We answer questions and provide impartial, independent perspectives on public K-12 school issues.
We offer direct, informal, and collaborative dispute resolution support on behalf of students facing opportunity gaps and barriers to inclusion; and
We provide trainings and workshops on issues relating to k-12 public schools, with a focus on collaborative family and school partnerships and issues that impact opportunity gaps.
Our services are:
Our services are available to families, students, educators, community professionals and others with questions or concerns affecting any child who attends or is eligible to attend Washington State's k-12 public schools. Due to limited staffing, we are only able to work with a particular student/family once per year, with a maximum of 120 days for issues that fall within our strategic plan. We have created brief documents explaining in more detail how we work with families, educators, and community partners:
- Any member of the public may request information or support for an issue involving a student in Washington's K-12 public schools.
- We prioritize our direct support from Ombuds to concerns that fall within our current strategic plan. We chose to focus our more intensive work on these issues because they are state barometers of equity and access.
- Ombuds cannot intervene directly by contacting a school or district without first receiving written permission of parents/legal guardians and/or adult students. OEO follows the definitions of “parent” in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (parent includes “natural parents, a guardian, or an individual acting as a parent in the absence of a parent or a guardian”) and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- We will receive concerns in any language by phone, online, fax, or mail.
- We work informally, impartially, and collaboratively.
- Ombuds work primarily by phone, phone conferencing or video conferencing and rarely attend meetings in person.
- OEO does not replace existing public school complaint systems, or local, state, and federal grievance or appeal procedures, and does not provide legal advice or representation. We encourage families, schools, and communities to resolve their concerns at the lowest levels possible.
- OEO maintains confidentiality around all records, materials, and information gathered in the course of providing services, unless disclosure is otherwise required by law. To protect consumer privacy, OEO does not disclose any personally identifiable information in its data and annual reporting. OEO's privacy notice explains what data is collected through our website, and what we do with it.
- OEO does not intervene with elected officials, private schools, universities, colleges, businesses, or preschools.
- OEO does not conduct formal investigations or make findings on any issue, including complaints regarding allegations of professional misconduct.