‘We hope to earn back their trust very quickly’: NHCS using new system to streamline complaints

Updated: Feb. 11, 2020 at 1:59 PM EST
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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - During a tumultuous few weeks for the New Hanover County School District following the arrest of a Roland Grise Middle School teacher and the resignation of Superintendent Dr. Tim Markley, school board members have encouraged parents and community members to turn to their Ethix360 system to file any complaints.

“When we were looking for a system, we wanted one that would be very transparent. We wanted to be able to find the concerns. We wanted parents to be trusting us to take the concerns. So by them triaging at Ethix 360, it’s really helped us be more transparent and let the parents know they can trust us. We hope to earn back their trust very quickly," said Kristin Jackson, Director of Student Support Services at NHCS.

The online system is used by businesses and schools across the country and provides third-party compliance solutions to manage, investigate, and resolve issues.

“Because we want to make it very transparent we do not triage the concerns at first. That’s actually done at the company we’ve hired to do that. That way they can look for naming conflicts. For instance, if there was a complaint about me, I would not get the complaint about me, it would go to somebody else,” Jackson said.

If the complaint involves a criminal or legal matter, it is sent directly to the Lt. Smith with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. Smith is the lead School Resource Officer in the district.

The Ethix 360 office in Charlotte is the first to receive any complaint or concern reported through the site and then passes the complaint along to the correct entity.

“When the reports come in we triage them to different divisions, so if it’s a concern about transportation or a late bus that goes right to our transportation department. If it’s an employee concern it goes straight to the human resources division, so we’re able to get those quickly and respond to them,” Jackson said.

Parents or concerned citizens are able to report an incident or concern anonymously or by name.

The form asks for the locations and date(s) of the incident, and for information about specific individuals involved, witnesses and supporting documentation.

It also asks the reporter to describe the incident in as much detail as possible, identify whether or not they fear retaliation for reporting, and if they have tried to previously report their concern.

Once a report is filed and received, the parent or citizen should receive confirmation. Jackson said someone with the school system will stay in touch with the person who filed the complaint.

If it is filed anonymously, school personnel can use the program to communicate. If the person filing the complaint provides a name, Jackson said a phone call is typically made.

“Depending on what the concern is, if it’s a bus or transportation issue that can usually be solved very quickly, in a day or two. If it involved employees where we have to do an investigation that could take up to two weeks,” she said.

Johnson said the program, which launched in December, has already been used hundreds of times to address complaints regarding teachers, buses, bullying, and harassment.

Ethix360 is also used in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School District to address bullying.

The Ethix360 program differs from the Say Something App, which was launched across North Carolina in 2019.

The Say Something App is geared towards school safety and can be used as an emergency app.

Jackson says Ethix360 is not meant to be used as an emergency response system.

To file a concern with the New Hanover County Schools Ethix360 program, click here.

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