How to file a Complaint of Discrimination or Sexual Harrassment with Your School District
If you believe that you or your child have experienced unlawful discrimination, discriminatory harassment, or sexual harassment at school, you have the right to file a complaint.
Before filing a complaint, you can discuss your concerns with your child’s principal or with the school district’s Section 504 Coordinator, Title IX Officer, or Civil Rights Coordinator, who are listed above. This is often the fastest way to revolve your concerns.
To file a complaint:
Step 1. Write Our Your Complaint
In most cases, complaints must be filed within one year from the date of the incident or conduct that is the subject of the complaint. A complaint must be in writing. Be sure to describe the conduct or incident, explain why you believe discrimination, discriminatory harassment, or sexual harassment has taken place, and describe what actions you believe the district should take to resolve the problem. Send your written complaint—by mail, fax, email, or hand delivery—to the district superintendent or civil rights compliance coordinator.
Step 2: School District Investigates Your Complaint
Once the district receives your written complaint, the coordinator will give you a copy of the complaint procedure and make sure a prompt and thorough investigation takes place. The superintendent or designee will respond to you in writing within 30 calendar days—unless you agree on a different time period. If your complaint involves exceptional circumstances that demand a lengthier investigation, the district will notify you in writing to explain why staff need a time extension and the new date for their written response.
Step 3: School District Responds to Your Complaint
In its written response, the district will include a summary of the results of the investigation, a determination of whether or not the district failed to comply with civil rights laws, notification that you can appeal this determination, and any measures necessary to bring the district into compliance with civil rights laws. Corrective measures will be put into effect within 30 calendar days after this written response—unless you agree to a different time period.
Appeal to the School District
If you disagree with the school district’s decision, you may appeal to the school district’s board of directors. You must file a notice of appeal in writing to the secretary of the school board within 10 calendar days after you received the school district’s response to your complaint. The school board will schedule a hearing within 20 calendar days after they received your appeal, unless you agree on a different timeline. The school board will send you a written decision within 30 calendar days after the district received your notice of appeal. The school board’s decision will include information about how to file a complaint with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).
Complaint to OSPI
If you do not agree with the school district’s appeal decision, state law provides the option to file a formal complaint with the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). This is a separate complaint process that can take place if one of these two conditions has occurred: (1) you have completed the district’s complaint and appeal process, or (2) the district has not followed the complaint and appeal process correctly.
You have 20 calendar days to file a complaint to OSPI from the day you received the decision on your appeal. You can send your written complaint to the Equity and Civil Rights Office at OSPI:
Equity@k12.wa.us ǀ Fax: 360-664-2967
Mail or hand deliver: PO Box 47200, 600 Washington St. S.E., Olympia, WA 98504-7200
For more information, visit www.k12.wa.us/Equity/Complaints.aspx or contact OSPI’s Equity and Civil Rights Office at 360-725-6162/TTY: 360-664-3631 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Discrimination Complaint Options
Office for Civil Rights, U.S. Department of Education
206-607-1600 ǀ TDD: 1-800-877-8339 ǀ Seattle@ed.gov ǀ www.ed.gov/ocr
Washington State Human Rights Commission
1-800-233-3247 ǀ TTY: 1-800-300-7525 ǀ www.hum.wa.gov