Public Schools need Ombudsman (April 2005) – Done via Bill 88 in Fall 2008


Montreal Gazette

 

Public schools need ombudsmen

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Section: Editorial / Op-Ed

I was saddened and angered to read your April 6 letter, “Pearson board needs threat policy.”

The thrust of the letter from Stephanie (surname withheld) was praise for the way John Rennie High School was “so open” about a recent threats case, by calling the police and “handling the situation so professionally.”

Unfortunately, months ago at a different school, when Stephanie was threatened with death, the police were not called, and she had to fend for herself. That doesn’t seem fair. She wondered, “Shouldn’t all Lester B. Pearson schools have a similar plan of action for such situations?”

What the Pearson board really needs is to create an Office of the Ombudsman, possibly supplemented by a fairness committee, as many schools and school boards have around the world. In many U.S. states, the position is known as The Office of the Child Advocate.

In B.C., the ombudsman can be contacted directly by young people themselves – even anonymously. Teachers can act on behalf of a student or parent. Lawyers are not involved and the focus of any investigation is “not to find fault but to determine fair process.”

Recently, a school ombudsman in Ohio said: “It takes a self- confident school board to establish an ombudsman’s office. It’s a gift to the public because it shows a willingness to undergo self-criticism or assessment.”

The vision statement of the Pearson board should include a sentence promising fair treatment of all students. This fair treatment should be ensured by the creation of an ombudsman’s office. Children should be seen and heard.

Chris Eustace

Pierrefonds


 

Creation of school board ombudsman is a gift

Of all the provisions of the recently adopted Bill 88, I think the creation of an office of the ombudsman is most noteworthy. Quebec school boards will now be required to establish “a procedure for examining complaints from students or parents.”

Of all the provisions of the recently adopted Bill 88, I think the creation of an office of the ombudsman is most noteworthy. Quebec school boards will now be required to establish “a procedure for examining complaints from students or parents.”

Many schools and school boards around the world have an office of the ombudsman, whose job primarily is to listen to those in the community, who cry out: “It’s not fair.”

Some school boards in the U.S. have a Fairness Committee; the position is known as the office of the child advocate. In B.C., the ombudsman can be contacted directly by students themselves. Teachers can act on behalf of a student or parent. The focus of any investigation is “not to find fault but to determine fair process.”

Access to a school board ombudsman ensures fair treatment for all, curbs abuse of power and relieves a lot of unhealthy stress. An ombudsman also provides policy-makers with recommendations to improve the education system. An ombudsman is a gift to the public.

Chris Eustace,

Pierrefonds

 

http://www.canada.com/story.html?id=550d843c-a01c-48bf-bf45-0938339e68f7

 

The following ‘locked’ Le Devoir link on the subject of an ombudsman has 17 commentaries.

http://www.ledevoir.com/societe/education/145926/la-csdm-se-dotera-d-un-ombudsman