims and efforts of the District.
Therefore, the Board shall make every effort to:
- Keep the public informed about the policies, administrative operation, objectives, and educational programs of the schools.
- Provide the means for furnishing full and accurate information, favorable and unfavorable, together with interpretation and explanation of the school plans and programs.
- Adhere to a policy of openness and honesty in communicating with citizens, staff, the news media and other organizations.
- Make available the background material, which is sent to the Board of Education, to the public and news media through the Office of Communication Services; however, this excludes confidential material, to be defined as materials regarding negotiations, sale or purchase of properties, legal matters, and sensitive personnel matters.
- Establish and support appropriate and effective communication between the administration and other District employees.
- Have publications prepared as needed to keep citizens informed about educational services, achievements, needs, costs, revenues, and expenditures.
To ensure that citizens and staff have an opportunity to be informed about their schools, the Board establishes an Office of Communication Services which will, among other functions:
- Provide the appropriate liaison services between the District and the news media;
- Support, plan and execute appropriate direct communications between school and home;
- Assess the public's knowledge and attitudes about the schools, and use this information in planning a communications program;
- Assist in ensuring that communications plans and skills exist in each school and department;
- Assist with the publicity for all District programs as requested.
Source: NSPRA Resource Files http://www.nspra.org/getting_started