May 30, 2018

Report Recommends Ombuds for Prince William County Schools

Earlier this year, the Virginia school district was roiled by complaints of workplace bullying and intimidation by a middle school principal and counter complaints of public mobbing by teachers and parents. After an outside investigation found “a school divided,” local county supervisor Pete Candland compiled a report for the school board which was released this week. First among his recommendations is the appointment of an Ombuds. Unfortunately, the recommendation is not tethered to any particular standards and thus is not analogous to the prevailing type of Ombuds in K-12 education.

Candland's “Recommendations to the Prince William County School Board Regarding Critical Reforms,” states:

While this has already been a topic of discussion for the School Board and has been a part of the overall budget deliberations, the teachers and parents felt strongly that an Independent Ombudsman Office must be created. With the volume of complaints brought to my attention, it seems likely that this office will need to have several staffers in order to properly review concerns and adjudicate claims in a timely manner. 
The mission of the Ombudsman Office will be to investigate complaints to ensure that proper procedures are being followed and all parties are being fairly represented and protected. Teachers and parents need to have an independent resource to contact if they feel that they have been the victim of retaliation or have legitimate complaints dismissed by an administrator. 
Most importantly, however, this office MUST report directly to the elected officials on the School Board, not the School Superintendent. This will provide not only independence, but accountability for the elected officials to ensure that these issues will be addressed and resolved fairly and equitably. 
All records developed and maintained by this office must be treated with extreme sensitivity, appropriate confidentiality, and released only by vote of the School Board. 

Each year, an outside firm must be hired to conduct a performance audit of the Ombudsman Office to ensure that cases are being handled efficiently and with the proper procedures in place. It is critical that all involved (administrators, teachers, staff members and parents) feel that the Ombudsman Office is working independently and, in a manner, consistent with its mission. 
Each audit must be published for the public to review (with appropriate redactions of personnel information). [Emphasis in original.]
The irony is that several school Ombuds were attending the IOA conference a couple counties over while Candland was writing his report. (Bristow Beat; Inside NOVACandland's Report.)

Related posts: The Broader View of Ombuds in Public SchoolsOmbuds Head to Virginia for 2018 IOA ConferenceJob Posting: Fairfax County Public Schools.


  1. Angry, how did you do that?! Pretty cool...

    Guess you're still learning new tricks in retirement aye? 🤓🤓