Joyanna Smith was appointed as the Ombudsman for Public Education in February 2014. The oldest of eight children, she grew up with a deep appreciation for the importance of education. She previously worked in the education sector as a school leader at a DC public charter school and as an attorney fellow with the Educational Opportunities Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. She also worked as a Labor Relations Advisor at the DC Department of Public Works, a policy analyst at the DC Department of Disability Services, and a real estate attorney at a law firm in Maryland. She received a BA from Brown University and a JD from The George Washington University Law School.
Clarence J. Parks, a Native Washingtonian and graduate of DC Public Schools, comes to the State Board of Education, Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education, with significant education-related professional experiences. He started as a Literature Teacher at one of the Charter Schools in DC and became deeply committed to ensuring that students in the District of Columbia are provided a world class education. In furtherance of this ideal, Clarence became a Compliance Officer with the DC Public Schools, Division of Mediation and Compliance for Special Education Programs when DCPS was both an LEA and the SEA.
When OSSE was developed in 2007, Clarence joined OSSE’s Department of Special Education, Division of Quality Assurance and Monitoring, and served as an Education Program Specialist ensuring that Charter LEAs within the District of Columbia were compliant with IDEA and other laws and regulations pertaining to the education of students with disabilities within the District of Columbia.
As a natural progression of the Clarence’s pursuit of ensuring a world-class education for students in DC, Clarence joined the DC Public Charter School Board as the Special Education Performance Officer. There, he helped parents and stakeholders in the education continuum to register, track and resolve conflicts and complaints utilizing various Alternative Dispute Resolution modalities to include mediation and facilitation.
Clarence obtained a BA in Business Administration from Morehouse College, a JD from The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and Masters of Divinity from Yale University with an emphasis in Conflict Resolution. He also a certified mediator and EEO Counselor.
Clarence is married to Michelle D. Parks.
Khadijah Williams is the Program Associate for both the Office of the Student Advocate and the Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education. She became Program Associate in November 2015 after serving as Fellow for the Ombudsman office. 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. 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.