Our new Best Friend

Due to numerous costly legal settlements and the departure of Ron English, it seems Seattle Public Schools appears to have committed to following civil rights laws.  Among these laws are: Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act; Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; and Title IX of the Higher Education Act.

The new Civil Rights Officer for Seattle Public Schools was announced recently:

Kelli Schmidt is Seattle Public School’s student civil rights compliance officer. Schmidt is an attorney and has been actively involved in youth, education, and civil rights issues for 20 years.

Prior to working for Seattle Public Schools, Schmidt was an attorney for the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (ED-OCR) in their Seattle Region Enforcement office, which serves six states and the Pacific Territories.

As a senior attorney advisor with that Federal agency, she was responsible for enforcing Federal civil rights laws, leading investigation and compliance review teams, and providing technical assistance and presentations to help K-12 school districts, colleges, and universities understand their legal obligations and achieve civil rights compliance.

In May of 2015, Schmidt received the U.S. Secretary of Education’s Teamwork award for her work as a Steering Committee member of ED-OCR’s Employee Engagement Advisory Committee. She also received performance and special projects awards from that agency every year from 1999 through 2015.

Prior to working for the federal government, Schmidt worked for nonprofit, legal services organizations. She represented youth that are involved, or at risk of involvement, in the juvenile justice system for both the King and Pierce county offices of TeamChild.

At that organization, she worked with young people, their families, and caregivers to secure appropriate education programs, mental health services, and safe housing for her young clients. While in law school, she worked with the dependency division of a public defender agency and for Columbia Legal Services’ Institutions Project which focuses on the rights of persons in prisons, jails, and mental institutions. She has also spoken extensively on education and civil rights issues to parents, educators, academics, and other attorneys.

As a first-generation college graduate, Schmidt is passionate about equitable access to education. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of California, Santa Cruz and her Juris Doctor from the University of Washington School of Law with honors.

She also earned a graduate certificate from the University of Washington’s Women Studies Program (now named the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies) and has studied film making and worked on films.

She is currently the chair-elect on the Executive Committee of the Washington State Bar Association’s Civil Rights Law Section and also serves on the Advisory Board of the Metrocenter YMCA, a unique branch that provides family and mental health services, youth outdoor leadership programs, and youth violence prevention and recovery programs.

Schmidt lives in Seattle, has a child in elementary school in Seattle Public Schools, and, with her free time she likes to camp, see/hear live music, and watch movies.

Her contact information will be posted in the near future.