The staff at your student’s school and at your district office are always available to assist you in ensuring your student receives the proper supports and services.
If you have questions about the special education process or difficulties communicating with the school district and need additional help, our office has a Special Education Ombudsman to assist you.
An ombudsman is a person who serves as a neutral and independent advocate for a fair process. The OSPI Special Education Ombudsman is available as a resource to parents in non-legal special education matters.
+ What is an Ombudsman?
An Ombudsman is a neutral party that works to ensure that government bureaucracies function fairly and provide services equitably. All Ombudsman work independently, not on behalf of any one party. Personally identifiable information shared with OSPI’s Special Education Ombudsman is not revealed to a third party without permission.
+ How are Ombudsman services beneficial to citizens?
Government systems can be complex. Ombudsman services exist to address individual concerns about bureaucratic systems and act a guide for citizens both inside and outside of government attempting to understand and navigate various government processes and procedures.
+ Are Ombudsman programs set-up in different ways? Do they vary in their responsibilities?
Yes, the role of an Ombudsman can be defined in different ways, depending on the needs of an organization. The role of the Special Education Ombudsman at OSPI is to help parents resolve disagreements with school districts about special education services quickly, fairly, and at the lowest level possible. The Special Education Ombudsman does this by:
- Helping parents and educators better understand special education processes and regulations;
- Acting as a neutral facilitator between citizens and school districts to help solve problems related to special education;
- Clarifying the roles of parents, as well as educators, related to special education services;
- Acting as a neutral and confidential sounding board to explore options for resolving special education related disagreements;
- Advising parents and educators about communication strategies that help to support a team approach to a student's educational program;
- Explaining the options available to formally resolve a special education disagreement or complaint;
- Advocating for a fair process;
- Working to prevent individual concerns from being overlooked by the system;
- Making recommendations to OSPI and other stakeholders based upon common issues and patterns of complaints, if patterns emerge;
- Serving as a resource for disability related information and referral.
+ What should I not expect from the Special Education Ombudsman?
OSPI’s Special Education Ombudsman:
- Does not act as an attorney;
- Does not provide legal advice;
- Does not determine special education or OSPI policy;
- Does not conduct investigations and/or write investigative reports;
- Does not advocate on behalf of any one party or organization;
- Is not a defender of OSPI or school district practices;
- Is not someone who can order a school district or other public agency to fix a problem.
To contact Scott Raub, the Special Education Ombudsman, call (360) 725-6075 or submit a message through the Contact Us web page.