Seattle Public Schools

4220 Complaints Concerning Staff or Programs

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of citizens, and this includes the right to comment on public agencies and the employees of such agencies. The employees of such agencies are also citizens, and have the rights and protections of due process of law. In an effort to satisfy these sometimes conflicting rights, and in order to effectively respond to citizen concerns about employee actions, citizens are asked to work through the chain of administrative organization when bringing a complaint forward. 

In general, most citizen concerns can be resolved by speaking with the employee or the employee’s immediate supervisor. In certain instances, the citizen may be dissatisfied with the response. In those cases, the citizen is asked to contact the Customer Service department, which can assist the citizen in taking the complaint further.  The Customer Service department will refer the complaint to the appropriate Superintendent’s Cabinet member or Executive Director of School. 

Should the citizen have a complaint about the actions of a committee or a District department, or a complaint that is not identified with a particular person, the citizen should first contact Customer Service, which will assist the citizen in determining who can help resolve the complaint. A citizen with an ethics or whistleblower complaint should follow the process designated in Board Policy No. 5251, Ethics, and Superintendent Procedure 5250SP, Reporting Improper Governmental Actions and Protecting Whistleblowers Against Retaliation.  

Complaints received by the Board or a Board member shall be referred to the Superintendent or appropriate Superintendent’s Cabinet member for investigation. 

In all instances, the Superintendent, or the Superintendent’s designee, is the final step in this complaint process. 

This policy does not supersede other laws, contractual obligations, or other policies and procedures. Citizens are also reminded that school personnel may not be able to disclose certain actions taken if those actions involve personnel decisions or other topics that are considered exempt under the Public Records Act. 

Complaints regarding instructional materials should be pursued in the manner provided for in district policy. 

The Superintendent is authorized to develop procedures for this policy, as necessary.