DC Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education

Semester: 2016 Fall

Students: Kelsey Curtis, Corey Linehan, and Sara Leiman

The District of Columbia Office of the Ombudsman for Public Education is an independent, neutral office that works to ensure equal access to education for the approximately 88,000 students attending District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools.

In pursuit of this mission, the Office helps individual students and their families resolve questions, concerns, or complaints in any area that affects student learning. The Office also collaborates with families and other District stakeholders to address systemic issues such as bullying and harassment, educational opportunity gaps, and school discipline.

Originally created by the Public Education Reform Amendment Act of 2007 to provide transparency and accountability during a period of educational reform in DC schools, the Office was reestablished in February 2014 under the leadership of the current Ombudsman for Public Education, Joyanna Smith. Since then, the Office has expanded its caseload significantly but has not had the opportunity for a deeper assessment of the strategies and processes it has developed to meet the time-sensitive needs of the families it serves. The Office has engaged HNMCP to assess the effectiveness of its current ombudsman program and make recommendations for improvement.


Activities & Deliverables

  • Focus group discussions and interviews with stakeholders, including schools, local education agencies (LEAs), advocates, and families;
  • Research on best practices for Ombudsmen, with a particular focus on what might work within the education sector; and
  • Development of recommendations regarding improvements to the current processes used by the Office.
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