Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Seattle School Board Meeting Tonight

Second Update:  I erred in some of my reporting here.  As I told someone, sometimes I get a narrative in my head based upon what I know and forget that others might be starting from a  different place.  My apologies.

-  Policy 4260.  To understand, there are Board POLICES and Superintendent PROCEDURES, that mostly go hand in hand.  However, ONLY policies are voted on while the Superintendent just puts forth his procedure to enact said policy.  Naturally, it behooves the Superintendent to make sure they line up or have a plausible reasoning for why staff believes a policy should be enacted. 

The Board was only voting on Policy 4260 which was to amend rental of school facilities.  This was vetted by quite a few people, including the SCPTA, and it's fine.  It passed.

The issue, however, is that district legal staff inserted a paragraph into the Superintendent's procedure 4260 that would make after-school groups liable to pay for any added services needed for students with disabilities who wanted to access the activities. 

Seattle Council PTSA President, Katherine Schomer, wrote a thoughtful letter to the Board explaining that she had gone to a disability lawyer at UW as well as other policy makers about the Superintendent's procedure. 

It is their belief that the district CANNOT require a separate organization that does NOT receive federal funds for the DOE to follow 504 guidelines.  As well, "PTAs are also not public/government entities so they are also not subject to Title II of the ADA either.  They DO fall under TITLE III of the ADA act of 1990 and would fall under the same requirements as child care centers. " This basically means that those groups:
  • cannot exclude children with disabilities unless their presence would be a direct threat to the health/safety of other children or require a fundamental change to the program, 
  • make reasonable modifications to their policies/practices to include all children and their parent/guardian into the program unless, again, it would require a fundamental alteration, 
  • a group would need to provide appropriate aids/services needed for effective communicaton with disabled children/adults when doing so would not constitute an undue burden,
  • the facilities should be generally accessible to persons with disabilities.  (And schools are.) 
The other issue that was huge - and good for the SCPTA to point this out - is that the new language in the procedure would have a PTA rep at 504 meetings to make sure the PTA understood the requirements for said student to participate in an after-school activity.  That's a big privacy whoa because no outside person should be at any student's 504 meetings unless the student's parent/guardian asks them to do so.  I

They also point out that if, thru a student's 504 meetings and/or IEP, that a student should participate in an after-school program, the district has to pay as required by FAPE (free appropriate public education).

The SCPTA submitted their recommended changes to the paragraph in question in the Superintendent's procedure.  Ron English from SPS Legal acknowledged that they had received this information and were working with PTSA on this issue.

I also erred in saying the Board would vote on the NW Center building issue.  It was not on the agenda but had come up in testimony repeatedly.  (As well, Director Peters reports that the first hour of her first community meeting was around this issue.)

My hope is that the district will leave NW Center in their home and find another place for Cascade. 

End of update.

Update:  Director Peters (corrected) has added an amendment to the Transportation Service Standards.   At quick glance, it says it is a one-year solution (great) so that the district can once again "re-evaluate the transportation service which time the important goal of reversing high school and elementary bell times can be achieved completely and equitably."  

This motion addresses the disproportionate and inequitable impact of significantly later arrival and departure times on Tier III schools, which already have the latest arrival and start times in the district. It mitigates against this by adjusting all Tier III arrival times to 9:15 a.m., Tier II to 8:25 a.m. and Tier I to 7:35 a.m., as first proposed by staff. 

It also maintains the adjustments of the current proposal, such as including all K8s on Tier II and Tier III.

Take a look and see what you think.
End of update.

You can generally count on the January Seattle School Board meetings to be shorter and less well-attended.  Well, that may change with tonight's meeting.

The Public Testimony list is has varying topics with the
- Transportation Service Standards (5),
-NW Center Kids program at Queen Anne Elementary School (10),
-Policy #4260 - about the use of school buildings and
-Racial discussions in the classroom (2).

There is a waitlist of 10 people.

I think I can guess what each group will say.

Transportation Service standards - too late, too confusing, terrible for any JAMS/Hale collaboration, appearance of favortism to some groups of schools, kids out in the dark, and hopefully, why don't you see this dysfunction in other districts.

NW Center Kids program - I'm sure there will be heartfelt stories and maybe some tears.  We are talking about an established program that serves young children, many with disabilities and developmental issues.  The district has given this program short notice (and I would think many city/county agencies have their issues with what happens to the children in this program) in order to move in Cascade.  I realize that Cascade needs a space and, because of the near-constant movement of children/adults in the program in and out of any given building, it's a problem locating them.

But this building is uber-small and I think, like many a Facilities' decision, it's a mistake.

Use of school buildings- Policy #4260 - Again, it's about narrowing the ability for PTAs and other after-school groups to provide after-school activities.  All it will take for many programs/activities to end is for one parent with a special needs child (and entirely within their rights) asking for accommodations for their child, the group providing the activity to say "we can't afford that" and the program ends.

The Board Action Report states that the district can withdraw an application if legal conditions for students are not met.

This will hurt many schools, probably cause conflict if parents believe a few parents have ended a program because of an accommodations request AND hurt schools will low-income students (where the school likely has a smaller-functioning PTA or none at all).

Racial discussions in the classroom - I have become aware that there is a movement to reinstate Jon Greenberg back to The Center School.  As you may recall, Mr. Greenberg had taught a class on race and social justice for a decade and last year, after a single family's unhappiness/concern over the class, the class was ended and Mr. Greenberg sent to another school.

Mr. Greenberg went through two investigations that basically found no wrong-doing (except that he allowed a petition to be circulated to keep him at Center in his class).  Several other teachers had also allowed circulation of the petition.

I still find this one astonishing and can only believe there was some legal muscle from the family and a twitchy district that already lost on a race issue in court.  But again, where's the will to do the right thing (as Spike Lee reminded us)?  Because the right thing would have been a real discussion and not making Mr. Greenberg the fall guy.

My predictions on the votes:
Transportation standards - will get voted in with a lot of "tsk, tsking" by the Board.  But "it has to get done" and "they'll do better next time."  Sure.
NW Center Kids program - I think it may be too little too late and the Board will pass this one on a split vote.
Use of school buildings - here's hoping the Board will sit up tall and say no but again, I think this one will pass with a split vote


Anonymous said...

I wonder how anyone is going to get to the Board Meeting tonight. I have just read that there are 700.000 people celebrating the SeaHawks on the Parade. It will take some time until they clean the Stadium area tonight...
Go Hawks!

Anonymous said...

Given the late start of the parade and all the events happening, it is going to be a zoo in Sodo - I wouldn't want to be a testimony speaker on tonight's list.

Stayin' home

Anonymous said...

I would like to see more coverage of the NW Center issue. That is a worthy program, who does more for our district's special needs kids than the district does. Their facilities are very important and can't be replicated quickly. To kick them out with this short notice is unconscionable.

-Speak up for SpEd kids

Anonymous said...

"I have become aware that there is a movement to reinstate Jon Greenberg back to The Center School."

Actually, the movement is to force the district to participate in the arbitration Greenberg filed with the district as per his union rights to have the transfer appealed.

Since the district has chosen to ignore the case, Center supporters are now going to the board in an effort to get the district to comply and participate.

If the arbitrator finds in favor of Greenberg, then the district will be forced to reinstate his position with the Center School. If they find in favor of the district I assume Greenberg will keep his position at Hamilton.


Charlie Mas said...

The Transportation Standards are out of alignment with the student assignment plan.

The student assignment plan allows for grandfathering; your child can stay at their current school despite the change in attendance area boundaries.

The Transportation Service Standards says that the District won't provide a bus.

So your kids can stay at the school... if you can get them there.

Anonymous said...

Yep. there is no longer a reason for President Peaslee to advocate for pushing all the tiers 10 minutes later, because her favorite K-8 is being moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2. Mission accomplished.

Question. Will her amendment decrease the additional costs ($500M) that were associated with the revised transportation standards?

- politically incorrect

Anonymous said...

According to the meeting agenda, the amendment to go back to the original tier times was introduced by Sue Peters, not Sharon Peaslee.

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

Thank you to all the parents that wrote the Board.

-former tier3

Anonymous said...


In an interesting twist to the grandfathering situation, pre-NSAP, there were kids from all over the NE who were assigned to John Rogers, because their neighborhood schools did not have room for them. The current 4th grade class entered John Rogers during that era. Those kids are going to lose grandfathered transportation to a school they were assigned to in the first place, due to the new JAMS/Eckstein boundaries.

Meanwhile, option schools get grandfathered transportation and express buses. I'm not saying that these schools shouldn't get grandfathering, but it would be nice if those enrolled in attendance area schools did, as well.

- North-end Mom

Katherine Schomer, SCPTSA President said...

It should be made clear that policy 4260 is about facilities, and is about outside groups that provide enrichment related to SPS goals and mission getting the rent waived for use of the school blgs. This is the official policy to allow PTA's and other groups to use the school free--for after school programs. That is all the policy is about, and that is what the board will vote on.

Superintendent Procedure 4260 is not being voted on tonight (procedures not voted on), and are still being formulated. It is this procedure that the district states that after school enrichment programs can not discriminate against students with disabilities. This statement is following with the law, as PTA's can not discriminate. The confusion is around whether PTA's have to continue to provide accommodations to these students. The answer is "yes" they do, but not if it is an undue burden on the organization. If the PTA does not have the funding, they would not have to provide the accommodation, but they must do their due diligence to try and find solutions. Also the kind of accommodation that a PTA provides for an after school program would most likely not be a continuation of services the students receives during the school day. Continuation of services may occur for a student if it is stated in their IEP that they need to attend the after school program. However in this case, the district would then pay for the continued accommodation, not the PTA.

Seattle Council PTSA has been working for over a year to create Policy 4260, so that PTAs (and similar orgs) can continue to provide after school enrichment programs rent free. We still support this policy.

We are also continuing conversations with the district regarding procedure 4260, and we hope we can work with them to make this procedure more clear. Seattle Council is also working to formulate an FAQ and guidelines for PTA's informing them of their obligations to special needs kids, which they should be adhering to regardless of this procedure.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry if I got confused on Policy 4260 (versus Procedure 4260); you would think they would align but I guess not.

But it sure is hard to advocate when you don't get the backup from groups directly involved in an issue.

So maybe not worth saying anything tonight - or in the future - and let it play out as it does.

Anonymous said...






NO MORE MONEY. THAT $700 million BEX levy will have to be it. I don't care how bad things are. You have Van Asselt you can use, and you can put out lots more portables.

First the growth boundaries, now the bell times? Trust me, I get it, it's a big "F U" parents, kids, especially poor kids. Nice.

You seem now to be doing some tempid damage control (or was that always the plan??? A cynic might think so), but that is not enough, and the way you treat our kids, and by that I don't just mean mine, I mean all of them, it is at best, incompetent, and at worst, meanspirited.

Vote no on BTA. It is a ways off, but, I've got a long memory.

Melissa or Charlie, one of you said perhaps parents should hold back their kids from testing. Perhaps John Rogers shouldn't pay for a counselor. Nah, just vote no to BTA dollars. That will be the only thing that MIGHT get their attention.


Anonymous said...

Is the school board meeting tonight televised? I thought they usually were, but I am not seeing this one when I look at the TV listings. Is there a way to watch it live streaming?


Lynn said...

Melissa - you just promoted Sue Peters!

Anonymous said...

Question: why do we all have to fight so hard to try to get the school board to do the least amount of corrosive damage, both educationally and fiscally, possible?

I dream of an SPS where we parents can simply advocate for good things, like "we already have a great math program, but we'd like some STEM". You know, like going from good to great, that's how I'd like to spend my time advocating. Not pleading for a reprieve or an 11th hour call from the Governor to stave off execution.

This really cannot get any worse. That's my new hope. Hope for less worse. Less damage. Dodging the hail of bullets. Like in the movie Matrix. That's what it feels like.

2 more years until school board elections? Waiting for those two years.


Anonymous said...

In case anyone wants to sign the petition to give the Northwest Center more time to find a new home if they must be evicted:


Anonymous said...

From the Stranger Slog on the NW Center eviction:

Paragraph 3 is especially disturbing.


Anonymous said...

Where is the support is for Greenberg by the TCS principal? Makes me wonder.
TCS Supporter

Anonymous said...

"Where is the support is for Greenberg by the TCS principal? Makes me wonder."

From the most recent staff survey:

The principal treats all faculty members fairly.
Percent agree with statement:
16% school v 71% district

The principal is an effective manager of school operations.
Percent agree with statement:
20% school v. 75% district

The principal is an effective instructional manager
Percent agree with statement:
16% school v 59% district

I received valuable cultural competency training to help me connect with students.
Percent agree with statement:
11% school v. 46% district

Possible leadership issues?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the correction, Melissa. Peaslee was the only vote against the Peters amendment.


Anonymous said...

The Northwest Center should be left where it is, it is a partner to Seattle public schools, it provide services to children that Seattle public schools seems unable to really do well by. Wraparound services for medically fragile and special education children, and a healthy, warm, productive, consistent, and loving environment. Can anyone say that of sped in SPS? On a consistent basis???

SPS needs the NORTHWEST Centre.

Perhaps Cascade can move to Marshall. Cascade was only 183 children who on average are there for 5 hours a week.

Remember, the Jane Addams k8 was ardently pushing for the Marshsll building to serve as a grade 6 academy last year for Hamilton Eckstein schools, so they obviously are confident that it can hold 960 students. They said it could take 4 portables. Well, let's listen to them. Put Cascade in the Marshall building. Cascade is actually a money-maker for the district, because of the way OSPI funds it, so there is a financial incentive to keep it going with full strength, and not diminish its attractiveness. Marshall will be ideal since it is central and easy to access from all parts of the city (relatively) and not too far from Wilson Pacific.

- save NW Center

mirmac1 said...

District facilities must be used for schools. I would first hold SPS to providing the appropriate services, both during and outside school hours, for students with disabilities. NW Center is a laudable resource in our city. But too many of our district buildings are being used for purposes other than the primary purpose - directly serving school-aged children enrolled in SPS.

And I know the school board gets blind-sided by these emotional, painful issues out of left field. They do not have the facts nor the time to properly assess them before acting. Case in point, Policy 4260 and the ill-conceived superintendent procedure 4260SP.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac, yes, I think your assessment is correct but I will have a separate thread on the School Board meeting. I stayed thru the public testimony because that was as much as I could take (I'm running out of patience).

But to your point, I think the NW Center sounds like a great place. The district is absolutely remiss in talking, among staff, about taking it back a year ago but only telling NW Center in January that they had 6 months. It's an incredibly fragile population and finding another building would not be easy.

That said, it seems like the district wants it both ways. They want them out and yet they want to help find them a new place. NW Center does not want Van Asselt because it is not suitable AND they would have to move in 3 years again.

Is it the district responsibility to help groups find other places (especially if they serve children)? I'm not sure but it places more work on staff when they have their hands full with SPS students.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

In response to the following post:
Anonymous said...
Where is the support is for Greenberg by the TCS principal? Makes me wonder.
-TCS Supporter"

You hit it on the head, and your stats are right on the mark!! You don't have 60% (or more) staff turnover in school over the last few years because teachers are upset with the DISTRICT. Someone needs to look a little closer at the root of the issue and not just "wonder"...

2/5/14, 4:18 PM

Anonymous said...

Anon at 10 25pm
I repost your comment because it will be deleted without a signature (please follow the commenting rules next time):

In response to the following post:
Anonymous said...
Where is the support is for Greenberg by the TCS principal? Makes me wonder.
-TCS Supporter"

You hit it on the head, and your stats are right on the mark!! You don't have 60% (or more) staff turnover in school over the last few years because teachers are upset with the DISTRICT. Someone needs to look a little closer at the root of the issue and not just "wonder"...

2/5/14, 4:18 PM
2/5/14, 10:25 PM

- MS mom

Anonymous said...


Can you be more specific when you state, " But too many of our district buildings are being used for purposes other than the primary purpose - directly serving school-aged children enrolled in SPS." Seems NW Center is serving Seattle's school aged kids, many of whom are or could be enrolled in the SSD. Also, they have maintained the N.Q.A. building AND improved it significantly. Booting them with such little notice, especially when they (the district) knew it was going to happen over a year ago is just plain cruel. There are other options for the homeschool program. Marshall and Van Assalt for instance. And if you are splitting hairs, why does special ed staff serve kids enrolled in private preschools at the private school?

One thing I will credit the district for. It is GREAT at pitting programs, neighborhoods, and staff members against each other. But shame on them for that.

QA neighbor

Anonymous said...

Can it be clarified that the petition circulated in favour of retaining Mr Greenberg was actually deployed in his absence by his students, and at their own behest? The district has absolutely no right to censure a teacher on that basis. It is disturbing and counterproductive that the district would appropriate student support for a teacher and perversely characterize it as evidence against him. It is highly irregular, defies all rational thought, and demonstrates clearly that this issue is not a personnel issue, but a systemic issue. It is a complete failure of administration.

The disenfranchisement of the majority of Greenberg's students due to the discomfort of one suggests that the district feels justified (in the interest of saving face and demonstrating their authority) in creating an environment that fosters paranoia instead of communication, and panders to the demands of one ethically challenged, single digit demographic. That miniscule proportion is demanding that their bigotry be codified in district policy, and so far, the district has been compliant.

The rare support Mr Greenberg enjoys from his current and former students and their parents should be a mark in his favour, and is especially noteworthy when compared to the performance and disciplinary precedents set by the district. The priorities of the district- to save face, and to cater to the whims of the selfish and entitled at the expense of a vitally important curriculum based on the lived experience of disadvantage- is reinforced by this needless and wasteful bureaucratic malingering.

The executives of the Seattle School District should expect to find themselves replaced by worthier candidates if they fail to live up to their mandates. They serve at the pleasure of those they represent and will, one way or another, be held accountable for this disgraceful breach of policy and violation of the public trust.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The NW school signed a lease with a 6-mo notice, and the district is giving them 6-mo notice. If they chose to improve a building that they did not own, well isn't that their choice? I would think it's covered in the contract language as well. This does not diminish the hardships they might face in relocating, but they signed a lease.


Anonymous said...

I can’t speak to which location is best for Cascade Parent Partnership Program, but I am very frustrated as I read the misinformation that has been shared about Cascade in reading the blogs, NWC website and media coverage. Our child attended Cascade for two years during a very turbulent period in her life (bullying issues) and we needed this program – The community, individualized education and dedication were what kept our daughter in school and our family intact. She is very successful now.
Cascade is an alternative school that serves all kids (not just homeschooling families!) and is the last safety net for students with health issues, anxiety, autism and a host of other needs that make comprehensive schools impossible. Many students just need the smaller class sizes, personalized services and community support. The Cascade community is incredibly diverse, crossing socioeconomic, racial, and student achievement boundaries. It truly is an amazing example of all the things we are trying to accomplish in education.
The program has grown tremendously in the past three years and all 10 classrooms were in use last year, all day from 9:00 – 3:30 or later EVERY day. Students attend with a family member, and often have siblings in tow for extended services – This is an AMAZING community, despite being housed in a dilapidated asbestos filled building, with no potable water, no play area and poor heating. Staff routinely removes syringes, feces, and other debris so that our families can play outside and yet they continue to create a community and keep kids in school. Cascade has asked for very little. There is no busing, hall monitors, or even a school sign. Cascade has always just wanted to serve students (like mine), a permanent location, and permanency to create stability.
I just ask that you please spend time understanding this program before making judgements. Cascade is an SPS alternative school. Cascade serves SPS students and serves them well. Cascade needs SPS support.

Former Cascade Parent

Anonymous said...

The Queen Anne location is tiny. I don't think it even has 10 classrooms. If Former Cascade Parent is right about the growth of that program, is the Queen Anne site even going to be large enough for a permanent home? How much money is going to be spent this summer getting that site ready for Cascade and where is the money coming from? I think both Cascade and NW Center need good homes, but I am confused about why Cascade can't go somewhere else (Van Asselt?) at least temporarily so NW Center can have time to move.

--SPS parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPS parent, that's a very good question. I'll let Cascade chime in but I would think it is because most of Cascade's students are from north of the ship canal.

But it's a district-wide program and so parents who want it will have to vote with their feet. If there was a central location, that would be best but, to my knowledge, there isn't. They could go to Van Asselt (but only temporarily so it just kicks that can down the road).

That said, I think it better to move Cascade into Van Asselt than move NW Center out of QA.

What makes it tricky for Cascade is the transitory nature of the building where you have a flow of parents and kids in and out. It would be hard to co-locate them (like maybe at Lowell) because of the need for staff who is coming in and out.

It's a dilemma for sure.

One thought - maybe after Cedar Park is done as an interim, Cascade could move there. Not a convenient location but it might work.

Anonymous said...

Melissa and SPS Parent,

Cascade serves many families all over the North End and the Central area. I understand that there are severalfamilies from West Seattle and South Seattle as well.

Cascade explored options with sites all last year and this year, putting much energy into surveying families and trying to advocate for attention and placement. Overwhelmingly, the families agreed that the site had to be North or Central to meet their needs. The Van Asselt site is too far South and not near any of the community resources used by families.

Remember, Cascade families use their own transportation (or public transportaion), so site location is critical to meeting the needs. Cascade students do not have busing.

I believe that the current administration was very open to looking at sites that might work over the past couple of years - but, as I understand it, SPS is just overflowing and there are no space anywhere that work. This has been a two year conversation and lots of work for families at Cascade.

Former Cascade Parent

Ragweed said...

Melissa - it is not just the transitory nature of the building but the needs of the population that also makes it hard to co-locate. A lot of kids are at Cascade because of extreme anxiety and/or PTSD related to a traditional school/classroom environment. Being attached to a larger school could trigger many of those issue. Ideally they need to be in a stand-alone building, but it gets complicated with the space shortage.

In theory Cedar Park is going to be needed as a neighborhood school once Olympic Hills renovation is done. At least, that was the reason it was turned down as a possible location for Pinehurst.

Anonymous said...

This discussion re. NWC and CASCADE begs this question: "what other facilties are owned by SPS that would meet the needs of these programs? i understand SPS owns the site which houses Nordic Heritage Museum in Ballard. Wouldn't this be a great school location for CASCADE?

Concerned Citizen

Anonymous said...

Please, a seperate thread for NW Center/SPS facilities? It is a weighty, complex matter that is very time sensitive. Don't want to see it 'burried' in a school board meeting thread.
Thanks for considering.
-NW curious

Cascade Parent said...

To the communities impacted by SPS exercising its right not to renew the lease on North Queen Anne Elementary.

It is frustrating to parents at Cascade after all of the building changes and moves that were negotiated this past fall with the School Board telling us that this will be our building and to once again worry that our program will be homeless and to be pitted against a non-SPS program (non-profit business) that has merit. Cascade parents have attended countless board meetings, saturday coffees, wrote letters and sign petitions, to have to go through this again is disingenuous. We are Seattle Public School Students. Please hear our voices.

Cascade serves over 180 SPS Students who for the past 10 years have had to endure an asbestos laden building, drug paraphernalia in the yards, drinking fountains that don't work as the water is not safe to drink and a heating system that is unreliable and as of yesterday was not working and today is intermittent.

Our program has merit too. We serve the same population just older. It is frustrating that folks don't understand this. SPS is the fail safe for all special needs students in Seattle, At Cascade we have autistic children, learning disabilities, sensory issues, etc. Most of our students are on IEP's Please don't disparage this program with hearsay and discount the many teachers, professionals and students we have onsite everyday. We invite anyone to come visit and learn about our program.

I am disheartened by the conversations that have been circulating about the blogs regarding this issue. It saddens me that this seems to becoming one program pitted against another when the reality is that the Cascade would be open to waiting an additional 6 months for NW Center to move. However, I don't think that this is possible. From my understanding the demolition of Wilson Pacific (where Cascade is at now) is slated for spring 2015. And then I think, if we are pushed back, and don't move all of the construction schedules will be pushed back we will then be impacting thousands of SPS students as their buildings wait to be built, costing millions of dollars. If we are forced out in the spring 2015, we will have no place to go. Our students with special needs will then be displaced. The school district does not have another building that will suit our population needs. I think there are too many dominoes in this equation.

I empathize.

Another Cascader said...

I have been part of the Cascade program for many years. We have been temporarily housed at the Wilson-Pacific campus, and have been told we would be moving or have a permanent location 'soon' for at least the past three years. In the meantime, we have dealt with unsafe water, a crumbling asbestos-filled campus, transients living on or around our open campus, and many other less-than-ideal conditions and situations. You have to ask yourself, why would anyone endure those conditions for a program? Frankly, because it is a unique program that serves an underserved population.

Cascade serves many functions, and it IS the place where SPS serves low-income special needs children. Children who are every bit as special and needy as the children at NW Center, but do not have the means to pay co-pays and such. Some of our students were former NW students, who graduated out of the subsidized program and could not continue due to cost. Same kids, different program. We have a wide range of children with a wide range of IEP's that are best served through the very unique program at Cascade.

We also serve low-income children who depend on the free lunch and breakfast they are entitled to through the school district but are unable to participate, for whatever reason, in a regular public school.

Additionally, there is a contingent of individuals who avail themselves of the program to escape religious persecution. One of the main Muslim-population-serving schools recently closed, and Cascade was the best solution for the children and families finding it difficult, between the traditional cultural dress and practices, to integrate into a regular school.

It seems there is some misinformation going around. The Queen Anne location was touted as a possibility as early as last year for the Cascade program. We had nothing to do with the timing of the notice, which was well within the lease agreement. Unfortunate, really, and honestly I feel very sick about that. But I--and the Cascade program--had nothing to do with that. It has been our understanding that it was going to be available for our use for quite some time, and we have actively lobbied for it. Not because we wanted to displace a wonderful program, but because we don't have anywhere else to go.

As I said, we have many low-income students. There is no transportation provided for students and families, and families must participate and be on campus. While we have families that come from all over, many of them depend on public transportation or fragile means of transportation. For that reason alone, Van Asselt would not be a good solution.

But there are many other reasons that the very unique population and unique program of Cascade is best served at the Queen Anne location. Again, no one wants to displace such a wonderful program. But we are at the end of the line as far as where we are goes; Wilson-Pacific's demolition must go forward and the new campus must be built, and therefore we must have a place to go.

Another Cascader said...

Some context for the Wilson-Pacific issues:

Anonymous said...

Cascade sounds like a fabulous program that will likely grow now that so many people knows what it has to offer. So, it should be located at a site where it CAN indeed grow to meet the needs of students who can't tolerate a regular community school's specialized services (BTW, is sheltering them this way helpful in the long run? Wouldn't being housed in a traditional school offer natural opportunities for inclusion?).

I do find it troubling that the Cascade parent community knew about this move a while back but the NWC community was essentially blindsided. Yeah, yeah, I know they had a lease agreeing to 6 months notice but does that make giving them the boot with such short notice, after more than 27 years OK? Really????

QA Neighbor

Kathi said...

I am a parent of a child at NW Center.

Almost all of the 10 parents who testified at the school board meeting intentionally mentioned very specifically that the district MUST find a solution that meets the needs of both Cascade and of NWC. I have not heard any parents who are willing to play the "our kids are more important than their kids" game that SPS seems to be good at creating in situations like this. I am willing to fight for both programs; both are necessary and crucial to the lives of the children and families whom they serve.

Full disclosure: I was contacted by a Cascade parent (who may likely be one of the parents commenting here), and I am copying much of my emailed response to this parent below, taking out only identifying information of the other parent. It seems that there has been misinformation given to both sides.

"I agree that this is a situation in which there are no easy or good choices. As parents, we are all in the same boat. Families from Northwest Center Kids have no choice but to advocate for our children and protect our cherished program. However, we want to safeguard both NWC Kids and Cascade Parent Partnership Program so that no children must go without needed services. Any solution MUST allow both programs to continue to serve their unique and sometimes overlapping populations.

SPS buses 11 preschool and 15 school-age public school children who attend NWC for before/after school care. These children are bused from neighborhood schools, similar to children attending other before/after school programs. NWC does not have any busing and, like Cascade families, most NWC families will not be able to make the trip to Beacon Hill. My family relies on public transportation to get my son to and from NWC, so I certainly understand the need for sites in North Seattle that are easily accessible by public transportation for both programs.

There has been much discussion over the past few years regarding space constraints with increasing student populations in North Seattle. As you point out, these population increases have not come as a surprise to the school district, nor to any casual observer of the frequent news reports of boundary changes, busing difficulties, or school overcrowding. Despite SPS implications to the contrary, NWC was not informed of any intention to reclaim North Queen Anne School and had actually been led to believe there would be discussion prior to any decision to terminate the lease. Unfortunately, the conversation involving North Queen Anne School has been taking place between SPS officials without any communication or even clues to NWC, as has been established in internal SPS communications. NWC has been in the current lease since 1997 and had a current term ending in 2015.

Northwest Center families have stated a priority to not frame this as a fight over limited resources between these two worthy programs, and we specifically want everyone to come to the table to find a solution. I would invite the Cascade families to join Northwest Center families in demanding that SPS open a conversation with and work with NWC, CPP, and the city to talk through the facility needs together, and look for a solution that doesn't close either program.

NWC is willing to move, but six months simply isn't enough time and could likely cause the end of this program. We want the opportunity to sit down with everyone involved and explore options. Families depend on this place -- there are some special needs kids who literally have no other place to go. They've been turned away at every other facility.

I truly believe that our parent communities can and should work together as allies. Any solution that closes either program should be unacceptable. We are all on the same side – advocating for kids who need assistance.

Please let me know if you have any further questions or concerns or suggestions for ways NWC families can work alongside Cascade families to find solutions that work for everyone.

Another Cascader said...

Cascade knew we had to move, for sure. We were unaware of what NW did or did not know. We had no part of any of that.

As for being housed in a traditional school, right now we are on the Wilson-Pacific campus which at one time was a traditional school. If you mean being part of a regular traditional school or on the same campus, that simply isn't possible for many reasons.

Part of the appeal and the also the necessary function of Cascade is that it serves as a catch-all for all types of kids. Some of those kids are kids who perhaps could be served at a traditional school but, due to bullying, special needs, traumatic school experiences and such cannot function in a regular school. Even things like bells marking the breaking of periods set off PTSD in some of our kids.

Further, we are a campus that needs flexibility in terms of coming and going. We also need a space where families can be during the day. Parents are required, for a number of reasons, to be on campus for the duration of their child's classroom experience at Cascade. A lot of parents have other children, including young children and babies. Which means that we need appropriate space or places for them to be. Not everyone's classes start at the same time, which means people are coming and going during a given day. That means we are a security nightmare for a traditional school.

Those are only two reasons as to why Cascade simply can't be shoved into the same building as another school. It simply isn't possible.

Another Cascader said...

Another thing that needs to be considered is that SPS has intended to move Cascade for years. Not just the last year, but years. For at least the past three years, we weren't sure if school in the fall would still be at Wilson-Pacific. The district is in a super tight place in many ways, and because of the unique needs of our program, it hasn't been easy to find other options.

In other words, it's fine and good to see what other options are possible, but we've already BEEN exploring those options. Not just for six months, but for years. Out of the very, very few options there are, the district decided that the QA location best serves the needs of the children in its care.

So you have to understand that Cascade parents have already, for years, been desperately trying to find a solution and for the district to help us. Already we have spent far too long on a crumbling, unsafe campus. Already we have attended meetings and made posters and tried to raise awareness, only to be told that we'd be back at the WP campus, carting in water because it's not safe to drink and hoping that the asbestos tiles stay put. And just when hope is on the horizon...

Another Cascader said...

Kathi, thanks for your words. I really hope that a solution can be found. No one at Cascade wants NW Center to close or for those students to be lost in the midst. <3 Like I said, we were unaware of what was going on with you guys. I wish it was not the case!

Anonymous said...

"Parents are required, for a number of reasons, to be on campus for the duration of their child's classroom experience at Cascade.."

Why are parents required? If the students have IEPs and 504s, don't their needs for adult supports get covered through those channels? This is very confusing.


Anonymous said...

Van A is not an option. Please understand that NWC parents work full time. Moving to a location far from Queen Anne is NOT an option. You cannot expect an autistic child to sit in a car for a long time, twice a day.

I'd like to also highlight that moving children with disabilities to a temporary location, which Van A would be, woulf have a very traumatic impact on them. Many of the children attending NWC have been there since they were babies. NWC is their second home. Every step they take is a celebration, we need to do everything we can to protect them. We cannot put them at risk of going through any additional trauma.

I appreciate that Cascades parents have invested a lot of time in this, but I'm disappointed that none of them fell the need to reach out to NWC parents to share their plan as it was coming together. NWC & NWC parents was completely left in the dark.

As parents, we need to work together to protect children with special needs, whatever those needs are. I have hope that we'll come to a solution, but that solution is not for NWC to move with only a 6-month notice to a temporary location far from its current location.

A concerned parent

Anonymous said...

Van A is not an option. Please understand that NWC parents work full time. Moving to a location far from Queen Anne is NOT an option. You cannot expect an autistic child to sit in a car for a long time, twice a day.

I'd like to also highlight that moving children with disabilities to a temporary location, which Van A would be, woulf have a very traumatic impact on them. Many of the children attending NWC have been there since they were babies. NWC is their second home. Every step they take is a celebration, we need to do everything we can to protect them. We cannot put them at risk of going through any additional trauma.

I appreciate that Cascades parents have invested a lot of time in this, but I'm disappointed that none of them fell the need to reach out to NWC parents to share their plan as it was coming together. NWC & NWC parents was completely left in the dark.

As parents, we need to work together to protect children with special needs, whatever those needs are. I have hope that we'll come to a solution, but that solution is not for NWC to move with only a 6-month notice to a temporary location far from its current location.

concerned parent

Another Cascader said...

Parents are required to be on campus because of the way the ALE is set up. It is a parent partnership program, not a drop-off school. Parents partner with the educators on campus and off and take an active role. It's one of the reasons it appeals to homeschoolers, but it also creates a safe environment for kids with issues who benefit from having their parent or primary care giver involved. And, it is a resource for families with special needs kids who do not feel served by the district otherwise or believe that their children do best with them as the primary educator, but need resources and support.

First of all, again, Cascade didn't mastermind some plot to take over the NW center. We were not aware of what was or was not being planned and certainly what was or was not discussed with renters of the property SPS was telling us was available. There wasn't any reason or frankly, ability for us to reach out because all of that is in the purview of the district. We assume they handle all of that; after all, they are the ones who have been searching for years for the right fit and they are the landlords of the property AND we didn't know where we would be FOR SURE until it was announced in November.

I do sympathize with moving special needs children around; we have the same concerns (and is another reason VA would not work for our program).

Many people at Cascade were not even aware there was an existing program at the Queen Anne building, or what it was, so that's part of it as well. Blaming the parents that are part of that community for the SPS alleged failure to communicate doesn't really help anyone.

Another Cascader said...

To clarify, SPS made the decision. Cascade doesn't get to dictate where we go. We hoped and voiced our support for the Queen Anne location because the other two potential options, Lincoln and Van Asselt, would be devastating to our program and would likely close it, leaving many wonderful children high and dry. Those options were presented by SPS, and it was the district who evaluated the needs of our program and ultimately decided on the best location.

Charlie Mas said...

With the growing enrollment the District is recovering a lot of leased buildings to use them as schools again. In nearly every case the tenents were honorable people doing good work.

We have already heard the story of the Mann Building. Now Queen Anne. The Hamlin Robinson School is in T T Minor and will have to leave to make room for The World School. An artist community is gettng booted from Cedar Park. There's a school in the John Marshall building.

This is the situation in nearly every case and it will always be the situation when the District needs to re-purpose a leased building as a school.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Is Cascade being funded beyond the district? Because, while I knew there were some high-needs students there, I did not know their parents had to be there AND a space needed to be available for their younger children.

And NWC, all your parents are in the north end? Because it seems like a program that could likely serve students in many areas. Where it is located cannot be the district's issue. They can only offer space where they have it for leases.

I would also gently say that it is the duty of the Cascade parents to have reached out to the NWC parents. In fact, that would probably have been inappropriate because if information wasn't correct or fully-fleshed out, it could have made things worse.

Good observations, Charlie.

Anonymous said...

Cascade is classified as an alternative learning experience and receives a fraction of the funding of other schools (maybe 90%?). It is considered a parent partnership, and the parent is responsible for putting together a learning plan for their child.
The student must have contact with a certified teacher each week, and families can be at school anywhere from 1 to 4 days a week. The involvement varies by family. Some students might do most of their academics at home, but use the center for gym, art, and other extras, while other families take advantage of the full spectrum of classes (math, science, LA, SS, etc.). Families have access to a library, computers, and other supports as they direct their child's education.


Another Cascader said...

"I would also gently say that it is the duty of the Cascade parents to have reached out to the NWC parents. In fact, that would probably have been inappropriate because if information wasn't correct or fully-fleshed out, it could have made things worse"

Do you mean it isn't the duty? That seems to be what you're saying but it was a little confusing. :)

Cascade is funded entirely by the SPS, although from what I understand, our funding is much smaller than a typical school.

Another Cascader said...

Anonymous, don't forget our special ed teacher and all the support given for kids with IEP's and special needs. <3 Some are homeschoolers, and some are not.

Anonymous said...

Among many other things, NW Center is a provider of birth-to-three services. My understanding from the comments and news articles is that some of these services are provided at the Queen Anne location (rather than in the home).

Someone with more knowledge of how IDEA Part C (for children with disabilities zero to three years of age) is implemented in our state might correct me on this (and please do!), but my understanding is that since about 2009, school districts in our state -- including the Seattle School District -- became responsible for providing services to those zero-to-three students with disabilities. From what I can see, the district receives the Part C funds for the enrolled students in the district and contracts out to King County DDD, which subcontracts with the private nonprofits such as NW Center.

Two questions: (1) can we really say, as some people seem to be saying, that the district has no responsibility for these children at NW Center? and (2) where is King County DDD in all of this?


Anonymous said...

Cascade parents were not aware of the current occupants of their future school, the terms of the lease there, or the population impacted by Cascade's relocation. Cascade didn't get to choose it's new location. Cascade families were simply happy to see that the program will continue.

Cascade's alternative program offers a place of healing and a chance for success than many families have discovered only after experiencing failure at other District schools. It's a special place for kids who haven't been lucky enough to fit in elsewhere and need a sense of nurturing and community. The families who choose Cascade are dedicated to their children's development and education. They would never advocate for the closure of another program, private or public, that serves the unique needs of children who are not well served elsewhere. There is no battle between the families of Cascade and NWC but there is tension over limited space that can only be eased by the District planning more carefully.

Cascade wouldn't exist if every District school could offer compassion, counselors, flexibility of scheduling, and small class sizes to all children who need them. Cascade wouldn't need to exist if equity were a real mission of SPS and children of all backgrounds were honored.

Also, there would be less of a need for a private institution offering NWC's services if the District respected the needs of its most fragile constituents. Why shouldn't the children there be served at Lowell? Lowell is currently half-empty, centrally located, loaded with specialized staff and equipment for medically fragile and developmentally disabled children. Why couldn't a continuum of wraparound services be offered, through a private/public partnership if necessary, at Lowell to serve NWC's population?

Where's the vision, Mr. Banda?


Another Cascade Parent said...

FYI: I am a parent at Cascade and a member of the Cascade Building Leadership Team, (BLT) and I am baffled about the more time needed from NW Center. The information that Cascade has been provided and working under was that notice was provided in October 2012.
I know the district was in great turmoil the past two years with school planning and there were a lot of moving parts however, in the our meeting notes from the BLT meetings at that time the idea of Queen Anne was floated as a location for Cascade sometime back in October 14, 2012. The then Executive Director of Facilities, Phil Brockman sent us an email asking for our thoughts and followed up with emails stating that notice has been given. This all happened in October 2012. So that would have given about 20 month notice to NW Center. We went on to have discussions with facilities about bus location at this site and grounds cleanup necessary for move in.
This discussion was put on hold during the BEXIV discussions and we were continuously reassured that the timeline and plans were in place up until October 2013, when parents asked for the transition schedule. It quickly became clear that our move hadn’t been acted upon. Plans were still in place, but due to leadership changes and other school moves, Cascade’s plans were not completed. This distressed families and we spoke up and met with Flip, head of facilities, who shared his timeline and reassured families.
I just don’t understand?

Anonymous said...

Cascade - I'd suggest that you also advocate for SPS to change the description of your program. SPS makes it sound like you have little more than a drop-off classroom and materials library for people who want to homeschool. From reading your descriptions, it sounds like that isn't the case, but I would be hard-pressed to succinctly describe your program in an way that would do justice to it.

NWC similarly isn't just a daycare, and private school is a horribly misleading description too.
It is early intervention services for kids with disabilities.
It is the group that is supporting the kids that SPS is not equipped to help (despite being legally mandated to help them). For example, the energetic 4 year old with ADHD and a heart condition. SPS teachers told his parents that they were afraid he would die in their class, and they didn't want him. NWC took him with open arms. Literally nobody else will take this kid. Everyone is afraid of the liability.

As I take the metro bus (we don't have bussing, and metro is planning big cuts to the bus service into that area) to NWC, I see other kids that are from low income families riding the KC Metro bus with us. I think about every third kid at NWC has a learning disability or physical disability or both...some of the disabilities are pretty severe. There are also a lot of foster kids as NWC is one of the few places that has reserved placement for fostering and that takes the vouchers.

I'm lucky, unlike some of the other parents I know there, I haven't lost my job and been financially ruined as a result of the disabilities of my child. This isn't a choice for them. If NWC closes, they are financially ruined again and the development of their kids is further harmed. Since SPS has already turned away many of these kids, their parents will need to sue SPS for services.

I don't blame Cascade.
I blame SPS.

SPS is clearly at fault here and they should be ashamed. They have tried to pit two parent groups against each other. Don't let them. Let's join arm in arm and both demand that they do the right thing for both of us.

I demand that SPS finds a solution for Cascade AND NWC that doesn't kill either program.

- Sincerely, NWC Dad

Anonymous said...

Melissa, my understanding is that 95% of NWC families live north of downtown. I don't have more detailed statistics, but I know that some families and staff walk to NWC...and some have even moved to QA in order to be close to NWC.

-NWC Dad

Anonymous said...


I don't have hard data, but I've heard that 95% of NWC families live north of downtown. I also have heard from some parents that they moved to QA to be close to NWC (special needs kids ... transportation can be a problem).

- NWC Dad

Mrs. Taft said...

I am a parent at Cascade and am completely baffled by everything that has gone down. We were told by the district two years ago that they were moving forward with moving us to Queen Anne. Then things got crazy with everything else and two other options were discussed this past fall that unfortunately would kill our program and just not work and the district ultimately decided on QA.

We feel just as blindsided and baffled as the NW parents, frankly. Everyone here that I've talked to feels similarly: please find a solution that works for everyone. We don't want to displace NW. We just want a safe building that fits the needs of our program! I do not feel supported by the district when this is going down! Both of our programs deserve a good space! For me and a lot of other parents, it doesn't have to be QA or at the expense of another program. Please get it together SPS!

Melissa Westbrook said...

"The information that Cascade has been provided and working under was that notice was provided in October 2012."

I'd have to see that e-mail from Phil Brockman. Because that is not what is being said and I believe that NW Kids has documentation on the e-mails where this is all being discussed.

"Since SPS has already turned away many of these kids, their parents will need to sue SPS for services."

Is that documented as well?

(I did mean to say in my previous comment that the Cascade parents had NO duty to say anything to the NW Kids parents.)

I agree with Parent (where's King County in all this?) and Truthie, where's the vision? It almost sounds like these two groups should be in a building and overlap given who they serve. But that's not going to happen.

And, why aren't some of these kids at Lowell?

And again, gently I say, that the district should care about a group leasing space that serves special needs kids BUT the district cannot change all their plans because most of the children receiving services live in one area. That can't be their responsibility.

What a mess.

Anonymous said...

Cascade enrollment
0 ELL; 18 SpEd
60% White
16% Black
8% Hispanic
33% F&RL

The above #s are irrelevant. Our District is out of space. How did they let it get this bad? When they were closing schools, and the public begged them not to, what were they thinking? Were they thinking?

Imagine if North Beach and Sacajawea, 2 schools that were on their closure list, we indeed closed.

North Queen Anne building has 8 home rooms. 8. Cascade currently uses 10.

Cascade is a vital, all-city draw. It helps students in precarious situations. Including female students, who, for cultural reasons, the families would not send to a 'regular' school (certain nations actively discourage the education of girls, immigrants come with a cultural perspective). If Cascade was more centrally located, could it attract even more children, who might otherwise not get a chance to go to school? This program should grow, it must be supported. It is vital.

But, given that Queen Anne is NOT easy to get to, and, given the capacity constraint of 8 classrooms, IS THIS REALLY THE BEST, EVEN WORKABLE LONG TERM SOLUTION FOR CASCADE?

The World School, a high school, was just placed into an elementary school in the heart of the central district's growth. Time will tell if that decision will hold, or, if they have to be relocated AGAIN in 4 years. Yesler Terrace is building scads of apartments that will be filled with kids. And yet, World School was so leery of this District and their empty promises, even when they were told that this might not be in their best long-term interest, they held on to the property like a barnacle, because they wanted a permanent home. That is completely understandable, but it may boomerang back.

Does this District do solid long-term planning? Anyone who lived through the 2 rounds of closures knows the answer to that. It is disruptive to kids, families and communities and EXPENSIVE. And, it erodes public confidence.

Is this the best move for Cascade, or, is it a temporary patch? Given the ill fit between size and location and Cascades true needs, I say the latter.

It is true that QA is District property. It is true that they have a clause that says 6 month notice is all that is needed. But, stop and think. Is this really so cut-and-dried? Aren't the kids in the NW Center the kids of Seattle Public Schools? They are, because, SPS has a legal obligation to provide these children with a free and appropriate education.

This school is doing miracles with these frail children. Miracles. When doctors say your child will not walk, will not talk, and then through the efforts of the NW Center, the same child takes her first step at age 5, and, speaks her first word at age 7, what would you call that?

And, if that same child had been in the 'care' of SPS and the SPS SpEd team, would those same results have happened?

Consider the NW Center a defacto school of SPS, it's like a volunteer plant in a garden. It is there, helping children everyday that SPS does not seem to have the bandwidth to help.

Yes, SPS will clawback its other FEW properties still left. The Webster building in the Ballard, (if a museum moves, irreversible damage to children will not take place). Lake City, (the tenants there, accountants, etc, will be inconvenienced, but, they can find other space). Hughes in WS will be vacant. But Oak Tree shopping mall is under an iron clad lease, and can't be taken back, same with the Wallingford center (these properties don't have a 'school building').

TT Minor is being taken back from a school, but they do not have medically fragile population, and they have known, after several moves and only being afforded a very short term lease at the get-go, that this was not permanent. They bought land and are building.

If NW center closes, is SPS prepared to take these kids and really do right by them, or, will it contract out to some 3rd NW Center, because SPS does not have the capacity or bandwidth to provide service?

-think long-term

Anonymous said...


I wonder if the District has started to consider that they might just need to lease back some of the buildings the sold for themselves?

What if the Phinney Neighborhood center would lease back the space so that Cascade could be there?!

--random thought

Melissa Westbrook said...

Random, there's a thought. Not that I know there is space or it's the right place but frankly, the district should find the right fit rather than continually rearranging the chairs.

I agree; I think World School will not last in TT Minor (to my great sorrow).

Jamie said...

The Phinney Center bought their buildings a few years ago, as did the Crown Hill Arts Center.

Anonymous said...

Empty Space option.

What's happening with the old Magnolia High School? Is it still empty? It was formerly used as an interim site for Coe when that school was under construction.

QA Neighbor

Another Cascader said...

Melissa, this is from another thread elsewhere:

"There is an email from school board member Phil Brockman to the principal of Cascade, from October 2012, where he states that NW Center was notified. In October 2012. I want to know who he notified, and what happened on NW center's end since then. Cascade has been in talks (meetings, visits, emails, etc etc) with the school board and district since October 2012 to move into the North Queen Anne building. It should not have been a surprise in December 2013."

Cascade definitely has documentation of what we were informed. I don't know beyond that.

NWCKids Parent said...

At this point, the only thing that can be taken for face value is that district employees clearly should not be trusted or taken at face value.
District employees were saying all sorts of things in October 2012. Evidently they do not communicate with each other consistently, much less with their tenants/constituents. Among other things, there was a very clear statement made in October 2012 that there was "no plan which involves that building for at least the next several years." How ridiculous and irresponsible it is that two people working in important jobs for the same place could be spinning such different stories. Most of us could never get away with this insanity and deceit in our job, and yet here are the people responsible for the education and well-being of our children.

Anonymous said...

Yes Jamie, that's my point. The district sold the buildings just a few years ago, but it is abundantly clear that that was a bad decision, since we are out of space.

Why not consider the fact that they might need to lease something back? Would the Phinney Neighborhood center be open to leasing back 10 classrooms to Cascade? What about opening Magnolia school?

NW CENTER just poured 250k into that building to make it appropriate for PRESCHOOL Special needs kids. With the full knowledge of the district.

At a minimum, in my opinion the district owes NW Center $250k because it appears THEY KNEW that they were going to take back the building, and didn't tell them. There was testimony at the Board meeting that last Fall, when NWCenter actively asked for and update on what was happening to the building, they didn't tell them AND staff even stated that the renovations that NW Center would be a good thing for Cascade. (I'm paraphrasing because I didn't see the e-mails, but that was the gist)

That is, in my non-legal opinion, Negotiation in VERY BAD FAITH. Sure, go ahead and fix up our building! Wow. Just Wow.

What is even worse, is that the NW Center is providing services that the District is legally obligated to provide, and NOT Providing. It is absolutely unconscionable that while THIS district is one of only two in the whole state to have THE WORST RATING from OSPI about meeting the legal requirements of IDEA ("NEEDS Significant INTERVENTION") they are evicting with short notice a program that is DOING the job they aren't doing.

The other district doing this bad, is Raymond. Check it out here:

Wouldn't it be MUCH smarter for the district to partner more closely with NW Center, expand the program and start digging out of that Level 4 Designation instead of essentially stealing $250K in renovations and kicking them out with 6 months notice?!?!

Cascade needs a home, but not at the expense of this vulnerable population.

I applaud the other Cascade Parents who have recognized this, and I would urge them to partner with NW Center to push the district to find a better option for Cascade.

If it is true that there are only 8 classrooms there (and Cascade needs 10), and it is all sized for toddlers and preschoolers, it is the WRONG space any way!

-Random thought

Anonymous said...

Could Cascade squeeze into Lincoln or John Marshall...until maybe Decatur or Cedar Park are available?

- JR Mom

Anonymous said...

I am just a regular QA parent, with no children at NW Center or Cascade. I have known about this move for well over a year, from reading this blog, attending community meetings and just paying tiny bits of attention. At one point one of our board members was publicly proposing the use of this site for Pinehurst. I find it impossible to believe that NW Center kids did not see this coming. I believe the official notice came in Dec, but the take back of that building (in a district cramped for space) was not a surprise, nor did it pop up out of nowhere like they are claiming. Our district provides services for special needs kids from birth to 5 in many locations throughout the city, and will continue to do so. I am sure it is a quality program, but their failure to plan and their hope that this would never actually happen, is not SPS's emergency.
QA Mom

Anonymous said...

@QA Mom
Spoken like a parent whose never had a child with an NG feeding tube!

Well, let's consider the QA schools, Hay, Coe, QA, and it's near neighbours of Lawton and Blaine. If NW Center is shuttered, those SpEd kids need to be educated in their neighborhoods, per the ABCD model and work of the SpEd task force. You know Sped is capacity-intensive, yes? That means two things for your schools - boundary adjustments (they will shrink!) AND portables for these schools. Because SpEd kids, even preschoolers, have the same rights as regular kids. So, gear-up those PTAs to welcome in a more inclusive community, while saying goodbye to chunks of their existing neighbours who will be drawn out. Or, get Facilities to come up with a better plan, so that all these dominoes, ones that clearly aren't being thought about by you, or your neighbors, or anyone else, don't start crashing down around you. We are all inter-connected. It is in your best interest that NW Center survives. If it goes down, like it or not, it will have a profound impact on the local schools.

-just sayin'

Melissa Westbrook said...

One thing to note, the district is not responsible for pre-school children. They have had some pre-schools in buildings but they are only responsible for K-12. (That's my understanding of state law.)

I'm not sure there is - yet - any state or city law that makes preschool availability mandatory for those entities. There may be other services that children with disabilities get.

If I'm wrong (and I may be), could some cite the state/city law that requires educational services for preschoolers?

Anonymous said...


I don't know the law either, and I'm certainly not a Special Ed expert, but I did a little research on IDEA law and here is the WAC statement which I think actually does require that the school district is responsible, at least for some part of the type of services that at NW Center provides:

"WAC 392-172A-02000 Students' rights to a free appropriate
public education (FAPE). (1) Each school district and
residential or day schools operated under chapters 28A.190
and 72.40 RCW shall provide every student who is eligible for
special education between the age of three and twenty-one
years, a free appropriate public education program (FAPE). The
right to a FAPE includes special education for students who have
been suspended or expelled from school. A FAPE is also available
to any student determined eligible for special education even though the student has not failed or been retained in a course or grade and is advancing from grade to grade. The right to
special education for eligible students starts on their third
birthday with an IEP in effect by that date. If an eligible
student's third birthday occurs during the summer, the student's
IEP team shall determine the date when services under the
individualized education program will begin." page 29 under the FAPE requirements

Additionally, there are clauses related to the requirement of early intervention services (birth to 3) but I don't think that districts are responsible for those services. But as I read this, they ARE responsible at 3 years old and onward, so not just k-12.

Again, SPS is at a level 4 designation because they are not even coming close to meeting the legal requirements. And instead of taking meaningful steps to rectify this they are evicting a program (and potentially destroying it because of the 6 month notice thing and the fact that finding a the location, building it out and licensing it is typically a longer than 6 month process)

QA Mom-- I appreciate that you may have heard about this in bits and pieces, but can you really doubt the NW Center staff when they say they ACTIVELY tried to ask SPS what was going on and never got a response?

I too heard about this in passing but I have no doubt that the district didn't communicate this to them until December as they've stated.

-random thought

kellie said...

I am chiming in rather late on this thread but I have a few things to add to this from a capacity point of view.

Bottom line: this is a great big mess and even messier than it seems at first glance. This is a huge capacity management mistake and is the beginning of some serious troubles.

I am quite possibly the longest standing voice in the chorus of "SPS must add capacity and add it yesterday." However, IMHO, I think taking back the QA property is a huge mistake for many reasons.

To get back to basics here, as part of BEX planning, Cascade was made homeless. This was pointed out many times, however, the way the BEX math was calculated, created an illusion that more space was both available and being created than there would be in actuality. That is a whole other thread but the bottom line is that there was NO planning for where to put the programs currently located in Wilson Pacific when WP was repurposed. Oops!

Since there were several groups like Cascade that were missed in this planning, all of these groups need to be put somewhere but ... alas enrollment growth has significantly outpaced projections and all the slack in the system is gone. Therefore, instead of making bad decision, the district is now making desperate decisions.

While on paper, it might makes sense for Cedar Park and Queen Anne Elementary to be put back in service, it completely overlooks the fact that during the original BEX planning it was clearly determined that both of those properties were not economically viable. They were both too expensive to put back in service and were too small, smaller by far than the smallest current school in the district. QA is EIGHT rooms and CP is TEN rooms. TINY.

What is "normal and typical" in these situations (aka industry standard, not what is happening here) is that when you run out of capacity, you stop, and restructure and look for interim space.

The real issue is that there was NEVER a viable home for Cascade in the BEX plan. Cascade needs a central location as an all city program. There is only one property in the SPS portfolio that has a breakable lease.

Viola - Program that is being displaced can be put in the one space with a breakable lease. That is not PLANNING. That is what is affectionately known as a last resort.

IMHO, what should have happened is that the Superintendent and the Mayor should have met ages ago. The topic should be "SPS is out of space and we need help. Do you have any space we can use?"

The NW Center effectively operates as a Para-School and they provide services that are required for pre-schools. If the NW Center ceased to exist many of those services would boomerang back to SPS and SPS is not prepared to manage those services.

There is only the illusion that this property is available. It is not truly viable in any real sense and it does nothing to help the capacity management mess that will undoubtedly get much worse.

Anonymous said...

Regarding children with disabilities from birth to three years of age: RCW 28A.155.065 - Early Intervention Services - provides that "By September 1, 2009, each school district shall provide or contract for early intervention services to all eligible children with disabilities from birth to three years of age." (That's just the first sentence - there is more.) The School Board approves the contract with King County when the district contracts out the services (contract is of course more than $250,000).

Preschool students over three years of age (from their 3rd birthday) with disabilities are entitled to a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) - not just services, as random thoughts pointed out above. RCW 28A.155.070 - Services to students of preschool age with disabilities -- "Special education programs provided by the state and the school districts thereof for students with disabilities shall be extended to include students of preschool age."

It's clear that Seattle Public Schools has to provide preschool for children from their 3rd birthday on when those children have disabilities and qualify for an IEP on the basis of those disabilities. What is less clear to me, and was my question above, is what the responsibility is for zero to three when our state law makes the district responsible but also gives it the option to contract out those services (as our district does).


Anonymous said...

Kellie or anyone else: any ideas about other public buildings these programs could use? Someone mentioned that huge empty school in Magnolia - is it just that it would be too expensive to get that ready to go for Cascade? Or what about the buildings at Magnuson Park?


Anonymous said...


so, are you saying that the link from Seattle Public schools to NW Center is actually very direct? Does SPS CONTRACT for early intervention services with NW Center through the County?

This is the list of providers on the King County DD page for early intervention:

Boyer and NW Center are the two Seattle providers.

If what you have said is true, then SPS is evicting one of the two of THIER Early intervention Contractors?

--Random Thought

Anonymous said...

I am saying that the District contracts with King County for those early learning services (0-3) and then the County contracts with NW Center and Boyer to provide the services. I don't think the District is really involved in how the services are provided beyond contracting with the County. This is my understanding, but again, please correct me if anyone has different information.


Anonymous said...

woah. Thanks parent. That is a pretty direct connection. It is essentially a pass through of funds from SPS to NW Center and Boyer via King County DD.

Here is the BAR from 2012:

King County doesn't provide the services directly. They pay NW Center to provide the services.

AND, SPS is required to provide these services, so they contract it out, and they are essentially evicting their own contractor.


--Random Thought

--Random Thought

kellie said...

Random Thought has covered why I said this is even messier than it appears at first glance.

It only looks like SPS is taking back the lease on an un-used property. But in fact this building is providing critical services that would be significantly more expensive to provide in-house. NW Center has significant outside funding in addition to the pass-through funds so the amount SPS is paying does not even remotely represent the actual cost of these services.

It is time that SPS officially admits that they are just out of space and that significant outside help is going to be needed to find new space.

I can certainly see why this location seems attractive to Cascade. At first glance it looks like it could be a nice long term home for their program and after spending almost two years without a long term location that is certainly enticing. I also have no doubt that Cascade is accurately representing that they were told this was pretty straightforward.

The only space in the SPS portfolio that is "available" at the moment is Van Assalt. None of the new BEX construction is online yet and everything coming on line is over committed.

There needs to be new space introduced into the system. It is very possible that the Parks department would have space that would work for Cascade but that type of conversation requires leadership and vision.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Kellie has said it all (and I will probably reprise some of it in a separate thread on the sorry state of facilities. (Sorry, Facilities staff - I am not singling you out but you are the biggest driver of what is happening in our district.)

Magnolia is too isolated and needs too much work for any use.

So while we keep building, we don't maintain. So we have many nice new buildings? Are we maintaing those? And our older buildings (the number of which Banda expressed surprise when he got here)? They are very tired.

So 30+ years of undermaintaining our buildings including technology, is now coming to roost. And we have speciality programs that have needs - needs that the students they have and those programs, in turn, help fulfill the needs of the district.

We have programs - like Cascade and The World School and Nova - that likely would grow given a stable home.

I think the district needs outside help and Kelly is right - ask the City. Don't be proud, be glad for two things. That Seattle parents are voting with their feet and coming to SPS. And, that the City has expressed the desire to help? Take them up on it.

Anonymous said...

I'm remembering in 2012 when the district lost their space at SSCC and tried to collocate the SW Middle College students with K5STEM placing them in some very old portables at Boren. Even though some district leaders said there was no money and no other options, a win-win solution was created by leasing Middle College a space at High Point's beautiful new Neighborhood House. Somewhere there must be another space that would work for Cascade. -Find It

David said...

This doesn't help the current crisis, but perhaps Cascade could go into the Decatur building. Maybe even co-housed with the Northwest Center.