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Document Type

Special Section 2

Theme

FROM THEORY TO ACTIVISM: PERSPECTIVES FROM YOUTH ADVOCACY GROUPS IN WASHINGTON STATE

Abstract

The Office of the Education Ombudsman (OEO), a state agency charged with resolving complaints from parents and students about public schools, frequently intervenes in discipline-related cases, and student suspension and expulsions make for the second most frequent types of complaints OEO handles. The number of suspensions and expulsion cases brought to OEO’s attention grew by 13% in the 2011-2012 school year, as compared to the previous school year. For the most part, OEO’s interventions worked to reduce the length of the suspension for students or helped expelled students re-enter the system by enrolling in another school district or alternative program. In other cases, OEO helped long-term suspended students get temporary instruction. However, these favorable outcomes were not the norm. Under current state legislation, reversals and amendments to suspensions and expulsions are hard, if not impossible, to obtain and many of the students OEO worked with ended up unable re-enter any school district. In addition, sadly, many of those whom OEO helped to be enrolled back into school found themselves significantly behind academically and dropped out of school shortly after.

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