Monday, May 30, 2016

Another School's Struggles

I was contacted some months back by some Laurelhurst Elementary parents who were, at turns, flummoxed, frustrated and frantic.  It felt to them as if their school was unraveling and, like Stevens, their principal and the district did not seem to be giving their concerns much credibility or credence.

Like the Stevens parents, they had asked for a meeting to have a whole picture meeting of the minds, with everything put out on the table.  (This after an earlier parent meeting that apparently was quite tense and non-productive, leaving both sides feeling unhappy.)

The issue with Laurelhurst is multi-faceted.   One, their school is packed to the gills even with portables.  They even have some schooling happening in the halls.  Two, the Sped EBD services there seem to be serving a larger number of students than the school can help.  When there are behavior issues, many times the aide will take a child out to the hallway but there's some kind of teaching there,  it just doesn't work.  Three, it appears to be more EBD students than they can serve because a couple of those students appear to have such severe issues that one even climbed a fire ladder and threatened to jump. 

Just like some of the Stevens parents,  the Laurelhurst parents say that some students' behavior is not addressed and it is creating an feeling of an unsafe atmosphere at school.  Just like Stevens parents, there seems to be a "lack of clarity about what behavior is and isn't permitted."  Parents have also expressed concerns over falling test scores over the last couple of years. Just like Stevens, the parents have expressed concerns over the leadership of their principal. 

My understanding is that the school does not have a full-time counselor.  Again, when you have issues about foul language or safety for elementary-aged students, it is vital to be able to explain to kids - many of whom may be too young to be developmentally able to understand the issues around other students' behaviors - what is happening.  The most recent Laurelhurst climate survey reflects that students feel less safe at their school. For parents who are not at the school and only hear from their students about what is going on because of lack of communication from the school, it makes for a worrisome situation. 

As you can imagine, this has created an "us versus them" mentality for both parents and administration. 
 But, like all parents, there is an investment for them in the school and this meeting was called to find a way forward for the best possible outcomes for all students. 
The meeting last week had a professional facilitator.  There was this soothing music playing as you came in and I had never seen that tried before.  I think it did contribute to a calm, professional meeting.  There appeared to be about 75 parents there plus Mike Starosky, Chief of Schools, Kim Whitworth, Executive Director for the region, Special Ed Director Wyeth Jessee, Principal Sarah Talbot and a couple of teachers.  As well, Director Jill Geary was there as she is a Laurelhurst parent.


While the music was great, the 25 minutes of reviewing what would happen and introductions was not.  I generally have a problem with time being taken with basic details as it leaves less time for discussion.

Mr. Starosky is a new-to-me senior staffer.  While he was genial, he seemed to be unaware of much about the situation.  Ms. Whitworth seemed to be more up-to-speed.

There was first an overview of the situation.  But I particularly liked what came next which were there were four easels at the back of the room, one for each topic - Space, Sped/Gen Ed Integration, Safety and Communications.  There was an administrator for each easel and parents were free to wander to each one, putting up concerns/ideas for each topic.  It seemed pretty effective to me.  

I thought that parents had good suggestions.  For Space, they even said to move out the pre-K as well as their LASER program (which is a before-after school activity program.)  I think it pained them to say those things but they believe that the K-12 program is suffering too much from lack of space.  There were also suggestions to reorient some areas.  

There was discussion over whether Bryant or Laurelhurst is the most overcrowded but Laurelhurst is right up there. (I did note to the group that while Laurelhurst does have an old building, that Rogers is by far the worst elementary in their region and that there was probably no hope Laurelhurst would be on the BEX.)  Parents did ask if it were possible - if they have to have portables - to have at least one with a bathroom.

There was also some spirited discussion over who (or what program) gets placed where.  Mr. Jessee explained that every school had some Special Ed and ELL students.  This seemed to come as quite a surprise to some parents but given the OSPI directive last summer about ELL students and providing services to Sped students in neighborhood schools, it is surely true.  I think the issue for some parents is the number of specific Sped students in their schools and couldn't that number be spread out more.

Mr. Jessee seemed to push back on nearly every parent idea, preferring to bounce the ball back in the parent court by suggesting more community-building situations. He also said he could come back and lend some expertise to Principal Talbot.

It was also mentioned by district staff that there is a shortage of school psychiatrists to fill the needs  of the schools.

Interestingly, ALO came up as some parents had no idea what was being provided to students.

Safety loomed large and I heard things like "can teachers check bags for weapons?" and having positive behavior training for parents/staff, "do we need gates?", etc.  One parent said their head teacher (name not given) was the one person in the building holding safety of school together and a worry about funding being cut for that position. 

As for communications, this was an interesting discussion because Mr. Starosky talked about BLTs (building leadership teams) but seemed unaware that 1)there is actual Board policy on this and 2) much of the interpretation of the policy is in the hands of principals.  Apparently, BLT notes/minutes for meetings at Laurelhurst have not been available.  (There's a big no-no.)  There was also a suggestion that the principal respond more directly to parents in the school newsletter.  

Parents expressed concerns about teachers being moved around from grade to grade and that some teachers felt a lot of stress over it.

Both the BLT issue and movement of teachers issue brought up a common theme from both the Stevens and Laurelhurst meetings. Parents want to know the process on decision-making.  They want to have clarity on what will be communicated and when.  

During the easel discussions, Mr. Starosky talked about having a suggestion box, only to find out Laurelhurst does have one but it is mostly used by kids. Given the situation, that suggests a disconnect to me between the principal and the parents.  If the situation has been ever-growing and yet the principal hasn't seen evidence of this in the suggestion box, maybe it means parents don't think their concerns will be listened to.

The school has a taskforce on this issue which seemed to be an ad hoc one that parents created.  At the end of the meeting, it was decided that the taskforce would take a first pass at creating the ideas to move forward.  The parents also wanted clarity on the role of Sped IAs and what their work looks like (there seemed to be some confusion about why the IAs would have their phones out so much but it was explained that they have to carefully document their time.)

Thoughts

1) Despite his credentials,  I was not that impressed with Mr. Starosky.   He didn't seem to offer many new ideas.

As well, this is the second school in two regions of this district, where parents are having problems getting their executive directors to listen to concerns.  Overseeing the ex directors is one of Mr. Starosky's main functions.  

2)  Again, principals drive what does or does not happen at the schools.  If the principal does not have good communication skills, it almost doesn't matter what else is happening.  I heard from several Laurelhurst parents that they like Ms. Talbot and believe her to be a caring person.  But they also think she also doesn't have strong leadership skills.  

My question then is, why aren't the ex directors - when they hear about these issues - moving to review and shore up those skills?

3) Schools like Laurelhurst and Stevens really shouldn't be schools that are a worry for the district.  They are in areas with a history of strong parental engagement and support.  They generally get good test scores.  But at both schools, I have heard rumblings of parents who say they have tried to be supportive - for years - and are now at their wit's end and may take their child out of that school. 

On the one hand, maybe the district administration is so busy trying to figure out where to put all the kids, they just don't care if some parents leave.  

But really, it is a mistake to turn away from situations and let them fester because these schools have a long history of parent investment, both in time and support.  You don't just let that slip away.  As well, we all know how talk gets around - at the supermarket, the soccer field or at the park.  Once a school starts getting talked down, many more parents will turn away.

5) The big difference between the Stevens meeting and the Laurelhurst meeting was that the Stevens' principal was not there.  This accorded the parents the ability to speak more freely about her performance and for the ex director to talk about her performance (albeit it in vague terms.)  I think there was some frustration for Laurelhurst parents that the issue of principal performance was not truly discussed.

5) I am worried that the district is now becoming so worried about lawsuits - from parents, teachers and administrators - that they are allowing that cloud their judgment.  The district must act within public education law but they also have to provide a safe and equitable school for all the children who are in it.  I know that is a delicate balance and do not mean to suggest it is wand-waving easy to do.  

But again, schools that have previously done well should not be undergoing this kind of churn.  Even if it costs more money, the district may have to equalize out the number of high-need students at each school in order to maintain stability to all schools.  They have to realize the stress being created by the over-crowding. 

104 comments:

Anonymous said...

My kids loved LASER. It was the best part of their day. If you evict LASER, you lose an irreplaceable childcare provider. Unless they set up a tent in Laurelhurst Park or buy a church building, there isn't any space to be had in the neighborhood. LASER made Laurelhurst desirable for us: safe, excellent childcare before/after school AT school. It's been 10 years since we've been there. I'm trying to imagine where the portables stand. The playground, the basketball court? It sounds like refugee housing in Munich.

Westside

Anonymous said...

A kid with a disability in an EBD classroom climbing a ladder -- how is that too much for a school? It happens when staff don't know when to stop pushing. I'll go way out on a limb here and say that if the school community is all bent out of shape about this, it's a leadership and professional development issue, not an "oh we can't serve your kind" issue. I'm disappointed in the tenor of this post. Same old same old. Blame the student. Blame diversity.

Reader

Anonymous said...

I was a longtime parent at Laurelhurst and have experienced firsthand its deterioration. The problems began before Dr. Talbot arrived with the sudden arrival of several children with behavioral problems for whom no one was prepared. The following year many more of these children arrived without enough trained support to handle them. They assaulted others in a way I had never seen before, including teachers, and one had to be taken away in an aid car due to a violent meltdown. The school told the children not to tell their parents what had happened that day.
Moving forward, Dr. Talbot has brought in even more of these students and they freely assault all of the children, disrupt class regularly and are allowed to do so without restraint of any kind. Mind you, if a GenEd student caused a fraction of that kind of trouble, there would be meetings galore involving the principal, parents and teachers. If a parent objects or voices concern for their child's safety or an impossible learning environment in regard to these students they are called "racist" and are told by Dr. Talbot they are free to go to private school if they can afford to do so. The test scores for 3rd grade have gone from a consistent 85 - 90 down to 50 last year, and they are expected to be even worse this school year. I attended the previous meeting and there was yelling, shouting and tears of frustration on behalf of the parents. We pulled our children out and they are happy and thriving in private school. My heart grieves for the old Laurelhurst.
-Public to Private

Anonymous said...

Seriously. What do Stevens and Laurelhurst have in common? Let's see. Isn't it obvious? An EBD and an Inclusion special Ed program. O and an entitled parent base. O dear. How much is too much [before we kick those cans on down the road]. And what idiotic ideas in the idea box. If they spread out the EBD program to a "fair share" system, they'd have to spread out the staff too. Meaning, instead of 7 teacher/ias available now, you'd probably just get the 2 kids assigned to the resource room with no extra support. That was called ics, and everyone complained even more about that. If there is an end program in your school, there are going to be behaviors manifested by students. Best to teach kids about swear words at home, and about diversity.

Reader 2

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am not "blaming" anyone. I'm saying that the concern parents feel for all the students seems to be overlooked. The parents were very much about finding solutions for all kids.

Reader 2, no, a parent does not have to teach elementary kids about swear words. That kind of language is inappropriate in any school setting but particularly elementary. To say this is just how it is does not help any student.

Again, the maximum number of very high needs students per school might need to be looked at.

Again, I have not heard one word from a single parent at either school saying they don't want these kids. But they want better communications and better clarity on expectations. I don't really think that's asking a lot.

Anonymous said...

Reader 2, Even with teaching your 6 y o swear words and diversity, do you really think it helps any school child to be permitted to say bad words at school? We already tell children 'these words are not Ok'. Bad words imply: disrespect and bad actions, neither of which are conducive to learning to be a member of civic society.
NEmim

Anonymous said...

Implying that bad language is one of the main concerns seems misleading. I don't want to tell other people's stories but the children of my friends have had deeply unsettling experiences. It's unthinkable to me that the district isn't funding a counselor to help all the kids. Honestly my son went there in K, before the new principal and the new programs and it already really seemed less functional without a counselor, compared to the nearby school we moved to afterwards. Easier to blame entitled parents than accept that this special ed program is failing the children it serves.

ne

Anonymous said...

Most, not all, but most special ed (cough cough) programs are failing. Just look at the graduation rates for SPED students. FYI, the majority of students in SPED don't need EB counseling, but those who do are not getting it even though the district is allocating millions of dollars for it. You have to imagine if things are bad at Laurelhurst just imagine how bad it is for schools without a director as a parent, Oh wait, Ingraham has 2 director parents and things are no better there for SPED or gen ed. Ingraham only rates "not failing" due to it's IB program.

Where is SPS heading? Fresh off probation for SPED violations and the broken SPED promises just keep piling up. There is also a fresh batch of OCR filings...geez so much for the $550K invested in a office of student civil rights!

The IB programs seem like one of the only bright spots and it appears SPS is trying to kill those off.

--Bart

Anonymous said...

This is pretty typical of SPS management, sadly. They make a risky decision, one that could work with proper oversight and strong leadership, but it fails because SPS management is committed to excluding parents and ignoring their concerns at every step of the way. The senior staff at the JSCEE are totally clueless, Nyland doesn't care about these problems, and the school board is still too gutless to fire him despite multiple lapses.

The only way this stuff gets fixed is through a mass purge at the JSCEE. Parents need to stop playing nice and start demanding change. Our kids' future is on the line.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Well Melissa. We can look at it all we want... but Laurelhurst has 13.6% special ed. (OSPI's latest report) Right at the district average. So nope. Not a problem of numbers. And, their special education participation rate is somewhat low for elementaries since high schools have a much lower special education rate overall due to drop out. Here's the bottom line. EBD programs are for the MOST SEVERE behavior problems. There is nowhere after Laurelhurst to kick the can to in the district. Let me say this again. Laurelhurst is for students with THE MOST SEVERE BEHAVIOR problems in the district. So is Stevens. If you want to remove these kids from Stevens or Laurelhurst (or B.F. Day or Madrona or Southshore or Gatewood or Hawthorne or Highland Park or Northgate) then you will be sending them to an out of district placement for a minimum of $100,000 per kid. ($200,000 per kid if it is residential program), and probably a lot more. And, the district will also be on the hook for all transportation of kids and families throughout the year. Eg. Cab rides every day if the kid is kicked to some of the EBD day centers in Bellevue. So, for probably around $220,000 per year times 10 kids (2.2 million per year) you could wash your hands of 1 EBD program at Laurelhurst. That's about 22 teachers (or 66 IAs). Which 22 teachers would you like to trade in for this kick the can game?

It is striking that the places with all the complaints - are where the other students are the most privileged: Stevens and Laurelhurst. Notably - these schools have historically shipped out students with severe disabilities to other schools in the region. The Times isn't called when there's a parent special-ed complaint, or "behavior" problem at Madrona - only if there's a garden involved.

Yes, you are going to witness behavior problems in schools with EBD programs - that is how students qualify for the "behavior" programs in the first place. It does not mean that children will necessarily be in class. Typically they will be removed. And right. GenEd students would be suspended for behavior that a special ed student wouldn't be suspended for. And, GenEd students would also fail classes that special ed students pass. Is this a surprise to anybody besides - PublicToPrivate? I hope not.

Reader 2

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

I just hope staff is protecting the kids from "deeply unsettling experiences". A kid is at risk of being traumatized and having lifelong impacts himself/herself if they are regularly bullied, in fear of physical harm, or the like. This increases risk for depression, anxiety, alcoholism and drug abuse. Trauma does not only happen at the hands of parents or caregivers, it can come from abuse by peers. I feel for the kids with the extreme behavior problems, but I'd hope for a way to support those kids without traumatizing others. Kids should feel safe at school.
IMHO

Anonymous said...

Oh please IMHO, walk a mile. You can teach your kids what is an autism meltdown and or other combined specrum-y fight/flight behaviors. And as for your kid? This is an inclusive society and your kids should know how to navigate. It is a pity that the administration at Laurelhurst does not view that navigation as their job. Such a deep leadership failure, right here.

reader

Melissa Westbrook said...

"If you want to remove these kids from Stevens or Laurelhurst..."

I, nor any parent I talked with, ever said this. And saying "wash your hands" of a program is not what anyone is saying either.

This is not an either/or situation. It's just one that needs some attention as clearly it is an issue at the schools where the placements have been made. As I suggested, maybe the max number of students per school could change but I don't know.

And it's not just Laurelhurst or Stevens; I reported on issues at Highland Park last year. Same thing.

Charlie Mas said...

It's funny, but despite all of the antagonistic language here, I see everyone advocating for the same thing: more support for EBD students. Or is there someone opposed to that?

The families who are concerned for their children's safety - which is a legitimate and honorable concern - want more support for the students with emotional and behavioral problems. They also want education and communication for themselves and their children - another legitimate and honorable expectation.

Those advocating for the students with disabilities are also in favor of more support for these children and, I presume, in favor of safety, education, and communication.

So why does it sound like opposition instead of agreement?

THe only people opposed to more support for these kids in need appears to be the District, but the District would probably say that they also favor more support for the kids, but they lack the funding to provide it. The District does, however, need to provide the education and communication. It is the District's job to explain the Special Education discipline rules to the school communities - not reader's job. Reader shouldn't have to do the District's work for them.

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

How do you know these kids are "hard"? Maybe it is that their teacher does not have the training or the supervision to do what the IEP says needs to be done. Everybody is so busy making these kids seem like they're out of control. It is the administration that is out of control. Put your energies into fixing that and the rest will follow.

Rocketscience

Charlie Mas said...

Anonymous, in future, please sign your comments or they will be deleted as this one was.

Rocketscience, why so antagonistic? You are advocating for the same thing as the person who wrote the anonymous comment - more support for the students who need it.

Anonymous said...

No Charlie. The communities have to step up as well. It's their school, they need to own these social issues around inclusion.

Think the community members aren't talking about "kick the can" again? If this report is accurate, they clearly are. Special ed administrators don't need to come to buildings to assuage parents - or to explain special ed. It's public school. It's going to be diverse. That doesn't need explanation. Do they need to come out to explain to the Laurelhurst community that different races will be there too?

"Like the Stevens parents, they had asked for a meeting to have a whole picture meeting of the minds, with everything put out on the table."
No. You don't get to put disability "on the table". That is an absolute privacy issue.

"Just like Stevens parents, there seems to be a lack of clarity about what behavior is and isn't permitted."
No. Students with "behavior problems" get to go to school too. There are no behavior rules to be explained. If a behavior of students "isn't permitted" - then you're really and truly saying: the students exhibiting the challenging behavior should be somewhere else. Laurelhurst is already that somewhere else.

"Moving forward, Dr. Talbot has brought in even more of these students and they freely assault all of the children"
Seriously? Dr. Talbot brought them all by herself? They assault ALL of the children? This is the attitude I'm talking about. THOSE students don't belong here, they're from somewhere else. Probably, they are minorities which is how the community knows THEY don't belong here. THEY are the administrator's problem. THEY are bad, bad, bad. Seems the community forgot about all the neighborhood kids the Laurelhurst region has already shipped to elsewhere. Laurelhurst is currently serving exactly the district's average. And using language like "assault" for elementary aged students - well, it's not language you would use describing your own kids.

One writer even blamed the EBD students - on the fact that her student had a sub. No - special ed students do not cause buildings to have extra subs. Ridiculous. And then asserted that all of the administrator's time was spent on special ed student problems. More ridiculous.

Doesn't sound like the problem is more support or administration. Like Stevens. Administration - is an easy blame-all, but it isn't the problem. The Steven's community was accustomed to exclusion and the district's administration squelched that. Like Stevens the special education programs are already extremely well resourced. The time to rally for "extra special education resources" - is when the CBA was negotiated and those student ratios were determined. There was no concerted effort on the part of Laurelhurst's pta to advocate for lower EBD staffing ratio's at any board meeting (or student numbers), or sped ptsa meeting - ever.

Loathe as it may be to say - Jessee is right here. The answer is in the community finding ways to include the entire school socially, and in community building. Administrators can help - but the community needs to own it.

Reader 2

Anonymous said...

Readers 1 and 2 claim that children who walk to their neighborhood school have to "own" the responsibility to create an inclusive school community for children whose behaviors are so out of control that they must be bussed to a self-contained program. They claim the behaviors disturbing children at Laurelhurst are "autism meltdowns" or "spectrumy flight/fright reactions". Not true. Laurelhurst and Stevens parents are not concerned about their children observing out of control tantrums. They're concerned about abusive behaviors perpetrated against their children.

All children have a right to attend a school where they are physically and emotionally safe. The role of a school counselor or psychologist in an ebd program is not to teach children how to cheerfully and maturely accept abuse. It is to teach disabled children how to redirect their troublesome behaviors. Until their classmates's safety is ensured, they are not ready for inclusion.

Safety First

Anonymous said...

I am a SPED teacher and I know for a fact that our programs don't get enough support. Even though I can document 'til my ears turn blue, it is a struggle to get extra support for those students that need it in order to access their education. They cut our classroom budgets, and made getting 1:1 support for some needy students next to impossible, among some of our issues. As for IAS with phones out, I have been trying to get the district to purchase walkie talkies for our program for when the IAs are out of the classroom with students so that we can communicate when issues come up. So far, as with many other requests, the answer has been to kick the can around, and we haven't gotten any. That means we have to use our phones.

SPED Teacher

Anonymous said...

All of our public schools are understaffed in all areas and if we really want things to change we need to organize together more effectively and push harder for McCleary, for the benefit of all the children. This is our chance to make it right.

BT

Melissa Westbrook said...

"If this report is accurate, they clearly are."

You are totally wrong. Re-read this thread if need be but no, there is no "kicking of the can" going on.

"You don't get to put disability "on the table".

Sorry if you missed my meaning; I meant the challenges the school was facing, not the students themselves. As well, again, the issue is not just are services for some students, it's about overcrowding as well.

"If a behavior of students "isn't permitted" - then you're really and truly saying: the students exhibiting the challenging behavior should be somewhere else."

No, I'm not nor is anyone else. ALL students have to follow rules; some students - like my own special needs child - needed guidance and supports to do that. Will it be possible for all kids to follow all rules? Of course not but you at least have those rules out there so there is clarity for all kids.

"The Steven's community was accustomed to exclusion and the district's administration squelched that."

Okay, and how do you know that? Because you don't get to paint an entire school community with a broad brush without documentation. I expect you to provide it or I will delete your comment.

Anonymous said...

Reader 2 said "Just like Stevens parents, there seems to be a lack of clarity about what behavior is and isn't permitted. No. Students with 'behavior problems' get to go to school too. There are no behavior rules to be explained."

There are no rules/requirements for special ed students with behavior problems--any type of behavior is permitted? I doubt that.

What are the criteria for determining when inclusion is appropriate--or inappropriate? My guess is that the law is consistent with what Safety First said: "Until their classmates's safety is ensured, they are not ready for inclusion." As I understand it, access to the LRE is based on what is appropriate. Are there additional assessments to be done and criteria to be met to determine that inclusion is appropriate?

EE

Anonymous said...

It just keeps coming up ("... they are not ready for inclusion..."). With this and other objectivity statements, it continues to be a focus on blaming child. You've got to focus on the teacher and the building administrator to make this happen, not the child. Do you really not understand that your low/non-existent expectations of the adults in this situation are the problem?

Another reader

Anonymous said...

Reader 2, I am going to take you on on a few points.

1. "The communities have to step up as well. It's their school, they need to own these social issues around inclusion." What does this mean? I work full time. I am on PTA. I volunteer in my son's class as much as I possibly can, while trying to keep my job. What else can I do to step up? My son's school as an EBD program. It serves kids from our neighborhood, and beyond. I am not sure what I can do to "own these social issues around inclusion." I am asking that the district provide extra support a school when things seem to be going south, as they are at my son's school.

2. "One writer even blamed the EBD students - on the fact that her student had a sub. No - special ed students do not cause buildings to have extra subs. Ridiculous. And then asserted that all of the administrator's time was spent on special ed student problems. More ridiculous." Actually, you are quick to blame and find fault, that is for sure.

What I wrote is that my son had a teacher who absolutely needed help from her administrator, all year. IMO, the administrator was too busy dealing with major problems in the EBD program to effectively deal with the issue in my son's class. Come early May, the teacher left, for the year. Now they have a sub for the duration, and it's more turmoil on top of a BAD year. Lots of learning lost for my son's class this year, and I don't happen to think that's ok.

If all kids are entitled to an education, then it's the district's job to make sure that schools with EBD programs get the extra support to make sure that learning is happening for all kids, and I don't think that's the case at my kid's school now.

Even at public school (of which I am a proud product) there is more to be learned than grit and resilience, and bad language (not sure what to make of that). There is math, reading, writing, and a love of learning that are supposed to be learned too. They are there for six hours a day, and we can't make up for all of that. If every child is entitled to an education, then the district must ensure that that is true. And in our case, that did NOT happen in 1st grade.

~Shura

Anonymous said...

The adults may be failing to properly prepare them, but if students are unprepared, putting them in inclusion isn't going to work anyway. It's not "blaming" the child--it's simply acknowledging the reality. Is it the child's fault? No. But you didn't answer the question--are there objective criteria for determining when inclusion is appropriate, or for determining when inclusion is not working?

Are you saying we need more outrage/parent advocacy re: adequate resources/training/other that can effectively do the background work necessary to support students' eventual transition into inclusion?

EE

Anonymous said...

My child attended North Beach Elementary when it was an autism "magnet" school. I was never clear on what that meant but there appeared to be more autistic children in the classrooms. The classrooms with these children had more aides and parent volunteers than the other classrooms. There were behavior problems from time to time but the staff - which appeared to be very well trained - were always experimenting to find means by which kids could be included (whether it meant a special desk or some interspersed quiet time). Every once in a while the classroom situation became overwhelming for an individual SPED student and they had to return to less inclusive instruction. This all seemed to work very smoothly. The GenEd kids participated in inclusive exercises such as reading to the SPED kids. It was very useful for my daughter to learn, at a very young age, that everyone's brain works a little differently.

It is my impression from reading these posts that, yet again, the SPS has taken localized programs that worked well and were well-run by staff with special training and spread them around the district with ZERO consideration for the effect on untrained staff and parents. In the SPS district's mind: all children's brains work the same, all teachers have identical skills and parents are, without exception, problems to be managed and excluded.

-SPS parent

mirmac1 said...

The Seattle Special Education PTSA is hosting a community-building event at Laurelhurst on June 7th (not sure if start is 6:30 or 7pm).

The Theater of Possibility, led by Lauren Marshall will provide improv theater surrounding concerns and solutions. From their website:

Come Explore the Possibilities! Theater of Possibility ("TOP") helps young people give voice to their ideas and dreams! Through fun and zany theater games, improv exercises and role-playing, we explore the dynamics of friendship, family and school. Along the way, we shape powerful emotions and ideas into moving, profound and funny works of theater.

Social skills are inherent in what we do, but TOP classes are playful and non-didactic. Relationship topics such as making and keeping friends, responses to bullying or exclusion, peer pressure and social injustice, might be explored through the creative genres of a fantasy, sci-fi or absurdist comedy.


I think every school would benefit from community-building events like these. Thanks to the Laurelhurst PTA for welcoming the TOP!

Anonymous said...

"Laurelhurst and Stevens parents are not concerned about their children observing out of control tantrums. They're concerned about abusive behaviors perpetrated against their children. "

This. Reader, my kid was in a class with a kid who had vein-throbbing, red-faced, half-hour-long meltdowns that completely took the teacher off task twice a day for 2 years. No "entitled" parents complained. Our kids missed lots of instructional time, but learned a lot about compassion and gave a lot of encouragement to this kid. Meltdown behavior is not what's being discussed here. It's violent behavior that traumatizes others, and that can have a lasting impact. And while adults have the capacity to incorporate danger and threats into their navigation of life, little kids are still developing and are likely to feel helpless and at risk in protecting themselves from physical violence.

IMHO

Charlie Mas said...

"Special ed administrators don't need to come to buildings to assuage parents - or to explain special ed."
Clearly, they do. The laws and rules around Special Education are not commonly known or obvious, so, yes, someone has to explain them. Did you somehow instinctively know them without any instruction?

"It's public school. It's going to be diverse. That doesn't need explanation."
I have great news for you. No one is asking anyone to explain that. Even when the people are diverse, the rules are usually the same for everyone - that's what civil rights are about. Yet, when it comes to school discipline and students with disabilities, the rules are NOT the same for everyone. That does require explanation. People need to be told why behavior that would result in discipline for one student does not result in discipline for another student.

No one is blaming the students. That just isn't happening. People are saying that the school administration isn't communicating with them, isn't keeping their children safe, isn't supporting teachers well enough, and isn't managing their space well. None of those problems are about blaming children.

No one is trying to deny the students with disabilities their rights. I know that these rights are frequently violated and abused, but that's not what these people are saying. They are saying that they feel that their children's right to feel safe at school has been impaired and that their children's access to education is being constrained and they want that addressed - not in a way that impairs anyone else's safety or constrains anyone else's access to a free and appropriate education, but they do want it addressed. No one is pretending that this is obvious or easy, which is why it hasn't be solved yet.

Telling these people to "suck it up" and accept the fact that their children will not feel safe at school or get the education to which they are entitled is not a solution. I would expect the people who are fighting for those exact same rights for students with disabilities would be a bit more understanding.

Anonymous said...

Reader/Reader 2,

"And as for your kid? This is an inclusive society and your kids should know how to navigate."

Your comment shows a lack of empathy for the physical safety and emotional well-being of the children traumatized by violent behavior at school. Why don't you walk a mile in the shoes of the children who fear for their safety at school? How can they appropriately access an education when they feel at risk?

Yes, autism related behaviors need specially trained staff to help the child learn and succeed.

Yes, all children should learn more about diversity and acceptance; however, violence should never be tolerated under the guise of "diversity".

- Empathy for All

Anonymous said...

"same for everyone - that's what civil rights are about." You are completely wrong.
Take some time and read the ADA.

Here's a example I like to use,

If you are not legally disabled you do not have the right to a wheel chair ramp for access. Even if you prefer to ride in a wheel chair the school is not required to build one for you. If you are legally disabled and need to use a wheel chair then the school must provide access. Access is usually a ramp or elevator, but could mean other things. Access is the keyword as in access to an education.

I don't think this blog post subject is helping anyone here and I'm disturbed that Director Geary's name is associated with it. You've posted many race based pieces about black students and the need for special treatment because of the opportunity gap. The largest graduation gap in SPS is with SPED students and they are always the first to be thrown under the bus or in many places off the bus. SPED parents are sick of watching SPS spin up numerous race based programs when SPED services continue to be woefully problematic and SPS continues to violate the law.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

Autistic and EBD students are very small subsets of the total SPED population, but all SPED students deserve what the laws affords them, which is FAPE.

The vast majority of SPED students do not exhibit outburst in anyway, however they do suffer for depression at a rate 30 times more than other students. This depression is usually brought on by feeling left out and or feeling inadequate. Dropping out of school or committing suicide is an end too many of these students face.

Spinning wheels

Anonymous said...

I'm also troubled by Jill Geary being associated with this mess. Seems contrary to her campaign platform.

Ms. Geary, Care to explain your position here?


--LH Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

SPED Parent, I said nothing about race. Not in any blog thread on this topic. You are the one saying that. I have no idea of the race of any of the students involved; how do you?

Director Geary, as I said, is a parent at Laurelhurst and helped at the meeting. I think that was very kind of her to step up when she could have said no. I'm not sure Geary has anything to explain. But you should ask her in person as she may or may not read this blog regularly.

No one is throwing anyone under the bus. I will again note, I have a special needs child and I have great empathy on this subject.

Anonymous said...

I think this blog post is regrettable. It seeks to inflame an already difficult situation by presenting only one side of an issue, an ill-informed side. SPED Parent and Spinning wheels are correct in their assessments. We can

DoBetter

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the "A" in FAPE stand for appropriate? What are the criteria to determine whether inclusion is appropriate or not? We know it's not appropriate 100% of the time, right?

EE

Anonymous said...

What SPS Parent said above is crucial: "In the SPS district's mind: all children's brains work the same, all teachers have identical skills and parents are, without exception, problems to be managed and excluded."

Everyone here is saying that these EBD kids need support. But SPS is saying they don't. SPS wants all kids - all of them - thrown into the same general ed classroom. They don't want those kids to get the services and supports they need. Why that is, I don't know, and so we're forced to speculate. All we can see are the results, which are disastrous.

But until people demand change at the JSCEE, nothing will get better. Parents need to stop sniping at each other and turn their attention to the real target: SPS management.

Fed Up

Anonymous said...

Charlie - why does it matter how I came to understand public school's obligation to students with disabilities? The explanation simply isn't a district mandate. Interested parents can use google to discover IDEA, diversity, and public ed.

We fundamentally disagree. Many of believe, really believe, that many parents and communities indeed blame the students with disabilities and other differences. When you say "that [exclusion] just isn't happening" - we don't believe you. You are living in another universe.

It's so easy to say "students feel unsafe". That's code for kick THOSE kids out, they made my kid "feel" unsafe. Sacrosanct! Well, do students feel they are unsafe - or are they actually unsafe? What evidence do we have that regular education students are actually "unsafe"? Has someone been injured? No evidence has been presented. We have some evidence that various EBD students are unsafe - though no reports of actual injury. If students are simply "feeling unsafe" - then that is a parenting issue around describing actual danger and diversity, vs behavior you don't expect. Someone having a tantrum in another room or in the hall - isn't actually a danger to others.

EE, Shura Students with disabilities can and should be removed from a regular education classroom - when they disrupt the learning environment, truly disrupt, not just act differently. And they are indeed removed more often than necessary. This is a self-contained EBD program we are talking about. Veinthrobbing hour tantrums in a general ed class - every day for a year? Sounds like this parent was actually in the room all day, every day! Maybe this is why the principal doesn't deal with her. I don't believe it. (And even if true - isn't a danger.) The complaints here have been that students have meltdowns out in the hall, or were somehow witnessed by others. Yes, space is a premium, and as we get tighter - you can expect to witness more, and be disrupted more - for all sorts of reasons. That isn't "sucking it up" - that's life in overcrowded buildings.

EE,Shura if you wish to actually build community - how about invite some of those students for some afterschool activity. Get to know them, and spend time with them. The same as you would for those who walk to school.

Parent 2

Totem said...

" I'm disappointed in the tenor of this post. Same old same old. Blame the student. Blame diversity. "

"Oh please IMHO, walk a mile."

"O dear. How much is too much [before we kick those cans on down the road]. And what idiotic ideas in the idea box."

"Ridiculous. And then asserted that all of the administrator's time was spent on special ed student problems. More ridiculous."

So much sarcasm and hostility. Please just ban anybody with "reader" in their name.

mirmac1 said...

40% of SpEd students are "excluded" in self-contained classrooms. Only 1 in 5 of those kids are in Access or inclusion (ergo spend a majority of their day in GenEd). SPS plans on taking exclusion even further by placing some EBD elementary students at Old Van Asselt. Can't get more excluded than that - a separate building! The DOJ faulted Georgia for doing much the same to students with disabilities, thereby violating their civil rights.

I am not a fan of SPS administration by any stretch, but I don't think some people get it that EBD programs are staffed at 10:1:2. That is a high level of support - but all the adults in the building must support children: recess monitors, crossing guards, office staff, counselors, family support workers, GenEd teachers etc. Unfortunately, SpEd IAs are often inappropriately diverted to recess monitor duty when they really should be working with their students on social skills and emotional regulation. Kids with disabilities, just like African-American boys, can sense when adults look at them like they're dangerous, trouble, or not expected to amount to much. Parent 2 is onto something. A nurturing, supportive environment can do much to help a child.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It seeks to inflame an already difficult situation by presenting only one side of an issue, an ill-informed side."

Given that the principal, the SPS Sped Director and the Ex Dir of the region were there, I think Sped issues got covered. There was one Sped parent there who did speak. There might have been others but they didn't speak (or at least identify as parents of Sped students.)

Parent 2, at Stevens, parents had been reporting injuries to the principal including one boy socked in the nose on the playground trying to defend a classmate. Sad thing, though, the principal apparently was not recording those reports.

"Someone having a tantrum in another room or in the hall - isn't actually a danger to others."

Numerous Laurelhurst parents say several incidents were way beyond tantrums - we all know what someone who is very angry seems like and if you are a kindergartener seeing a 4th grader explode, well, as a parent you might feel concern. As well, if you read the thread, the issue is that the school is so crowded, they use the hallways for some tutoring. So when a child with an issue gets taken out of class, it continues for the kids in the hallway. Again, the overcrowding is making everything more difficult.

Good thoughts, Miramac.

Anonymous said...

"40% of SpEd students are "excluded" in self-contained classrooms." 2500 seems too high, where did you get those numbers.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

I am very frustrated to see that concerns about student safety and bullying are not allowed if they come from the Gen Ed population. With that attitude, who would want an EBD program placed at their school? How can you be welcoming if you know if there are problems you'll be on your own or called a bigot if you try to get help? It seems obvious to me that these programs are both necessary and complicated and would require a deft hand to navigate and adjust alongside gen ed programs.

I've also heard several stories more disturbing than an autistic kid having a tantrum in a hallway out of Laurelhurst, going back for at least 2 years now. Something has got to be done to help all those students get a decent education in a safe place. Maybe it's as simple as what mirmac says- are the support staff being utilized improperly? Are there too many of these kids in one place, overwhelming the system? Do they need a different space, either with more privacy from gen ed classrooms or more access to something else?

-sleeper

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

The 2016-17 WSS school allocation spreadsheet:
Name - Classrms - Ratio - # students
Resource - n/a - - 3,736
***********************************************
Focus - 27 - 10 - 270
SM2 - 47 - 9 - 423
Access K-5 - 37 - 10 - 370
Access grades 6-8 - 10 - 13 - 130
Soc Emotional (SM3) - 42 - 10 - 415
Distinct/SM4 - 72 - 7 - 504
SM4i - 1 - 7 - 7
Med Frag - 8 - 6 - 48
DHH - 4 - 9 - 36
Transition - 11 - 10 - 110
Totals - 259 - - 2,313

Melissa Westbrook said...

Ramone, I heard no hostility at the Laurelhurst meeting. I just heard concern. Were you there and heard something different?

Also, what is your documentation on the Olympic Hills incident? This is the first I have heard about it and I would need to know how you know these details so specifically.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the information.

Maybe I didn't understand what you meant by 40%, I never think the SM2 , SM3 or the access programs as self contained, Am I wrong?. Is that what you mean by excluded?

My understanding of the population of self contained was less than 10% of the total SPED population. I can't find a clear definition of those classroom categories on the SPS web-site. There's the usual LRE jargon, then they go on to show they only serve DHH at 3 schools, if there is a granular service break down it must be hidden .

From the SPS web-site;

Placement in the Least Restrictive Environment:

Services outlined in the IEP may occur in several different environments for students. However, studentswith (SIC) disabilities are to be educated in the least restrictive environment, meaning that students with disabilities should be educated with students without disabilities to the maximum extent that they are allowed by their disability and learning needs. The least restrictive environment requirement does not mandate inclusion or mainstreaming but rather focuses on participation in the general education environment with general education peers, as appropriate.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

SPS provides Special Education services for students who are Deaf and Hard of Hearing in the following schools:

Preschool through 5th grade:Tops

Middle School: Eckstein

High School: Roosevelt

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

The idea "we called for help, and it just doesn't come" is problematic. It's problematic because there isn't going to be some magic "help" to create an inclusive school. If you want a great community school - you have to be a great community. Nobody is going to do that for you. The help is already there - it is the EBD program you already have, with 3 fulltime people - for 10 students maximum. Right. Tutoring is a perk - but it isn't the regular classroom. If a tutored student is "bothered", it really isn't the same thing as a classroom disrupted. We all have to share space. What if the EBD classroom is disrupted because of 1 student? (very likely) If you were a parent of students in that room, you'd want the disruptive student out of the EBD classroom and in the hall - or other cool-down place. There can not be a special classroom for bad behavior where we can just marginalize a bunch of kids until we throw them out. The point here is that we need to share space. If we decide we don't want to do that - then we'll all be on the hook for the 2.2 million to make the problem go away.

As to someone being "punched in the nose" at recess. Doesn't this sometimes happen at all elementary schools? Is it so out of line - that we need to call in the troops?

Reader/Parent 2

Anonymous said...

"I've also heard several stories more disturbing than an autistic kid having a tantrum in a hallway "

So children having tantrums is disturbing to you, or are you only disturbed when an autistic child has a tantrum?

I have seen some very vulgar behavior from children who are not classified as special needs and unfortunately it's very common these days. Call it a cultural issue if you like, but it's just as common for non-special needs children to exhibit episodes of lack of self control.

Also, there are 100s of incidents each year where a student is injured by another student and the majority do not involve a special needs student.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

SM2, Focus, SM3, (or EBD or Emotional Social), ACCESS, SM4, Distinct, of all flavors - are considered self-contained by the district, and always have been. Students in these programs are subject to non-standard assignments and are usually self-contained as a convenience. Of course the website has to say - "we provide lre". Not providing lre would be illegal. The only one of these that is guaranteed not to be fulltime self-contained is ACCESS (maybe not in 1 room, but in a couple of different rooms), which is a relative newcomer. I believe that's where Mirmac gets her numbers. And really - that's a huge increase in the number of self-contained students. The worst programs, at the highest cost. And thanks to our new union prez - we just made the most restrictive self-containment even more expensive at 7:1:2. Too bad no union people advocated for inclusion staffing the way they advocated for self-contained special education staffing.


Reader 2

Anonymous said...

No, that's not disturbing. That is normal. That was the speculation snarkily given above about what parents are "disturbed" by. I'm saying that is not disturbing and not what people are talking about.

Sleeper

Anonymous said...

Where can I see the Service Model breakdowns?

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

@ reader 2. Have you ever worked with the EBD population? I have, for years. I totally understand where the parents are coming from. I don't hear anyone saying kick the kids out. I hear people saying can't we get some extra help? I don't think there needs to be a rift between gen ed and EBD parents. Everyone is probably saying the same thing; can we get some more help. No one wins when kids get that out of control.
Been there

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I just see plain old bigotry with some people trying to wrap it up all pretty.

Could you imagine if someone said the same thing about black students, but since it's special needs then somehow it's ok to generalize. Would you tolerate a predominantly white school holding a parent meeting to discuss white parents concerns about blacks students?

The truth is, all of these SPED students issues are protected. I'm positive you can't have a school meeting to discuss anything related to what individual students or groups do or don't do. I would hope the SPED parents file an OCR complaint and let OCR sort out what happened. You would think a SPED lawyer would see the potential problems in such a meeting.

Hey let's invite all the parents with EBD students to a meeting so we can tell them what we expect from their children at our school.

The meeting was a mistake, but will probably result in the desired outcome, can you guess the desired outcome?

SPED Parent

mirmac1 said...

Reader 2, SpEd enrollment is projected to drop by 5%, yet SpEd budget is climbing 17%. Guess who Central staff will point the finger at - SpEd kids getting more than their "fair share" (DeBell anyone?) Not the adults who: a) negotiated this hot mess of a CBA; and b) staff who hasn't bothered to use its data-lovin' apparatus to see whether this significant growth in costs will make a lick of difference in outcomes for these kids.

My child was punched and bullied by typical kids. There are some schools that deal with bullying better than others (ours was not). Sleeper, given that you seemed to know "what people are talking about" I am deducing you are a Laurelhurst parent. I don't really care but, much like Melissa's questioning of Ramone's comment about Olympic Hills, I am curious about your certainty here.

Anonymous said...

In the hopes of helping people understand what used to be called an EBD classroom or an SM3 or now called a social emotional classroom, I will offer my experience from several years ago, when I spent 7 months in the classroom with my son.

The class consisted of 7-9 other boys in grades 3-5. At the time, the staff was a teacher and two IA's. To get out of the class and get into a general ed class where there were other gen ed students, a student had to "earn" his way out. This almost never happened.

Most of the boys were very, very sweet as well, but at times also had some very distressing behaviors, which for the most part consisted of yelling obscenities, throwing things, sometimes turning over furniture and sometimes kicking and hitting. Once or twice a month, one or another would run away. Many of these children, such as my son, had suffered through horrible trauma. Many of them had obvious problems with anxiety. Some of the interventions that were used as well as the behavior of the other students in the classroom probably made that anxiety worse.

For the most part, these children were lepers. The classroom was at the end of the hall, next to the quiet room - the isolation room, where many of them spent long hours. Sometimes there was a backlog of kids being hauled into the quiet room. I think you can imagine that when a kid was put into the quite room, he did not go quietly. There was a kindergartner who I used to see at least twice per week, his small round face streaked with tears and snot, as he was carried in log roll fashion through the hallway to the quiet room, where he would be dumped and the door slammed and held shut against the onslaught of his legs and torso. My son spent way much time in that room. It only made things worse for him.

The boys were to use the bathroom next to the quiet room and the water fountain next to it. It was segregation - pure and simple. The classes that they took, that were marked as "gen ed," had not a single gen ed kid in them - not in gym class or art class or library. Library time was extra fun - as the kids were prohibited from actually touching any of the books on the shelves. The librarian would have them sit in chair while he read stories to them that would probably escalate them for the rest of the day. For lunch, the boy lepers sat at their own table.

At the time, the district had not invested in any sort of a program to teach the boys any social emotional skills nor did they require any training regarding de-escalation. The teachers were left to their own devices. This meant that the teachers and staff in my son's classroom regularly used prone restraint on the boys. This meant that the boys weren't actually learning any skills which would help them in general education situations or in real life. There was no resources for counseling other than the principal contracting separately with Catholic Community Services. The only behavioral help that the district sent was Wayne Herzog, who told the teachers what they should be doing (for example, keeping a log of the all the times that they restrained my son), but failed to follow up.

I was very familiar with the situation at Laurelhurst beginning three years ago, when they put a teacher who had no training in special education (she was grandfathered in) there in an EBD program. I was at an IEP meeting where she wanted a parent who did not speak English to sign a blank IEP. A the same meeting, she said "I've got to read up this summer on that autism stuff everyone keeps talking about." The principal at the time had never had any special education programs at the school other than resource room, so was unfamiliar with supervising this teacher. I could go on. But my point is that there are very long roots to the problems at Laurelhurst, both at the district level and at the school. I do blame the district. I don't blame the community, but whatever education it can do to encourage parents to have patience and empathy would probably help a long way.

--GL

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Laurelhurst parent and never have been. I have just heard stories. They're not mine, so I don't feel comfortable telling them. But if it is the same stuff they are complaining about to administration, it seems more extreme than just precious parents not used to diverse behaviors. I noticed a lot of assumption about what parents are bothered by, and that is not what I have heard.

-sleeper

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, you need to pick one name. Because Reader/Parent 2 makes me believe you posted under two names so it would look like two people. Please do not do that.

Yes, getting punched in the nose does happen all the time..with consequences. That didn't happen and that is unfair. No child has the right to lay hands on other kid and cause injury and there are no school consequences. Even an apology would be better than silence.

GL, that's a difficult read. It is wrong to isolate one group of kids from another for long periods of time. But I have a question:

"The librarian would have them sit in chair while he read stories to them that would probably escalate them for the rest of the day."

What does that mean? Why would reading a story to them "escalate them?"

And amen to providing information and education to parents. It is interesting to me that both the Stevens parents and Laurelhurst parents put as a key issue - communications.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, as an example, one time the librarian decided to read an article about how a scientist used flesh-eating bugs to clean off human bones. Another time, he read Shel Silverstein's, "Lafcadio, the Lion who Shot Back." I am not sure what the librarian was thinking when he picked these stories, but they would set the boys off for the rest of the day.

I asked the IA why didn't he talk to the librarian about what might work better, but he said that there was no way an IA could interfere with a teacher's lesson plans. So I went to the librarian myself and I told him that my son had been raised in a home where there were maggots, and domestic violence (among other things), and that was the reason why he was in this special class, and that these kinds of books were not helping him have a good day. He actually seemed appalled to learn about my son. It was as if he thought of the boys as bad boys and nothing more- not as if there was a reason for their behaviors.

--GL

Anonymous said...

By escalation, I mean agitation. More outbursts, more lack of attention to school work, etc.

--GL

Anonymous said...

Me thinks I need to make FOIA request for all things Laurelhurst.

COA

mirmac1 said...

My child was punched in the stomach by a child without a disability. Hard. They BOTH went to the office, and I was of course concerned. (My daughter was the victim, yet was forced into the failed paradigm of Apologize and All's Well!). At the same time, I was not out for some kind of "consequence" that would somehow "set things right". They were, of course, elementary school-aged children.

GL, thank you for exposing the unseemly underbelly of SpEd "services" in our district.

Melissa, to force a child to sit and be read to, while others around him/her get to choose their own books, is HARD. If they already have difficulty regulating their emotions or struggle to communicate effectively, then the experience is even more difficult.

Part of the approach to these matters is to make sure the Board is instrumental in the formulation and siting of SpEd programs (Policy F21, up for a defective revision tomorrow). Another part is early EFFECTIVE intervention for our kids (Okay, Preschool Task Force, I'll work on that!). Finally, I feel there is much room to grow with respect to civil rights compliance in the SPS district and community. There are too many instances when those who should know better (SPS staff) and others who may not - fail to grasp the issue of equity and civil rights. Look at the QA Interagency kerfuffle, the flawed, exclusionary SPP roll out, the explusion of SpEd Dev PreK programs from schools, etc.

For being a "progressive" city, we truly are not. BTW, my family was redlined in the 60's so, contrary to the beliefs of some that the concentration of poverty is somehow independent of racism, I say BS.

Anonymous said...

GL, that is horrible. Kids who've suffered serious trauma need professional help recovering. Someone who doesn't know what they are dealing with shouldn't be working with the kids. And reading up on something over the summer, needless to say, is way inadequate. I can see why that book triggered the kids. I also wonder how kids with severe trauma might be triggered in a gen ed classroom. By stories like the one you mentioned, by other kids, by even a teacher touching them on the shoulder. Or a too strict teacher yelling at them. With children who've suffered sexual abuse, physical abuse, or severe neglect, there could be many triggers, and very distinct ones for each child. They can't heal with untrained teachers and staff. What does the law say about supporting kids with this level of trauma?
IMHO

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that some comments here suggest that it's best for all students in SpEd to be in inclusion at all costs. Some kids do need to be in self-contained for not just safety reasons but for social-emotional reasons. I work with many kids who never felt successful until they were placed in a classroom where their learning needs are truly met. Others get far too overwhelmed being around a Gen Ed environment (noise, number of people, multiple transitions). IMHO, sometimes the push for inclusion when inappropriate is more for the adult egos than for what is best for the student. And I suspect SPS likes the idea because they thought it would be a way of saving money. And of course there is the threats of lawsuits and recent state law changes about restraint and isolation at play. So while I do believe students with disabilities should be in Gen Ed classes as much as possible with optimal levels of support, it's not always the best choice, and sometimes can make things worse.

GL- your story clearly shows SPS was not providing appropriate support or training at that time. The new state law should make it clear that type of isolation and restraint is not tolerated. Best practice is positve behavior supports and hopefully SPS has made strides in that direction. Your right, subjecting kids in EBD programs to further trauma does serve them.


ESA

Anonymous said...

That should say Not serve them, of course.

ESA

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1, just to clarify, the EBD boys were never allowed near any gened kids in the library, as there were none in there at the time. Their only exposure to gen ed kids was at recess, when the SpEd IA's were to supervise the entire playground.

I guess I'm not really trying to expose the unseemly underbelly of SpEd as much as to give readers an idea of what it was like. In some classrooms, I don't think much has changed. In others, I am guessing it is much better.

I think people need to understand that the history of special education has been segregation and exclusion. In Congress's Findings for IDEA 2004, Congress states that the educational needs of millions of children were not being met because "the children were excluded entirely from the public school system and from being educated with their peers."

Sadly, most if not all of Congress's findings from 2004 still apply today. As an example, Congress stated (back in 2004) that "Almost 30 years of research and experience has demonstrated that the education of children with disabilities can be made more effective by... providing incentives for whole-school approaches, scientifically based early reading programs, positive behavioral interventions and supports, and early intervening services to reduce the need to label children as disabled in order to address the learning and behavioral needs of such children."

Perhaps the incentives were not enough in Seattle. I have no doubt that many would point to a lack of funding. But the fact of the matter is that only this year, Seattle is rolling out, as a pilot, positive behavior supports and interventions, something that should have started on a district-wide basis at least back in 2004. What we are seeing now is the fruit of that inaction.

--GL

Anonymous said...

I would also add, that many times when PBIS (Positive behavior interventions and supports) are first rolled out, there can be an uptick in disruptive behavior, and that may be contributing to the difficulties at Laurelhurst,as I think I heard they were rolling it out there.


--GL

Anonymous said...

Sorry Melissa - I posted once as Parent 2... instead of Reader 2. A mistake. Please excuse me. I posted as Reader 2 to avoid confusion with reader, Reader, Another Reader. Believe it or not, these are NOT ME.

Seriously ESA???? Nobody is promoting inclusion here. SPS has been repeatedly cited for lack of LRE, and OSPI has cracked down (albeit weakly) on SPS for it's lack of inclusion and its rigid programming. The numbers that Mirmac gave do not reflect an "inclusion at all costs" bias. Quite the opposite. In 2007 from the special ed audit - 30% of students with disabilities were self-contained. Now it's 40%, and increase of 33%. And ego has 0 to do with it. The complaints have been about the fact that behaviors are exhibited - anywhere.

Melissa - I witnessed a knock-down, drag out brawl at a K8 last week. Repeated, full-on blows to the face and head of 2 boys. These were plain old regular ed students. Nobody worried about the delicate kindergarteners and the emotional trauma of the brawl. Yes, there were consequences - the combatants received 1 day of in-house suspension. BTW, students with disabilities also receive consequences. They are outlined on their BIPs and, are a completely private matter. So no, you don't get to hear about them, or discuss them at PTA meetings with exec Directors, or anybody else. BIP, FBA - these are private.

Where were all the PTA moms when GL's kid was restrained with a prone restraint, or in an isolation room? Restraint and isolation aren't consequences that general ed students ever need to fear. I wouldn't say that this consequence is "less" than what general ed students experience.

Reader 2 (not reader, not Reader, not Another Reader)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your comments GL.

-StepJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader 2, in your fight example, it was documented and dealt with. That does not appear to be happening in all cases.

Also, why are you being aggressive towards "PTA moms?" What has that got to do with anything?

Anonymous said...

Administrators can not go over BIPs or IEPs that contain consequences for sped students with another parent. Yes, the other parent just has to trust the principal that discipline is being applied.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...

Reader 2-

Why do you know the punishment (in school suspension) and feel compelled to publicly announce it for the general education child, but it's private if a child with an IEP commits an infraction?

Double-standard

Anonymous said...

So what is happening to all the students who have inclusion in K-5 but then don't have inclusion in 6-8?

ocus - 27 - 10 - 270
SM2 - 47 - 9 - 423
Access K-5 - 37 - 10 - 370
Access grades 6-8 - 10 - 13 - 130
Soc Emotional (SM3) - 42 - 10 - 415
Distinct/SM4 - 72 - 7 - 504
SM4i - 1 - 7 - 7
Med Frag - 8 - 6 - 48
DHH - 4 - 9 - 36
Transition - 11 - 10 - 110
Totals - 259 - - 2,313

reader

mirmac1 said...

ALL discipline actions are documented and dealt with. They used to be entered in ESIS, not sure what they're using now. SPS must provide discipline data to OSPI via CEDAR, disaggregated by race, special program, ethnicity etc. I've seen the redacted data. It is quite extensive.

reader, secondary SpEd is far more exclusionary. It's terrible! At a time when there are additional stresses (e.g. social, activities, electives, more teachers, more homework, anxiety) the ratios increase to 13:1!

NO ONE should know discipline and consequences. Those are part of a student's educational records - only to be shared with those who have a "legitimate educational interest." You know, FERPA.

mirmac1 said...

From a very interesting article:

(Montgomery County Public Schools)uses an approach called Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, which involves identifying triggers for dangerous behavior by students most at risk for it. Educators then develop a detailed plan to prevent such behaviors and tell teachers and aides what to do if the plan fails. Over time, as students learn better ways to respond to frustration and grow comfortable with the school routine, they need fewer accommodations.

"If you are able to turn those kids around prior to the third grade," Pitonyak says, "then their chances of going on without needing a lot of behavioral support are hugely increased."


https://www.propublica.org/article/schools-restraints-seclusions

Melissa Westbrook said...

"ALL discipline actions are documented and dealt with."

According to several parents at Stevens, this was one of the complaints about their principal. They would report things and later find out that she never documented the incidents.

Every school and every district does have a policy on discipline - it's right in the student handbook. Now how every single incident is handled is another issue; there are privacy rights and the knowledge of the principal about the principals, situation,etc.

I think what parents are not being told is how discipline is handled for some Sped students. Parents can be told, "we have behavior plans, positive discipline, etc." so that parents know something does happen. It doesn't have to be specific but again, if parents have no communication about how things might be handled differently for some students, then they worry about how those students - like all students - learn from mistakes.

Anonymous said...

Reader, can you explain what your numbers mean? It doesn't convey anything to me - looks like you are multiplying the first two numbers to get the third number, but I don't know what those numbers represent, and then at the bottom you have two totals.

ESA, while it is certainly true that there will always be some kids for whom a self-contained class it the best setting, the SPS policy is to shove a lot of kids who could do fine in a gen ed classroom with adequate support into self-contained classes anyway, partly because it's how they have always done it, but largely because it is cheaper. My youngest child has Down syndrome, and I really wanted her in a gen ed classroom, which is the standard practice in most parts of the US. Here in Seattle however, it does not happen unless you hire a lawyer. Most of the kids that I know with Down syndrome that are in gen ed classes are in private school - a surprising number of Catholic schools have no issue whatsoever with having a child in the classroom that is working 2-3 grade levels behind (just the differentiation the school district keeps saying they do anyway, but to a greater degree). But for the public schools, it's like hitting a brick wall. No one can even contemplate it. The world as we know it will end if one child has different worksheets because she is still working on counting while her classmates are doing addition. The real issue, of course, is that to be in a gen ed class, my daughter would need a full-time aide, and the district does not want to pay for that. Never mind that what she needs is intermittent help throughout day, so that aide would also be able to assist other children in the classroom, to the benefit of all the students (the access model, where due to the staffing ratio you get an aide for a portion of the day but no help at all the rest of time, wouldn't work for her in a class of 28 kids. It might when she is older & can work more independently, but she's not there yet).

Mom of 4

mirmac1 said...

The State Supreme Court affirmed that SpEd students shall be funded for a GenEd teacher and a SpEd teacher. When a child sits in a self-contained classroom all day, where is their GenEd funding getting used? Well the GenEd classrooms are smaller because they're missing the SpEd students. Principals and BLTs can used the GenEd portion to hire IB coordinators, testing coordinators, art and music teachers etc. So 40% of SpEd kids in self-contained is a boon for some schools.

NW Schools' Parent said...

My son and daughter went to a NW Seattle school where there is an EBD program and, in addition, students in the gen ed population who are coming from some pretty dysfunctional home environments. Students were scary there and there were many incidents weekly of kid on kid violence, melt-downs, foul language, etc.. Screamers, pencil stabbers, scissor stabbers, etc.. Both my kids had to constantly be on guard to keep themselves safe.

I'm just writing about this anecdotal y. My children had two opposite reactions:

1. My son was continually bullied by a boy. The boy would bump continually, aggressively into my son in line while saying "penis". I told the teacher several times to move my son away from him in line but my son was not allowed to change his line order because it was alphabetical. I asked my son to be moved out of this boy's math group but this was not done,either. Basically, nothing was done to stop the bullying. So, my son started lifting weights, took Kung FU, and fought back. One day, when this kid did his last "penis-bump", my son grabbed this boy's hair, slammed the boy's head into a desk, while students cheered, and my son told him to never touch him again. Did it work? Yes, it did, The boy left him alone, came with his hair completely cut the next day, then turned his "attention" to another boy who looked just like my son. My son has gone on to be stronger, happier, and fearless. I don't know what came of the other bullied boy but I'm sure he recovered, too.

2. My daughter suffered the same fate. She was picked on relentlessly by a girl who also came from a traumatic childhood experience. This girl forced my daughter to bend over at recess so she could step on my daughter to get on to the bars, took my daughter's money from her hand to buy pencils at the school store, ordered my daughter around like she was a slave. My daughter, on the other hand, did not become stronger but went selectively mute and spent her elementary years mute. The day she left elementary school and started middle-school, she found her voice and never looked back. She also survived the traumatic experience and has become stronger in spite of, not because of, the situation.

We can't always protect our children. I wish we could create safe, protecting, warm environments for them always. But it isn't the reality and seeing kids, is it? But, we've been there. I remember being very scared of students in my classes and seeing students punch other students. Not that this makes it okay. I wish things could change so that it weren't the case. So, maybe it is a choice of the lesser of two evils? Adults abusing the mentally diverse children or the mentally diverse children abusing other children?

BTW, most of the students in the North End EBD programs are white. Where is the "racist" term coming from?

Anonymous said...

Mom of 4, Hale recently graduated a student with Down Syndrome who attended quite a few gen ed classes including the AP Environmental Sciences class. I know the parents did a lot of advocating for their child and pushed for her to be in gen ed classes. You might consider contacting them about how to navigate the system. I could get you their contact info.

HP

NW Mom said...

Now I will post again. The fear was always at recess when I grew up. But it seems as if student behavior is disrupting the actually classes at Laurelhurst. And it is surprising to see the drop in test scores and the posts on here about students disrupting classes. That, to me, is the real concern. If you miss key concepts in literacy or math one year, it will hurt your understanding the following year. Yes, high scoring students will always score high. My son is high scoring and could learn in a hurricane but my daughter is not high scoring. Sh eis very intelligent just not someone who can learn if there is a hurricane going on in the room. So, I hope something can be done to get Laurelhurst the support it needs. Having said this, parents of students in that demographic (along with Stevens) certainly can afford to make up for the loss of education by either hiring tutors or tutoring their own children. Their are low-income schools in the district that would be hurt more deeply by loss of instruction time due to melt-downs of mentally diverse children. And, those are schools where the consolation of "oh, you don't know how to add fractions but at least you respect diversity" is not a selling point.

mirmac1 said...

These latest comments indicate to me a failure among the adults in the building. Touching or bumping someone while saying penis is a Title IX violation and must be aggressively treated as such. Of course pounding someone's head on a desk is a violation of the code of conduct and should lead to discipline. Finally, if someone is being bullied into doing things nonsexual or violent, nevertheless it violates district policy against harassment, intimidation and bullying and must be reported.

I do not see where NW Mom concludes the disruptions are in the classroom. Perhaps I missed it. The issue is primarily in the hallways. One of a number of measures to help a child having behavioral or emotional issues is to remove them, or others, from the environment. Unfortunately, the school uses hallways for quiet time activities as well. This is incongruous and must be resolved. The library or cafeteria can be used for tutoring (as it was at our elementary school).

And I reject the minimizing of diversity and its benefits. That's Trump's whole platform, and he's a bully.

NW Mom said...

You're not kidding. I talked to my son's teacher so many times and she did nothing about it. If it had been me, I would have moved the two apart immediately and provided more supervision to the end of the line. And I know what my son did should have involved disciplinary action but it solved a very real problem when no adult in the building would step up and solve it. I debated whether I should have told the teacher and principal what he did but since he never did it again, I let it go. And, curious, the boy himself never said anything and all of the students at the end of the line who were watching and cheering also never said anything.

My daughter, on the other hand, just needed more back-bone. I told her to stand up for herself, the other girl was asian-american and much smaller than my daughter (who has always been on the large side). I read that the real solution to bullying is for the child to act like they are not being bullied, to brush it off, to ignore it, to not get upset. I know I am not going to be popular writing this but I believe it is true. If my daughter had just said "no, I'm not your slave" she would have never been in a position of being picked on.

I think the real question is, how can we equip all children with the right frame of mind so that when they do feel threatened, they know what to do. It's not as if they won't ever encounter situations in life that are threatening or challenging. We don't want them to freeze like a deer in head-lights or become mute like my daughter.

Accepting neuro-diversity, great, but there needs to be more than just that. Imagine we are at work and one of the larger adult workers loses it, starts screaming, yelling profanities, attempts to come at us with a sharp pair of scissors? Would we not feel threatened? We may have appreciation that the adult is autistic or adhd or bi-polar, we may understand it is not his fault and the work environment is not set up to support him, we could blame the institution or our boss for not supporting the neuro-diverse adult, but in that moment, wouldn't we want a way of thinking to help us with our anxiety other than just " I accept that he is neuro-diverse"?

Why did Laurelhurst's test scores take such a dramatic plunge?

NWM said...

Maybe I am the only one left reading this strand? Oh, well...

Here's a thought...Laurelhurst is actually not a high-income school. It is 20 percent (1/5) free and reduced lunch. This explains it's low test scores better than anything else. It's neighbors--Bryant, View Ridge, Wedgewood--all have less than 8 percent free and reduced lunch. So, if you look, all of the EBD programs with the neuro-diverse children are placed in schools that are already 1/5 low-income or greater. Stevens is 30 percent free and reduced. B F Day is 30 percent free and reduced. Northgate is 75 percent free and reduce. You will not find a program for behaviorally challenged children in a high-income school in Seattle. But this is exactly where this program should be placed. That 20 percent low-income group is already teetering on an edge of dysfunction with stressed out parents struggling to make it on minimum wage. It is a recipe for disaster. Put children with behavior problems in schools like Bryant or Wedgewood where only 7 percent of the population is poor and you will have better success.

NW Mom said...

Put BF Day's EBD program at John Stanford or McDonald and you will have better success. Put Steven's EDB program at Montlake, put Northgate's EBD program at North Beach, put Laurelhurst's EDB program at Bryant. I guarantee better success. Why take struggling children who are learning how to behave and put them in low-income schools with children who are already coming to school with a mark against them?

Why will nobody reply to my posts? Sigh....Anybody still left out there reading this strand?

Anonymous said...

Yes, I am still reading. Please continue to post. Very interesting remarks so far. Ultimately we cannot exclude children from participation in their designated classroom on account of behavior. There is no doubt that children can present with a range of challenging behaviors but banishment or exclusion is neither legal or effective. Teachers have to adapt their teaching and in far too many classrooms simplistic outmoded methods of instruction are prevalent and turn children off. That said we have to recognize the challenges and pain some some children are in and acknowledge that teachers need extra support. If teachers want and need them, then more instructional assistants must be funded. The point about the imbalance in the rates of free and reduced lunch is also well taken.

Dmitry

Anonymous said...

My daughter, on the other hand, just needed more back-bone. I told her to stand up for herself, the other girl was asian-american and much smaller than my daughter (who has always been on the large side).

Ohhh, the other girl was asian-american? That explains it...not. What a bizarre thing to include. Makes me wonder.

Also, I don't know that you'll get too far with the "poor us, we're a 20% FRL school." SPS as a whole is close to 38% FRL, and there are many schools with much higher rates of FRL students. Why will an EBD program automatically be more successful in a school with 8% FRL than one with 20%? By that logic, shouldn't Laurelhurst's program be doing great compared to EBD programs at schools that actually have high poverty levels?

EE

Jet City mom said...

Kids with IEPs should be able to be served at their neighborhood school if that is what the family wants.
Parents of those children, need to be involved at the school, or at least have it easily accessible, for the student to have a chance at succeeding.
I also feel that socio economic diversity in a school will do more for the community than taking a high FRL populated school and throw extra money at it.
More money wont buy parents in the classroom and parents who will be home when kids get out of school.
I wonder if we would have half the kids we do, with behavioral IEPs, if we had smaller class sizes and developmentally appropriate curriculum?

NW Mom said...

Okay, I mentioned she was asian-american to emphasize that she was smaller but, sub-text, really, just to get a response because I knew somebody would be offended by that and I was trying to bring readers back into this conversation.

Here is why FRL schools are not ideal for EBD programs: FRL schools alraedy are struggling to maintain order because students coming from FRL homes come to school unprepared to learn or behave. I am not classist saying this. Data supports me. Find a low-income school, you will find lower test scores. In fact, test scores directly correlate to FRL. If you have 40 percent FRL, you will have 40 percent of students not passing the SBA.

Brain scans of babies who come from poverty homes also show this:

"The stress of growing up poor can hurt a child’s brain development starting before birth, research suggests — and even very small differences in income can have major effects on the brain.

"Researchers have long suspected that children’s behaviour and cognitive abilities are linked to their socioeconomic status, particularly for those who are very poor. The reasons have never been clear, although stressful home environments, poor nutrition, exposure to industrial chemicals such as lead and lack of access to good education are often cited as possible factors.

In the largest study of its kind, published on 30 March in Nature Neuroscience1, a team led by neuroscientists Kimberly Noble from Columbia University in New York City and Elizabeth Sowell from Children's Hospital Los Angeles, California, looked into the biological underpinnings of these effects. They imaged the brains of 1,099 childrenThe brains of children from the lowest income bracket — less than US$25,000 — had up to 6% less surface area than did those of children from families making more than US$150,000, the researchers found."


But, really, ask yourself, why are all the EBD programs placed in schools that already have 1/5 or greater of their student body low-income? Why does the district not place EBD programs at Bryant or View Ridge or McDonald or Stanford or Montlake?

Imagine the difference. Teacher A getting ready to teach a great lesson, walking in to Montlake Elementary with students freshly washed, recently kissed, sporting a set of colorful mechanical pencils and the happy disposition to learn. Imagine that same teacher walking into a classroom at Laurelhurst or Day or Stevens with both EBD students and low-income students. I will let you connect the dots.

Anonymous said...

Not sure that 20% FRL qualifies as a low income school. SPS overall is 38% FRL, and there are many schools with FRL levels much, much higher.

Not convinced that EBD programs need to be placed in the lowest of the low FRL schools in order to be successful. Anyway, aren't SpEd services supposed to be available at students' home schools to the extent possible. If EBD needs are correlated with FRL, wouldn't it be somewhat unfair to force all those students to move to a school where they're even more the minority?

EE

Lynn said...

Why are the programs in lower income schools? I can think of three reasons. All the data you reference on the effects of poverty on children tells us that a child with an EBD diagnosis is more likely to be poor than affluent - so maybe they're placing the programs where most of the students are located. (Not likely with Laurehurst though.) Affluent schools are attractive to parents (well-behaved and well-parented children and high test scores) and are as a result full - no room for kids from outside the area. Parents at high poverty schools are unlikely to complain effectively when programs are placed in their building.

NW Mom said...

No, EBD students are required to go to EBD hubs not their neighborhood schools. I know a family not being allowed to go to their neighborhood school because it is unable to "serve his needs", he is required to go to an EBD hub instead. The parents can always refuse SPed services but they need to sign a paper saying that they refuse and at that point their child can be suspended for behavior that otherwise would protect him from suspension. The EBD hub for the NW region is Day, NE is Laurelhurst, SE is Stevens, etc..

I meant that schools that only have 7 percent or lower FRL should host EBD programs. This way there are fewer fires to put out. I am being realistic and for anyone who has had a child with Autism or other neuro-diverse conditions, you will have to be honest and agree with me, even the most brilliant approach does not always end with your child happily doing their work. EBD children come with melt-downs, swearing, attacking even in the best programs with the best teachers. FRL students also come with melt-downs, swearing, attacking. Why not minimize the episodes by placing these SM3 and SM4 programs in schools that do not also have to deal with low-income children? Wouldn't they be more successful?

And if diversity is your argument, where but in the highest income schools in Seattle with children who spend their summers at horse-camp and winters in Hawaii (View Ridge, Bryant, Montlake, North Beach, etc..)do you think diversity education is best placed? These students who have been blessed from birth, I would argue, need to have a program at their schools that forces them to accept diversity in all it's forms before they go off to Yale and Harvard and a life that will be void of it.

And, yes, a school that is 1/5 FRL is much pooer than a school that is only 1/20 FRL! Let me just illustrate the math--a school that is 20 % FRL will have 4 FRL children in a 20 student classroom but a school that is 1/20 FRL will only have 1 child in a 20 student classroom that is FRL. Trust me, those 3 extra high-needs children in a class make a HUGE difference to how the class functions. Now add 2 more EBD children to the mix and you have a recipe for disaster.

And, really, why are you defending those higher income schools? Why is the district shielding those schools from diversity? I have one word for you: SEGREGATION.

NW mom said...

Lynn, I think your third point is key.

Anonymous said...

"Researchers have long suspected that children’s behaviour and cognitive abilities are linked to their socioeconomic status" = pure ignorance.

Autism does not discriminate based on social economics.


Geez

Lynn said...

I think you're getting off track when you choose to describe diversity as something that (undeserving) affluent children should be forced to deal with. Isn't the argument supposed to be that diversity benefits all students? You make it sound like a punishment.

For what it's worth, I don't think there should be EBD hubs. Instead, students should have the support they need in their neighborhood schools. Maybe that's a full time aide in the general education classroom who can remove them when they need a quiet space to calm down combined with a special education teacher and a psychologist. It's morally wrong to refuse to provide special education services in neighborhood schools - in the same way it was wrong to require students to travel to ELL hubs.

Lynn said...

Geez,

Are we supposed to assume that all EBD students have autism? I didn't know the two were equivalent.

mirmac1 said...

Historically the geniuses at JSCEE warehoused self-contained programs in a) less desirable buildings; and/or buildings with space. This led to a concentration of students with disabilities in so-called "failing schools. I see nothing in NWM's premise and logic to be suggest that the opposite approach would somehow be a preferred solution. It merely furthers the inequity of warehousing our children in hostile environments. We must move towards a model where schools are resourced and staff required to serve our children where they live.

NWM said...

When I write "forced to accept diversity in all its forms" I don't mean to imply that this is a punishment. I meant, you get very little diversity in the lives of well-off children who go home to the groomed yards and lovely houses surrounding schools like Bryant and View Ridge. They go to parks where the behavior of children tends to be homogeneous- and schools where the behavior is uniform. I am suggesting that if there were a place that needed diversity, forced but not as a punishment, it is in these 7 percent FRL schools.

I am also saying it is hard to have a classroom where 4 students are suffering from post-traumatic stress from their home-lives (the boy who comes with a bandage because he was bitten by his step-dad and the girl who had to make her own tv dinner and eat it alone because her grandma is out at a bar or the boy who gets out of a car of marijuana smoke) then you add to this the EBD children who are not from the neighborhood and come with their unique and special needs which are often not discovered until after the melt-down then, yes, it means a lot of time is spent putting out fires instead of teaching.

Education is often the one shot these FRL kids have of getting out of their poverty but then that 20 percent--those 4 kids in that 20 student classroom--go to a classroom with all the brush fires and a teacher who is stretched too thin and can't help them and no wonder they are failing.

Take the EBD students and put them at Bryant where the teacher is not stretched too thin and can help and better serve them. Lighten the load of the teachers in the FRL schools so they have the time to help the FRL students.

mirmac1 said...

Historically the geniuses at JSCEE warehoused self-contained programs in a) less desirable buildings; and/or buildings with space. This led to a concentration of students with disabilities in so-called "failing schools. I see nothing in NWM's premise and logic to be suggest that the opposite approach would somehow be a preferred solution. It merely furthers the inequity of warehousing our children in hostile environments. We must move towards a model where schools are resourced and staff required to serve our children where they live.

Anonymous said...

@ NWM, this is a lot of angst over a 20% FRL rate. You do realize that there are a lot of schools with FRL rates over 50%, over 60%, over 70%, even over 80%, right? You make it sound like it's a lost cause to have more than a couple FRL kids in a classroom. I guess all those kids are doomed. Maybe we should spread them out, assign them to low FRL schools. But uh-oh, if we did that we'd have every classroom at 38% FRL! Doom.

FRL does not automatically mean horrible home lives and post-traumatic stress. In the same vein, not qualifying for FRL does not automatically mean immunity from home life stressors and trauma. Rates may be unequal, but when you multiply them out the impact on a classroom are not as severe as your math would suggest. Not all the FRL students will present with such challenges, and some of the non-FRL students will.

Should we provide more support for EBD? Sure. Should we provide more support and/or lower class sizes for high FRL schools? Sure --and I think high FRL schools ARE prioritized for the class size reduction efforts, correct?

Should we have a better SpEd system overall, in which students can be adequately served by well-trained teachers in well-staffed and well-supported classrooms at every school? That would be awesome. But I'm having trouble seeing how sending Laurelhurst's EBD kids to a school with a somewhat lower FRL rate is the answer.

But maybe tone down the obnoxious assumptions of privilege, ok? It's tiresome, and paints with a broad--and often inaccurate--brush. Kids at low FRL schools are not all "blessed from birth"; they won't all go to Yale and Harvard (in fact, most won't); they don't all spend their summers at horse-camp and winters in Hawaii; they don't all live in lovely houses with groomed yards; and their classrooms and parks are not all filled with uniformly well-behaved and racially- and neuro- homogenous children.

EE

Melissa Westbrook said...

"..just to get a response because I knew somebody would be offended by that and I was trying to bring readers back into this conversation."

Uh uh, please do not do that again or I will delete your comment. We are not pot-stirring here; we're having a discussion. If no one was answering your comments without this kind of thing, then you'll have to accept that.

"And if diversity is your argument, where but in the highest income schools in Seattle with children who spend their summers at horse-camp and winters in Hawaii (View Ridge, Bryant, Montlake, North Beach, etc..)do you think diversity education is best placed?"

And you know this how? And everyone in the school is doing this? Again, no broad-brush painting of entire school communities. If you have an issue with service placement, you can go to a Board meeting and tell the Superintendent and the Board.

I agree with Lynn on the hubs but I would guess that economics. You'd have to ask Wyeth Jessee.

Is NWMom and NWM the same person? Because those posts sound like it's the same person. Again, do not use different monikers for your posts or you will be deleted.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in the Seattle Schools. On a daily basis I see well-meaning IAs trying to monitor children with behavior problems. However these aides generally don't a clue how to relate to children, especially those with behavioral problems. I witnessed one of them snarling "you are a liar" to a child who was upset. These IAs follow students around trying to contain their behavior as best they can. But the children are all too often being warehoused. We all - teachers, parents, and administrators, need to be more honest; these kids need serious, highly effective therapy, as do many of their families. Until we campaign for a more just and equitable society where the weakest members get their needs met, everyone will suffer. Seattle Teacher