Thursday, February 20, 2014

More Legislative Updates

From Mary Griffin of the Seattle Special Ed PTA:

 SHB 2605 is a step backwards in Washington state’s efforts to make our education system more transparent and accessible for parents. That’s because this bill will make it harder, not easier, for parents to know and understand school district policies regarding restraint and isolation of students with disabilities.

Right now, for students with IEPs and 504 plans, districts must provide parents with a written copy of their seclusion and restraint guidelines. This is a smart policy because it helps parents understand up front the limited circumstances under which seclusion or restraint may be used with their children. Yet under SHB 2605, school districts would only be required to share that information on their website; if parents wanted a copy or an explanation, they would have to ask for it. Common sense tells us it’s impossible to ask about a policy you don’t know exists, and yet that is precisely what SHB 2605 requires of parents. 
The policy would only be discussed or provided to parents after a triggering event, or if the parent asked for it.
In sum, tucking seclusion and restraint policies away on a school district website is not a policy designed to help parents gain more information – it is a policy that will mostly keep parents in the dark.

The inappropriate use of seclusion and restraints in schools is an issue that has warranted national attention. Just last week the U.S. Senate released a report detailing how families have limited recourse when seclusion and restraint are misused at school. The report also addressed how districts often failed to inform families that seclusion and restraints could be used at their child’s school.

And here is a link to the bill w/ all the background info

Also to note, the "Breakfast after the bell" bill, SHB2536, which encourages expanded opportunities for poverty level students to participate in the free breakfast program in many public schools, moved forward in the House.  

"HB 2536 establishes a three-year, phased-in process for providing breakfast. The bill provides schools with technical assistance through dedicated staff within the office of the superintendent of public instruction to successfully implement the model, as well as assistance through local public-private partnerships between the office of the superintendent of public instruction and nonprofit organizations knowledgeable about hunger and food security issues."

Only one-third of Washington State children eligible for a free breakfast access it.  Reasons may be stigma and/or losing out on study/socialization time before school starts.  With Breakfast after the Bell, breakfast is after the bell for about 15 minutes.  

If eventually signed into law, Districts with "high needs" schools and plagued by low graduation rates will be encouraged (and eventually mandated) to employ the nutrition element as an additional tool in working toward raising student achievement.  

Let your Senator/Reps know your thoughts on these bills via Legislative Hotline 1-800-562-6000 or click on the Find Your Legislator link.


Anonymous said...

The intentions of Breakfast After the Bell are wonderful, and I fully agree that nutrition is a crucial element in education. Kids can't learn when they are hungry. However, it looks like this would either mean the same high poverty kids would miss fifteen minutes of first period everyday, or that fifteen minutes of class time would be removed from everybody's days, and neither of these options is acceptable. We have so little uninterrupted class time as it is, and I do not see this as reducing stigma of getting free breakfast. I allow students to eat their breakfast in my classroom because, again, I totally understand that there is no point in being in class if you're hungry. But I seriously question this move.

I'd love to see a Breakfast on the Bus program as an alternative to this idea. Kids would get a cold breakfast handed to them on the bus each morning. Every kid, without exception. They'd eat it or trade it or save it for later, like kids do, and the same person that hands it out could help clean it up. For kids who don't ride the bus, there would of course be some available at school. Nobody misses school, everyone gets fed. This reduces the stigma (everyone gets one) and doesn't take class time. I realize that everyone getting a breakfast would be costly, but hey, we need to do a better job investing in our kids anyway--might as well do it in an area with clear research and support behind it.

~Kent Teacher

Melissa Westbrook said...

Kent, in practice, I don't know exactly how it would work. But the proponents believe it could be done without much class disruption. You being the teacher would know better than most of us. The bus idea is a good one.

I think the point you make is right - we want children to be in school who aren't hungry.

Mary Griffin said...

ome good news on SHB 2365: Thanks to the work of concerned parents AND thanks to legislators who are responsive, Rep. Stonier withdrew this bill. This was a win-win for parents and Rep. Stonier as we would like to continue to work with her in the future on the issues in restraint and seclusion.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yay, Mary!

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Dave said...

We are told the "study" showing costs here (of "$ 1 million") came from "Don Kennedy".

That must explain its criminal inaccuracy.

With a 72% graduation rate, Seattle should be the LAST district to oppose the breakfast bill.

Lynn said...

If you're judging by graduation rates, I'd say Seattle isn't the Washington school district that is MOST in need of improvement. Actual data here. Maybe you're thinking of Aberdeen (59%) or Yakima (56%)?

Ed said...

Yeah Lynn, we find ourselves at the lower end of the spectrum.

If he had put it that way would you be proud?

Lynn said...

If he had put it that way, I'd assume he had given the issue some thought and considered what might drive our graduation rate and how Breakfast After the Bell might improve it.

Our overall graduation rate is meaningless if you're talking solutions. Which kids aren't graduating and why? Is the time we serve breakfast a contributing factor? Does it have a larger effect than our choice of math curriculum? Larger than realigning school start times with teenagers's biological clocks?

I'm not saying the district is doing a wonderful job, I'm saying there's no reason to assume this plan is the answer.

Ed said...


There is no single answer.

From what I can see from the advocates, that's the point.