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Ohaupo School:  Complaints Process

Ohaupo School responds to complaints in a fair and consistent manner and provides members of the school community with procedures to follow.  Outside agencies will be asked for advice in any situation where the Board is unsure how to resolve the issue.

School Complaints Procedure:

  1. 1. Any concern or complaint is treated as strictly confidential

  1. 2. In the first instance concerns should be discussed with the other party e.g. teacher, Principal or Chairperson.  If it is a classroom/teacher concern, the teacher should be first approached; then Principal, and finally the Board.

  1. 3. All complaints, including any about the Principal, should be referred directly to the Principal (or Chairperson) either in verbal or written form.

  1. 4. All complaints are acknowledged and documented.

  1. 5. In dealing with complaints, employers must act in accordance with conditions of relevant employment agreements and current legislation.

  1. 6. Appropriate action will be instigated to resolve issues.  

  1. 7. Unresolved complaints will be made in written form to the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

  1. 8. If the complaint is formal (i.e. made in writing), the complainant will be informed of the outcomes in writing or in person by the Principal or Chairperson of the Board of Trustees.

Process:

While minor issues may be able to be discussed in a quick, informal chat with a staff member, normally in order for both parties to give the matter full attention, arranging a time to discuss the matter is the preferred option.

If the complaints procedure (as above) has not been followed the Board will normally return any letter of complaint to the writer and ask that they follow procedure first.

The Board needs to formally receive a complaint in order to act on it.  If a complaint is serious enough for the Board to deal with, it is serious enough to be put in writing.

All parties to a complaint may bring a support person to any meeting where the issue is to be discussed.

Board of Trustees Procedures:

  1. 1. Letter of complaint is acknowledged by the Chairperson and the complainant advised of next steps in the Board process.  The letter becomes part of correspondence that will be dealt with at the next Board meeting while the public is excluded.
  2. 2. Letter is tabled at a Board meeting* and referred to relevant parties for reporting back to the Board.  The Board decides whether to deal with the matter as a whole or appoint a committee to investigate and recommend to the Board.*
  3. 3. At the meeting of the Board/committee the reports are received and the parties may be invited to speak to their complaint or answer questions.  The Board/committee considers the evidence and/or information and comes to a decision or recommendation.*
  4. 4. Depending on the delegated powers of the committee either they or the Board as a whole comes to a resolution as to how the Board will respond and/or what actions will be taken.*
  5. 5. The Board’s response is communicated to the parties of the complaint.  This may be either publicly or confidentially, depending on the case.
  6. 6. Any of the parties may request the Board to reconsider their decision – however, normally for such a reconsideration to take place, new information that would have been relevant to the Board’s deliberations must be produced.

(Note * denotes “public excluded”)

Guidelines:

  • - Issues of a serious matter, e.g. allegations of physical abuse, may require a special meeting of the Board to be called.
  • - All letters addressed to the Chairperson are for the whole Board.  The Chairperson cannot decide independently as to what action will be taken.
  • - Resolution or dismissal of the complaint must not be discussed before all the information is to hand.
  • - Conflicts of interest will be determined on a number of issues, including whether the complaint involves the actions of any Trustee.
  • - The Board must exercise caution when dealing with complaints regarding staff, particularly in relation to confidentiality and processes to ensure the principles of natural justice are met.  It is advisable to contact the regional NZSTA personnel/industrial advisor in such cases.  The Board will need to consider the relevant staff disciplinary policies/employment contracts and expert advice from the NZSTA Advisor.

  • - The Board recognises that not all complainants will be satisfied with the outcome of the complaint.  After one reconsideration if the Board is confident of its decision, it will refuse to enter into further discussion/correspondence.  In making such a decision the NZSTA Helpdesk can assist by giving an objective assessment on a Board’s processes in dealing with the complaint.
  • - A complaint regarding lack of compliance in relation to an agreed complaint resolution will be treated as a serious matter and actioned with urgency as a new complaint rather than as a reconsideration of the previous issue.
  • - Trustees need to be clear in their mind of the difference between a complaint they have as a parent (i.e. regarding their own child) and a complaint they have as a Trustee (e.g. obstruction of staff preventing them carrying out Board work).  In the first instance, they are required to follow normal procedures and are excluded from decision-making due to conflict of interest.  The latter case is dealt with as an agenda item for the whole Board (possibly with the public excluded).

Disclosure:

Ohaupo School provides protection and immunity from prosecution for the giving of information that may or may not bring about a prosecution for illegal practices.  The school’s Disclosure Officer in the first instance is the Principal.

Policy adopted by Ohaupo Board of Trustees 03 August 2010

Verified by meeting minutes of the same date

Ratification by  ____________________________ Chairperson, Board of Trustees

This policy is due for review by August 2013





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