Referring to OEO
OEO welcomes the opportunity to work directly with community partners, educators and others supporting students and their families. We can often help by sharing information about public school rules or processes and serving as a sounding board for how to support the student or family you are working with.
We also welcome you to refer families and students to contact OEO directly.
For educators (with examples): Working With Educators – With Examples
For educators (short version): Working With Educators – Short Version
For community partners: Working With Community Partners
Who should you refer to OEO?
You should refer someone to OEO when they have a question or an unresolved problem with a public school in Washington State that impacts a student's education and they are not sure what to do next. An Ombuds can help someone clarify their concerns and identify possible solutions.
What does OEO do?
When working directly with families, OEO provides information, consultation, and referrals regarding the Washington State public education system. OEO does most of its work over the phone, talking directly with the caller to answer questions, share an independent perspective, and coach the caller in ways to work through conflict and resolve their concern. In some cases, OEO may engage in direct intervention with officials from the school or district in order to facilitate the resolution of a complaint regarding issues or concerns that impact a student in Washington's public school system. OEO engages in direct intervention only with the prior written consent of the parent or legal guardian. Due to our limited resources, and consistent with our Strategic Plan, OEO is able to directly intervene only in cases where there is a significant impact on a student and where intervention by an Ombuds is likely to lead to a positive change in the outcome for the student. You can read more about OEO's services here: http://oeo.wa.gov/about-us/our-services/ and read more about OEO’s Strategic Plan, here: http://oeo.wa.gov/wp-content/uploads/YEAR-1-Report-on-Strategic-Plan-2014-2017.pdf.
Are conversations with OEO confidential?
Yes. OEO respects the privacy of callers and their students. Our conversations are completely confidential and, unless required to do so by law, we do not share caller or student information without written permission.
Does OEO act as a parent advocate or legal representative?
No. OEO does not serve as a parent advocate or provide legal advice or representation. Education Ombuds are impartial and work in the role of an independent third party to help solve problems. OEO does advocate for fair processes, and Education Ombuds support families and schools in focusing on achieving positive outcomes for students.
What kinds of problems are appropriate to bring to the OEO?
Any kind of problem or conflict that impacts a student's academic progress or safe learning environment is appropriate to ask about. You might also call if you have a question or concern about a policy or procedure in your school district or in Washington state. OEO prioritizes direct intervention and ongoing support to issues that are in line with our Strategic Plan.