Communicating with Professional Staff - Guidelines and Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
In an effort to improve communication among members of our school community, including parents, teachers, administrators, and other members of our community, the District has developed a protocol, outlined below, that addresses the use of e-mail, voice mail and other means to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of our communication efforts. Each member of the professional staff is expected to fully implement this protocol.
- Each member of the professional staff will use e-mail, along with telephone calls and written communication (i.e. letters, memos, etc.) as one of several regular means of communicating with parents, with supervisors and subordinates, and with colleagues.
- The District will make work e-mail addresses and telephone numbers available to parents through various means, including the District website. Members of the professional staff are encouraged to provide this information to the parents of their students through open house programs and handouts, e-mails or hard copy mailings, postings on teacher websites, and/or through other means as available and appropriate.
- Each member of the professional staff will check messages via their employee e-mail account, as well as their employee telephone voicemail, and their mailbox in the school office, at least once per school day, as practicable. Members of the professional staff are encouraged to check the repositories of all three means of communication (e-mail, telephone voice mailbox, and office mailbox) more frequently than once per day whenever possible.
- Each member of the professional staff will respond to all messages, as requested by the sender, in a timely and appropriate manner, no later than the next school day as practicable. The staff member will respond in the format in which the message is originally received, unless otherwise requested by the sender, and will use an alternate format if the sender cannot readily be reached.
- Each member of the professional staff will communicate subsequently with the sender in the format which, in the staff member’s professional judgment, is the most appropriate, based upon professional considerations including, but not limited to, the content of the message received and/or the nature of the response being requested.
- Each member of the professional staff will be provided with training, if and as needed, and as requested through the building principal.
Rhinebeck School District Answers "Frequently Asked Questions" About Addressing School-Related Concerns
The Rhinebeck Central School District has Board Policies 1400, 1410, 1420 and 1440 in place to address general concerns raised by members of the public (Policy No. 1400), concerns about policies (Policy No. 1410), concerns about curricula or instructional materials (Policy No. 1420), and concerns about school personnel (Policy No. 1440). These policies can be found on the District website at http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/boepolicies.php
To assist the public in relaying their concerns to the appropriate personnel and/or department, as well as to promote efficient, effective, respectful, and meaningful communication with stakeholders, the District has prepared this guide in the form of “Frequently Asked Questions.” If you, or people you know, have concerns to express, please take the time to review these FAQs to aid in resolving concern as quickly and effectively as possible.
Addressing School-Related Concerns - Frequently Asked Questions
I have a concern I want the District to know about. What should I do?
In general, the concern should be brought to the person or department where the issue has arisen.
- If your concern involves a Board of Education policy, it should be addressed to the Superintendent of Schools.
- If your concern is about something related to a particular class, including the material being taught, you should speak directly with the classroom teacher. If that doesn’t satisfy your concern, please speak to the Principal in the appropriate school building, and then to the Superintendent, if the concern hasn’t been resolved appropriately.
- If your concern involves a specific employee of the District, such as a teacher, aide, coach, maintenance staff, or administrator, raise your concern directly with that person. If you don’t feel your concern has been appropriately addressed, the concern should be brought to that person’s supervisor. If you are unsure of who the person’s supervisor is, please call the District Office at 871-5520 and ask. If you are still unsatisfied, bring your concern to the Building Principal and then to the Superintendent.
Can’t I just bring my concern to a Board of Education member? I know one personally.
You are always welcome to share concerns with members of the school board. However, in order to address your concern in the quickest and most effective way possible, we recommend following the steps outlined above, as your school board member would only be acting to relay information to the appropriate supervisor.
Why shouldn’t I just share my concern about a school matter or a school employee on social media?
Parents and other community members are reminded that the use of social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, group e-mailing) for airing grievances, concerns or complaints about specific school matters or individuals is not an appropriate, effective, or respectful way of resolving such issues. Respectful and meaningful person-to-person communication, in accordance with the school district’s communication protocols, is the preferred way to do so in order to obtain answers, to resolve potential problems, and/or to avoid the possible complications of posting potentially inaccurate information or defamatory statements in a public venue.
How should I communicate my concern to the District?
You should feel free to communicate in the manner most comfortable for you. The District recommends two methods of addressing your concerns. Either send your concern in writing (hard copy or e-mail) to the appropriate person as outlined above, or schedule an appointment to meet or speak directly with that person. If you schedule an in-person appointment, we recommend, though it is not required, that you write up and provide your concerns in advance of the meeting so that your issue can be properly addressed and District personnel are prepared for your meeting.
Can I raise my concern with the Board of Education during a public meeting?
The Board welcomes members of the public at meetings, and there are two opportunities for public comment on every Board meeting agenda. As long as your concern does not involve specific employees or students, feel free to raise it during the public comment period of the Board meeting. Please understand that unless the details of your concern have been provided in advance of the Board meeting to the Superintendent or the School Board President, it is unlikely that the District will be able to satisfy your concern at the meeting. The District will have to research the issue and take the appropriate action(s).
If your concern involves a specific employee or student, the Board is unable to entertain comments about it during a public meeting. In that case, please provide information to the Superintendent and/or the President of the School Board in advance of the meeting, preferably in writing, so that the issue can be addressed and/or taken up in executive session. This is to protect the individual’s privacy rights.
Something happened last year that I was concerned about, and I just heard through the grapevine that it happened again to somebody else. Should I let the District know about what happened last year?
The District encourages all members of the public who have concerns to bring them to the District’s attention as soon as possible after those concerns arise. While it is never “too late” to raise a concern, and while the District is always interested to hear your concerns, it may be difficult or impossible to take effective action if you wait a long time to let the District know about it. The sooner the District learns about the concern, the more likely it is that a satisfactory resolution to the concern can result.
If I raise a concern, will somebody let me know what the District is doing about it?
Some concerns may raise privacy issues or may require confidential treatment as a matter of law. In these cases, the District will not be able to give you specific information regarding the action being taken. If your concern does not raise privacy issues or require confidential treatment, the District will communicate the steps being taken to address your concern.
I have a concern I want to raise, but I don’t want the staff member to know I raised it. Can I report my concern confidentially.
Yes. The District takes such requests very seriously and will make every effort to honor the confidentiality of the person reporting the concern, and/or of the child about whom the concern is being reported, in most cases, if requested. However, please understand that, in some situations, confidentiality could hinder the District’s ability to take effective action. If this is the case, the District may ask you to waive your request for confidentiality to better address the concern. In addition, depending on the nature of the concern, certain laws and regulations may require the District to report alleged conduct and may actually prohibit the District from keeping such information confidential.
I’m worried that if the staff member knows I reported this concern, my child will be retaliated against.
The District absolutely forbids any member of its staff from retaliating against any person for reporting a concern. Any attempt by a staff member to retaliate against a person who reports a concern, or the child of such a person, could form the basis for disciplinary action against the staff member. If you report a concern and then believe that you or your child has been retaliated against, the District urges you to report that immediately to the staff member’s immediate supervisor.
I have a concern about the driver of the bus my child takes to school. How do I raise that concern?
The District hires an outside provider for bus services. The bus drivers are employees of the provider, not the District. However, it is very important to the District that concerns regarding drivers be dealt with in a timely and appropriate manner. If you have a concern with a bus driver, the District recommends that you address your concern with the driver first. If you are unsatisfied with the response from the driver, you should raise your concern with the Total Transportation Terminal Manager at 845-204-9660. If you are still not satisfied, please contact your Building Principal, then Mr. Thomas Burnell, the District’s Business Administrator, at 871-5500 x-5523, then the Superintendent at 871-5500 x-5522, and finally the Board of Education.
My concern involves a matter of public interest, not a specific individual. I think this is something the Board of Education should decide. How should I bring it up so it goes to the Board?
The District recommends raising concerns regarding matters of public interest with the Superintendent, who will raise it with the Board. When that happens, you will receive a written response to your concern.
I still have questions about reporting concerns. What should I do?
Call the District Office at (845) 871-5520. A member of the District Office staff will be happy to assist you.
Rhinebeck Central School District Board Policies that address general concerns raised by members of the public (Policy No. 1400), concerns about policies (Policy No. 1410), concerns about curricula or instructional materials (Policy No. 1420), and concerns about school personnel (Policy No. 1440) are available on the District website at http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/boepolicies.php
Contact information for members of the District’s teaching and administrative staff can be found on the District website at http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/staffdirectory.php.
Contact information for Board of Education members also can be found on the District website at http://www.rhinebeckcsd.org/pagecontent.php?id=11.