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To Request Our Services

Confidentiality
Who should contact OEO
What to expect from OEO
Steps to Take Before Speaking with an Ombuds

Here is how to request our services:

By Phone - Call us toll free at 1-866-297-2597 to set up a confidential appointment with an ombuds. Our staff can access phone interpretation for more than 150 languages.

By Fax or Mail - Download a Request for Ombuds Services form in English or Espaņol and the Permission to Contact the School form in English or Espaņol (this form allows OEO to discuss the student's situation directly with school and district staff). Mail completed forms (address is printed on are on the forms) to OEO or fax them to us at 206-729-3251

While working with OEO , the Ombuds may have a need to view your student records in order to better understand the problem. In that case, you will need to give your permission for the school to release the records. Please fill out the Permission to Release Student Records form in English or Espaņol, sign it and mail it or fax it to us as instructed on the form.

In many cases, problems, disputes, conflict with public schools can be solved by consulting with the school staff and following the school district's established grievance process. However, if you have made reasonable efforts to resolve the problem by talking to school officials and the problem remains unresolved, or if the process is unclear or non-existent, you should call OEO for assistance.

Confidentiality

OEO treats communications with those seeking assistance as private and confidential and does not disclose complaint information without expressed permission of the complainant. The only exception to this is if OEO learns of information suggesting imminent risk of serious harm to an individual or someone being subject to abuse or neglect. To protect customer privacy and remain confidential, OEO cannot do business via e-mail.

Who should contact OEO

  • Parents or legal guardians of students enrolled or eligible to be enrolled in elementary or secondary public schools who are experiencing conflict or disputes with schools and want help to resolve their concerns. Children who are home schooled are included in this criteria.
  • Students currently enrolled or eligible to be enrolled in elementary or secondary public schools who are experiencing conflict or disputes with schools and want help to resolve their concerns. Please note that we are unable to contact the school and work to resolve the problem without direct permission from the parent/legal guardian of the student, unless the student is 18 years of age or emancipated.
  • Educators, community professionals, family members, and anyone who needs to consult with OEO about a school problem affecting a student or public education.

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What to expect from OEO

Our goal is to provide exceptional customer service, individualized attention, and in-depth assistance to our customers. We will respond to you in a timely manner and treat you courteously and with respect. We will take prompt, direct action to address your problem and we will keep you informed of our progress and our efforts to achieve results.

After we receive your request for services we will set up a date and time for you to speak with an Ombuds by phone to discuss your student's situation.

OEO Ombudsmen are education professionals with extensive expertise in K-12 education, conflict resolution, mediation and family involvement in education. They are impartial advocates for fair processes for students in public schools. They:

  • Provide an independent assessments of the situation
  • Research education laws and policies
  • Speak with all parties involved
  • Share information among parties, after obtaining all parties agreement.
  • review student records
  • Facilitate or mediate conversations between complainants and school officials
  • Participate in negotiations as a third party
  • Recommend student-centered options to solve the problem
  • Monitor efforts to address problems until results for the student are reached.

Sometimes problems can't be resolved exactly the way you expect. However, the Ombuds will do everything possible to help improve the situation for the student and continue to provide assistance until an acceptable resolution is reached.

OEO Ombudsmen do not:

  • provide legal advice or legal services
  • force school or school districts to take a specific action
  • terminate school personnel
  • remove elected officials from public office

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Steps to Take Before Speaking with an OEO Ombuds

1. Read OEO's publication: Resolving conflict with schools.

2. Take time to think and write about the problem your student is experiencing. The following preparation will make the most out of your conversation with the OEO ombuds:

  • Try to summarize the main parts of your concern in writing.
  • Make a timeline of what you've already done to resolve the issue and who you have spoken with. Include names, titles of individuals, dates and facts you discussed.
  • Have any supporting documentation or materials handy.
  • Take notes during your conversation with the ombuds.
  • Identify what obstacles remain in the way of achieving your goal.
  • Consider what your expectations are for the ombuds.

3. Have your notes ready for your first phone call with the Ombuds. He or she will listen to you, and ask you some general questions, which will include:

  • What is the situation affecting the student?
  • What are the main issues and concerns?
  • How does it affect the student?
  • What have you already done?
  • What can help improve the situation or solve the problem?
  • What are you willing to do to help?

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