Many students and families in CCISD have faced difficult issues. It may be a child being bullied at school or on the bus, a disconnect with a teacher or administrator, a disciplinary situation that doesn’t fit the circumstance or a policy from the school or the Superintendent’s office that is adversely affecting a student.
First, know that it is OK to ask questions and take action to seek the best possible resolution for your child. There is nothing wrong with this.
Unfortunately, CCISD often makes it unnecessarily difficult to figure out what to do when a student or parent has a grievance. The policies are difficult to find and challenging to interpret, and school district staff is often unaware of how to support students and families with grievances. I’ve been there myself, and it’s a horrible feeling to know you need help, and yet you don’t know where to turn.
That’s why I’ve compiled this parent resource page. While I hope you’ll vote for me on May 1 for the CCISD Board of Trustees, District 5 seat, I want this page to serve as a starting point for every parent and family who feels like they deserve a different outcome from CCISD, but don’t know where to turn.
Please note I am not an attorney, and you should not consider this legal advice in any way. This is just my advice from one parent to another, based on personal experience and the accounts of other parents.
In most cases, when a grievance involves an incident or problem with a particular education facility, the first course of action will be to email the principal and request an in-person meeting. I recommend an email instead of a phone call because it automatically creates a digital paper trail that you can refer back to later.
That is a critical point that you should remember throughout the process: document everything. All your school visits, phone calls, or meetings related to the issue at hand, make sure you document each one and keep a running log of all these activities. If there is a bullying or other issue involving your child while at school, on the bus, or otherwise outside of your presence, each day ask your student if anything occurred related to the incident, and immediately document the date and what happened according to the student. Grievance processes can be long and arduous, and it is important to make sure you can refer back to each event quickly and easily, even weeks or months later.
Accordingly, when you meet with the principal (or in some cases assistant principal), document the meeting. I would even recommend bringing a tape recorder and ask to record the meeting. That way there can be no ambiguity as to what was said.
During this meeting, state the problem, state the facts as best you know them, and state your desired resolution. Ask directly how you all can work together to achieve the desired resolution. As I’ve found, nearly universally the teachers and principals are dedicated, compassionate professionals who care deeply about the education and well-being of their students. Many grievances are the result of honest miscommunications and can be quickly rectified with clear, direct communication.
In many cases, the principal will need to perform additional research or interviews in order to determine what the best outcome would be. If you conclude your meeting without a resolution, be sure to ask directly when you can expect a resolution, and when the soonest time is that you can contact them to follow up. That way, you set a clear expectation for the timeline, and there is no ambiguity.
If you conclude the meeting without the resolution you are seeking, first, be polite, thank them for their time, but let them know that you’re going to give the issue some additional thought, and you may want to speak about it again. There are times when it will make sense to agree with the school’s response, even though it may not be your ideal outcome. That’s OK, and there’s no harm in speaking with the school to gain the additional information necessary to understand their perspective. Also request a written copy of the decision; this is important for the grievance process discussed below.
However, if you do not get the resolution you wanted, and you feel that you or your student is in the right or had been done a disservice by the decision, then there is a formal grievance process through the Superintendent’s office that you can initiate. The next section details that process.
The Formal Grievance Procedure
As noted above, Clear Creek ISD has a formal grievance procedure. If you’re unable to get a resolution after meeting with the principal or other campus administrator, here’s what the formal grievance process entails, and how you can file a grievance:
- CCISD’s grievance procedure can be found here: FNG. There is a “Local” and a “Legal” version. The “Local”’ version is CCISD’s official policy; the “Legal” version is what’s required to be published by law. Read through this before you file a grievance.
- The grievance forms can be found here (scroll down to the FNG forms).
- The direct link to the Level 1 grievance form is here: Level 1 Grievance.
The Level 1 grievance is the first step in the process. You should file this as quickly as possible if you don’t get a resolution after meeting with the campus administrators; there is a 15-day time limit from when you receive the formal, written decision mentioned above. After 15 days, the school and the district will consider the issue settled unless you file your formal grievance. You’ll be filing this form with the principal at the school. If you’ve already met with the principal and haven’t gotten a resolution, you may skip to Level 2. File the Level 1 grievance, but be prepared to immediately file a Level 2.
When you begin the formal grievance process, be prepared with all your timelines and evidence. As you proceed through the grievance procedure, the administrators and the Board of Trustees will be limited in what they can review. So don’t hold anything back; present all your evidence and rationale for why the decision was incorrect at the earliest possible point in the grievance proceedings. At your proceeding, the administrator should record the meeting. But bring your own recorder as a backup.
Assuming there is no change in the outcome, the Level 2 grievance is the next step, and it’s filed with the appropriate assistant superintendent — in most cases, this will either be with the respective superintendent in charge of primary or secondary education. For example, an intermediate school grievance would be filed with Dr. Karen Engle. In some instances, if you have an issue regarding district operations, such as transportation, you’ll need to file with the assistant superintendent for operations (see some additional notes specific to busing below). You will need to provide your record of the incident or incidents, as well as the campus administrator’s response. You will be granted a formal meeting to state your case. Be prepared with everything you’ve already provided, and bring a statement to read. I believe you’re limited to 15 minutes, so take time to write out and practice what you’ll say. You should receive the written decision within 10 District business days.
If Level 2 does not provide the desired outcome, you’ll file a Level 3 grievance with the Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Eric Williams. This is essentially a repeat of the Level 2 proceeding. The Superintendent is limited in what he can review, so any evidence you haven’t introduced can not be used. You can only rely on what you’ve used at Level 1 and 2. You should receive the written decision within 10 District business days.
Finally, if you still don’t have your desired resolution at Level 3, you have the opportunity to file a Level 4 grievance. This is the district’s highest level grievance, and it is to be heard by the Board of Trustees. You will receive a hearing during closed session at a Board of Trustees meeting. Every Board member should be in attendance, along with the Superintendent and CCISD’s in-house attorney.
While the process is formal, the Level 4 hearing is like a court hearing before a panel of judges. Some parents bring an attorney to speak for them, as the administration and its lawyer will actively argue against your case. Once again, be prepared with a statement, and if you have evidence, bring along enough copies for eight people. The Board members may ask questions. They will decide the outcome typically that same day after deliberating behind closed doors.
The link to all CCISD policy is here: CCISD Policy.
Note that, while Level 4 is the last stop for grievances within the school district, if you truly believe you have been wronged and the decision is in violation of Texas state education policy or other state law, consider consulting with an attorney or filing an appeal with the Texas Education Agency.
A Note on Busing
If you are having problems with transportation for your child, contact the Transportation Department and speak to the appropriate route supervisor. This can involve a complaint with a driver or a request for your child to be seated elsewhere on the bus, for example. Unlike the formal grievance process in which email is best, I have found that it is generally faster and easier to resolve a minor busing issue — such as a route or time change — by speaking to someone live on the phone. Be sure to use CCISD’s online tool to identify your child’s route beforehand if needed.
If your child is having more significant issues during their bus ride, such as bullying, again, instruct your child to tell you immediately. If an incident is ongoing, ask them for updates each day. Each bus in Clear Creek ISD should have a functioning digital video camera on board, but the video system only stores up to two weeks of security footage from the buses. Once you’re made aware of an issue, immediately call and e-mail your route supervisor to have the footage pulled — the list of route supervisors is listed on the Transportation Department contact page. Again, document your phone call and the day and approximate time of the incident. You may need this footage if you have to go through the grievance process. I recommend asking for your own copy of the footage, especially if it proves your point, though CCISD is often reluctant to provide footage for legal reasons.
Continue the Conversation
This page will be continually updated based on your questions. Let’s start a conversation on how I can help you find what you need to advocate for your child: