Portland Public Schools’ New Ombudsman Should Be Independent

CascadeNewLogoBy Joel Grey

In response to parent complaints, Portland Public Schools will create a new ombudsman position. An ombudsman is a person within an organization who provides accountability and investigates complaints.

It’s a good thing for public schools to have an ombudsman. An ombudsman is dedicated to listening to parents’ concerns and preventing abuses within the system. Accountability is important because people will often get away with whatever they are able to, and an ombudsman makes it harder to escape independent oversight.

The problem here is that the school district has placed the ombudsman within the public relations department, reporting directly to chief of community involvement and public affairs, rather than to the superintendent. The job of public relations isn’t to investigate and stop abuses within the system; it’s to improve the public’s view of the schools. Placing an ombudsman in a PR department makes it appear to parents that the position is just for show.

An ombudsman should be as independent as possible and report to the highest level of an organization―in this case, directly to the superintendent. This is what Newark Public Schools does, and it is a common practice. Without independence, the ombudsman may appear to parents to be simply a tool to placate their criticisms without effecting real reform.

Joel Grey is a research associate at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.

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Posted by at 05:00 | Posted in Education, Portland, Portland Schools | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Sherise

    And an expensive one, too, as the salary is upward of 100K!
    Nice work if you can get it.

    • guest

      Chump change to PPS Superintendent Smith or might taxpayers be taken as chumps?

    • guest

      Remember former PPS Superintendent Matthew Prophet and the salary paid for his failures? Today, exalted PPS Super Model Carole Smith would like thrice the pay for a comparable display of poop-sure.

      Say hey, sure would sure be nice if the head lice of PPS and, OEA!, udders all around the state be circumcised back into payroll reality. Allow them teacher’s avg pay plus modest bonus for positive performance, albeit supported by their subordinates.

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