Schools in times of crisis

Summary

Description

School violence
The Ombudsman investigated several cases involving incidents of violence in schools (both in primary and secondary education). In all cases, the Ombudsman worked closely with the schools for a long time. It provided useful information and advice on the subject, energised school counsellors and, where necessary, mediated in order to involve other public services and agencies in the process of meeting potential special needs of children. In the majority of cases the Ombudsman’s intervention, in combination with the involvement of relevant educational services, was successful and led to a gradual normalization of the situation, at the individual and school community level. The positive effect was mainly a result of counselling and supporting teachers as well as raising awareness among all members of the school community, with long term positive effects.


Transportation of students to school
The service of daily transportation of students to and from their schools needs to be reformed to ensure minimum quality standards. Apart from economic issues, the main problems detected by the Ombudsman were: lack of escorts on school buses, non-use of seat belts, poor execution of schedules, cases of improper driver behaviour and problems in transferring students with disabilities. Moreover, at the beginning of the school year 2012-2013 this service was disrupted because the bus owners had not been paid by the state for years. The disruption affected a considerable number of schools (especially more distant schools for children with special needs, or musical and artistic schools). The Ombudsman stressed the need for immediate settlement. Law 4089/2012 regulated the issue of financial compensation for school buses and stipulated that the ultimate responsibility for transportation belongs to the Regions. The situation gradually improved in several schools, but full implementation of this legislation is not yet available for all.


Regulation of Student Councils
A student submitted a complaint claiming that the provisions of the Regulation on the operation of the students councils had been violated during school elections. The Greek Ombudsman asked the competent regional Directorate of Secondary Education to make concrete recommendations to the director of the school and to provide instructions to all schools in the region on the recommended procedure - especially on the spirit of the law - in order to prevent practices that devalue the Regulation in the minds of students and teachers. The Directorate adopted the Ombudsman’s proposals and sent a detailed practical guide to all schools in the region.

 

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