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    The Role of the Seattle Public Schools Special Education Ombudsperson

    The Special Education system can be very confusing and overwhelming for families. Questions can range from “How do I make a referral for special education services?” or “How can I effectively participate in my child’s IEP (Individual Education Program) meeting?” to “What do I do if I disagree with an IEP team decision?” or “I am concerned that my child’s school experience is not meeting his/her needs. How can we make positive change for my child?”

    You can contact the Special Education Ombudsperson any step along the way of your child’s school journey!

    The Special Education Ombudsperson:
    •    Listens to your concerns and questions and assists with problem solving.
    •    Provides information about the special education process in Seattle Public Schools and the rights and responsibilities of students and parents/guardians.
    •    Acts as a liaison between parents/guardians and the staff in central office and in the schools. Serves as a communicator or informal facilitator, representing parents’ concerns about special education issues.  
    •    Serves as a conduit of information and links families to individuals who can be of direct assistance.
    •    Acts as a neutral sounding board.
    •    Offers support and coaching on working through conflict and building effective communication.
    •    Asks questions to help you identify, understand and evaluate possible options for resolving your concerns.
    •    Offers alternatives to the formal complaint process.

    The Special Education Ombudsperson also:
    •    Collects and reports data regarding District-wide complaint patterns and trends. Makes data informed recommendations to Seattle Public Schools and the Special Education Department to improve the quality of services for all students.
    •    Works with the Special Education Department to organize regional meetings and informational workshops for families and staff.
    •    Develops and facilitates communication to families who have students with special needs through newsletters and the Seattle Public Schools Special Education website.
    •    Leads the Seattle Public Schools Special Education Parent Partner Program, matching trained and experienced parents with parents/guardians who want support navigating the special education system.
    Please contact me for more information about any of these projects and outreach efforts.

    Margo Siegenthaler
    Special Education Ombudsperson