Questions and Concerns
From time to time, parents may have questions or concerns about a matter related to their child’s school. In order to provide a high level of service and promote satisfaction, Salem City School Board employees are empowered and expected to be responsive to students, parents, and the community as a whole. The Board strives to provide a prompt response to questions and/or concerns while respecting the roles and responsibilities of Board employees.
Salem City School Board Policy CC “Administrative Organization Plan” establishes the Board’s longstanding and proven philosophy that problems are best solved at their source. The Policy requires that, “Whenever possible and appropriate, staff members will be engaged in addressing questions or concerns that directly involve or originate in their area of responsibility.” Therefore, in most cases, questions and concerns need to be addressed at the school level with your child’s teacher or an administrator.
If you ever have a question or concern regarding a situation you or your child is facing as a result of their enrollment in the Salem City School Division please consider the suggestions outlined here:
-Begin at the Source – If you have a question, suggestion, or need information, your child’s school is always the best place to seek assistance first. In most cases the most appropriate contact will be your child’s teacher, an assistant principal, or the principal.
School telephone numbers are:
East Salem Elementary: 375-7001
G.W. Carver Elementary: 387-2492
South Salem Elementary: 387-2478
West Salem Elementary: 387-2503
Andrew Lewis Middle School: 387-2513
Salem High School: 387-2437
-Take full advantage of available information – Our school and division web pages contain a wealth of information and are continually updated to provide frequently requested information.
You may also obtain information from the Central Office staff on a variety of subjects. A list of topics and the names of individuals from whom you can obtain assistance is available by clicking here: Who to Call.
- Gather information – Before contacting your child’s school, gather as much information about the situation as you can. Be prepared to provide names, dates, times, and other factual information.
- Select the best method of communication – A telephone call or an email may resolve your concern. However, depending upon the situation, you may wish to meet with the person face to face. If so, please call ahead to make an appointment.
- Be prepared to identify yourself – Parents and legal guardians are entitled to information about their child/children. Other relatives, siblings, and interested persons are not afforded the same access to information.
As a rule anonymous complaints are extremely difficult to investigate, confirm, or respond to, and don’t allow the school division the opportunity to provide follow-up information. So please be prepared to provide your name and contact information.
- Be patient – It will be necessary for school staff to investigate the concern in order to gather as much information as possible. The parties involved may not be readily available at the time of your call so please allow a reasonable amount of time for this process to occur. In general, it is reasonable to expect a response within 24 hours on regular weekdays.
- Keep an open mind – For parents, children are often our primary source of information. Like all people, children have a point of view that may not represent “the big picture.”
Additionally, in order to protect confidentiality, children are not aware of actions the school has taken in matters involving other students. In such cases, your child’s source of information is likely another student and may not be entirely accurate.
By contacting the school, your child’s teacher or principal may be able to provide a larger and more factual point of view while still respecting the confidentiality of all involved.
- Follow existing channels of communication and responsibility – If you need to carry your concern to another level, be sure to go to the next level up. In many cases, the next step will be an assistant principal or the school principal. Again, please call ahead to make an appointment.
- Appeal/Administrative Review –Board Regulation JFC-BR “Standards of Student Conduct” establishes that the Principal’s decision regarding corrective actions and punishments less than an Out-of-school Suspension for violations of the Standards of Student Conduct may not be appealed.
Additionally, the Commonwealth of Virginia vests considerable authority in the Principal. The Principal is responsible for reviewing and making final decisions regarding credit for course work completed both in their respective schools and when evaluating transfer credit from other schools and other states.
Salem School Board Policy CA “Administrative Goals” requires that the Superintendent expect and empower Principals to lead their schools including the resolution of concerns, but also affirms that the Superintendent evaluate the principals on an annual basis to provide feedback and facilitate continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement frequently involves learning from experience and engaging in purposeful review of policies and procedures. Although all programs and even Board Policies are routinely reviewed in accordance with established time-lines, students, parents, staff members and citizens of Salem are welcome to request an Administrative Review for the purpose of informing future practice.
Administrative Reviews are internal functions intended to inform future practice. If the Superintendent authorizes an Administrative Review, he will assign a Division Leader with the task of collecting information and making recommendations to the Superintendent for consideration.
When a Review involves practices and procedures, the Superintendent may elect to share outcomes with the persons requesting or otherwise involved in the Administrative Review. When a review involves matters protected by student or employee confidentiality, reporting outcomes will be limited to authorized persons.
Division leaders are a resource for the schools – Calls and other queries made to the Central Office will be directed to a Central Office Administrator. Division Leaders may be reached at 389-0130 or at the Central Administrative Office located at 510 South College Avenue.
When you call or come to the office, tell the receptionist the nature of your concern and you will be directed to the appropriate administrator. You should expect to be asked if you have already attempted to resolve your concern at your child’s school. Again, it is always a good idea to call ahead for an appointment if you wish to speak to the administrator in person.
The Superintendent is the Chief Executive – If you cannot resolve your concern by speaking with a Central Office Administrator, you may contact the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Hicks by phone at 389-0130 or in person at the Central Administrative Office located at 510 South College Avenue.
It will be necessary to call ahead for an appointment if you wish to schedule a phone conference or personal meeting with the Division Superintendent.
The School Board is a Governing Body – The School Board is made up of five citizens charged with the responsibility of making policy for the school system and providing oversight to its operation. Decisions of the Board can only be made by a majority of the Board Members meeting together as a body in public and voting on an issue. Board Members annually assert the Board’s corporate authority as a policy-making, governing body (Board Policy BBBB “Code of Conduct for School Board Members). Therefore, School Board Members have no individual authority.
Board Policy JBC “Appeals” establishes the right of a student, parent/legal guardian, or employee to initiate an appeal and empowers the Superintendent with developing the procedures to be used by a person making an appeal including steps reaching to the School Board including the following general principles:
- Questions or concerns first be directed to the employee(s) closest to the issue and involve a Principal or Supervisor as appropriate.
- The Superintendent be given the opportunity to examine and evaluate information related to an appeal and to make recommendations to the Board.
- In those cases where policy or regulation establish appeal procedures or vest authority to make a final decision in an employee, the procedures within the policy or regulation shall be followed.
- Except as otherwise outlined in a policy or regulation the School Board may consider an appeal based solely on the record.
Certain decisions of the Superintendent cannot be appealed to the School Board. For example, the School Board has determined that decisions of the Superintendent in cases of short-term suspensions (those of ten days or less) are final and may not be appealed to the School Board.
Salem City School Board Policy BDDI “Communications from the Public,” mandates that the Board not consider anonymous communications.
Requests to address the School Board must be directed to the Clerk of the Board at 389-0130 or at 510 South College Avenue. Requests to address the Board must be made in writing at least one week before the meeting.
If you follow these suggestions, you may or may not always get the particular answer you desire, but you can be certain that you will get an answer and that you will be heard.