In 2007, PERAA (the “Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007”) initiated landmark education reform in the District of Columbia.The Office of Ombudsman for Public Education was established as a central venue for parents to register concerns and resolve disputes. The office was also intended to provide transparency and accountability as the new educational system for DC evolved.
The PERAA law laid out responsibilities for the Office of the Ombudsman, which included
- reaching out to parents and residents; serving as a vehicle for communication;
- receiving complaints and concerns, determining their validity, developing a response to complaints;
- identifying systemic problems; making recommendations based on observed patterns; and
- issuing annual reports.
Despite its essential role, the office was defunded for several years. In 2012, the Council of the District of Columbia recognized the continuing great need and strong community desire for such an entity, and re-established the Ombudsman’s office within the State Board of Education through the “State Board of Education Personnel Authority Amendment Act of 2012.”
Accordingly, the office was re-established and with the appointment of an Ombudsman for Public Education, the office formally re-opened its doors to District of Columbia families on February 26, 2014.
In 2016, the organizing statute authorizing the existence of the office was updated. This "State Board of Education Omnibus Amendment Act of 2016" to stregthen the office's ability to address concerns impartially and independently by formalizing the budget and personnel authority of the Ombudsman.
Ombudsman for Public Education
Assistant Ombudsman for Public Education
Ryvell D. Fitzpatrick was hired as an Assistant Ombudsman for Public Education in August 2018. As a student and a teacher in the Mississippi Delta, he developed a deep passion for the success of the public education system. He has worked with students at every educational level: primary, secondary, undergraduate, and graduate. Prior to joining the Office of the Ombudsman, Ryvell served as a Fellow for the Office of the Student Advocate for over a year. He has also worked with the American Civil Liberties Union, Mississippi Center for Justice, and Amara Legal Center. Ryvell received a B.S. in Secondary Education from Mississippi State University and a J.D. from Howard University School of Law.
Beryl Trauth-Jurman was hired as an Assistant Ombudsman in February 2017 after serving as a Fellow for the office in 2015 and 2016. He has spent the last ten years working with youth and he is passionate about helping parents and children understand their rights in the education system. Beryl has been trained in mediation, facilitation and conflict coaching and he hopes to utilize these skills to help empower the parents and families that contact the Ombudsman’s office. Beryl received his BA and Master’s degree from George Mason University, School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution with a focus on interpersonal and small group resolution practices.
Legislative Affairs Specialist
Khadijah Williams is the Legislative Affairs Specialist for the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education. She became Program Associate in November 2015 after serving as Fellow for the Ombudsman office, until April 2018, when she became the office's Legislative Affairs Specialist. Khadijah credits her experience as a homeless youth in public schools in California for her ability to understand and empathize with parents' concerns regarding their children's education. She is deeply engaged in local and national advocacy for the rights and success of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. Prior to the State Board of Education, Khadijah worked for edCount, which supports states and school districts in fulfilling various policy, program, and assessment needs, and Amplify, which creates digital common-core aligned curriculum and assessments. Khadijah holds a bachelor's degree in sociology from Harvard University.