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Policy for Grievance Procedures    a) by parents against teachers and, b) where teachers have a grievance.

 

 

INTO/CPSMA Procedure for dealing with complaints by parents against teachers

 

Important note: Revised procedures for processing complaints by Parents will be prescribed for all schools under Section 28 of the Education Act 1998. When available, the revised procedures will be sent to each school and will replace the procedures printed. Please ensure that the correct and up to date Procedures are used. At the time of publication of this policy these procedures are still the only agreed procedures.

 

The INTO and CPSMA reached agreement in 1993 on a procedure for dealing with complaints by parents against teachers. The purpose of this procedure is to facilitate the resolution of difficulties where they may arise in an agreed and fair manner. The agreement lays out in five stages the process to be followed in progressing a complaint and the specific timescale to be followed at each stage.

Only those complaints about teachers which are written and signed by parents/guardians of pupils may be investigated formally by the Board of Management, except where those complaints are deemed by the Board to be:

  1. on matters of professional competence and which are to be referred to the Department of Education;
  2. frivolous or vexatious complaints and complaints which do not impinge on the work of a teacher in a school; or
  3. complaints in which either party has recourse to law or to another existing procedure.

Unwritten complaints, not in the above categories, may be processed informally as set out in Stage 1 of this procedure.

 

Stage 1

 

  • A parent/guardian who wishes to make a complaint should, unless there are local arrangements to the contrary, approach the class teacher with a view to resolving the complaint.

 

  • Where the parent/guardian is unable to resolve the complaint with the class teacher she/he should approach the Principal with a view to resolving it.

 

  • If the complaint is still unresolved the parent/guardian should raise the matter with the Chairperson of the Board of Management with a view to resolving it.

 

 

Stage 2

 

2.1 If the complaint is still unresolved and the parent/guardian wishes to pursue the matter further she/he should lodge the complaint in writing with the Chairperson of the Board of Management.

 

2.2 The Chairperson should bring the precise nature of the written complaint to the notice of the teacher and seek to resolve the matter between the parties within five days of receipt of the written complaint.

 

Stage 3

 

3.1 If the complaint is not resolved informally, the Chairperson should, subject to the general authorisation of the Board and except in those cases where the Chairperson deems the particular authorisation of the Board to be required:

  1. a) supply the teacher with copy of the written complaint; and
  2. b) arrange a meeting with the teacher and, where applicable, the Principal Teacher with a view to resolving the complaint. Such a meeting should take place within 10 days of receipt of the written complaint.

 

Stage 4

 

4.1 If the complaint is still not resolved the Chairperson should make a formal report to the Board within 10 days of the meeting referred to in 3.1 b).

 

4.2 If the Board considers that the complaint is not substantiated the teacher and the complainant should be so informed within three days of the Board meeting.

 

4.3 Is the Board considers that the complaint is substantiated or that it warrants further investigation it proceeds as follows:

  1. a) the teacher should be informed that the investigation is proceeding to the next stage;
  2. b) the teacher should be supplied with a copy of any written evidence in support of the complaint;
  3. c) the teacher should be requested to supply a written statement to the Board in response to the complaint;
  4. d) the teacher should be afforded an opportunity to make a presentation of case to the Board. The teacher would be entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting;
  5. e) the Board may arrange a meeting with the complainant if it considers such to be required. The complainant would be entitled to be accompanied and assisted by a friend at any such meeting; and
  6. f) the meeting of the Board of Management referred to in d) and e) will take place within 10 days of the meeting referred to in 3.1 b).

 

 

 

Stage 5

 

5.1 When the Board has completed its investigation, the Chairperson should convey the decision of the Board in writing to the teacher and the complainant within five days of the meeting of the Board.

 

5.2 The decision of the Board shall be final.

 

5.3 The Complaints Procedure shall be reviewed after three years.

 

  • CPSMA or INTO may withdraw from this agreement having given the other party three months notice of intention to do so.

 

In this agreement “days” means school days.

 

 

Grievance Procedure

 

The following procedure for handling grievances in schools has been agreed between the INTO and the principal Management Bodies.

  • The purpose of this procedure is to provide a mechanism for the resolution of a grievance which a teacher in a national school, including a Principal Teacher, has against i) the Board of Management in respect of the exercise of any of its responsibilities for the governance of the school, or ii) the Chairpaerson of the Board in an individual capacity or iii) the Principal Teacher in respect of her/his duties and responsibilities for the organisation, conduct, and day to day activities of the school.
  • The Grievance Procedure shall generally relate to the breaches of school rules, policies, procedures or practices. The Grievance Procedure shall not deal with curricular matters.
  • If a grievance, which concerns a matter covered by the Employment Equality Act (1998) or other relevant legislation, is referred to the Labour Court, this procedure shall not be used. Such a referral would serve to terminate the Grievance Procedure.

 

Stage 1

 

1.1 The aggrieved teacher shall give notice in writing to the Principal that the Grievance Procedure is being invoked.

 

1.2 The teacher shall discuss the grievance with the Principal Teacher with a view to resolving it.

1.3 If the grievance is not resolved within ten school days, the teacher shall be entitled to invoke Stage 2 within a further ten school days.

 

Stage 2

 

2.1 The aggrieved teacher shall give notice in writing to the Principal and the Chairperson of the Board of Management that Stage 2 of the Grievance procedure is being invoked.

 

2.2 The teacher shall discuss the grievance with the Chairperson of the Board with

a view to resolving it.

 

2.3 The Chairperson shall immediately take such steps as she/he considers

appropriate to have the grievance resolved informally.

 

2.4 If the grievance is not resolved within ten school days, the teacher shall be

entitled to invoke Stage 3 within a further ten school days.

 

 

Stage 3

 

3.1 The aggrieved teacher shall give notice in writing to the Chairperson of the Board of Management that Stage 3 of the Grievance Procedure is being invoked.

3.2 The teacher shall make a written submission which shall include the details on the grievance(s) and the redress being sought. The submission shall be presented to the Chairperson for consideration by the Board of Management.

 

3.3 The normal rules of due process shall apply to the exchange of documentation, and accordingly, the Chairperson shall copy the submission to the person against whom the grievance is being taken.

 

3.4 Where the Grievance involves the Principal Teacher, she/he shall be requested by the Chairperson to prepare a written response to the submission. The written response shall address all of the points made in the aggrieved teachers’ submission and shall be furnished to the aggrieved teacher(s) within 10 school days of the date of the written submission. Similarly, where the grievance is against the Chairperson of the Board of Management of the Board itself, the aggrieved teacher shall be entitled to a written response from the Chairperson of the Board, as the case may be. Such response shall also be furnished within 10 school days.

 

3.5 The Chairperson shall invite the aggrieved teacher to be in attendance at a hearing of the Board, which shall be held within ten school days of the date of the written response. The hearing shall afford each party to the grievance an opportunity to hear, at first hand, what the other party has to say, and also to question and/or respond to the other party.

 

3.6 In circumstances where the grievance is against the Principal Teacher, he/she shall attend at the Board hearing in an individual capacity and not as a member of the Board of Management. Similarly, where the grievance is against the Chairperson of the Board of Management (in an individual capacity) he/she shall also attend at the Board hearing in an individual caoacity and an Acting Chairperson shall be appointed. Further, the Principal Teacher or the Chairperson, as the case may be, shall withdraw from the Board’s deliberations and decision making on the matter.

 

3.7 Where appropriate, the parties shall be entitled to bring witnesses. The same principles of due process apply to hearing witnesses.

 

3.8 The Board shall try to resolve the grievance by conciliation and if the grievance is resolved the matter is concluded. If the Board is unable to resolve the grievance by conciliation it shall make a decision on the matter, except as provided under paragraph 3.9.

 

3.9 In cases where the grievance is against the Board itself, the Board shall hear the grievance as outlined above, shall try to resolve the matter by conciliation, but failing resolution, the matter may proceed to stage 4 in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 3.11.

 

3.10 The Chairperson shall convey the outcome in writing to the parties within 5 school days of the hearing specified at 3.5.

 

3.11 The teacher shall have the right to invoke stage 4 of the procedure:

  1. a) if the Board fails to give a hearing to the aggrieved teacher;
  2. b) if the Chairperson fails to convey the outcome of the hearing within the specified period;

or

  1. c) if the teacher is unwilling to accept the outcome of stage 3.

 

 

Stage 4

 

4.1 The teacher who wishes to proceed with an appeal to Stage 4 shall give notice of same, by letter, to the Chairperson of the Board of Management within ten school days of receiving the written outcome of Stage 3 (or at the end of the period specified in 3.5, if the Board fails to arrange a hearing). The date of that letter shall be referred to as the ‘date of appeal’, and the teacher may include, in the letter, any additional arguments he/she wishes to put forward;

 

4.2 On receipt of the letter of appeal, the Chairperson of the Board of Management shall notify the Patron (or a designated representative of the Patron) and the General Secretary of the INTO (or a designated representative of the INTO) and invite these parties:

  1. a) to select an agreed independent person to act as Chairperson of a tribunal;
  2. b) each to appoint a person who is not associated with the school to serve on the tribunal;
  3. c) to arrange a meeting of the tribunal within 15 school days of the date of appeal.

 

4.3 The Chairperson of the Board of Management shall also furnish each member of the tribunal, prior to its first meeting with a) a report on the proceedings at each of the previous stages abd b)

  • a copy of the aggrieved teacher’s letter of appeal;
  • a copy of the aggrieved teacher’s submission;
  • a copy of any written response;
  • any other relevant documentation.

 

4.4 The Tribunal shall arrange a hearing(s) for the parties and shall ensure that the normal rules of due process and fair procedures apply, which include:

  • that the parties shall be given reasonable notice of the hearing by the Tribunal. When notifying arties of the date of the hearing(s), the Tribunal should indicate to the parties concerned that, in the event of failure to appear without reasonable cause, the Tribunal may proceed to decide the case if considered appropriate;
  • that each party shall be afforded an opportunity to access and respond to relevant documentation, including the letter of appeal;
  • that the parties shall have an opportunity to hear, at first hand, what each has to say, and also to question or respond to the other party through the Chairperson of the Tribunal;
  • that witnesses may attend as appropriate;
  • that the Tribunal itself shall be entitled to question each party or seek further information;
  • that, where appropriate, the Tribunal shall afford each party an opportunity to access and respond to same;
  • that, if necessary, the Tribunal shall agree to adjournments.

 

4.5 The Tribunal shall be considered a domestic forum and, accordingly, neither Management nor the INTO intends that there would be legal representations at any hearings.

 

4.6 The tribunal shall be empowered to conciliate, with a view to reaching a friendly settlement.

 

4.7 Failing such a settlement the tribunal shall determine the issue by unanimous or majority vote.

 

4.8 The tribunal’s decision shall be conveyed in writing by the Chairperson of the tribunal to all the parties and shall be final and binding.

 

*Please note that any expenses involved in Stage 4 will be shared by the parties who nominate the tribunal provided that prior sanction for same has been obtained from INTO and the relevant Management Body.

 

Grievance Procedure Notes

 

  1. Until such time as the dispute is resolved or determined, the aggrieved teacher shall continue to carry out the legitimate instructions of the Principal Teacher or the Board of Management as the case may be.
  2. The Grievance Procedure shall also apply where two or more teachers share a grievance.
  3. Where a Principal teacher, or a Principal teacher and one or more other teachers, share a grievance, Stages 2, 3 and 4 of the procedure shall apply.
  4. Where the grievance is against an individual Chairperson or the Board of Management itself, Stages 2, 3 and 4 of the procedure shall apply.
  5. Where there is a single Manager as opposed to a Board of Management, Stages 1, 2 and 4 only shall apply. In these circumstances the aggrieved teacher shall supply a written submission at Stage 4, and the normal procedures of due process will apply to the exchange of documentation and the right of response.
  6. An aggrieved teacher(s) may be represented at Stages 3 and 4 by the INTO Staff Representative or by a branch or district committee member or by a teacher colleague.
  7. Attention is also drawn to paragraph 15 of the Constitution of Boards and Rules of Procedure, particularly with regard to disclosure of interest.
  8. Where the aggrieved teacher is a member of a religious order, the INTO will consult his/her representative association before nominating a member of the independent tribunal envisaged in Stage 4.
  9. A school day is a day on which the school is in operation.
  10. Any difficulty arising out of the implementation of this procedure shall be referred for resolution to the parties to this agreement.
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