Frequently Asked Questions

What is an Ombudsman (also known as an Ombuds)?

An organizational ombuds is the independent, designated neutral within an organization who provides a safe and confidential forum to explore options to resolve issues and concerns. For more information about organizational ombudsman, visit the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) at www.ombudsassociation.org.

Who can utilize the services of the Ombudsman?

Parents, students, and members of the school community may voluntarily seek confidential, impartial, and informal assistance in resolving PWCS-related concerns.

What does the Ombudsman do?

• Listens and helps clarify concerns;
• Provides information and explores options available to those seeking assistance;
• Facilitates informal discussions to resolve issues, with the express permission of the individual seeking assistance and as appropriate;
• Collects data on emerging trends and patterns of concern while safeguarding anonymity;
• Utilizes data to make reports to the School Board and Division Superintendent, including recommendations for systemic and organizational change

Will the Ombudsman tell anyone I contacted the Office of the Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman holds all communications with those seeking assistance confidential to the extent permitted by law and does not disclose the identity of those seeking assistance unless given explicit permission to do so. There is an exception to confidentiality where the Ombudsman believes there is an imminent risk of serous harm. The Ombudsman is a mandated reporter and will report suspected child abuse or neglect.

Will the Ombudsman serve as my advocate or advocate on behalf of the School Division?

No. The Ombudsman is impartial. As a designated neutral within the organization, the Ombudsman does not take sides or advocate for any person. The Ombudsman does advocate for fair processes.

Will the Ombudsman participate in formal complaint processes or investigations?

No. The Ombudsman, as an informal conflict resolution resource, does not intervene or otherwise participate in any formal processes or investigations.

If I contact the Ombudsman, does that put PWCS on notice that I have a concern?

No. Communications made to the Ombudsman shall not constitute notice to the School Board, Prince William County Public Schools, its administration or employees, for any purpose, including claims asserted under local, state or federal law, such as FOIA, FERPA, Title IX, Title VI or Title VII, IDEA, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, etc., or for any other legal or administrative purpose.

However, the Ombudsman may refer individuals to the appropriate location or individual where notice can be made, and in the event that an individual does not immediately contact Child Protective Services of suspected child abuse or neglect, the Ombudsman shall do so as a mandated reporter.

Where an individual is not able to reach an informal resolution of his/her concern through the Office of the Ombudsman and desires to pursue a concern through other legal or administrative avenues, they must present their allegations in a timely manner, under any such applicable statutes or procedures.


How can I expect to be treated by the Ombudsman?

The Ombudsman shall treat all individuals seeking assistance with respect.

How can I make an appointment with the Ombudsman?

Please email ombuds@pwcs.edu or call 703-791-8587.