Who should I talk to?
Communication is an essential component of any organization. Whether the purpose is to update employees on new guidelines, to prepare for inclement weather, to ensure safety throughout the organization, or to hear public opinion, effective communication is integral to an effective organization. To be successful, organizations must have comprehensive policies and strategies for communicating with employees, partners, and the community. With more than 2,000 staff members, the families of almost 10,000 students, and countless community partners, it is imperative for NNDSB to maintain reliable, functional, and effective communication protocols.
NNDSB Board of Trustees and the Director of Education have made a commitment to maximizing transparency and minimizing communication gaps by building alignment within all levels of the organization and delivering messages from all departments that are congruent with the organization's mission, vision, and values as outlined in the Multi-Year Strategic Plan. To that end, new governance and communication models were established, and the staff communication protocol was reintroduced to correct sporadic practices that caused confusion and inequity amongst staff. The communication protocol ensures that all voices are heard and that staff and community opinions, concerns, and questions reach the right person to receive the feedback and or reply to each query. This method avoids confusion, mixed messages, and frustration.
Building upon the previously established administrative guideline, a clear communication protocol has been articulated to ensure that all ps receive consistent, clear, timely and accurate messages and answers. The communication protocol has been relayed to all staff through their managers and principals. In addition, several reminders and points of clarification have been issued by the communications team and senior administration. The parent and community protocols are posted here for public clarity.
Two-way communication is important. While staff and community may be thinking of communication mainly in the context of the delivery of messages about board issues, policies, and procedures, it is important to note that two-way communication plays an essential role in a comprehensive communication strategy. Listening to employee issues and concerns builds trust and improves productivity. NNDSB organizational leaders learn through listening to all ideas, feedback questions, and concerns.
Feedback is important. It is best received through the proper channels so that it is not lost in the shuffle which results from circumvention of the established protocol. Bringing kudos, concerns, and questions to the immediate supervisor is the best way to ensure that the right person receives the message and that an answer is provided in a timely manner. It also ensures that the organization is able to recognize trends in any feedback, questions, or concerns. This reveals patterns in the data which allows common themes to be addressed on a larger scale.
The visuals included here will provide guidance as to the optimal flow of communication so that public/community kudos, feedback, questions or concerns are received and flowed throughout the organization in an expedient way, thus providing accurate and timely responses.
NNDSB has committed to providing students, families, employees, and the community with regular and relevant updates. Most importantly, from an engagement perspective, and to honour all voices, NNDSB strives to provide opportunities for students, employees, and the community to attend information sessions, ask questions, contribute ideas, and give or receive feedback for specific communication milestones.
NNDSB will continue to create sustainable practices that allow for effective communication flow, message clarity, timely and accurate responses, and assurance that all voices are heard.
PARENT OR GUARDIAN COMMUNICATIONS PROTOCOL
The protocol below creates an expedient flow of communication to ensure that your questions and/or concerns are heard and responded to in a timely and accurate manner by the appropriate person. In this way, you will receive the most appropriate, accurate, and timely response to your query or concern.
Board of Trustees
If you are a parent or guardian who has questions or concerns regarding your child:
- Direct your query to your child’s teacher who will answer your concerns or questions.
- If your teacher is unable to answer your concerns or questions, your query can be directed to the local school principal who will answer your concerns or questions and or refer you to the most appropriate person to respond.
- If the school principal is unable to respond, you may ask your principal to direct your query to the appropriate supervisory officer.
- The supervisory officer may wish to confer with the director of education on your behalf.
- Appropriate information may be shared with the Board of Trustees only if steps 1-4 have not resulted in the resolution of your query.
Communications protocols ensure that all stakeholders and rightsholders receive consistent, clear, timely, and accurate messages and answers. NNDSB's communication protocols reduce the chances for misunderstandings and inequities by giving all stakeholders and rightsholders a clear path to follow to send and receive information.
COMMUNITY COMMUNICATION PROTOCOL
The protocol below creates an expedient flow of communication to ensure that your questions and or concerns are heard and responded to in a timely and accurate manner by the appropriate person. In this way, you will receive the most appropriate, accurate and timely response to your query or concern and avoid the communication backlog that can occur when a query has been brought to the wrong staff.
If you are a community member who has questions or concerns regarding the local school and its operations:
1) Direct your query to the local school principal who will answer your concerns or questions and or refer you to the most appropriate person to respond.
2) If your feedback, concerns, or questions are for the board in general, direct your call to the board office receptionist who will refer your call to the correct person in the department or system staff to respond.
3) If the department or system lead staff are unable to respond, your query will be directed to the appropriate supervisory officer.
4) The supervisory officer may wish to confer with the director of education on your behalf.
5) Appropriate information may be shared with the Board of Trustees.
Requests can be made to speak to any formal committee of the Board by following the instructions below.
- Request to address the Board
Contact the Executive Assistant to the Director of Education with your request.
- The name of the speaker (delegate)and their organization.
- The topic and a description of the issue.
- The requested audience (specific committee or the Board as a whole.)
- Contact information for the speaker (address, phone number and/or e-mail.)
- Request Review
The Board’s Agenda Setting Committee will review the request to make sure it aligns with the board’s Multi-Year Strategic Plan and the focus of the meeting.
Please note, the following are confidential and not appropriate for public Board agendas:
- Issues involving board employees.
- Contract, employment, and collective agreement disputes or issues.
- Advance Notice
Delegates (speakers) will receive a response to their request.
If the request is accepted, the presentation including the speaker’s name must be submitted in writing no later than 12 noon on the Wednesday of the week before the scheduled board meeting date.
When presenting to a Board committee or at a Board meeting, the presenters must follow strict meeting rules. Meeting rules will be provided if the presentation is accepted.
- What will happen during the meeting
- Presentation (delegation): The meeting Chair will invite the speaker to present.
- Subject matter: comments and remarks must be limited to the subject matter of the approved presentation.
- Time: presentations are limited to ten (10) minutes unless the Board or committee decides otherwise.
- Questions: trustees or committee members may ask questions through the meeting Chair.
More information regarding the delegation process can be found in the Board’s Governance Manual.
ADMINISTRATIVE GUIDELINE - PUBLIC INQUIRIES
EFFECTIVE DATE: SEPTEMBER 24, 2008
*FORMERLY: COMMUNICATIONS: COMMUNICATION PROTOCOLS FOR INQUIRIES
REVISED DATE: AUGUST 31, 2015
RESPONSIBILITY: DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
Near North District School Board is committed to developing and maintaining strong relationships with families, students, and the community. Together we create safe, positive climates for learning and working. Therefore, it is the policy of Near North District School Board to address public inquiries in a fair, respectful, and effective manner.
Near North District School Board believes that the process of addressing public inquiries is an opportunity to improve relationships with our community members. It is the practice of the Board that public inquiries and questions should be dealt with at the level closest to the issue.
1.0 STEPS IN COMMUNICATING WITH SCHOOLS
If a parent/guardian has an inquiry about a school matter, these are the steps that should be followed:
Step 1: Talk with your child’s teacher
The parent/guardian should discuss an inquiry or issue with the classroom teacher at a mutually convenient time.
Step 2: Talk with your school principal
If the parent/guardian and the teacher are not able to resolve the issue, it should be discussed with the school principal (or designate). In the case of an inquiry expressed by a community member, the first point of contact should always be the school principal. The principal (or designate) will gather facts from everyone involved to clarify the problem and work to resolve the matter as quickly as possible. Fundamental to every inquiry follow-up is the board’s expectation that students and employees will follow school and board policies and procedures.
Step 3: Talk with your school superintendent
If the parent/guardian/community member and the school principal are not able to resolve the issue, the parent/guardian/community member may discuss the issue with the school superintendent. The superintendent will review the matter as it relates to established policies and procedures and will respond to the parent/guardian/community member about their inquiry.
Step 4: Request the matter be referred to the director of education
If the parent/guardian/community member and the school superintendent are not able to resolve the issue, the parent/guardian/community member may refer the issue to the director of education. The director of education will review the matter and support the supervisory officer in resolving the query.
Step 5: Request the matter be referred to your local trustee
If the parent/guardian/community member and the director of education are not able to resolve the issue, the parent/guardian/community member is encouraged to ask for a referral to their local trustee. In the event that all other steps have been exhausted, the parent/guardian/community member may register as a delegation and make a presentation to the trustees at a regular meeting by contacting the executive assistant to the director of education. The Board will consider requests from members of the public to make presentations at Board meetings as outlined in By-Law XII.
2.0 REPRESENTATIVE OF THE PARENTS/GUARDIANS
Parents/guardians have the right to have a representative of their choosing in attendance at meetings with staff. Any costs/expenses associated with such a representative are the responsibility of the parents/guardians.
A representative supporting the parents/guardians must agree, at the outset or in advance of the meeting, to respect and maintain the confidentiality of any matter discussed at the meeting between parents/guardians and staff. Parents/guardians and/or representatives may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Principals, staff, and parents/guardians will be notified in advance of a meeting as to who is anticipated to be in attendance.
3.0 MATTERS THAT SHOULD NOT BE DISCUSSED BY STAFF
Although the subject matter of meetings between parents/guardians and staff may be fairly broad, these meetings will generally relate to the education of the parents’/guardians’ student(s) at the school in question. However, there are certain matters that staff are unable to discuss with parents/guardians/community members, including personal details or disciplinary measures concerning other student(s) and staff.
In the event that discussion cannot be limited to the subject matter that led to the meeting (generally the education of the child of the parents’/guardians’ child(ren) at the school in question), staff will bring closure to any meeting that becomes a discussion of personal details concerning other students or matters related to staff performance issues.
4.0 ROLE OF TRUSTEES
Trustees play a very important role in education here in the Near North District School Board. As representatives of their communities and advocates for students, families, and community members, the local trustee can greatly assist in facilitating communication between the parent/guardian and the appropriate staff member at the school or board level. In the case of community member issues, the trustee can facilitate communication with the school principal. Parents/guardians/community members may contact trustees at any time.
Trustees will direct the parent/guardian/community member to the process that should be followed in resolving any inquiries or to the appropriate person or step in the process (dependent on the steps parents/guardians/community members have already taken to resolve the inquiry at the time the Trustee is contacted) but shall not act as a representative opposing the policy of the Board.
5.0 ROLE OF SCHOOL ADVISORY COUNCILS
School Advisory Councils are established to advise principals on matters such as school’s efforts to improve student achievement and well-being. They are not a forum to discuss individual issues related to teachers, other staff members, specific students, or their parent/guardian. Any of these matters brought to a school advisory council member or any school advisory council meeting should be referred immediately to the school principal.