SDUSD opens new office to streamline complaints against district

Quality Assurance Office officially opened Friday

The San Diego Unified School District officially opened a new office, aimed to be a one-stop shop for complaints and concerns about the district.

The Quality Assurance Office opened its doors Friday morning. Superintendent Cindy Marten says the office has been in the works for about a year.

“What we want is a very transparent, credible process,” Marten said.

The new Quality Assurance Executive Director, Carmina Duran, said the district typically receives 2,500 to 3,000 complaints a year. They expect that number to increase with the creation of the new office, now that the process should be streamlined.

Marten says if a community member is bringing concerns to the district, oftentimes that person has already tried to get a resolution at the school level. Before the office was created, those with concerns would often call various phone numbers or departments, sometimes leading to confusion.

“The public shouldn’t figure out how to get help. That should be for us to help them navigate,” Marten said. “The calls all come in here… we keep track of the calls coming in and we help hook up the public to the division or the chief responsible for being able to solve and address the issue.

There are five full-time staff members working at the Quality Assurance Office.

Marten says there are 14,000 employees at SDUSD, the second largest district in the state. There are approximately 110,000 students.

“What I can promise is if we missed the mark in our service, in our ability to provide the highest quality education… there’s a place to go and we will improve the systems,” Marten said.

She explained that it took the office a year to officially open due to the coordination needed with other agencies, such as the District Attorney’s Office and Child Protective Services.

“We had to write policies, we had to write procedures, we had to vet it all through legal, we had to vet it through our legal groups. There [were] many inner working conversations,” Marten said,

Some critics of the San Diego Unified School District believe the office is a step in the right direction.

“This a good idea. It’s going to point out a lot of deficiencies that have wasted a lot of time and money over the last couple of decades,” said Sally Smith, a child safety advocate.

Smith was part of a focus group that met every month from September 2013 through February 2014. The group met with the superintendent to address various issues about the district. Input from the focus group was used in helping to create the new office.

Marten said there is no other school district in California with a similar program.

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