Public Complaints About School Personnel
The Smithfield School Committee supports the District’s employees and strives to protect them from unnecessary and unproductive criticism and complaints.
While the public comment period of a School Committee meeting is an appropriate time for an individual to discuss or question a school policy, practice, or procedure, it is not appropriate to negatively discuss, criticize or disparage school personnel, since the individual does not have the opportunity to defend their character or actions at that time. Whenever a complaint is made directly to the Committee as a whole or to a Committee member as an individual about school personnel, it will be referred back to the Superintendent. The Committee will not hear or review complaints until such complaints have first been brought forth through the appropriate and applicable administrative procedures and the Superintendent or his/her designee has had a reasonable opportunity to seek to resolve the complaint.
Complaints about the Superintendent may be made directly to the School Committee Chair, but only after reasonable efforts have been made by the complaining party to resolve their complaint directly with the Superintendent. The Committee may, to the extent it is appropriate, advise the Superintendent of the nature of the complaint, and may give the Superintendent an opportunity for explanation, comment, and presentation of facts. The Committee may decline to hear any complaint, which will interfere with its ability to serve as an impartial trier of fact in any related student or personnel matter. This complaint procedure shall not supersede or modify any right held by employees of the District under federal law, state law, contract, or collective bargaining agreement.
To the extent it is deemed appropriate by the Superintendent, the individual who is the subject of the complaint may be advised of the nature of the complaint and shall be given an opportunity for explanation, comment, and presentation of the facts. The Superintendent shall seek to resolve the matter and report back to the Committee.
In the event a complaint is made directly to an individual School Committee member, the procedure outlined below shall be followed:
1. The Committee member shall refer the person making the complaint to the Superintendent for investigation. The Superintendent may delegate the investigation to a Principal or other administrator.
2. If the member of the public will not personally present the complaint to the Superintendent or Principal, the Committee member shall then ask that the complaint be written and signed. The Committee member will then refer the complaint to the Superintendent for investigation.
3. If the person making a complaint believes that a satisfactory reply has not been received from the Superintendent, he or she may contact the School Committee Chair to request that the Committee hear the complaint. In an Executive Session, the Committee will hear and act upon the complaint only by majority vote. The Committee may decline to act on any complaint, which, in its sole judgment, would interfere with the Superintendent’s ability to properly administer the district. If the Committee does hear and act upon the complaint, all Committee decisions shall be final.
4. If the Committee decides, in accord with paragraph three, to hear and act upon a complaint that pertains to personnel, the hearing will be held in accordance with the laws pertaining to student and family privacy rights. The Committee shall also determine whether it is appropriate to inform the individual who is the subject of the complaint of the meeting and to provide said individual with further opportunity for explanation, comment, and presentation of the facts to the Committee.
5. If the Superintendent is the subject of the complaint, the Committee shall determine whether the complaint should be heard in public or non-public session, the hearing will be held in accordance with state law. The Committee shall advise the Superintendent of the nature of the complaint and give the Superintendent an opportunity for explanation, comment, and presentation of the facts.
Adopted: November 18, 2019