The Office of The District Ombudsperson is an independent and confidential alternative dispute resolution office established within the Superintendent’s Office. The office was designed to assist parent/guardians, students, and Seattle Public Schools Schools or Departments with problem solving issues or concerns that are negatively impacting an Seattle Public Schools student or the Seattle Public Schools 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.
When you are not sure who to call or what to do, reaching out to the Ombuds Office is one way to confidentially discuss your concern, with a neutral third party, that is objective and impartial to the situation. The Ombudsperson and staff are present, friendly, and work in good faith. They will listen to understand, help explore options, provide information, facilitate discussions as needed, make connections, track systemic trends and make recommendations as appropriate.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Responsibilities of District Ombudsperson
What are some things that the District Ombudsperson does ?
- 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 Those student, families and community groups impacted by proposed policy, program or as necessary.
- Hear anonymous requests for information and provide referrals.
- Conduct informal interventions and conflict resolving facilitation between parties.
What the District Ombudsperson will Not do?
- 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.
Commonly Sought District Departments
See quick reference info and links below that may also assist with your questions and concerns. You can alwaysreach out to the Seattle Public Schools District Ombudsperson to explore options for resolving aconcern at any point or if the info below isn’t helpful.
Submit a Question or Concern to the Ombuds Office