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FAQs: Complaints & Grievances
What is the difference between a complaint and a grievance?
A “complaint” means any claim by an employee of the school system who is affected in his or her employment relationship by an alleged violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of statutes, policies, rules, regulations, or written agreements of the school system with which the school system is required to comply.
A “grievance” is a type of complaint. This type of complaint can be resolved at the lowest possible administrative level through the process described in Board policy.
-Board Policy GAE
How do I file a complaint/grievance?
Grievances are time bound. Any grievance shall be presented in writing to the immediate supervisor no later than ten (10) days from the date of the alleged act prompting the grievance or from the date of the most recent incident upon which the complaint is based. After the grievance has been presented to the level one administrator, the time limits below shall apply.
When the last day of any period described in this policy falls on a day the school system is closed (e.g., designated inclement weather days, furloughs), the period shall continue until the next day the school system is open for business. The time from the employee’s first written presentation of a grievance to the final decision made by the board shall not be more than sixty (60) days. If a complaint is referred from the level two grievance hearing to the Office of Internal Compliance for investigation, the time limit on the grievance appeal process is stayed until the resolution of the investigation. If the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of the
investigation, the complainant may file a level three appeal within 10 working days of the decision.
- Grievances must be presented in writing and must:
- Clearly state the intent to access policy GAE, Complaints and Grievances;
- Specifically set forth the statute, policy, rule, regulation, or written agreement that is alleged to have been violated, misinterpreted, or misapplied;
- Specifically set forth facts to show how the statute, policy, rule, regulation, or written agreement was violated, misinterpreted, or misapplied;
- Specifically set forth facts to show how the employment relationship of the complainant has been substantially affected;
- Clearly state the relief desired; and
- Provide the mailing address of the complainant to which all notices and other documents may be mailed.
NOTE: Grievances alleging general unfair, unreasonable, or abusive treatment are appealable to level two only.
- Grievances and appeals not filed in writing within the required time limits shall not be considered.
- Any administrator or supervisor who fails to hear and respond to a complaint or an appeal within the required time frame will be in violation of this policy and may be subject to disciplinary action.
- Any grievance not processed within the time frame required by this policy should be appealed to the next level of the grievance procedure. Appeals not filed within the required time frame shall not be considered.
- At least twenty-four (24) hours prior to a hearing at any level, written notice shall be provided to the complainant specifying the date, time, and place of the hearing.
- During the hearing at any level, the complainant shall be entitled to an opportunity to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witnesses.
- At the level one hearing, only the complainant and the level one administrator shall be present. At the level two and level three hearings, the complainant is entitled to the presence of an individual of his or her choice to assist in presenting the matter. At the level three hearing, nothing shall prevent the board from having an attorney present to serve as the law officer who shall rule on issues of law but shall not participate in the presentation of the case for the administrator or the complainant.
- At any level of hearing, the administrator shall record the proceedings by mechanical means and preserve all evidence. The recording and evidence shall be made available at all times to the parties involved.
- A complainant may not present additional evidence at each level of the complaint process unless it is submitted in writing by the complainant five (5) days prior to the date set for the hearing. When hearing a complaint appealed from a prior complaint level, the board shall hear the complaint de novo (i.e. the grievance shall be presented from the beginning in a new hearing proceeding).
- At levels one and two in the grievance process, the decision shall be rendered in writing and dated and shall contain findings of fact and reasons for the particular resolution reached. Notification shall be provided, within five (5) days of the decision, to the complainant and, in the case of appeals, to the level one administrator.
- All costs and fees incurred while pursuing a grievance through the process shall be borne by the party incurring them unless otherwise agreed upon by the parties involved, except that the cost of preserving the record of the proceedings shall be borne by the board.
- A complainant shall not be subject to any reprisal as a result of filing a grievance under this policy. Any alleged reprisals shall be investigated, and appropriate action taken. Alleged reprisals also may be referred to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.
- Nothing in this policy shall be construed to permit or foster collective bargaining.
Complaints related to the following situations have separate complaint procedures and, therefore, shall not be subject to the provisions of this policy:
- Performance ratings contained in personnel evaluations.
- Professional development plans or work improvement plans.
- Adverse personnel actions against employees, such as termination, non-renewal, demotion, suspension without pay, or written reprimand from the superintendent. 4. Allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation under policy GAEB, Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation.
- Allegations of retaliation or violations of whistleblower protections.
- Allegations under investigation by the Office of Internal Compliance.
- Matters of local school law or controversy appealed directly to the Board of Education under O.C.G.A. §20-2-1160.
-(Board Policy GAE)
What do I do if I believe that I am being bullied or harassed at work?
Any person(s) who feel that they are being bullied and harassed in the workplace are encouraged to report such activities to their immediate supervisor. If the immediate supervisor is the one who is alleged to do the bullying or harassment, please contact the Office of Employee Relations at 404-802-2354 or OffEmpRelations@atlanta.k12.ga.us for further guidance.
What do I do if I don’t agree with my employee evaluation?
If you do not agree with your evaluation, have a conversation with your supervisor and ask who additional evidence may be provided to enhance your evaluation. If you believe that your evaluation is unfair, or a form of retaliation or harassment, you may reach out to the Office of Employee Relations at 404-802-2354 or OffEmpRelations@atlanta.k12.ga.us for further guidance.
What do I do if I see someone being inappropriate with students?
As a mandated reported, you must report the incident immediately. Report the incident to your immediate supervisor. He or she will evaluate the situation and determine if an incident should be reported to the office of Employee Relations. All incidents of staff child abuse or Title IX cases should be reported to the Office of Employee Relations. An incident form should be completed. The school should also inform the social work and assigned SRO.
What is Title IX?
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”)
The Atlanta Public Schools does not discriminate on the basis of sex in its education program and activities, as required by Title IX. Such requirement to not discriminate extends to admission and employment. Effective August 14, 2020, and pursuant to federal regulations implementing Title IX published in 2020 scheduled to become effective on August 14, 2020, any complaint involving “sexual harassment” as defined by those federal regulations that occurs in an Atlanta Public Schools education program or activity against a person in the United States shall be addressed pursuant to the Atlanta Public Schools Title IX Grievance Procedure. Should such federal regulations not go into effect for any reason, all such complaints involving an employee complainant shall continue to be addressed under the procedure outlined in this Policy GAEB.
Inquiries about the application of Title IX may be directed to the Assistant Secretary of the Office for Civil Rights, United States Department of Education, or to the following:
Ms. Camalyn Turner, Esq., Title IX Coordinator for Student Matters
Interim Coordinator of Student Discipline, Atlanta Public Schools
130 Trinity Avenue, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303
Dr. Isis Manboard, Title IX Coordinator for Employee Matters
Director of Employee Relations
130 Trinity Avenue, S.W.
Atlanta, GA 30303
(Board Policy GAEB)