Disqus

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

New District Ombudsman

Thanks to Mirmac 1 for this info.

The District Ombudsman serves as an independent, confidential resource to assist SPS parents and community members in resolving problems, complaints, conflicts, and other school-related issues when normal procedures have failed.

What will the District Ombudsman do?


  • Assist in solving problems.
  • Serve as a resource to complainants by providing an alternative to the formal complaint process.
  • Assist complainants in clarifying their issues and generating options for resolution.
  • Serve as a resource to school and Central administrators by providing the tools for effective problem resolution.
  • Make recommendations to Superintendent.
  • Hear anonymous requests for information and provide referrals.
    Conduct informal interventions and mediations.

What will the district Ombudsman NOT do?


  • Address employee grievances
  • Participate in litigation.
  • Make, set or change policy.
  • Compel any decision  or the implementation of recommendations made as a result of an informal investigation.
  • Breach confidentiality.

What types of issues will the District Ombudsman handle?


  • Unfair treatment.
  • Clarification of District policies and procedures.

That "breach confidentiality" is very important.  I am hearing rumblings (with proof) that this has NOT been the case with the ethics hotline.  If administrators are told about issues brought to either the Ombudsman or Ethics office before they have been investigated, it kind of defeats the idea of being sure that you will not be exposed.

15 comments:

Maureen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

Here's the part that I'm having trouble with:

The district Ombudsman not compel any decision or the implementation of recommendations made as a result of an informal investigation.

So you bring your complaint to the Ombudsman, it is found to be perfectly valid, everyone agrees that you're right, and everyone agrees on a resolution, but the one person in the District who can effect the resolution refuses to do so. There is nothing the Ombudsman can do about it. You're still screwed.

So, for example, everyone agrees that the policy was violated and that there's something that some has to do to make it right, but they refuse to do it.

Or everyone agrees that your child's grade should be changed, but the person who can change it refuses to do so.

Or everyone agrees that your child should have been enrolled in a certain school or program, but the person who can make the assignment change refuses to do it.

How is this better than not having an ombudsman?

mirmac1 said...

But that is typically the case with Ombudsman.

I am hopeful this will help SpEd families who often fail to get any responses from admin.

This is good because it provides a middle level, may lead to de-escalation of issues.

Families will always have OSPI or due process or legal recourse in any case.

SP said...

Bravo--This is something that the district has sorely needed! If effectively run, it can be a great resource for families. Just the fact that the ombudsman's office can review a situation (and thus hopefully hold school administrators more accountable to follow the rules and not their own version) can be a powerful deterrant in itself.

Many times I have seen several kids being disciplined for the same incident and the parents who are able to advocate for their students and make sure the rules are applied properly, often times resolve the issue whereas the other kids with no one to support them are stuck with really unjust situations and discipline records. And unfortunately these records follow a kid up through the years, even from middle school to their new high school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, did I misspell that (and did Charlie fix it)? But yes, that's what I meant?

mirmac1 said...

I want to give a shout-out to Deputy Superintendent Noel Treat for bringing this about. I'm sure he will make it work.

KG said...

WHooooooopeeeeee?

Anonymous said...

After trying to get questions answered by customer service, I'm hoping this is a big improvment.

parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am trying to set up an interview with Mr. McGlone. What questions would you ask him?

Anonymous said...

Question: Who signs your paycheck, Mr. McGlone?

How is this not yet simply another instance of admins "investigating" themselves?

How are you accountable to us, not "them"?

-JC.

SeattleSped said...

Speaking as one of many parents who are forced into "due process" for basic civil rights, I want to say that this is a much-appreciated move towards deescalated conflict. Don't worry. If it doesn't work, you'll hear about it.

Charlie Mas said...

I have submitted an online form for the ombudsman about the superintendent's failure to comply with the program placement policy.

Let's see what he does with that.

TraceyS said...

1. I would also ask him what his personal philosophy is on conflict resolution and consensus building, and how this relates to his understanding of the position.

2. I would ask him what challenges he may expect to face in the first few months on the job, especially since this is a new role for the district.

3. Lastly, I would ask him what relevant experience he already beings to the position, who his mentors or heroes are, and what books are on his bookshelf or nightstand at this moment that he has found useful in guiding him in his new role for the district.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what an Ombudsman is supposed to do. He/she does NOT change policy, nor enforce it. The position is part of negotiation in the litigious process. At the state level, this has prevented millions in legal fees to districts for special education cases. These students are automatically entitled to due process on request, which is expensive for all sides.

For others, without such an entitlement, the use of an Ombudsman is less clear. For example, "program placement" decisions or policy is not something for which there is any right to due process. The decision was made by those charged with making the decision. And no, not everyone will agree that your reasoning is "perfectly valid." I doubt the Ombudsman would even consider such a case.

=parent

mirmac1 said...

From Q13 report:

"“The ombudsman may make a recommendation to benefit a certain family or child, but the option is always there for school officials to just ignore that. You can see if there are powerful interests within the school system that don’t want that to happen, then that’s the interest that’s going to prevail and once again parents find themselves at the bottom of the totem pole,” said Paul Guppy, SPS parent and vice president of research at the Washington Policy Center."

Yeah, well that's been true forever - so at least there is SOME kind of change.