Monday, February 05, 2018

Special Education in Seattle Schools: Why Not Better for These Students?

Several stories across my desk on this issue.
1) Here's a letter from one mom to Superintendent Nyland about the bus strike.  I had thought the district HAD to figure out bus service for these students but apparently not. From Soup for Teachers' Facebook page (bold mine):
Third day of the bus strike-fourth letter to SPS

Dear Dr. Nyland and Directors,

Today is the third day of our school bus strike and many of our district’s special education students have not been able to attend school and receive their much needed therapies, services and education during the strike. Federal law requires that you transport special education students to school but you have only offered us mileage reimbursement. For many Special Education families, like my own driving our students to school is not an option. Not only is this a real equity issue, it is also a FAPE denial.

I called OSPI Friday and this morning I received a call from the regional coordinator of bus transportation. He called the director of SPS bus transportation to let him know accommodations needed to be made quickly as I was prepared to file a citizens complaint. I called my Special Education regional specialist and was able to set up taxi service for my students beginning tomorrow.

I should not have had to make all these calls. The district needs to communicate with special education families immediately to offer taxi service. Some families like my own may be able to manage with a reimbursement. For many though, reimbursement will be a barrier as will language, so you will need to have school staff work to eliminate these barriers and get our kids back in school.

Another way you can help get our kids back in school is to put more pressure on First Student. Let them know they must return to the bargaining table and that SPS will not accept anything less than fair health care benefits even for contract employees.

Honor the strike as our brave teachers will be doing on Wednesday. Honor our families by making sure every special education student has a safe way to get to school. 
2) From Newsweek: Disabled Students Make Up 75% of Preschool Expulsions As Trump Officials Reportedly Weigh Rollback of Obama Guidelines
A new Center for American Progress report shed light on highly disproportionate expulsion and suspension rates for disabled students in early education programs, as the future of Obama-era guidance geared toward protecting such populations remains uncertain under President Donald Trump's administration.

The report, released Wednesday, revealed children ages 3 to 5 who have disabilities and/or emotional and social challenges represent 75 percent of early childhood program expulsions and suspensions, despite only making up 12 percent of that student population. 

These children are also more than 14.5 times more likely to face suspension or expulsion than their "typically developing peers," the report stated. It offered breakdowns by disability: the odds of expulsion and suspension range from more than four times more likely for children with speech disorders to more than 43 times more likely for children with behavioral problems.
At the early education level, "suspension" equates to sending a child to the principal or director’s office, or asking a family member to pick a child up early. "Expulsion," on the other hand, might entail informing a family they must seek out a new care arrangement, the report stated. This type of disruption—especially on a frequent basis—is damaging for students' development, Novoa said.
 3) A great op-ed in the Seattle Times from an SPS parent, Lynn Dixon, asking for the state to fully-fund those students' educations.  


Anonymous said...

OSPI AKA "THE STATE" has investigated SPS for several classes of IDEA violations. In the end NOTHING really IMPROVED...NOTHING! So why would THE STATE AKA "OSPI" Do anything after giving SPS the "ALL IS GOOD" signal AKA "CONDUCT BUSINESS AS USUAL"?

As a result of the GHS case, SPS was to self monitor for civil rights violations...really how has that turned out?

Well the $200K a year administrator of that effort made it less than a year then went on to form a LLC were she consults with districts how to work around the IDEA and not get caught.

--Wireshark remote

Anonymous said...

"Well the $200K a year administrator of that effort made it less than a year then went on to form a LLC were she consults with districts how to work around the IDEA and not get caught."


They should really not do that. Nor should they have sold MLK site and all the other BS they have done.

Now on the high demand SPED students who don't speak english. Why? Why do we pay for taxis for kids who are immigrants /perhaps not legal? In this day and age of us versus them why would we pay for taxis for kids who are not citizens? I am sure if this will make FWIW's head explode but we have limited resources and if kids are not able to be productive citizens if that hopefully comes about.

why allthebs

NNE Mom said...

Isn't Director Geary an education lawyer and a SPED advocate? She tried to make the pathways more sensible for SPED students in the SATP that didn't pass. Did she get the sensible SPED pathways into the plan that did pass? Seems like she could be taking more of a lead in pushing the district toward a more EEU, pro-inclusion pattern.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Why do we pay for taxis for kids who are immigrants /perhaps not legal? In this day and age of us versus them why would we pay for taxis for kids who are not citizens?"

Really? There are people who are legal immigrants with children so yes, paying for a taxi for that Sped student would be right. As for those who aren't, well, sometimes it's the child who is legal but not the parents. That child is entitled to the taxi. And legally, the state has to educate all children in its borders (it's in the state constitution).

I wasn't aware that this is the age of "us versus them."

Anonymous said...

"Well the $200K a year administrator of that effort made it less than a year then went on to form a LLC were she consults with districts how to work around the IDEA and not get caught."

Uh, I think someone needs to provide sources for claims before they defame people. Who is this person? Does the online database confirm the claimed salary? Is the person now an attorney? Do they represent school districts? How do you know what the nature of the work is? That is a lot of flame throwing with nothing to back it up.


Anonymous said...

Because the US Supreme Court has long ago ruled that undocumented children are not to be excluded from public education. Pyler v. Doe.


Anonymous said...


The person in question is Kelli Schmidt, Student Civil Rights Compliance Officer - This blog still list her as working for SPS, that's incorrect.

If you search this blog you will find information about the hiring and exit of Schmidt.

Not only did Schmidt make $$$ at SPS she also hired people under her which raised the SPS administrative budget by an estimated $315K +. There's no evidence that the hiring of Schmidt improved student civil rights compliance at SPS. Schmidt's role seemed reduced to helping defuse abuses after the fact and reduce law suits.

After Schmidt left SPS she created the PLLC Advance Law Office.

For those new to the SPED legal game it's important to understand the game SPS plays with law firms. What happens is Advance Law Office will work with SPS which creates a conflict of interest preventing Advance Law Office or it's lawyers from representing students in cases against SPS. I think Schmidt herself in a ultimate conflict. It's the typical scenario in Seattle for most firms working in education law to have a professional relationship with SPS. Decades of abuses builds lots and lots of lawyer client relationships.

To be fair it's the school districts that have $$$ and ones like SPS spend lots of $$$ on legal, so it's only natural that people make the career choice to defend the abusers with the $$$.

Schmidt seems to be selling her experience as an EX USDE Civil Rights lawyer specifically selling what I call, paper mache compliance.

Feel free to call Schmidt and talk to her, I did.

SPED parent

Anonymous said...

While at OCR, Schmidt was heavily tilted towards SPS. She made impossible situations much worse with the latitude that she gave SPS. I guess no wonder they hired her. Now she is part of the us versus them culture that seems to SPS seems to prefer.


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