Ethics/Whistleblower Program

How to Report an Ethics Complaint or a Whistleblower Report

Seattle Public Schools offers three ways to report complaints about suspected misconduct:

  1. Phone: 206-252-0004
  2. Email: ethics@seattleschools.org
  3. Mail: PO Box 34165, MS: 33-347, Seattle, WA 98124-1165

The following form is provided to assist you when reporting:

The Ethics Office will investigate alleged violations of the Ethics or Whistleblower Policies, and can talk to you about how best to lodge complaints about misconduct that does not fall under one of these policies.


Commitment to Anonymity

The Ethics Office is committed to protecting the anonymity of reporting individuals within the confines of the laws related to public records requests. We will never release your information without your permission, unless legally required to do so. If you wish to ensure your anonymity, do not provide any personal information in your report. If you choose to report anonymously, please contact the Office of Internal Audit and Ethics again, three weeks after your initial report, to determine if additional information is needed to move the investigation along

For details on the information that can be protected from public records requests, see the section titled More about Anonymity and Public Records Requests below.


Independence

The Ethics Office reports directly to the School Board. The superintendent has no management authority over the office. This reporting structure ensures the objectivity and independence of investigations, and allows the Ethics Office to conduct investigations freely, without fear of retribution. The Ethics Office is committed to remaining independent and objective in its investigations.

Seattle Public Schools is committed to transparency and accountability, and believes that this reporting structure provides the best opportunity to investigate allegations of ethics and whistleblower violations.


Seattle Public Schools Ethics and Whistleblower Program

Seattle Public Schools is committed to ensuring full compliance by all of its employees with the Ethics and Whistleblower Policies and related state laws. To help ensure compliance, the Director of Internal Audit has been appointed to also serve as the District Ethics Officer. The role of the Ethics Officer is to:

  • Accept and investigate complaints regarding possible violations of the Ethics Policy;
  • Advise District employees about the application of the Ethics Policy to particular situations as they arise; 
  • Accept and investigate reports of Improper Governmental Actions under the Whistleblower Policy; and
  • Provide training and education to make employees aware of the requirements of the Ethics and Whistleblower Policies

Ethics Policy

The Ethics Policy and state laws govern the conduct of Seattle Public Schools employees. The Ethics Policy covers the following general categories:

  • Conflicts of Interest
  • Limits on Acceptance of Gifts
  • Limits on Outside Employment and Compensation
  • Limits on Financial Interest in District Transactions
  • Limits on Personal Use of District Resources
  • Use of Confidential Information
  • Retaliation is Prohibited

A link to the Policy is included in the Additional Links section. Employees may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment for violating the Ethics Policy.


Whistleblower Policy and Superintendent Procedure

The Whistleblower Policy and state laws govern the conduct of Seattle Public Schools employees. The policy covers the following general categories:

  • Reporting Improper Governmental Actions by District Officers or Employees. Improper Governmental Actions include actions that violate the law or District policy, are an abuse of authority, pose a substantial and specific danger to public health or safety, or constitute a gross waste of public funds.
  • Prohibiting Retaliation against Employees who Report Improper Governmental Actions.

A link to the Policy is included in the Additional Links section. Employees may be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment for violating the Ethics Policy.


Training and Advice for Employees

The Ethics Office is available to provide advice to employees about the Ethics and Whistleblower Policies. Employees are encouraged to review the policy and consult the Ethics Office to address any questions or to obtain guidance on how the Policy applies in a particular situation. For advice, please contact 206-252-0004 or ethics@seattleschools.org


More about Anonymity and Public Records Requests

If you wish to report anonymously, do not provide any personal information in your report. The Ethics Office is committed to protecting your identity, but we must comply with the law as it relates to public records requests. Certain items are exempt from public records requests, but the safest way to protect your identity is not to include it in your report. The following information is provided to assist you in deciding how to file your report:

  • Caller ID has been disabled on our phone line. If you call (206) 252-0004 to report your concern, there is no record maintained of the phone number received.
  • Emails, including the associated metadata, are subject to public records requests. If you report via email, your information may be subject to disclosure under a public records request.

State law protects the identity of employees who report improper governmental action, but this protection is not extended to non-employees. In addition, your identity may not be protected if your report fails to meet the definition of improper governmental action as defined by RCW 42.41.020 (1).

If remaining anonymous is a priority to you, then the best way to protect your anonymity is to NOT provide any personal information in you report. If you choose to report anonymously, please contact the Ethics Office again, three weeks after your initial report, to determine if additional information is needed to move the investigation along.

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