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

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 required by the policies listed below. Some of these policies require appeals to be submitted in accordance with FNG after the relevant complaint process:

Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on race, color, gender, national origin, disability, or religion shall be submitted in accordance with FFH.

Complaints concerning dating violence shall be submitted in accordance with FFH.

Complaints concerning retaliation related to discrimination and harassment shall be submitted in accordance with FFH.

Complaints concerning bullying or retaliation related to bullying shall be submitted in accordance with FFI.

Complaints concerning failure to award credit or a final grade on the basis of attendance shall be submitted in accordance with FEC.

Complaints concerning expulsion shall be submitted in accordance with FOD and the Student Code of Conduct.

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.

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.

Complaints concerning identification, evaluation, educational placement, or discipline of a student with a disability within the scope of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act shall be submitted in accordance with EHBAE, FOF, and the procedural safeguards handbook provided to parents of all students referred to special education.

Complaints concerning instructional resources shall be submitted in accordance with EF.

Complaints concerning a commissioned peace officer who is an employee of the District shall be submitted in accordance with CKE.

Complaints concerning intradistrict transfers or campus assignment shall be submitted in accordance with FDB.

Complaints concerning admission, placement, or services provided for a homeless student shall be submitted in accordance with FDC.

Complaints regarding refusal of entry to or ejection from District property based on Education Code 37.105 shall be filed in accordance with this policy. However, the timelines shall be adjusted as necessary to permit the complainant to address the Board in person within 90 days of filing the initial complaint, unless the complaint is resolved before the Board considers it. [See GKA(LEGAL)]

Notice to Students and Parents

The District shall inform students and parents of this policy through appropriate District publications.

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 who has the authority to address the concerns. Concerns should be expressed as soon as possible to allow early resolution at the lowest possible administrative level.

Informal resolution shall be encouraged but shall not extend any deadlines in this policy, except by mutual written consent or as otherwise provided in this policy.

Formal Process

A 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. The Superintendent or designee shall have the right to direct the complainant to an informal conference with the appropriate District employee. The complainant must comply with this directive before the formal complaint can proceed. Such directive may be given at any level of the proceedings and shall suspend or extend any applicable deadlines as determined by the Superintendent or designee. 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, by electronic communication, including email and fax, or by 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. Filings submitted by electronic communication shall be timely filed if they are received by the close of business on the deadline, as indicated by the date/time shown on the electronic communication. 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. The District may also communicate regarding the complaint and related procedures via hand delivery, fax, email, or U.S. mail.

Independent Investigation

The Superintendent or designee shall have the authority to suspend all scheduling and response deadlines for a period not to exceed ten days if he or she determines it is in the best interest of the District or the parties involved to conduct an independent investigation into any matter presented in the complaint. During such suspension, the independent investigation shall be conducted and concluded in a diligent manner. The complaining party shall be informed that an independent investigation has been ordered. No procedural or substantive prejudice shall inure to the complaining party as a result of such suspension. The Superintendent or designee shall have the authority to order an independent investigation at any stage of the complaint process.

Scheduling Conferences

The District shall make reasonable attempts to schedule conferences at a mutually agreeable time. If a student or parent fails to appear at a scheduled conference, the District may hold the conference and issue a decision in the student's or parent's absence.

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, faxed, sent by electronic communication to the student's or parent's email address of record, 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 timelines 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 file separate or serial complaints arising from any event or series of events that have been or could have been addressed in a previous complaint.

A student or parent may not add additional items to the original complaint because of his or her dissatisfaction with the Level One or Level Two administrator response. Only the original written complaint form and the resolution requested thereon shall be addressed at each level of the proceeding.

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.

Meritless Complaints

Fair and appropriate due process consideration shall be given to all complaints and grievances. Honesty, candor, courtesy, professionalism, cooperation, and respect must occur throughout the process. The Superintendent or designee shall have the unilateral right at Level Two to examine whether a complaint or grievance is without merit. Consideration shall be given but not limited to the substance of the claim, the diligence of the party asserting the claim, the nature of the claim, whether the claim has been repetitively asserted previously in the same or similar form or fashion, and the current and prior conduct of the complainant, including but not limited to, the complainant's unwillingness to cooperate with District personnel regarding the complaint.

The Superintendent or designee shall have the right to compel the complainant to explain, correct, support, or substantiate the allegation asserted and shall give the complainant a reasonable amount of time to respond. That reasonable time period shall extend the written response deadline for a decision by the Superintendent or designee by an equivalent period of time. A finding by the Superintendent or designee that the complaint in its entirety is without merit shall result in a dismissal of the complaint. The Superintendent or designee may find only a portion of the complaint to be without merit. In such event, the Superintendent or designee shall dismiss the portion of the complaint found to be without merit and rule upon the remainder of the complaint as appropriate.

An appeal of a dismissal based on the complaint or portion thereof being without merit shall be limited to the findings made by the Superintendent or designee that the complaint or portion thereof is indeed without merit. If the Board subsequently determines that the complaint or any portion thereof does have merit, then the complaint shall be returned to the Superintendent or designee for further action. The Board or the Superintendent or designee may enter additional orders or directives addressing the future conduct of the complainant with regard to the complaint or grievance asserted.

Costs Incurred

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

Complaint and Appeal Forms

Complaints and appeals 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 or appeal 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.

Level One

Complaint forms must be filed:

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

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. In such cases, no written response from the Level One administrator shall be required.

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 schedule 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.

Absent extenuating or necessary circumstances as determined by the administrator, he or she 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. The appeal shall be limited to the issue and solution requested on the original complaint form.

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 shall be limited to the issue and solution requested on the original complaint form.

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:

The original complaint form and any attachments.

All other documents submitted by the student or parent at Level One.

The written response issued at Level One and any attachments.

All other documents relied upon by the Level One administrator in reaching the Level One decision.

The Superintendent or designee shall schedule a conference within ten days after the appeal notice is filed. The conference shall be strictly limited to the issues, documents, and the requested solution as presented on the original complaint form considered at Level One. 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 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.

Level Three

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 and must continue to limit the appeal to the issue and solution requested on the original complaint form.

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 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:

The Level One record.

The notice of appeal from Level One to Level Two.

The written response issued at Level Two and any attachments.

All other documents relied upon by the administration in reaching the Level Two decision.

The appeal shall be limited to the issues and documents considered at Level Two, except that 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.

If participants in the hearing depart from the specific issue or solution requested on the original complaint form, the presiding officer shall stop the proceeding and remind participants that discussion is limited to the issue and solution requested. Thereafter, if participants do not comply with this requirement, the presiding officer shall rule that the presentations are complete and the Board shall rely only on the previously submitted documentation and allowable testimony.

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.

Boerne ISD

FNG(LOCAL)-X

LDU 2019.03

DATE ISSUED: 6/21/2019