Directive a result of complaint regarding transfer of student records
On Sept. 9, Emily Nazarov, executive director of the Oregon State Board of Education, directed Harney County School District (HCSD) No. 3 to submit a corrective action plan to the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) by Dec. 8 or face the possibility of having state school funds withheld.
The directive was in response to an appeal filed by Silvies River Charter School Principal Katie Baltzor alleging violations of Division 22 standards against HCSD No. 3.
In a letter to Baltzor and HCSD No. 3 Superintendent Dr. Marilyn McBride, Nazarov stated upon her initial review of the appeal, that Baltzor had alleged facts, which if true, would be a violation of OAR 581-022-1941 (failure to comply with complaint procedures).
The issue began on Feb. 19, when Baltzor filed a written complaint with McBride alleging McBride failed to follow the provisions in ORS 339.260 and OAR 581-021-0255 regarding the transfer of student records.
Nazarov summed up the facts as follows:
On Feb. 24, McBride provided a written response to the complaint. McBride set forth the legal and factual basis for the district’s handling of the student records and explained how record requests would be handled in the future.
On March 5, Baltzor appealed McBride’s decision by filing a step 4 complaint with the Harney County school board. On March 20, the Harney County school board convened for a special meeting to address Baltzor’s complaint. The Feb. 19 complaint to McBride, McBride’s Feb. 24 response, and the March 5 complaint to the board were all read into the record. The minutes do not report any substantive discussion of the complaint. Baltzor asked when she could expect a response from the board. According to the board minutes, the board chair explained that the board would respond in some manner, possibly through an attorney, in its own time.
On April 7, Baltzor filed her appeal with ODE. Baltzor alleged the Harney County complaint policy is in violation of OAR 581-022-1941 because it does not contain timelines for each step or an overall timeline for the entire process.
On April 8, then Harney County School Board Chair Ralph Dickenson issued a final letter on Ms. Baltzor’s complaint. In that letter, Mr. Dickerson informed Ms. Baltzor that the board determined no hearing was required to decide the matter, stated that the board denied the complaint, and set forth the legal and factual basis for the denial.
Baltzor then supplemented her appeal to ODE on April 17, by forwarding a copy of the letter from Mr. Dickenson.
In her analysis, Nazarov wrote, “OAR 581-022-1941 requires districts to ‘establish a process for the prompt resolution of a complaint by a person who resides in the district or by any parent or guardian of a student who attends school in the school district.’ The process must be in writing and state clearly who within the school district has the responsibility for responding to the complaint.
The complaint process must specify a time period during which the complaint will be addressed and a final decision will be issued. If the complaint procedure has multiple steps, the procedure must establish the time period for each step as well as the overall time period for completing the procedure. The purpose of requiring the district to establish timelines for processing the complaint is to ensure complaints move through the system and are resolved in a timely manner.
Based on my review of the record and investigation, I find that the District’s policy does not comply with OAR 581-022-1941 in that it does not include timelines for each step or for the overall procedure.”
Nazarov concluded that HCSD No. 3 does not meet the minimum standards for a complaint process as required by OAR 581-022-1941, and the district is deemed “deficient” under ORS 327.103(1).
Nazarov wrote that the district must submit a corrective action plan, approved by the school board, to ODE by Dec. 8. Upon approval of the plan, the district will be categorized as a “conditionally standard school.”
Upon successful implementation of the plan, the district will be re-established as a “standard school.” If the plan is not fully implemented by the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, state school funds may be withheld.
If the district fails to submit a corrective action plan, the district will be categorized as a “non-standard school,” and by law, the deputy superintendent of education must withhold state school funds.