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Conflict Resolution at Your Child’s School: A Guide for Families

posted Oct 18, 2016, 3:48 PM by Robin Dutton-Cookston   [ updated Oct 24, 2016, 11:04 AM ]

A conflict at your child’s school can be very stressful. Parents and guardians often do not know where to begin when seeking help. The following steps can help you to share your concerns and work toward a positive resolution.


Be sure to keep detailed records of the situation. Document the date, time, who is present, and what is said. See 7 Steps to Writing an Effective Complaint for assistance in your documentation.


Level 1 - Seeking resolution at the school level.

Always start with the classroom teacher. Schedule a conference with the teacher, principal, and other relevant staff at the school site. When the concern is not related to the school site, but with the district itself, discussing this with district staff at the school may offer an explanation that resolves the issue immediately or helps the parent decide if the issue or concern should be pursued further with the Office of Family Voice (see Level 2).


Level 2 - Seeking resolution from the Office of Family Voice.

Contact the Office of Family Voice (OFV) to communicate your issue or concern and provide details and documentation (if possible) about what occurred at Level 1. The Office of Family Voice will record your concerns and attempt to resolve the issue.


Level 3 - Seeking resolution from LEAD Office

The Leadership, Equity, Achievement and Design (LEAD) Office is comprised of the team of Assistant Superintendents and their support staff who directly supervise, guide, and monitor the operations of each school.


If resolution has not been achieved at Level 2 and the parent requests further action, the OFV will take the concern to the Assistant Superintendent (or Executive Director) who supervises the school involved. The Assistant Superintendent (or designee), after consultation with both the school administration and the parent, will assess the appropriate next course of action and if resolution can be achieved.


Level 4 - Reporting to the Deputy Superintendent

If resolution is not achieved at Level 3, and the parent communicates that they remain extremely dissatisfied with the status of the issue, then the parent can communicate to the Assistant Superintendent or representative of the LEAD Office that they request contact from the Deputy Superintendent who supervises the LEAD Office.


At this level, the parent has the opportunity to express their concern and why they remain dissatisfied with the response from district staff. The Deputy Superintendent will hear the concern and assess whether or not further investigation or discussion with district staff is necessary or if the response of staff, though not the response that was desired by the parent, was appropriate and, regrettably, resolution cannot be achieved with this issue.


Level 5 - Reporting to the Board of Education

The Board of Education are the decision makers for the entire school district. They decide on the policy that governs and directs all public schools in San Francisco. They are the captains of the SFUSD ship. The Board has 7 members known as commissioners and these individuals are elected to four-year terms by people like you in the San Francisco community. Board members serve in volunteer-like roles with a small monthly stipend, and the majority of the board members have full-time jobs outside of this responsibility.


Parents always have the right to make a public comment and present their issues with the Board of Education, even when a decision has been made by the LEAD office. General Board of Education meetings are held every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at 6:00pm at 555 Franklin Street.


For more information, please see the SFUSD Parent Concern Flowchart.