What is discrimination?
Discrimination is the unfair or unequal treatment of a person or a group because they are part of a defined group, known as a protected class. Discrimination can occur when a person is treated differently, or denied access to programs, services or activities because they are part of a protected class. Discrimination can also occur when a school or school district fails to accommodate a student or employee's disability. Harassment (based on protected class) and sexual harassment can be forms of discrimination when it creates a hostile environment.
What is a Protected Class?
A protected class is a group of people who share common characteristics and are protected from discrimination and harassment by federal and state laws. Protected classes defined by Washington State Law include: Sex Race/Color Creed/Religion National origin Disability or the use of a trained dog guide or service animal Sexual orientation Gender expression or identity Honorably discharged veteran or military status
What should I do if I believe my child is being discriminated against?
You should report your concerns to your child's teacher or principal immediately! This will allow the school to respond to the situation as soon as possible.
If you cannot meet with the teacher or principal, you can always contact your school district's main office. Each school district will have someone who is responsible for responding to complaints about discrimination. Sometimes this person is called the Title IX Coordinator or for issues related to disability, the Section 504 Coordinator.
What if I can't resolve the problem with the school?
If you cannot resolve your concern, you may wish to file a complaint with the school district. Anyone can file a complaint with the school district. You can file a formal complaint by writing a letter to your Superintendent that describes what happened and why you think it is discrimination. It is helpful to include what you want the district to do. Your letter must be signed.
The employee designated by the district to receive complaints will investigate your allegations and provide the superintendent with a written report of the complaint, and the results of the investigation. You and the district may also agree to resolve your complaint in lieu of an investigation.
The superintendent will send you a written letter within 30 calendar days which will either deny your allegations or describe the reasonable actions the district will take. The letter will include how to file an appeal with your school board if you do not agree with the Superintendent's decision.
Corrective measures must occur no later than 30 calendar days of the superintendent's letter.
What if I don't agree with the superintendent's decision or no one responds to my letter?
Your next step is to appeal to the school board. You can file an appeal by writing a letter to your school board. The letter must include the part of the superintendent's written decision that you would like to appeal and what you want the district to do. Your letter must be filed with the Secretary of your School Board by the 10th calendar day after you received the superintendent's response letter.
The school board will schedule a hearing within 20 calendar days after they receive your appeal letter. You may also all agree on a different date.
What will happen at the hearing?
You will explain why you disagree with the superintendent's decision. You may bring witnesses or other information that is related to your appeal. The board will send you a copy of their decision within 10 calendar days after the hearing. The decision will include how to appeal to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction if you disagree.
What if I don't agree with the School Board's decision?
You may appeal the school Board's decision to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
You can file an appeal by writing a letter to the Superintendent of Public Instruction. The letter must include the part of the school board's decision that you would like to appeal and what you want the district to do.
Your signed letter must be received by OSPI by the 20th calendar day of receiving the school board's decision. It can be hand-delivered or mailed to:
OSPI Administrative Resource Services
P.O. Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200
Phone (360) 725-6133
OSPI will schedule a hearing with an Administrative Law Judge through the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). During this process you will be provided information about the hearing.
At the hearing you will explain why you disagree with the school board's decision. You may bring witnesses or other information that is related to your appeal. After the hearing, you will receive a copy of the judge's decision.