OLYMPIA Legislation passed today by the Senate would raise awareness among families in the public education system about the services of the Office of Education Ombuds in Washington (OEO).

Senate Bill 5376, sponsored by Sen. Claire Wilson (D-Auburn), would require public schools to notify students and their families of the services available through OEO in at least one of two ways. Starting Sept. 1, 2021, schools would need to either include a link to OEO’s website on the school’s website or include contact information and a description of OEO services in annually shared materials such as welcome packets or newsletters. Schools are encouraged to take both actions.

“The work OEO does is essential to ensuring our students get the best education and treatment possible, and it is a resource to help families navigate the public school system,” said Wilson. “Right now, that work is more important than ever. Teachers, students and parents have been grappling with the intricacies of online learning, and students who face barriers such as limited access to technology, limited English proficiency, disabilities or homelessness (just to name a few) are at risk of falling through the cracks.”

OEO was established by the Legislature in 2006 to reduce educational opportunity gaps by supporting families, students, educators and communities in understanding the K-12 system and resolving concerns collaboratively. OEO services include:

  • Informing students, families, employees and the public about the state’s public K-12 education system;
  • Identifying obstacles and recommending strategies to help students and community members to participate effectively in schools;
  • Identifying and recommending strategies for improving student success;
  • Referring individuals and families to appropriate resources, agencies or departments;
  • Facilitating the resolution of informal complaints made by parents or students; and
  • Serving as the lead agency to provide resources and tools to parents and families about public school anti-harassment policies and strategies.

Learn more about the Office of Education Ombuds at: https://www.oeo.wa.gov/

SB 5376 will now be considered by the House of Representatives.