1. Policy Statement

    The programs and policies of the Madison Metropolitan School District are intended to foster and enrich student learning and development intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically. To accomplish these goals, students, parents, teachers and staff must all work together. Just as students should behave in the positive manner expected of them by their teachers, parents, and peers, so also must administrators, teachers and other staff treat students and parents fairly and equitably, with respect both for groups of people and for the dignity of the individual. When problems occur, you can tell the Madison Metropolitan School District, and the District and its employees will try to identify, investigate and solve those problems.

    To that end, it is the policy of the Board to provide an appropriate process for the orderly resolution of concerns and complaints that are registered against the District. As part of such process, the Board and the Superintendent expect that staff will cooperate in an effort to resolve the concerns/complaint and that all parties will be treated with dignity and respect and that an objective and fair resolution will be reached.

    The process for resolving concerns/complaints is a two-step process. The first step provides for addressing the concerns with the appropriate party who is directly involved with the issue. The second step provides for addressing the complaint through the District's formal written complaint procedure.

    Exception for Complaints Involving Private Schools. A parent, teacher or other individual or organization with a complaint/concern that involves alleged violations of 20 U.S.C. §§ 6320 or 7881 (governing the provision of services and other benefits to private school children, private school teachers and other private school educational personnel under various federal Title programs) shall submit the complaint directly to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction for resolution by the DPI.

  2. Procedure for Addressing a Concern
    1. If the concern is related to the classroom:
      1. You should contact the classroom teacher first.
      2. If such concern is not satisfactorily addressed by the classroom teacher, you should contact the Principal of the school.
      3. If the Principal of the school does not satisfactorily resolve your concern, you should contact the appropriate Assistant Superintendent or other member of the central office Administrative staff (e.g. Legal Counsel, Labor Contract Manager).
      4. If you cannot determine whom to call, want/need more information, do not understand the process, or if you want an advocate to support you, you may call the HELP line 204-HELP for assistance.
    2. If the concern is related to a school, you should:
      1. contact the Principal of the school.
      2. If the Principal of the school does not satisfactorily address your concern, you should contact the Assistant Superintendent or other member of the Administrative central office staff.
      3. If you cannot determine whom to call, want/need more information, do not understand the process, or you want an advocate to assist you, please call the District's HELP line, 204-HELP for assistance.
    3. If the concern is related to the District:
      1. contact the appropriate Assistant Superintendent or other member of the central office Administrative staff.
      2. If you cannot determine whom to call, want/need more information, do not understand the process, or you want a staff or parent advocate to support you, call the HELP line, 204-HELP for assistance.
    4. The District employs a number of staff advocates whose primary responsibility is to provide direct support to schools in developing and implementing strategies and programs that, among other things,
      1. improve parental participation in the education of their children;
      2. develop an inclusive school environment;
      3. assure effective communication between families and schools;
      4. advocate for an environment where families feel welcome in school and where barriers to access are eliminated; and
      5. allow staff to serve as advocates for parents/students who encounter barriers to students' success.
    5. To help in the resolution of a concern or a complaint, the District has a list of parent advocates who have agreed to volunteer for the purposes of providing advocacy or other support for persons who need or desire assistance.

      Below the "How to Get Help with a Concern" flow chart describes the process.
      Click here to download this chart

     

    concern chart

     

  3. Resolution of Complaints
    1. Under this policy, any person may file a complaint against the District using the District's General Complaint form. This complaint procedure covers all complaints. For example, it includes concerns regarding the relationship between staff and students or parents. It does not include matters for which other procedures are in place such as: lawsuits, grievances, discrimination claims, legal claims that have been filed against the District, criminal investigations, Juvenile Court proceedings, special education appeals, claims pending before an administrative agency, claims which are subject to a hearing before the Board or other administrative body, other complaints for which an investigation may be inappropriate, such as changes in School Board policy, etc.
      1. Prior to the time a complaint has been filed, a complaining party may meet with the District's Legal Counsel, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Human Resources, Labor Contract Manager, or other District staff, as appropriate. The purpose of such a meeting is to (1) explain this POLICY and PROCEDURE, (2) answer questions and provide information; and (3) assist the complaining party, as appropriate.
      2. After a complaint has been filed, either the complaining party or each party against whom a complaint is filed may meet with the District's Legal Counsel, Assistant Superintendent, Director of Human Resources, Labor Contract Manager and/or other District staff, as appropriate. The purpose of such a meeting is to explain this policy and procedure.
      1. The Complainant shall write and sign the complaint using the District's General Complaint form and, at the discretion of the Complainant, file it with an Instructional Assistant Superintendent, Non-Instructional Assistant Superintendent or the Director of Human Resources (1) within 300 days after the alleged act(s) occurred or (2) within 300 days of the last occurrence of an ongoing condition. After the complaint has been filed with an Instructional Assistant Superintendent, Non-Instructional Assistant Superintendent or the Director of Human Resources, that person is the Complaint Manager and he/she shall be responsible for processing the complaint as set forth herein. The business offices of the Assistant Superintendents and the Director of Human Resources are located at the District Administration Office, 545 West Dayton Street, Madison, WI 53703. General Complaint forms can be obtained from the Department of Human Resources or the Office of an Assistant Superintendent.
      2. A complaint shall be deemed filed on the date received if delivered, or on the date postmarked if addressed by mail.
      3. The Complaint Manager who receives the complaint shall send to the complainant a written acknowledgement of the receipt of the complaint as soon as practicable, but no later than ten (10) working days after the receipt of the complaint and a copy of the complaint procedures shall be sent to the Complainant.
      4. The Complaint Manager shall establish a complaint file. The file shall contain all documents pertinent to the complaint. The file should include, but is not limited to: (1) the complaint, (2) documents compiled as part of the investigation and (3) a statement of resolution, if any.
        1. Within 7 days of receiving a complaint, the Complaint Manager. shall notify each party against whom the complaint has been filed that a complaint has been filed.
        2. Except as provided under Paragraph lll.E.1, the Complaint Manager shall send each party against whom the complaint has been filed a copy of the complaint, which could be modified to delete reference to the Complainant's identity, as provided by paragraph lll.E.1.
      5. The complaining party and each party against whom the complaint has been filed shall be given a copy of the General Complaint Procedures.
      6. All complaints shall be finalized with a written response from the highest level of management involved in the resolution of the complaint.
      1. Except as provided under Paragraphs lll.E.1. and lll.D.2. below, prior to processing the complaint, the Complaint Manager shall coordinate a meeting (1) with the complaining party and the party (parties) against whom the complaint is being filed; or (2) with a mediator (who is provided at the District's expense), the complaining party and the party (parties) against whom the complaint is filed.
      2. Should either party feel that no such meeting should be held, he/she may provide to the Complaint Manager a compelling reason why no meeting should be held. Examples of compelling reasons may include the fact that previous meetings between the parties have been held without a satisfactory resolution of the complaint, that a meeting could result in violence, that a party may feel threatened or intimidated by having further contact, by mutual consent of both parties, etc. The party making the request not to meet shall be required to provide the underlying basis for his/her compelling reason. If the Complaint Manager, after reviewing the basis for not holding a meeting, determines that a meeting should be held, a meeting shall be held. Should an employee refuse to meet, he/she could be subject to discipline consistent with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, if such agreement is applicable. Such discipline could include any action from an oral warning to dismissal. Should the Complainant refuse to meet, his/her complaint may be dismissed.
        1. Either party may appeal to the Superintendent or his/her designee, the Complaint Manager's determination that a compelling reason has or has not been provided.
        2. If, on appeal, the Superintendent or his/her designee determines that a compelling reason has been provided, he/she shall remand the case back to the Complaint Manager for an investigation.
        3. If the Superintendent or his/her designee determines that a compelling reason has not been provided, then the Superintendent or his/her designee shall require that a meeting be held. Should an employee refuse to meet, he/she could be subject to discipline consistent with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, if such agreement is applicable. Such discipline could include any action from an oral warning to dismissal. Should the Complainant refuse to meet, the complaint may be dismissed.
        1. Either party may appeal to the Independent Hearing Examiner (IHE), the Superintendent or his/her designee's determination that a compelling reason has or has not been provided.
        2. If, on appeal, the IHE determines that a compelling reason has been provided, he/she shall remand the case back to the Complaint Manager for an investigation.
        3. If the IHE determines that a compelling reason has not been provided, then the IHE shall require that a meeting be held. Should an employee refuse to meet, he/she could be subject to discipline consistent with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, if such agreement is applicable. Such discipline could include any action from an oral warning to dismissal. Should the Complainant refuse to meet, the complaint may be dismissed.
      1. Confidentiality and Recrimination
        1. It is the policy of the District to try to keep the identity of the Complainant confidential. Should the Complainant indicate to the Complaint Manager that he/she wishes to keep his/her identity confidential, the Complainant must satisfy the requirements of paragraph lll.D.2 and the Complaint Manager must make a determination that nondisclosure of the Complainant's identity will not make the complaint either impossible to process or investigate. Should the Complainant satisfy the requirements of lll.D.2 and Nondisclosure of the Complainant's identity will not make the complaint impossible to either process or investigate, then the Complainant's identity shall be kept confidential.
        2. However, should the Complainant desire to keep his/her identity confidential, but he/she either does not notify the Complaint Manager of his/her desire, does not satisfy the requirements of lll.D.2 or should it be impossible to process or investigate the complaint without disclosing the Complainant's identity, as determined by the Complaint Manager, the complaint may be dismissed.
      2. Any party has a right to contact and otherwise communicate with any person including a MMSD employee who consents to such contact or communication regarding matters pertaining to the complaint. No District employee shall attempt to or restrain, interfere with, coerce, discriminate and/or take reprisal action against the complaint(s) and his/her witnesses or any other person in connection with the complaint or the procedure related thereto during or after the presentation, processing and resolution of a complaint. Any employee who violates this provision will be subject to discipline consistent with the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, if such agreement is applicable. Such discipline could include any action from an oral warning to dismissal.
  4. Informal Complaint Resolution
    1. The Complaint Manager shall provide an opportunity for a resolution of the complaint on an informal basis after the complaint has been filed.
    2. For the informal resolution of a complaint, any person may act as a facilitator if the complainant wishes to resolve the matter without a full investigation. The Complaint Manager shall request the employee(s) against whom the complaint is filed to seek a solution of the matter on an informal basis, and to respond to the Complainant's requests to do so within 20 working days.
    3. If the employee(s) chooses not to respond to the request for an informal complaint resolution, a formal investigation shall be conducted, subject to paragraph lll.D.
    4. If the complainant is satisfied with the response to the request for an informal complaint resolution and an informal resolution of the complaint is reached, the terms of such resolution shall be reduced to writing and made a part of the complaint file. If the complainant is not satisfied with the response, the Complaint Manager shall proceed with the investigation, subject to paragraph lll.D.
  5. Investigation
    1. In most cases, the investigation will be conducted by District staff, but the investigation may be undertaken by an investigative team or outside consultant. The Complaint Manager will determine whether a staff member, a team, and/or outside consultant conducts the investigation. In all cases, the investigation shall be conducted by a person(s) who has/have the training, qualifications, skill and ability, as determined by the District, to conduct a proper investigation.
    2. The purpose of the investigation is to find facts and to ascertain the truth or falsity of the allegations in the complaint by thoroughly reviewing the circumstances under which the complaint has occurred and any policy or practice related to the situation. The investigative process shall be impartial, fair and objective. Such process shall be conducted in a professional and courteous manner.
      1. Except as set forth in paragraph C.2. below, as determined by the investigator, his/her investigation may include but not be limited to (1) a review of documents, including information such as written regulations/policies of the Board/District; (2) a review of written and oral statements; (3) an interview of persons who have relevant information; (4) a visit to the scene of the incident; (5) an examination of the other evidence, including physical evidence; and (6) a review of any other relevant information, etc.
      2. As part of the investigation, the investigator shall interview each party against whom the complaint has been filed.
      3. After the investigation has been commenced, upon request of the complaining party or the party against whom the complaint has been filed, the investigator shall discuss the status of his/her investigation with the party making the request.
    3. Although judgments regarding credibility may have to be made, all persons who are interviewed or contacted regarding the investigation shall be treated with the utmost respect and dignity. To avoid prejudice or bias. and to preserve the integrity of the investigative process, prior to interviewing persons, reviewing information and/or other evidence, the investigator shall not give either preferential treatment or make any perceived presumptions regarding the weight and/or credit to be given to the statement of persons who are interviewed or other evidence/information that is considered and/or reviewed as part of the investigative process.
    4. The investigator shall send a draft of his/her investigative report for comment to the complaining party and each party against whom the complaint has been filed. Comments on the draft shall be provided within 7 days of the date on which the draft has been sent to the parties. Extensions of the time limit may be granted as necessary and appropriate. A basis for extension may include illness, party out of town, etc.
    5. The District will provide the complainant with a copy of the investigative report, if any. In instances in which there is an investigative report that contains personnel or confidential subject matter, the District may refuse to make available the investigative report, but will provide a synopsis of the report excluding personnel or confidential materials.
  6. Determination, Reconsideration and Appeal
    1. After the investigation has been completed, the Complaint Manager shall inform the Complainant in writing of the District's initial Determination. All confidential and personnel information may be excluded from the initial determination. Such Determination should be made and sent to the Complainant within 90 days of the time the complaint is received and shall include a statement that a request for Reconsideration may be made if it is filed within ten (10) days after the initial Determination is sent to the Complainant. However, extensions to the 90 and 10 day limits may be granted by the Complaint Manager as necessary and appropriate. Examples of reasons for granting an extension include illness, party out of town, etc.
    2. After the complainant receives the Complaint Manager's written initial Determination of the District's position, the Complainant may request that the Complaint Manager reconsider the District's position relative to the Determination. The reconsideration request must be filed within ten (10) days after the Determination is sent to the Complainant. The written request for reconsideration must contain a statement as to why the complainant is not satisfied with the initial Determination.
    3. After receiving the request for Reconsideration, the Complaint Manager will review such request and the reasons therefor and render a Decision and send it to the Complainant within twenty (20) days of the date on which such request is received. In such Decision the Complaint Manager shall either reiterate his/her support for the initial Determination and the reasons therefor or modify the initial Determination and the reasons therefor. Such Decision may be appealed by the Complainant writing a letter of appeal to the Superintendent or the Superintendent's designee within ten (10) days after the Complainant receives the Decision. The Decision shall include a statement that the Complainant may appeal such Decision to the Superintendent or his/her Designee within ten (10) days after the Decision is sent to the Complainant by writing a letter to the Superintendent or his/her designee requesting an appeal and providing -the reason(s) for such appeal.
    4. If the Superintendent or his/her designee receives a letter requesting an appeal of the Decision, he/she shall request and receive copies of information in the Complaint file and submit such information to, and consult with, either the District's Labor Contract Manager, the District's Legal Counsel, Independent Counsel, or the Board's independent Hearing Examiner regarding the appeal, provided that the person selected has not been previously involved in the process. Such person shall make a recommendation to the Superintendent or his/her designee who shall consider such recommendation before rendering the final Decision on the Complaint. Subject to confidentiality restrictions, the recommendation shall also be sent to the Complainant and to the parties against whom the Complaint has been filed. Such final Decision shall be in writing and sent to the Complainant within 30 days from the date on which the letter of appeal has been received by the Superintendent or his/her designee. However, extensions may be granted when appropriate and necessary. (The basis for extensions may include illness, party out of town, etc.)
  7. Notification of General Concern and Complaint Procedure

    Notices shall be given annually of the School District's General Concern/Complaint Procedure to students, parents, employees, applicants seeking employment, unions and professional organizations holding agreements with the District, and the community.

    The following people have annual responsibility in the notification process:

    1. Each PRINCIPAL shall include notification in the first or second issue of each year of the school newsletter, preferably the first.
    2. The PUBLIC INFORMATION COORDINATOR will annually provide public notice of the District's General Complaint Policy and Procedure.
    3. The District will distribute or make available pamphlets which provide information about the General Complaint/Concern Policy and Procedure.
  8. Reporting

    The District shall compile an Annual Report for the Board which contains, at a minimal, the number and nature of the written complaints and how they were resolved.

General Complaint Form [PDF File]