COMPLAINTS POLICY AND PROCEDURE

Goal

The procedure aims to regulate the order and the manner of accepting and registering complaints, conducting an inspection, finding out whether there are violations of the legislation and of the School Regulation Plan, taking measures in the case of proving the existence of such and responding to the person who has submitted the complaint or the signal. The current procedure regulates the responsibilities of Saint George School and Preschool employees who are in charge of accepting, registering and checking a submitted complaint, and responding to the person who has submitted the complaint or the signal.

Scope

The current procedure covers complaints and signal for violation of the legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria, of the Charter of Human Rights and of Saint George School and Preschool Regulation Plan, submitted to the school according to the provisions of art. 29 of the Administrative Procedure Code. The school intends to resolve complaints informally where possible, at the earliest possible stage. There may be occasions when complainants would like to raise their concerns formally. This policy outlines the procedure relating to handling such complaints.

Definitions

The following definitions explain the difference between a concern and a complaint:

  • A concern is defined as “an expression of worry or doubt over an issue considered to be important for which reassurances are sought”. The school will resolve concerns through day- to-day communication as far as possible
  • A complaint is defined as “an expression of dissatisfaction however made, about actions taken or a lack of action”

Reference

Legislation in place:

  • Law for Preschool and School Education
  • Child Protection Law
  • Administrative Procedure Code
  • Law for Access to Public Information
  • Law for Protection of Personal Data
  • Order of the Council of Minister for the Administrative Service
  • School Regulation Plan

Responsibility

  • Heads of stage
  • Heads of School
  • Deputy Principal
  • Principals
  • Committee for signals and complaints
  • Governess of the company

The complainant

The complainant will get a more effective and timely response to their complaint if they:

  • Follow these procedures
  • Co-operate with the school throughout the process, and respond to deadlines and communication promptly
  • Treat all those involved with respect including respect of people’s privacy
  • Not publish details about the complaint on social media

The investigator

An individual will be appointed to look into the complaint, and establish the facts. They will:

  • Interview all relevant parties, keeping notes
  • Consider records and any written evidence and keep these securely
  • Prepare a comprehensive report to the Head of School, Principals or complaints committee which includes the facts and potential solutions

Contents

Stage 1 Informal

The school (SGIS and SGP) takes informal concerns seriously and make every effort to resolve the matter quickly. It may be the case that the provision or clarification of information will resolve the issue.

The complainant should raise the complaint as soon as possible with reception, either in person or by letter, telephone or email.

The school will acknowledge informal complaints within 2 school days, and investigate and provide a response within 7 school days.

The informal stage will involve a meeting between the complainant and the designated member of staff.

If the complaint is not resolved informally, it will be escalated to a formal complaint.

Stage 2 Formal

I. Submission:

  1. The complaints and the signals may be submitted:
    • Verbally
    • At St. George School
    • Via e-mail
    • Via telephone
    • Via mail
  2. To submit a complaint St. George School and Preschool parents need to contact the reception desk at +359 2 4144 414 and mobile 0885 689 971, within the working hours, and at the e-mail address provided on St. George School webpage: reception@stgeorgeschool.eu. Anonymous signals shall not be checked.
  3. (i) For persons submitting a complaint to St George Preschool:

    o To submit a complaint to S. George Preschool then all persons need to contact the reception desk on +359 88 516 0742, within the working hours of 08:00 to 18:00hrs, and at the e-mail address provided by St. George Preschool: sgp.reception@stgeorgeschool.eu

    o Anonymous signals shall not be checked.

  4. When accepting a complaint which is submitted on the phone or via e-mail the respective employee fills in a protocol for accepting a verbally submitted complaint or a complaint form and registers the complaint.
  5. The reception desk officer who has received the signal is obliged to put the signal in writing, entering the following information:
    • The phone number from which the signal has been received;
    • The time when the signal has been received;
    • The name of the parent who has submitted the signal;
    • As detailed as possible information about the violation;
  6. After putting in writing, the reception desk officer immediately directs the signal to the respective official and if the signal has been received via e-mail during non-working days, the reception desk officer directs the signal on the first working day after the signal has been received.
  7. If the signal is about a violation, which necessitates urgent and/or immediate actions, the reception desk officer who has accepted the signal reports verbally to the Head of Stage and/or to the respective Head of School and puts the signal in writing afterwards.

II. Registering and directing written complaints and signals.

  1. All complaints and signal received at the school are subject to registration:
    • Complaints and registrations submitted verbally;
    • Complaints and signals submitted in writing;
  2. The registration of complaints and signals is done by an employee of the administrative department, by entering the complaint or the signal in the Incoming Correspondence Register. Upon entering in the Register, the complaint is given an entry number which contains the year and the date of registration. These steps being performed, an official file is created.
  3. The registered signals or complaints are submitted to the following persons in charge:
    • Head of Stage (for SGP Head of Year, and directed to the Senior Management Team). In case of circumstances demanding taking a decision at the next management level – to the Heads of School
    • In case of circumstances demanding taking a decision at the next management level – to the Deputy Principal;
    • In case of circumstances demanding taking a decision at a higher school management level, the Principal himself carries out the control on the inspection, and if needed, refers, the result from the inspection to the Governess of the company;
    • In case of circumstances demanding taking a decision at the highest school management level, the Committee for signals and complaints;
    • In case of a decision unsatisfactory for the complainant by the Committee for signals and complaints, the complainant refers to the Governess of the company;

    The relevant person in charge makes a resolution of the incoming documents. The resolution should also contain information about the deadline for the inspection of the situation, the date of resolution, as well as instructions if needed. The deadline for execution, which has been defined with the resolution derives from a normative act and should be in accordance with the APC.

  4. The resolved documents should be sent back to the administrative department. The Deputy Principal Administrative Activities enters the following information in the Incoming Register: the school officials responsible for the execution of the procedure, the deadline for making the check- up, as well as other information according to the resolution. After this information has been entered, the Deputy Principal makes copies of the documents and hands them in for information and execution to the employees appointed in the resolution.
  5. If the manager in charge states in the resolution that the file on the complaint/the signal should be officially forwarded to another administration for competent execution, the Deputy Principal sends the documents together with a cover letter to the respective authority within seven days. A copy of the cover letter should be provided for the person who has submitted the complaint/signal for information.
  6. Complaints or signals shall not be forwarded for a competent resolution if the entry document states that the issue has been directed to the respective competent authority.
  7. Resubmitted signals and complaints on an issue which has already been resolved shall not be reviewed, unless they refer to the execution of the resolution or if they are based on new facts or circumstances. The signal and the complaints which are not reviewed are returned to the complainant with the reasons stated.

III. Inspection on a registered complaint.

  1. The inspection on a submitted complaint/signal should be carried out within the shortest term possible but no later than 7 /seven/ working days after the registration.
  2. The manager/person in charge to whom the complaint/signal is directed, prepares the inspection and suggests to their line manager, while following the school Organigram, a date for its execution.
  3. The preparation includes:

    • Becoming acquainted with the information available regarding the circumstances stated in the complaint – offender, other persons and factors involved.
    • Contacting the complainant for clarification of additional circumstances.
    • Examining the case(s) relating to the signal/complaint, in which conversations are held with all directly and indirectly related staff and children/students, and their stories are reflected in a report and a statement of findings report.
  4. The deadline for carrying out the inspection is suggested by the persons in order with the schools’ organizational chart, and in case an urgent and/or immediate inspection is needed, the line manager makes a motivated suggestion to the Principal or to the respective person/s in charge.
  5. The inspection is carried out according to the requirements of the regulatory framework and of St. George International School Regulation Plan. The findings protocol on the inspection should obligatory contain the following information about what has been found regarding the complaint/signal circumstances and if needed legally motivated recommendations for eliminating the violations made.
  6. Inspections shall not be carried out in a conflict situation or in case there is pressure applied by any of the parties. St. George School Applies the International Staff Code of Conduct and encourages the atmosphere of mutual understanding and support among the school community.

IV. Response to registered complaints and signals.

  1. Within 7 /seven/ days after the inspection on the registered complaint/signal is carried out, the manager who has carried out the inspection prepares a response to the complainant. The response should be coordinated with the persons stipulated in the school Organigram, who has assigned the task for carrying out the inspection.
  2. The response should contain information about:
    • when the inspection has been carried out;
    • what is found out during the inspection;
    • is the complaint/signal legitimate;
    • what recommendations have been made if a violation is found out;
    • have an administrative punishment been enforced;
  3. The Principal, the complaints committee or the Governess respectively, approves and signs the responses to the written complaints and signals, and the latter are recorded in the respective register. The entire file of the closed complaint case is transferred for storage to the relevant persons.
  4. The response is sent to the complainant(s) on the next day after the response is signed but no later than the legally defined term.
  5. The files on of the closed complained cases during the year are stored by the Deputy Principals Administrative Activities of SGIS and SGP as per the school’s organisational chart/procedures (department allocated).

V. Responsibilities of the officials.

  1. The heads of stage and the deputy principals are in charge of the matters dealing with complaints and signals submitted to St. George International School. The heads of stage and the heads of school:
    • organize and execute the procedure for working with complaints and signals for each particular case, and inform the respective management level for any infringement.
    • in respect to a competent intervention, are allowed to assign the inspection on the complaint/signal to a certain teacher or to the school counsellor.
    • are in charge for the timely (within the terms defined) sending of the response to the complainant.
  2. The head of school and the deputy principals are in charge of taking successive actions on removing the violation. The actions include:
    • Produce a project for eliminating the violations stated in the complaint/signal.
    • Carry out the follow-up control until the violation is eliminated.
    • Put together all original documents on the complaint and transfer the file for storage in the administrative department after the case is closed.
  3. St. George School reception desk officers are in charge of accepting, putting in writing and handing the complaints/signals in to the respective management level of the school.

VI. The current procedure is affirmed with Order № 735/14.09.2018 of the Principal of St. George International School and takes effect from the date of its validation.

VII. Persistent complaints

Unreasonably persistent complaints

Most complaints raised will be valid, and therefore we will treat them seriously. However, a complaint may become unreasonable if the person:

  • Has made the same complaint before, and it’s already been resolved by following the school’s complaints procedure
  • Makes a complaint that is obsessive, persistent, harassing, prolific, defamatory or repetitive
  • Knowingly provides false information
  • Insists on pursuing a complaint that is unfounded, or out of scope of the complaint’s procedure
  • Pursues a valid complaint, but in an unreasonable manner (e.g. refuses to articulate the complaint, refused to co-operate with this complaints procedure, or insists that the complaint is dealt with in ways that are incompatible with this procedure and the time frames it sets out)
  • Changes the basis of the complaint as the investigation goes on
  • Makes a complaint designed to cause disruption, annoyance or excessive demands on school time
  • Seeks unrealistic outcomes, or a solution that lacks any serious purpose or value

Steps we will take

We will take every reasonable step to address the complainant’s concerns, and give them a clear statement of our position and their options. We will maintain our role as an objective arbiter throughout the process, including when we meet with individuals. We will follow our complaints procedure as normal (as outlined above) wherever possible.

It the complainant continues to contact the school in a disruptive way, we may put communications strategies in place. We may:

  • Give the complainant a single point of contact via an email address
  • Limit the number of times the complainant can make contact, such as a fixed number per term
  • Put any other strategy in place as necessary

Stopping responding

We may stop responding to the complainant when all of these factors are met:

  • We believe we have taken all reasonable steps to help address their concerns
  • We have provided a clear statement of our position and their options
  • The complainant contacts us repeatedly, and we believe their intention is to cause disruption or inconvenience

Where we stop responding, we will inform the individual that we intend to do so. We will also explain that we will still consider any new complaints they make.

In response to any serious incident of aggression or violence, we will immediately inform the police and communicate our actions in writing. This may include barring an individual from our school site and/or terminating the contract with the Preschool (SGP).

Duplicate complaints

If we have resolved a complaint under this procedure and receive a duplicate complaint on the same subject from a partner, family member or other individual, we will assess whether there are aspects that we hadn’t previously considered, or any new information we need to take into account.

If we are satisfied that there are no new aspects, we will:

  • Tell the new complainant that we have already investigated and responded to this issue, and the local process is complete

If there are new aspects, we will follow this procedure again.

Updated on: 15th September 2019

To be revised on: 15th September 2020

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