Parents are their children's (best) advocates.
Thanks to everyone for reading and sharing these blog posts. Hopefully they have been informative and helpful.
As parents and guardians, we are our children's biggest and best advocates. Understanding our rights and duties should give us confidence if we should ever face stormy skies or prickly situations.
Every year, we acknowledge we've read the student and parent handbook. It contains board-approved discipline policies and many other things. Reading that is often Step 1 to addressing any questions or issues that crop up. (Maybe we'll find out we are not right about something.)
To help us be advocates for our children if things go wrong, I want to highlight just a couple important North East ISD policies and procedures currently in place (as of Aug 1, 2020).
1. WHEN PROBLEMS ARISE Have you ever had a concern or issue with something related to your child's school? Curriculum, discipline, homework assignment, tests, etc?
Under the principle of subsidiarity, we would try to address the problem at the lowest level.
Think of it as a set of concentric circles. If the problem is the bullseye, we'd go to the nearest circle that can help with that problem. For example, if it's a classroom assignment that presents some sort of problem, you'd go to the teacher. Only if things cannot get resolved there, would you go to the next circle, and so forth.
Doing this would be part of an informal process for a complaint or grievance.
The vast majority of the time, this resolves / clarifies the issue to the parents' satisfaction. On occasion, though, there is a need for a more formal process. Because problems can crop up anywhere (that's life), there are processes in place to file a complaint, whether you are an employee of the district, a student or parent, or even a resident of the North East ISD community who is none of those.
The elected board of every Texas school district has to have policies on filing complaints / grievances. You would look them up here or ask your principal. The parent and student complaint process is explained here under the FNG legal and FNG local board policies.
If you ever have to file a grievance, in my opinion, the most important thing to understand is there is 10 Day timeline to do so.
The "10 days" starts on the day you first knew or should have known about the matter (per current FNG local).
Even if you are trying to resolve issues via the informal process, if you wait more than the allowed time to file a formal grievance, you will have no potential for remedy if the informal process fails.
Don't worry, your principal is there to help you file the paperwork and to understand your timelines.
Filing a grievance does not mean you think the school/teacher/administrator/curriculum is terrible, but it protects your right to have your complaints heard and considered. If parents feel guilty for filing a complaint, how can the schools improve for everyone? Really, you're probably doing alot of students a favor, if your complaint is reasonable, fact-based, and so forth.
Read the stated values and goals of the Board of Trustees. It sounds to me that they would want to know if achieving excellence in any aspect is at risk.
2. Speaking of the Board...What about speaking before the Board?
Under the Texas Open Meetings Act, any member of the public may bring concerns before the Board of Trustees at any of their open meetings (regular or special). At special meetings, your topic must relate directly to one of the items on the agenda. At regular meetings, you may speak on an agenda item before a vote is taken, or during time set aside for public comments, whichever one applies to your matter.
The rules and procedures to sign up to speak before the North East ISD school board are found here in BE(local) and here in section VI of the Board Operating Procedures. (The board's legal explanation is here.)
With some exceptions, you will have 3 minutes to address the Board. You may also email the Board at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As true public servants (it is an unpaid office), the Board is there to represent you and me, the electorate, in its carrying out of oversight and governance of the District.
Before takeoff, flight attendants brief passengers on the safety features of the plane, emergency exists, and show you how to inflate the life preservers. Rarely are these ever needed, but if they are, it's good to know because time to respond will tick by quickly. The same goes for issues with schools in our great district. Hopefully you never need these tips when advocating for your children, but if you do, you'll have an idea of what avenues exist. Then, you can act before the District's deadline expires.
Thank you. I hope you enjoyed the series.
P.S. Please vote for Robert "Steve" Hilliard, candidate for North East ISD Trustee, Place 6
Election Day - November 3, 2020