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Ombudsperson

Office of Ombudsperson

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Today, Thursday, October 13, 2022, is The Fifth Annual Ombuds Day.

The primary goal of Ombuds Day is to improve public awareness of Ombuds. 

This year’s theme is Resilience, Respect, Resolve. 

Ombuds Day serves as an opportunity to educate and raise awareness among the public about the history and practices of the ombuds profession, including the various ombuds models, the roles they play, the services they offer, and the value provided.

Ombuds- also known as ombudspersons, ombudsman, ombudsmen-are considered a valuable form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and provide significant benefit to organizations and their members.

As confidential, impartial, and independent conflict management professionals, ombuds offer responsive and respectful services designed to aid problem-solving, the development of options, and reducing the human and organizational costs of conflict—Ombuds work to informally address or resolve individual and systemic issues outside of and complementary to formal channels.

For more info, see the resources below

The Office Ombudsperson is an independent, neutral, and confidential alternative dispute resolution office. The office was designed to assist parent/guardians, students, and SPS Schools or Departments with problem solving issues or concerns that are negatively impacting an SPS student or the SPS School-Family relationship/partnership. This is an informal and in-good faith option for problem-solving, at the lowest level, when normal procedures have failed.

  • Assist with problem solving, conflict, or unfair treatment regarding the process.
  • Assist in clarifying processes regarding concerns or complaints and generating options for working towards resolution.
  • Serve as a resource by providing an alternative to the formal complaint process.
  • Serve as a resource to schools, families and district administrators by providing the tools for effective collaboration and problem resolution.
  • Make recommendations to district stakeholders as necessary.
  • Hear anonymous requests for information and provide referrals.
  • Conduct informal interventions and conflict resolving facilitation between parties.
  • Address employee grievances. Make, set, or change policy.
  • Compel any decision or the implementation of recommendations made as a result of an informal investigation.
  • Act as an advocate. Interfere or undermine an existing complaint or appeal process.
  • Provide legal advice or engage in legal proceedings.

Step One: Contact your School or Central Office Department

Before reaching out to the Ombuds Office, first consider contacting your School Principal or a Central Office Department to discuss your question or concern.

If you are unsure who to contact, or uncomfortable making contact, please reach out to the Ombuds Office. Frequently contacted departments:

Step Two: Submit a Question or Concern

If you already contacted your school or central office department, the next step is to submit a question or concern to the Office of the Ombudsperson.

They will listen to understand, help explore options, provide information, facilitate discussions as needed, make connections, track systemic trends and make recommendations as appropriate.

About the Office of Ombudsperson

Independence

The Ombuds Office is independent in structure, function, and appearance to the highest degree possible within the organization. The Ombuds staff operate independently of those who use the resource and is not involved in making or administering policy.

Neutrality and Impartiality

The Ombuds offfice, as a designated neutral, remains unaligned and impartial. The Ombuds staff do not engage in any situation which could create a conflict of interest. The Ombuds staff consider the interest and concerns of both parties with the objective of achieving fair and equitable outcomes.

Confidentiality

The Ombuds staff hold all communications with those seeking support in confidence, and do not disclose confidential communications unless given permission or summoned to do so.

Informality

The Ombuds office works to resolve issues at the lowest level using informal interventions. The Ombuds staff do not participate in any formal adjudicative, administrative, or legal procedures of formal complaints.

The mission of the Office of the District Ombudsperson is to ensure that processes are followed and that all members of the Seattle Public Schools community receive fair and equitable treatment in their matters of concern or complaint.

Commonly cited benefits of Ombuds services:

  • Offers a safe place for members of a community to discuss concerns and understand their options without fear of retaliation or fear that formal action will be taken.
  • Provides the ability to address subtle forms of insensitivity and unfairness that do not rise to the level of a formal complaint but nonetheless create a dis empowering environment.
  • Fosters a trust in those seeking support as an impartial and neutral party.
  • Has the ability to track trends and can provide upward feedback as needed.
  • Helps improve school-family partnership satisfaction, by humanizing the problem solving process as a resource that provides safe and informal opportunities to be heard.
  • Addresses barriers to communication.
  • Provides the organization with an independent and impartial voice, which fosters consistency between organizational values and actions.

Resources