FNG(LOCAL) - STUDENT RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES: STUDENT AND PARENT COMPLAINTS/GRIEVANCES

Definitions

Days

For purposes of this policy, "days" shall mean calendar days unless otherwise noted in this policy.

Superintendent

For the purposes of this policy, "Superintendent" shall mean the Superintendent or his or her designee.

Complaints

In this policy, the terms "complaint" and "grievance" shall have the same meaning.

Other Complaint Processes

Student or parent complaints shall be filed in accordance with this policy, except as provided below:

  1. Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on age, race, color, ancestry, national origin, sex, handicap or disability, marital status, religion, veteran status, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression shall be submitted in accordance with FFH.
  2. Complaints concerning dating violence shall be submitted in accordance with FFH.
  3. Complaints concerning retaliation related to discrimination and harassment shall be submitted in accordance with FFH.
  4. Complaints concerning cyberbullying, bullying, or retaliation related to bullying shall be submitted in accordance with FFI.
  5. Complaints concerning loss of credit on the basis of attendance shall be submitted in accordance with FEC.
  6. Complaints concerning removal to a disciplinary alternative education program (DAEP) shall be submitted in accordance with FOC and the Code of Student Conduct.
  7. Complaints concerning expulsion shall be submitted in accordance with FOD and the Code of Student Conduct.
  8. Complaints concerning any final decisions of the gifted and talented selection committee regarding selection for or exit from the gifted program shall be submitted in accordance with EHBB.
  9. Complaints concerning identification, evaluation, or educational placement of a student with a disability within the scope of Section 504 shall be submitted in accordance with FB and the procedural safeguards handbook.
  10. Complaints concerning identification, evaluation, educational placement, or discipline of a student with a disability within the scope of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) shall be submitted in accordance with EHBAE, FOF, and the procedural safeguards handbook provided to parents of all students referred to special education.
  11. Complaints concerning instructional materials shall be submitted in accordance with EFA.
  12. Complaints concerning a commissioned peace officer who is an employee of the District shall be submitted in accordance with CKE.
  13. Complaints concerning intradistrict transfers or campus assignment shall be submitted in accordance with FDB.
  14. Complaints concerning admission, placement, or services provided for a homeless student shall be submitted in accordance with FDC.

Notice to Students and Parents

The District shall inform students and parents of this policy.

Guiding Principles

Informal Process

The Board encourages students and parents to discuss their concerns and complaints through informal conferences with the appropriate teacher, principal, or other campus administrator.

Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible to allow early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level.

Formal Process

If an informal conference regarding a complaint fails to reach the outcome requested by the student or parent, the student or parent may initiate the formal process described below by timely filing a written complaint form.

Even after initiating the formal complaint process, students and parents are encouraged to seek informal resolution of their concerns. A student or parent whose concerns are resolved may withdraw a formal complaint at any time.

The process described in this policy shall not be construed to create new or additional rights beyond those granted by law or Board policy, nor to require a full evidentiary hearing or "mini-trial" at any level.

Freedom from Retaliation

Neither the Board nor any District employee shall unlawfully retaliate against any student or parent for bringing a concern or complaint.

General Provisions

Filing

Complaint forms and appeal notices may be filed by hand-delivery, fax, or U.S. Mail. Hand-delivered filings shall be timely filed if received by the appropriate administrator or designee by the close of business on the deadline. Fax filings shall be timely filed if they are received on or before the deadline, as indicated by the date/time shown on the fax copy. Mail filings shall be timely filed if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on or before the deadline and received by the appropriate administrator or designated representative no more than three days after the deadline.

Response

At Levels One and Two, "response" shall mean a written communication to the student or parent from the appropriate administrator. Responses may be hand-delivered or sent by U.S. Mail to the student's or parent's mailing address of record. Mailed responses shall be timely if they are postmarked by U.S. Mail on or before the deadline.

Days

"Days" shall mean District business days. In calculating time lines under this policy, the day a document is filed is "day zero." The following business day is "day one."

Representative

"Representative" shall mean any person who or organization that is designated by the student or parent to represent the student or parent in the complaint process. A student may be represented by an adult at any level of the complaint.

The student or parent may designate a representative through written notice to the District at any level of this process. If the student or parent designates a representative with fewer than three days' notice to the District before a scheduled conference or hearing, the District may reschedule the conference or hearing to a later date, if desired, in order to include the District's counsel. The District may be represented by counsel at any level of the process.

Consolidating Complaints

Complaints arising out of an event or a series of related events shall be addressed in one complaint. A student or parent shall not bring separate or serial complaints arising from any event or series of events that have been or could have been addressed in a previous complaint.

Untimely Filings

All time limits shall be strictly followed unless modified by mutual written consent.

If a complaint form or appeal notice is not timely filed, the complaint may be dismissed, on written notice to the student or parent, at any point during the complaint process. The student or parent may appeal the dismissal by seeking review in writing within ten days from the date of the written dismissal notice, starting at the level at which the complaint was dismissed. Such appeal shall be limited to the issue of timeliness.

Withdrawal

A grievant may withdraw a dispute at any time. Once withdrawn, a dispute may not be reopened.

Unless modified by written mutual consent, a dispute shall be deemed withdrawn if a grievant fails to pursue the dispute or otherwise is deemed to be unreasonably protracting the process, including failure to attend a scheduled Level One or Level Two conference or Level Three hearing. Once withdrawn, a dispute cannot be reopened.

Costs Incurred

Each party shall pay its own costs incurred in the course of the complaint.

Complaint Form

Complaints under this policy shall be submitted in writing on a form provided by the District.

Copies of any documents that support the complaint should be attached to the complaint form. If the student or parent does not have copies of these documents, copies may be presented at the Level One conference. After the Level One conference, no new documents may be submitted by the student or parent unless the student or parent did not know the documents existed before the Level One conference.

A complaint form that is incomplete in any material aspect may be dismissed but may be refiled with all the required information if the refiling is within the designated time for filing a complaint.

Level One

Complaint forms must be filed:

  1. Within 15 days of the date the student or parent first knew, or with reasonable diligence should have known, of the decision or action giving rise to the complaint or grievance; and
  2. With the lowest level administrator who has the authority to remedy the alleged problem.

In most circumstances, students and parents shall file Level One complaints with the campus principal.

If the only administrator who has authority to remedy the alleged problem is the Superintendent or designee, the complaint may begin at Level Two following the procedure, including deadlines, for filing the complaint form at Level One.

If the complaint is not filed with the appropriate administrator, the receiving administrator must note the date and time the complaint form was received and immediately forward the complaint form to the appropriate administrator.

The appropriate administrator shall investigate as necessary and hold a conference with the student or parent within ten days after receipt of the written complaint. The administrator may set reasonable time limits for the conference.

The administrator shall provide the student or parent a written response within ten days following the conference. The written response shall set forth the basis of the decision. In reaching a decision, the administrator may consider information provided at the Level One conference and any other relevant documents or information the administrator believes will help resolve the complaint.

Level Two

If the student or parent did not receive the relief requested at Level One or if the time for a response has expired, the student or parent may request a conference with the Superintendent or designee to appeal the Level One decision.

The appeal notice must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the District, within ten days of the date of the written Level One response or, if no response was received, within ten days of the Level One response deadline.

After receiving notice of the appeal, the Level One administrator shall prepare and forward a record of the Level One complaint to the Level Two administrator. The student or parent may request a copy of the Level One record.

The Level One record shall include:

  1. The original complaint form and any attachments.
  2. All other documents submitted by the student or parent at Level One.
  3. The written response issued at Level One and any attachments.
  4. All other documents relied upon by the Level One administrator in reaching the Level One decision.

The Superintendent or designee shall hold a conference within ten days after the appeal notice is filed. The conference shall be limited to the issues presented by the student or parent at Level One and identified in the Level Two appeal notice. At the conference, the student or parent may provide information concerning any documents or information relied upon by the administration for the Level One decision. The Superintendent or designee may set reasonable time limits for the conference.

The conference is not an evidentiary or due process hearing. The student or parent shall be allotted a specific amount of time to present his or her concerns. The student or parent may also present witnesses and may submit any available documentation. The administration shall be allotted the same amount of time to present its position and shall be allowed to present witnesses and submit any documentation on the issues addressed at the conference.

There shall be no cross-examination of witnesses, nor shall this conference in any way resemble an evidentiary hearing. Each side shall simply make presentations to the Superintendent or designee within the time restrictions set by the Superintendent or designee.

The Superintendent or designee shall provide the student or parent a written response within ten days following the conference. The written response shall set forth the basis of the decision. In reaching a decision, the Superintendent or designee may consider the Level One record, information provided at the Level Two conference, and any other relevant documents or information the Superintendent or designee believes will help resolve the complaint.

Recordings of the Level One and Level Two conferences, if any, shall be maintained with the Level One and Level Two records.

It is expected for the grievant to participate in each phase of the dispute resolution process. Therefore, if the grievant is unable to attend a conference, the grievant must seek prior written approval from the hearing officer to allow a representative to appear at the conference in the grievant's place or to seek a postponement of the hearing. Failure to obtain prior written approval will result in dismissal of the dispute.

If the student or parent did not receive the relief requested at Level Two or if the time for a response has expired, the student or parent may appeal the decision to the Board.

The appeal notice must be filed in writing, on a form provided by the District, within ten days of the date of the written Level Two response or, if no response was received, within ten days of the Level Two response deadline.

The Board shall not conduct a Level Three hearing until after a Level Two hearing has been convened, and a transcript of the hearing is available for the Board's review.

The Superintendent or designee shall inform the student or parent of the date, time, and place of the Board meeting at which the complaint will be on the agenda for presentation to the Board.

The Superintendent or designee shall provide the Board the record of the Level Two appeal. The student or parent may request a copy of the Level Two record.

The Level Two record shall include:

  1. The Level One record.
  2. The notice of appeal from Level One to Level Two.
  3. The written response issued at Level Two and any attachments.
  4. All other documents relied upon by the administration in reaching the Level Two decision.

If at the Level Three hearing the administration intends to rely on evidence not included in the Level Two record, the administration shall provide the student or parent notice of the nature of the evidence at least three days before the hearing.

The District shall determine whether the complaint will be presented in open or closed meeting in accordance with the Texas Open Meetings Act and other applicable law. [See BE]

The presiding officer may set reasonable time limits and guidelines for the presentation, including an opportunity for the student or parent and administration to each make a presentation and provide rebuttal and an opportunity for questioning by the Board. The Board shall hear the complaint and may request that the administration provide an explanation for the decisions at the preceding levels.

In addition to any other record of the Board meeting required by law, the Board shall prepare a separate record of the Level Three presentation. The Level Three presentation, including the presentation by the student or parent or the student's representative, any presentation from the administration, and questions from the Board with responses, shall be recorded by audio recording, video/audio recording, or court reporter.

The Board shall then consider the complaint. It may give notice of its decision orally or in writing at any time up to and including the next regularly scheduled Board meeting. If the Board does not make a decision regarding the complaint by the end of the next regularly scheduled meeting, the lack of a response by the Board upholds the administrative decision at Level Two.

Houston ISD

FNG(LOCAL)-X

LDU 2018.08

DATE ISSUED: 10/22/2018