Last March, a copy of an anonymous complaint alleging work environment concerns in the Special Education Services (SES) division of the Alabama State Department of Education (ALSDE) landed in the Alabama School Connection’s post office box.
ALSDE officials said they have closed the complaint after investigating it fully, saying “the issue has been resolved” and they “have observed a more productive working environment as a result”.
Investigating anonymous complaints is always difficult, but because of the many activities being conducted by the SES that could affect special education services for children, we attempted to conduct our own investigation by requesting records from the ALSDE.
After meeting with officials at the ALSDE about the numerous records requested, we were assured a proper investigation would be conducted and rescinded the request for records.
We followed up this week on the investigation.
A spokesperson for the ALSDE issued this statement yesterday:
After receiving the anonymous letter, the leadership within the department decided to work with special education staff to alleviate any issues that anyone may have/had with any other staff member.
Dr. [Philip] Cleveland [then serving as Interim State Superintendent of Education] met with the entire Special Education staff. He discussed the importance of their work for the students of Alabama and the need to work collaboratively/collectively. Dr. Cleveland explained that protocol for the department in resolving conflicts, should they arise. He encouraged each staff member to meet follow the protocol and reach out to Human Resources to discuss any concerns or issues. Dr. Cleveland also explained the process for the filing of a formal complaint if a concern or issues was not resolved. Human Resources staff trained the participants on proper protocol for filing complaints as well as reminded them of their rights and responsibilities.
We feel that this issue has been resolved and have observed a more productive working environment as a result. The leadership of ALSDE maintains an open door policy for all employees and will work collaboratively and proactively to focus the time, attention, and talent of our staff on serving the educational needs of Alabama’s children.
At Thursday’s state Board of Education meeting, board members acknowledged the lack of a policy directing how anonymous communications should be handled. That discussion was related to anonymous allegations made against Dr. Craig Pouncey in the time period during which he was being considered for state superintendent of education. The board passed a resolution calling for an investigation into how that process was handled.