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Conflict Resolution

Conflict Resolution Process

When conflicts, concerns and issues occur, school staff and leadership of Seattle Public Schools will try to identify, investigate and seek resolution and solutions.

Shared beliefs help ensure the entire Seattle Public Schools community is educated or can work in a safe and nurturing environment.

Conflict Resolution is a Two-step Process

  1. The first step is to address the concern with the appropriate party who is directly involved with the issue.
  2. If the issue seems to be unresolved, the second step is to address the concern through the District’s Customer Service and Ombudsperson Department

Read more about the steps involved below.

Classroom Level

Issues  (such as teaching and learning, social and emotional, safety issues) that occur within the classroom .

Step One: Talk to the person or people directly involved with the issue

Talk to your child, consider the circumstances, and learn about what happened.

Tip : Schools staff are here to help your child as conflicts and issues arise. Teachers are better equipped to resolve conflicts and concerns when learning of them as soon as possible. Try to connect with the teacher within 3 school days of the incident.

Tip : When/if comfortable, include your child in the conversation with the teacher.

It is important to contact the classroom teacher first so the teacher can respond quickly to support the student, if needed, and make necessary adjustments. When sharing the issue, a personal contact is encouraged so communication can be accurate and understood more easily.

Once you have reached out to the educator, we will work to respond within 2 school days through email, in person, or by phone.

If acknowledgement of your concern is delayed, the school principal can offer support .

Upon reaching out to the principal (or assistant principal),

  • if you are not contacted within 2 school day(s) to acknowledge your concern, or
  • after contact and communication is made with the principal, if you still have questions or concern:
    • Consider to what extent the principal followed school practices, procedures and district policies. If policies and practices were followed, and while you may not like the resolution, the principal actions may constitute a close to your concern.
    • Consider the principal’s decision, give the resolution some time, and if the concern persists talk with the principal again to engage in discussion of a different solution.

Remember to do your part in the resolution as discussed with the principal. It often requires cooperation of both the school and the family to find optimum solutions to conflicts, issues and concerns.

Step Two: Contact Customer Service and Ombudsperson

If you:

  • cannot determine whom to call.
  • want/need more information, or do not understand the process.
  • want a neutral/objective person to consult with or provide facilitation.

To contact Customer Service or the Office of the Ombudsperson, please complete our online contact form.

Schoolwide Level

Issues (such as policy and procedures, transportation, school-wide health and safety, school communications) that happen  at the school or site .

Step One: Talk to the Principal

Contact the principal of the school within 5 school days.

If the principal of the school does not respond or does not satisfactorily address your concern, you should:

  • Consider if the response is aligned to school and district policies. If it is, the issue may be resolved even though you may feel dissatisfied.
  • Partner in helping with the recommendations from the leader regarding resolution and give the resolution time.

Tip : If you do not hear back from the school leader after your first attempt. Try again. School principals receive hundreds of emails a day and may not see your concern immediately

Contact the school leader if more questions arise or if the concern does not resolve as planned.

Step Two: Contact Customer Service and Ombudsperson

If you:

  • cannot determine whom to call.
  • want/need more information, or do not understand the process.
  • want a neutral/objective person to consult with or provide facilitation.

To contact Customer Service or the Office of the Ombudsperson, please complete our online contact form.

Our Shared Beliefs

To ensure the entire Seattle Public Schools community is educated or can work in a safe and nurturing environment, we hold to the following beliefs:

  • A belief that a positive school climate built on the principles of “acceptance” and “respect” is conducive to learning and thus allows students or adults to do their best both cognitively and emotionally.
  • A belief that the district has the opportunity to create safe and positive education and work environments through the implementation of policy and procedure.
  • A belief that students, staff, parents, and the community have a vested interest in, and should work together to promote, healthy social, emotional, and learning outcomes.

Policy Statement

The programs and policies of the Seattle Public School District are intended to foster and enrich student learning and development intellectually, socially, emotionally and physically. To accomplish these goals, students, parents, teachers and staff must all work together. Just as students should behave in the positive manner expected of them by their teachers, parents, and peers, so also must administrators, teachers and other staff treat students and parents fairly and equitably, with respect both for groups of people and for the dignity of the individual. When conflicts, concerns and issues occur, school staff and leadership of Seattle Public Schools will try to identify, investigate and seek resolution and solutions.

To that end, it is the policy of the Board to provide an appropriate process for the orderly resolution of concerns and complaints. As part of such process, the Board and the Superintendent expect that school and site level staff will cooperate in an effort to resolve the concerns/complaint and that all parties will be treated with dignity and respect and that an objective and fair resolution will be reached.

Questions and Answers

What if my concern is with the school principal? Whom do I talk with to share my concern?

While conversations that confront the actions of another person may be uncomfortable, it is important to bring concerns forward so the school continues to be a place where families and students feel comfortable, welcomed and a sense of belonging.

If a concern is with the actions of building leader, it is necessary to talk with or communicate those concerns directly to the leader in whatever manner is most comfortable for you.

If helpful, invite a trusted friend or family member to join in the conversation and, to help the building leader seek solutions quickly and/or make adjustments, let the building leader know about the concern as soon as possible.

What if my child is afraid to go to school because of a conflict?

When any student shares discomfort with attending school, it is important to talk with the child to hear his/her/their concerns.

As the parent or caregiver, you know your child best and will be able to assist the child with self-advocacy, if appropriate, and will be your child’s most important advocate if and when contacting the teacher becomes necessary.

If the concern is significant enough to cause anxiety or prevent your child from feeling safe and welcomed at school, and you have talked to your child to believe self-advocacy and self-resolution cannot help resolve the concern, contact your child’s teacher in whatever manner is most comfortable for you.

Model a solution-seeking approach and work with the teacher and your child to help solve the concern so that your child once again feels comfortable and welcomed at school.

Who do I contact when I have a concern about the actions of another parent?

If you have observed inappropriate conduct on the part of a parent, or another parent displays unsafe behavior while at school, avoid discussing your concerns with other parents and contact the school principal to report the incident.

For incidents or concerns regarding other parents that do not have a direct impact on a safe and welcoming environment for students, you are encouraged to reach out to your parent/family/teacher organization at the school such as the Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTSA) for support.

Who do I contact when I witness an action of harassment, intimidation or bullying?

The district is committed to a safe, civil, and equitable environment for all students, employees, parents/legal guardians, volunteers, and patrons, that is free from harassment, intimidation or bullying (HIB).

Concerns about harassment, intimidation, or bullying (HIB) are should first be reported to a school administrator (Principal or Assistant Principal). Reports can be made verbally or in writing. Reports can also be made using the Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying (HIB) Incident Reporting Form found on our Office of Student Civil Rights webpage. Copies of the HIB Incident Reporting Form should be given to both the School Principal and to the district’s HIB Compliance Officer.