October 25, 2012

Update: Documents Reveal Details of Ombuds Proposed for Fairfax County Schools

Documents posted by the Fairfax County School Board show that administrators are not following any particular model for their proposed Ombuds program. The draft job description includes only a few of the typical ethical standards for Ombuds and does not reference either of the two professional organizations that have established guidelines for Ombuds.

Here is the text of the draft  FCPS Ombuds job description:
A new position to coordinate and direct constituent service for the school system. One position in the School Board Office. To be hired by and report directly to the School Board. Funds to come from the $0.6 million set aside for added School Board office staff in the FY2013 budget. The Ombudsman will:
  • Coordinate constituent service for FCPS and help resolve problems and complaints
  • Provide a visible presence within FCPS as a place to go for assistance, including a prominent display on the FCPS Home Page with his/her contact information. 
  • Perform outreach to schools and families on how to get help. 
  • Route matters to the proper place within FCPS for action and follow up through resolution of the matter 
  • Clarify policies and procedures for stakeholders 
  • Serve as a confidential, independent mediator as needed 
  • Inform School Board members of cases involving their constituents. 
  • Report on patterns of issues and complaints and make recommendations for improvement. 
 The Ombudsman could receive requests for help directly from individuals, through School Board members or from FCPS staff. Board members would use this as a resource but would not lose their current role as advocates for their constituents.  
In addition, the board is considering a package of information that includes: a 2010 American School Board Journal article, "Hiring an Education Ombudsman"; an article on efforts to create an Ombuds for the Toronto Catholic School Board; and printouts from the webpages of the Ombuds for the Cleveland School District, Howard County Public Schools, Washington State Department of Education, and Virgina Department of Education. There is nothing in the materials from the U.S. Ombudsman Association or the International Ombudsman Association. The FCSB Board documents are available as part of the September 24, 2012, session on district Staffing. (BoardDocs.)

Prior post:  Fairfax County Schools Weighing Ombuds Program.

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