COMPLAINTS POLICY AND PROCEDURE
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 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.
The current procedure covers complaints and signal for violation of the legislation of the Republic of Bulgaria, submitted to the school according to the provisions of art. 29 of the Code of Administrative Procedure. 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.
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”
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
- Heads of Preschool / Primary School / Head of Lower Secondary / Upper Secondary School
- Head of School
- Head of Administration
- Committee for signals and complaints
- CEO of the company
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
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 or complaints committee which includes the facts and potential solutions
Stage 1 Informal
The School takes informal concerns seriously and makes 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
- The complaints and the signals may be submitted:
- At Reception of St. George International School & Preschool
- Via e-mail
- Via telephone
- Via post
- 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
- Information about the violation as detailed as possible
II. Registering and directing written complaints and signals.
- All complaints and signal received at the school are subject to registration:
- Complaints and registrations submitted verbally
- Complaints and signals submitted in writing
- Head of Preschool, Primary School or Head of Lower Secondary School or Head of Upper Secondary School.
- In case of circumstances demanding taking a decision at the next management level the complaints are submitted to the Head of Schoo.l
- In case of circumstances demanding taking a decision at the highest school management level, then the complaint is submitted to the Committee for signals and complaints. The Committee for signals and complaints includes the following members: Legal Advisor, Head of Administration and the Head of Admissions.
- In case of a decision unsatisfactory for the complainant by the Committee for signals and complaints, the complainant refers to the CEO 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 Code of Administrative Procedure
III. Inspection on a registered complaint.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
IV. Response to registered complaints and signals
- 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.
- The response should contain information about:
- when the inspection has been carried out;
- what has been found out during the inspection;
- is the complaint/signal legitimate;
- what recommendations have been made if a violation is found out;
- has an administrative punishment been enforced;
V. Responsibilities of the officials.
- The Head of Preschool, Primary School or Head of Lower School or Head of Upper Secondary School and the Head of Administration are in charge of the matters dealing with complaints and signals submitted to St. George International School & Preschool. The Head of Preschool, Primary School, Head of Lower School, Head of Upper Secondary School and the Head of School:
- organise 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.
- The Head of School for Primary, Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary School and the Head of Preschool for the Preschool 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.
- St. George International School & Preschool reception desk officers are in charge of accepting, putting in writing and handing the complaints/signals to the respective management level of the school.
VII. Persistent complaints
Unreasonably persistent complaints
Most complaints raised will be valid, and therefore treated 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, refuses 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
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
In case 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 St. George International School & Preschool.
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.
Revised: September 2020
Next revision: September 2021