Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Seattle School Board Meeting and Pre-K Discussion

Update: From the Board office (thank you to Kathie Pham for the quick reply):

Unfortunately, we did not have audio feed from the auditorium for the first 45 minutes of the meeting. However, there was a backup camera recording the meeting last night and we should have that video posted and also broadcasted on channel 26 by noon today; it will not include the first 45 minutes of the Board meeting. 

You can view the video from the brother of Robert Eagle Staff here:

End of update
I left the Board meeting after public discussion, meaning to listen in at home.

Unfortunately, the sound is not working on the videotaping and hasn't been for roughly 30 minutes.  Funny how these things happen.

Also, Jonathan Knapp testified in favor of the pre-K Action item.  The head of the SEA in the middle of hot negotiations over the teachers contract and he has time on his hands.  I hope (cross your fingers) that the videotaping didn't cut out with his testimony because hearing him say, over and over, "This is not controversial" is the GIF of the day.

Then he sat in back with his new BFF, Councilman Tim Burgess. 


mirmac1 said...

I left after my testimony. I had no illusion that the board would consider my arguments and threat that, if SPP leads to a two-class system where disabled preschoolers are shunted to 2.5 hour preschools somewhere else, while the anointed get the 6.5 hour treatment - well I say BRING IT ON.

This district is well-known for bullying families to give up their rights under IDEA to provide appropriate services to their child, in order to get this or go there. If a parent wants their preschooler with an IEP to go to a neighborhood SP preschool that is all too willing to take their SpEd funding, but not provide their service - well guess what, SPS WILL provide that service. The City will pay their rationed amount but guess who is on the hook to deliver.

SPS will no longer have a fig leaf with respect to denial of civil rights and unequitable treatment. The City says it has to comply with ADA, the Dept of Justice says they have to comply with ADA - well they will very well be expected to comply with ADA. And it will cost a helluva lot more than the City's conditional and miserly compensation plan.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I thought your remarks were very strong, Cecilia. I know that the many supporters of the SPP were a bit taken aback by this news.

This kind of speaks to how much people truly know about the issue of preschool. Did these people - some who are teachers in SPS - not know about the issues for Special Ed students and their families?

It was a little sad hearing people parrot talking points (it was all too similiar for that not to be the case). There is no bad intent but clearly most did not know all the issues.

Anonymous said...

Cecelia, I am glad you were there and spoke. I, too, say, bring it on! I wish I could have joined you.

Too often, the city, the district, and many of the education policy folks in this town leave out 13% of the kids when they talk about early education, opportunity gap or discipline or whatever the latest trendy education meme is.

The whole point of special education is to enable these kids to get the same education as other kids, nothing special, ie, to close the gap. If this early education blunder passes, SPS and the city better bet they will be providing 6.5 hours per day of education to every single kid with an IEP. And they better plan on housing them with all the other kids, not a segregated program down at Van Asselt. The DOJ recently faulted Georgia for segregating kids with disabilities in deteriorated facilities. I think it would take Cecilia a very short time to file a similar complaint with the DOJ.

It's clear to me that this thing is getting ramrodded through without a single thought about implications. Time spent on a more thoughtful examination of these issues would be well spent.


Melissa Westbrook said...

So the District tells me the sound hasn't worked since the meeting started. I hope they post the video of Robert Eagle Staff's brother giving a thank you to the district for the naming of the Wilson-Pacific middle school after his brother. It was very moving.

And, of all the meetings to not have video and audio, I wish it wasn't this one. The minutes taken never truly reflect what was said. (No offense to Board staff but they don't.)

mirmac1 said...

The extremely well-paid staff downtown expect those they are supposed to serve will accept excuses about how HAAARRD it is to do their jobs. By passing this PR scheme, they will have made their jobs even harder. Good, at least we'll get something for their pay.

For those who spoke in favor of passing this half-baked potato, including a Dev. Preschool IA, I ask "WTF do you expect to happen to the hundreds of disabled 3-4 year olds who will be left behind because of their lobbying? What assurance do we have that there'll not be separate "but equal" systems? Will City talking points somehow eradicate ingrown discrimination in our district? I highly doubt it. Will there be certificated special educators in SPP classrooms with youngsters with IEPs? HAH! Will families with disabled youngsters be expected to sign away their rights to services so that their child may attend "universal" preschool. Hell Yes. In fact I expect this arrangement will further exacerbate the inequitable system we have in place now. And I see it as my personal duty to prove this point in court. Too bad JSCEE staff and Legal are more concerned about the latest pipe dream, than fulfilling their legal duty toward those they are BOUND to serve. And I don't mean Burgess and Murray.

Anonymous said...


I feel for you. As the parent of a disabled kid who has been in the SPS system 12 and a half years (since preschool), I say to the District: bring it on. Do NOT mess with those who cannot defend themselves. I have filed with the DOJ several times, and it is disheartening to have the district's people say, to the DOJ lawyers, "I don't remember that" and have nothing else happen. I did learn my lesson about being strongly (ahem) 'discouraged' from recording IEP meetings, though. Too bad if you don't want the meeting recorded, I'm doing it anyway. And when I ask you - by name and position - for clarification if you said X, Y, and Z, you can be certain that the DOJ will have copies of it all.

And when the district sends THREE lawyers to my kid's IEP meeting, identifying them only as "Some people from the office" don't think I'm intimidated OR fooled. Oh, look, you've messed with the wrong parent. I know the laws, I know what is right, and I help others have their rights exercised. Ha. Now you have the DOJ on your backs again, just because you don't want to do what is right for the kids.

Just because you can toss all the SpEd funds you don't use on the SpEd kids into your general fund and use it however you want does NOT make it the right thing to do.

Sorry, I digress.

Anonymous said...

How did the district vote go? This preschool agreement is a mess - for a district that can't serve its K-12 students!


Anonymous said...

They passed it.


Patrick said...

The Times didn't report who voted for or against. What was the tally?

Disgusted said...

Jonathan Knapp will not have the capacity to seek re-election because of term limits. I'm sure Knapp will seek a job with the city.

Disgusted said...

We don't have nurses to take care of kids with peanut allergies, and the city thinks we have nurses to maintain health records!!!

The Executive Committee should have insisted on an audit and finance meeting, operations meeting and work session. Epic failure.

A lot of last minute changes to agreement did not allow for discussion.

LEV/RisingMoms put on quite a horse and pony show. In addition to audio being out, I couldn't help but notice they didn't show Melissa's face. For Melissa, a view of Melissa's back speaking to the dias was fine.

Let's just wait for the first big lawsuit and see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Melissa or Mirmac1,
I missed the meeting (likewise wanted to watch remotely; no sound), what are the issues around special education and the city's pre-school program? Is it displacement? Lack of access?

Most of the MomsRising-type early learning activists I know don't have kids in the K-12 system (a babies and toddler crowd), and I doubt any have experience with issues affecting children with disabilities. They aren't evil, but they do tend to think their version of early learning will solve all education gaps. And their focus is to sway decision makers, not necessarily connect and listen to what the community has to say about implementation.

But the Southeast Seattle Education Association was also promoting a yes vote, and they really do need to hear and understand any concerns around special education services. They tend to work with a lot of immigrant families and it's important they understand the issues their families might face.

Ramona H

mirmac1 said...

I have heard NO plan for provision of services, modifications and accommodations for preschoolers with disabilities at SPP. Given that the City controls enrollment, SPS shall provide services wherever a child is placed. Recall that SPS got busted for forcing ELL students to go to certain schools if they wanted services, or sign away that right. Same will apply to SPP, if a family wants their disabled child to attend a neighborhood SPP they should be able to without signing away needed service. If the City attempts to discriminate against our preschoolers - well, there you have a HUGE civil rights complaint. Universal my eye.

Furthermore, SPS shall provide our youngsters in "developmental" preschools with the same benefits as typical students in SPP classrooms. That means developmental preschools must be 6.5 hours/day (up from 2.5 hours/day now), doubling the number of classrooms they occupy. They should get lunch and similar "pre-academics". Another pending civil rights complaint.

THAT is equity. The rest is lip service.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Disgusted, my entire testimony was from the back? Oh c'mon.

As well, Knapp referenced my testimony, trying to defend Burgess. I could not clearly hear his explanation of how Burgess could sweep thru the city saying 14 classrooms were opening (he's right on 12 but not 2 of them) this fall. But then, again Burgess is running for reelection. I think Knapp is going to be disappointed with his new friends.

But then, again, I've been wrong before.

Do I believe MomsRising has 40K parents in WA State? I'd have to see proof. I find that very hard to believe (I'd have a hard time with PTA).

All I can say is when those moms and teacher realize how their kids' data (and, in the case of teachers) can be access, they might not think "it's all for the kids."

Mirmac, you know that's a fed's thing to oversee services for disabled preschoolers. Or, at least, that's what I'll guess you will be told.

mirmac1 said...

The Feds require LEAs that receive public monies to not discriminate nor deny preschoolers with disabilities equal opportunity to benefit from education and activities.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The Times has a new ed reporter so that's probably why the actual vote count isn't there. (Then again, there are such things as editors.)

Anonymous said...

The Georgia DOJ case was actually based on Title II of the ADA, discrimination on the basis of disability, based on the fact that students had disabilities and were receiving an inferior education. The ADA is a much stronger law than the IDEA and allows for individual cause of action, no need for administrative exhaustion, and punitive damages in some cases. While IDEA is pretty much a toothless tiger, ADA is not. The school district should be very wary about providing some students 6.5 hours per day of school and students with disabilities 3 hours per day.


Anonymous said...


Blanford was pleased to see so much diversity at the meeting. In addition, he was pleased that the "naysayers" were proved wrong by students performing so well on the SBA
Knapp also indirectly threw a dig at Director Peters for her amendment. What a joke.

-AH parent

Patrick said...

The Times' new reporter, or possibly wanting to create the impression that no one could possibly be against it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

He also said that Robert Eagle Staff had pursued the American Dream (I believe he was referencing Eagle Staff working on a PhD before he died.) It just came out oddly giving what Eagle Staff had been trying to convince the district of for many years.

I have to get to my SBAC thread to address Blanford and the naysayers.

mirmac1 said...

GL, Exactly.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac, GL:

Not only do preschool children with disabilities receive 2.5 hours of preschool, 4 days per week, they do so in "self-contained" or segregated classrooms as well. The District has always responded to concerns that this was not the least restrictive environment for the kids by saying that since SPS did not provide General Education preschool, they were under no LEGAL obligation to provided blended, integrated classrooms.

Will anything be different now? Oh, well, I mean SHOULD anything be different?


Anonymous said...


FYI: Preschool special education is funded and administered in the same way as K-21 education. There is no difference.

I need to do more research, but on its face, supplying twice as much time to students who fall into the educational opportunity gap by virtue of race or socioeconomic status and half as much time to students who fall into the educational opportunity gap by virtue of disability is an obvious violation of the ADA. Obvious, bald-faced, and you can count on a written complaint by the middle of September.

The school board, the district, the educational policy mongers and the state need to stop ignoring the civil and educational rights of children with disabilities. They need to start listening to disability advocacy groups and include them in conversation.

Thus far, the thrust at SPS has been to shut us out--to not include or even consider.

When Stephan Blanford says its so nice to see diversity, he isn't talking about any kind of diversity other than race. And he really isn't even talking about race--he's talk about dark skin. He's not talking about someone with disabilities. Or the parent of someone with disabilities. Or even the parent of someone with disabilities who was born in Peru. He is talking black.

He and everyone else needs to expand their definition of diversity to include persons with disabilities. And he and everyone else needs to spend more time on disability law.



Anonymous said...


If the district is going to provide education to preschoolers, then they are going to provide an inclusive experience for all of them with the same number of minutes. They will balk, but we will fight.


Melissa Westbrook said...

GL, what you said is kind of what I said to the Board based on insider information about the teacher contract negotiations that the district is trying to lower their Sped costs by providing fewer services. I don't know the precise details.

I told the Board this and said that it seems like they are more concerned with pre-K students (not their mandate) than Sped pre-K-12 (their mandate).

Truly, with the City's silence on this point (and student data privacy), I think there's something there. You have to wonder why McLaren (running to retain her seat) and the other directors who voted for this didn't raise those concerns (but I'll listen to the videotape when available.

Anonymous said...

The student data privacy is a huge concern. Do you know what kind of data they are going to collect and are parents going to be informed about the extent of the data collected, who it is being shared with, how it is being stored and who will be responsible for leaks?

Really, very few people care because FERPA provides no private right of action. And SPS's line about medical records is B.S. and they know it or should know it. The city probably doesn't know it because they don't have to bother about it. At this point it's all no harm no foul.

Stephan Blanford can call us naysayers all he wants. Or losers and haters. Whatever.

The point is, there is value to doing the work to make sure that the district has the capacity, that parents are fully informed about data collection, that students with disabilties are served in an inclusive manner with the same hours of education, and that there is a plan for next year.

Now the great and powerful Murray can retreat behind his curtain, but SPS is left holding the bag, and the work hasn't been done.


Anonymous said...


Thanks for your comments. While the reality of the systemic oppression of black people prevails and the opportunity gap widens, there are many other whose need to be included in the opportunity gap conversation. We have substantial diversity in Seattle that is not limited to sexual orientation or being an african american.

I really think that the School Board and the City Council need to hear directly from you more often to make this point.

More voices are needed to remind folks that as MLK said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." Please continue to fight for the civil rights of special education students and do not back down.


Anonymous said...

Since 2006 and the first year of WASL 'accountability', I have never seen any of these systemic tests have quickly usable results. I have never seen WASL or HSPE or EOC or ... SBAC! tell us math teachers, or any teachers?, 'this student needs a, d, k, ... that student needs a,b,z...'. I have never seen the system set up to help kids fix those short comings, for the year they took the test or the next year.

[well, this makes sense, since no one is told what the shortcomings are in a reasonable time frame.!]

In our data driven world does anyone have a count of hours, per math teacher, of rejiggering algebra 1 or geometry or algebra 2 for the latest set of standards and what ever course materials the teacher has? The count of hours of test prep, the count of hours of filling out paperwork to show 'student growth' so the minions of the bureaucracies and the minions of Gate$ A$tro Turf$ can blame teachers and schools?

WHY are we in K-12 dealing with Pre-K, when our house is a disaster?

A friend forwarded me an invite for a Tim Burgess fundraiser, featuring such 'friends' of public education as Lisa DFER and Litzow. Nyland gets SEA contract proposals in May, June, July and August, and zaps SEA with a middle of August REJECT!. Nyland, beloved by Midnight Marty, Secretive Sharon, and Go Along Get Along Jonathan, appointed in a Turkey Day Travesty.

Jonathan, Which Side Are


mirmac1 said...

It's a HUGE stretch to say the City is providing an "institutional service". But I'm under no illusion that SPS will obtain parent "consent" by implying that, by not signing the form, their child may lose their spot.

Transparency Please said...

Here is how it happened:

Road Map put prek classs into Seattle Public Schools via private partnerships, and Causey/Van Asselt was amongst projects:

Causey WAS at Van Asselt and was recently closed:

"Causey's Learning Center works closely with Van Asselt school, helping preschooler to smoothly and successfully transition to kindergarten with confidence.
Causey’s alignment plan with Van Asselt states that collaboration is essential in supporting school readiness. Seattle Schools states “through partnerships and collaboration, Early Learning creates an equitable system of early education, anchored in cultural relevance, effective instruction and whole-child development”

Causey, via the Family and Education Levy, was supported at Van Asselt:

Causey at Van Asselt was closed. Then, the city offers to put prek into Van Asselt via SPS/city partnership. A campaign was organized, and teachers, families etc. showed-up and testified in favor of prek at Van Asselt. The board was put into a very precarious position, contracts were changed at the last minute etc.

The City of Seattle closed Causey at Van Asselt and opened another Cauey prek at a different location.

What will we see next year?

Will we see other private pre k providers in SPS, being closed and campaigns launched for Seattle to provide prek for poor children via city/district partnership?

Transparency Please said...

Will the Van Asselt be up and running in September? It didn't seem possible for the district/city to open a prek in Sept., unless, of course, we just watched a transfer.

Anonymous said...

Hey GL, does the legion of sped central administration even know about the sped preschool issues? They must know that they are pretty much getting stuffed into a distant location. But do they know there's a new preschool mandate.... which appears way superior... it's many more hours of service, it's inclusive in the education community, it's in better facilities, there are typically developing peers. Do they know any of that? I doubt it. There's only 1 "program specialist" doing preschool, and dealing with the eeu at UW. Unlikely she even knows about it. Might be good to engage her. Good to at least get some email on the public record.

Sped Reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

Transparency Please, yes, there was this one odd piece of testimony at the Board meeting about how great the Causey pre-k was and they want to continue to have "high-quality" pre-k at Van Asselt.

So, if Causey was doing a great job with high-quality pre-k, why did they leave? It looks a lot like they were forced out.

Yes, most of these 14 preschools are flips (or transfers).

Anonymous said...

Sped Reader,

As of June, there were actually 2 full-time early childhood "program specialists," which is a relatively high ratio for the number of preschools they support. There is also a SUPERVISOR of Early Childhood Spec Ed. The program specialists typically are not back at work until teachers are..... Has the Supervisor weighed in? Has anyone engaged her? The Supervisor should be leading the way.....


mirmac1 said...

2 full-time early childhood "program specialist". To cover 21 development preschool classrooms. And the 33 ECEAP, Step-Ahead, Headstart and FEL preschools? Guess what, they have children with disabilities too (who are minimally served)

From the SPP Website:

"In classrooms where more than 6 of the students are considered to be members of a “special population” as defined in the Implementation Plan (for example, children in foster/kinship care or other areas of child welfare system, English language learners, children who receive special education services), additional instructional staff support will be provided for the classroom"

The City(?) will:
"• Provide in-class support for teachers from coaches or mental health professionals as needed."

"SPP classrooms will have access to mental health staff in order to support social-emotional and behavioral challenges within the classroom."

"• Support teachers in effectively meeting the needs of all children, especially those who exhibit challenging behaviors.

• Work alongside Seattle Public Schools Special Education department to meet the needs of children with Individualized Educational Plans (IEPs).

Transparency Please said...

The City of Seattle sent out a news release. The city will be enrolling prek students into both Van Asselt buildings. This, just a few days after the vote. One might have thought it would take a little bit of time for the district to hire teachers etc.

mirmac1 said...

Oh. Well as you may heard. They have TWO program specialists (which some of us have heard are of questionable benefit and do the usual "golf off" of our kids) can handle the MANY new preschool programs that MUST accept ALL children under Fed Law, will somehow serve them adequately.

If I'm skeptical, well, I have many reasons to be...

Charlie Mas said...

The School District tells us that they have a hard time hiring good teachers because they start the hiring process so late in the year - around May. But the City can hire good teachers in August to start in September. I wonder how they do that.

Anonymous said...


They don't need to. Its actually the District doing the hiring for the new preschool programs. Jobs are posted on the website. Closing date Aug. 27th. (not to mention taking an empty space (as yet unidentified at OVA) and creating a high quality, fully supplied, classroom learning environment.....etc. in a couple of weeks)

So, it's business as usual.