Vexatious Complaints Procedure

Date Drafted: Summer 2017
Date Approved by Trust Board  
Date presented to LGB:  
Review Frequecy: Bi-annually or as legislation changes require
To be reviewed by: Northworthy Trust HR Team

 

1. Background and Scope

The Northworthy Trust (the Trust) is fully committed to the improvement of its schools. We welcome feedback
from parents, carers and wider stakeholders and aim to resolve any concerns as quickly as possible. There is a
procedure for parents, carers and other stakeholders to use if they wish to make a formal complaint. Sometimes,
however, individuals pursuing complaints or other issues treat staff and others in a way that is unacceptable. Whilst
we recognise that some complaints may relate to serious and distressing incidents, we will not accept threatening or
harassing behaviour towards any members of the school community.

The aim of this policy is to outline how the Trust will deal with unreasonably persistent complainants, harassment or
vexatious complaints.

2. What do we mean by ‘an unreasonably persistent complainant’?

An unreasonably persistent complainant may be anyone who engages in unreasonable behaviour when making a
complaint. This will include persons who pursue complaints in an unreasonable manner. Unreasonable behaviour
may include actions which are:
• out of proportion to the nature of the complaint
• persistent – even when the complaints procedure has been exhausted
• personally harassing
• unjustifiably repetitious
• an insistence on pursuing unjustified complaints and / or unrealistic outcomes to justified complaints
• an insistence on pursuing justifiable complaints in an unreasonable manner (e.g. using abusive or threatening
language


3. What do we mean by ‘harassment’?


We regard harassment as the unreasonable pursuit of issues or complaints, particularly if the matter appears to be
pursued in a way intended to cause personal distress rather than to seek a resolution. Behaviour may fall within the
scope of this policy if:
• it appears to be deliberately targeted at one or more members of school staff or others, without good cause
• the way in which a complaint or other issues is pursued (as opposed to the complaint itself) causes undue
distress to school staff or others
• it has a significant and disproportionate adverse effect on the school community


4. Physical or Verbal Aggression


The Trust will not tolerate any form of physical or verbal aggression against members of the school community. If
there is evidence of any such aggression the school may:
• ban the individual from entering a school site, with immediate effect
• request an Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO)
• prosecute under Anti-Harassment legislation
• call the police to remove the individual from the premises, under powers provided by the Education Act 1996


5. What does The Trust expect of any person wishing to raise a concern?


The Trust expects anyone who wishes to raise concerns to:
• treat all members of the school community with courtesy and respect
• respect the needs of pupils and staff within the school
• avoid the use of violence, or threats of violence, towards people or property
• recognise the time constraints under which members of staff in schools work and allow the school a reasonable
time to respond to a complaint
• follow the school’s complaints procedure
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6. What action will the Trust take?


This policy is intended to be used in conjunction with the Complaints procedure. Taken together, these documents
set out how we will always seek to work with parents, carers and other stakeholders with a legitimate complaint to
resolve a difficulty. However, in cases of unreasonably persistent complaints or harassment, the Trust may take
some or all of the following steps, as appropriate:
• inform the complainant informally that his/her behaviour is now considered to be unreasonable or
unacceptable, and request a changed approach
• inform the complainant in writing that the school considers his/her behaviour to fall under the terms
of the Unreasonably Persistent Complaints/ Harassment Policy
• require all future meetings with a member of staff to be conducted with a second person present. In
the interests of all parties, notes of these meetings may be taken
• inform the complainant that, except in emergencies, the school will respond only to written
communication and that these may be required to be channelled through The Trust solicitors
• call the police to remove the individual from the premises, under powers provided by the Education
Act 1996


7. New Complaints


Legitimate new complaints will always be considered, even if the person making them is (or has been) subject to the
Vexatious Complaints Procedure. The Trust nevertheless reserves the right not to respond to communications
from individuals who are subject to the policy.

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