Prince William County Public Schools has hired Sarah Miller Espinosa as the division’s new ombudsman.
The purpose of the ombudsman position is to give parents, students and staff members a neutral party to which to bring their complaints.
The ombudsman position was added to the staff by the school board at the direction of School Board member Gil Trenum (Brentsville).
Espinosa has more than 20 years of experience in negotiating, arbitrating and mediating, according to a school division news release. She will begin her new position on Aug. 5.
Dr. Babur Lateef, chairman at-large for the Prince William County School Board, said he looks forward to working with Espinosa in the new role of ombudsman.
“Ms. Espinosa brings to PWCS an extensive background in arbitration and mediation,” Lateef said in the news release. “She established the Montgomery College Office of the Ombuds and served as Impartial College Ombuds, responsible for providing a confidential, independent forum for the employees to explore and identify issues, interests, and possible solutions to conflict. We are very excited to have Ms. Espinosa on our team to provide an independent forum for our students, parents, and staff.”
The Office of the Ombudsman was formally developed last spring with the School Board’s adoption of Board Policy 180.
According to the policy, the purpose of the Office of the Ombudsman is “to provide parents, students, and members of the school community with access to an independent, impartial individual who can facilitate informal resolution of concerns, conflicts, and problematic issues arising within PWCS, and who is authorized to bring systemic and organizational concerns to the attention of the School Board and Division Superintendent (or designee) for resolution,” according to the news release.
Espinosa earned a juris doctorate from the University of Connecticut and a bachelor’s degree in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University. She has served as a labor relations manager and chief negotiator for Montgomery County government. She also served as a full-time mediator charged with helping parties resolve disputes arriving during collective bargaining as well as grievances by the Connecticut Department of Labor State Board of Mediation & Arbitration. She is a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution, American Bar Association, Labor & Employment Law Section and Dispute Resolution Section, and Labor & Employment Relations Association.