How NHCS Handles Parent and Public Complaints

by Dr. Tim Markley, NHCS Superintendent

There has been a lot of discussion recently about how New Hanover County Schools handles parent complaints. I want to assure you that we value parent input on every level, because we know that the success and safety of our students requires it. That is the reason every official parent complaint that is filed with the Superintendent’s Office is considered to be of the highest importance. The complaints are thoroughly investigated unless the situation is such that immediate action is required. If complaints are substantiated, appropriate action is taken. Receipt of the complaints are always acknowledged and marked received by the Superintendent’s Office. Finally, a written letter is sent to the complainant describing the resolution of the matter.

Informal vs. Formal Complaints

It is important to understand and note the difference between informal and formal complaints. An informal complaint could include anything from a casual conversation with a school staff person to a hallway chat with the principal. NHCS strives to be responsive to informal inquiries when they are raised. Many of our complaints are resolved on this level. However, if an informal complaint goes unresolved, then it is important for the person making the complaint to follow the next step and file a formal complaint. The formalization of the process serves as documentation of the issue and it helps ensure that the complaint gets to the appropriate person.

What are NHCS’ policies regarding complaints?

NHCS is governed by the New Hanover County Board of Education. The Board has enacted several policies regarding complaints against teachers and other employees. All of its policies are and have been for many years posted on the NHCS website, Policy 9510 addresses Parent/Public complaints. It provides that parents and members of the public (which includes students) should try to resolve their complaints against teachers at the school level, but if they cannot, they may have them reviewed by the Superintendent. It also states that they may contact members of the Board at any time. Policy 1601 provides more detail about the complaint process and the role of individual Board members.

How do I file a complaint?

Complaints may be filed by completing the NHCS Parent/Public Complaint Form which is available on our website under the Parents tab. In addition, the names and contact information for the Board members are (and have been for many years) on the NHCS website. In addition, if parents or members of the public call the NHCS main telephone number at (910) 254-4200, and inquire about making a complaint, they will be sent the Parent/Public Complaint Form.

How do I know my complaint will be handled properly?

Parents and students in the district can be assured that appropriate and forceful action will always be taken when necessary. Our goal is to continue to be the district of choice for our parents and students. Therefore, we value public input and strive to handle complaints in the most efficient and equitable manner possible.

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