“Ombudsman” Hired In D.C. To Work With Families

D.C. Board of Education names ombudsman as liaison between families, schools is the headline of a recent article in The Washington Post.

Here’s an excerpt:

D.C. parents have a new place to take their questions and complaints about city education: Joyanna Smith, the independent ombudsman charged with helping families navigate the District’s traditional and charter schools.

Smith is a lawyer and former charter school official who will serve as a clearinghouse for parents’ concerns and as a mediator to help resolve problems. She is only the second person to fill the position, which was created by the same law that established mayoral control of the schools but has been left vacant and unfunded since fiscal 2010.

It sounds like a positive development for families, but a bit odd. I’m not aware that other districts have “ombudsman” and, instead, have staff in some kind of parent involvement office. Ombudsman are usually fairly independent from the organization that hires them.

Are D.C. families so mistrustful of the district that they need to have an independent watchdog help them out? Or is it just a quirk in the law? If it’s the former, it seems to me the District has a lot of family engagement work they better start doing….

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