Saturday, November 17, 2018

Who should you call if you have a complaint about Pasco County schools?

Hardly a day goes by when a parent doesn't have a concern about the way something is happening at a Pasco County school.

It's the nature of the business.

Most times, parents try to resolve their issues with their child's teacher or principal. Sometimes, though, they aren't satisfied.

"So who do they call next? They call the superintendent," who generally farms out the problem to a department director or assistant superintendent for attention, said superintendent Kurt Browning.

And perhaps unsurprisingly, there becomes variation in the answers, even on the same concerns for different people. The district, Browning said, has become big enough that it needs to handle all such situations similarly.

So he is creating a new dispute resolution office to serve as the clearinghouse for parents who need help beyond what their schools offer. District staff researched and recommended the idea, which comes from Broward County schools.

Hilda Martin, principal of James Marlowe Elementary School, will head the division, which will be a part of the district student support programs department. She'll take a position that has been allocated but unfilled for more than a year, and her principal post already has been advertised.

Browning said he wanted a person with school-based leadership experience, because that's where most of the complaints and inquiries arise.

"We hope most of the inquiries will be resolved by the principals and their staffs," he said.

If not, they will go to the dispute resolution office, which is to serve as a clearinghouse and one-stop information gathering service to help parents.

"There's no sense in shopping for the answers," Browning said.

The office is still being organized, and is expected to be operating for the 2018-19 school year.

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