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Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Ombudsman?

The origin of the term Ombudsman is Swedish and literally means “representative.” In DC, the position of the Education Ombudsman was created through the enactment of the Ombudsman for Public Education Establishment Act of 2007. The law was then amended in 2013 to clarify the duties and responsibilities of the Ombudsman for Public Education.

The Ombudsman for Public Education is appointed by the DC State Board of Education and is an independent and neutral party charged with resolving school-related problems as quickly and efficiently as possible.

What authority does the Ombudsman have?

The Ombudsman has the authority to receive complaints from parents, guardians, or students in all areas affecting public education. The Ombudsman may also access and view all student files, with the consent of parents, guardians, or students (over 18 years old).

Will my call to the Office of the Ombudsman be confidential?

Yes, with the caveat that we may share information that we deem necessary to protect a student’s health or safety.

Whom does the Ombudsman assist?

Parents, guardians, and students in the DC public and charter schools. Generally speaking, if you are a person with a school-related problem in DC, the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education is here to assist you.

The Office of the Ombudsman is willing to offer information relating to formal appeals, but does not intervene in such cases. However, the Ombudsman will make referrals to legal organizations that may be able to help you file an appeal.

What process should I use to get my complaint handled as quickly as possible?

We always recommend that you reach out to the school leadership team first in an attempt to resolve the problem informally. However, you can always reach out to our office at any time.

For complaints involving an individual teacher or school, please contact the principal of the school where your child attends and attempt to resolve the problem informally. If the problem cannot be handled informally, then please file a complaint with our office.  If you are uncertain about how to proceed with an issue or concern, you may contact the Ombudsman for assistance.

Submit a complaint by clicking here. You may also submit a complaint via email or via telephone at (202) 741-0886.