What to expect from the Office of the Ombudsman:
It is our goal to offer you responsive customer service, individualized attention, and high quality conflict resolution services. We will provide timely responses to all concerns and complaints, generally within 48 hours of the receipt of the complaint, and we will treat all customers with respect. We review all complaints brought to our office with keen attention to addressing the problem in a way that serves the best interest of the students. Moreover, we will take direct action and will regularly share our progress in obtaining a favorable outcome.
Once we accept a complaint, we will do the following, as appropriate:
- Obtain detailed information about the situation at hand;
- Research applicable education law, policies, and best practices;
- Interview the parties involved, which may include the student (with the parent’s consent), teachers, school leadership team, parents, other school staff members, and witnesses to the situation in question;
- Review student records;
- Facilitate or mediate conversations between parents, families, and school staff members;
- Consider and recommend student-centered options to solve the problem; and
- Regularly monitor efforts to address problems until results for the student are reached.
Actions that cannot be taken by the Office of the Ombudsman:
- Hire or fire anyone based on the merits of the complaint;
- Provide legal advice or legal services; or
- Force a school or an LEA to take a specific action. Instead, we will recommend a course of action based on discussions between various parties involved and assist with reaching a resolution that is focused on the best interest of the student.
Steps to take before speaking with a member of the Ombudsman Office:
- Write down the relevant facts/points in writing;
- Create a timeline of the events related to your complaint. Think about the facts related to the issue, identify school officials that you have spoken to about the problem. When possible, identify the names of the people involved, dates that you spoke to them, their positions/titles, and any interventions that have already been put into place by the school leadership team;
- Identify supporting documentation to submit to the Office of the Ombudsman;
- Identify the desired resolution to the problem;
- Identify any perceived barriers to a resolution of the problem.
Conflict Resolution Services
At the Office of the Ombudsman, we believe that it is important to do the following when resolving a complaint:
- Listen and understand issues while remaining neutral with respect to the facts. The Ombudsman does not listen to judge or to decide who is right or wrong. The Ombudsman listens to understand the issue from the perspective of the individual. This is a critical step in developing options for resolution.
- Assist in reframing issues, developing options, and helping individuals evaluate options.
- Guide or coach individuals to deal directly with other parties.
- Refer individuals to appropriate resolution resources. An ombudsman may refer individuals to one or more formal organizational resources that can potentially resolve the issue.
- Assist in surfacing issues to formal resolution channels. When an individual is unable or unwilling to raise concerns directly, the Ombudsman can assist by giving voice to the concern and/or creating an awareness of the issue among appropriate decision-makers in the organization.