Update on NW Center Kids and Cascade Parent Partnership Building Tug-of-War

Here's the latest on this story:

From My Northwest:

So far, the only response from the school district came in an email saying they'll let Northwest Center know the next step after enrollment numbers are in on March 7. By that time, Northwest Center will have just three months left to figure out a plan. 

From The Stranger Slog, now we have a Seattle legislator involved:

The Northwest Center understands that they may have to move, but is asking for more time to find a suitable location for their developmentally and physically disabled students, many of whom require a facility that will accommodate their specific needs. SPS spokesperson Teresa Wippel told me that the old Van Asselt school has been offered to the Northwest Center, but Northwest Center President and CEO Tom Everill says, "There is no offer of Van Asselt on the table—no planning or site analysis has been done, and there are no applications for construction permits or licensing." 

It seems that neither group wants to be located anywhere but centrally.  It makes sense but in the facilities landscape of SPS, not probable.

The aside to all this is reporter Danielle Henderson who I spoke with yesterday.  She's new to Seattle, trying to understand the district and she asks the burning question:

I can't help but wonder—does Seattle Public Schools have a longterm plan or have any idea how to manage their demographics?  

Here's what Rep Reuven Carlyle, whose district falls in the Queen Anne region, had to say:

He acknowledges that the district is facing a crisis of facilities because of overcrowding, but when it comes to SPS' treatment of the Northwest Center he gives them a failing grade:

"It’s been an F- when it comes to open, transparent community engagement and communications"

The legislative delegation had approved and then rescinded a $10 million capital budget request to renovate the North Queen Anne location once they found out how the funds were going to be used:

Rep. Carlyle and the legislative delegation are instead asking for $20 million to refurbish and reopen the Magnolia school, which can handle 400-500 students and help with the growing population, and an additional $5 million for an additional school building. "We’d rather invest $20 million in a very large, important vacant building that can be part of longterm 20 year plan than invest $10 million in a short term, stopgap facility that doesn’t help."

He is also thoughtful in his messaging:

Rep. Carlyle realizes the struggle the district is facing and commends them for trying to find a solution, saying "No one is criticizing their stress around managing an explosion of growth—that's a hard job. The question is are they going into this with a sense of community engagement that our city demands?" He also urges for a strategic approach, which Seattle Public Schools doesn't appear to have right now. Carlyle says the issue is the system, not the buildings currently being contested. "The district has unbelievable turnover, and the management of the demographics has been subpar."  

Not good.  Not good at all.  I'm surprised the Board hasn't publicly weighed in but then, the Board is in a bit of flux (and, of course, does not want to get browbeaten for "interfering.")   


Anonymous said…
The Stranger Slog just posted this as well about the City Council supporting Northwest Center's plea for more time: http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2014/02/21/city-council-supports-northwest-center-kids-plea-for-more-time

Robert Cruickshank said…
Reuven is clearly trying to build a case for taking over the school district - either the state or the city. Unfortunately the district keeps giving people like him ammo for such a move. The board really needs to step in and give the NW Center what they are asking for. And they need to do it now.
One thing that might help - could the City offer some options for low-cost leased space for Cascade until the district can find them a permanent home?

Agreed, Robert. I warned the Superintendent and the Board of this at the last Board meeting. They need to look like they know what they are doing.
Anonymous said…

Been in this district far too long. JSCEE about to jump the shark. It failed with the Ed Reform darling Goodloe-Johnson who IMHO was the worst personality to set foot in the district in 10 years and that counts the fool Olchefske.

Banda, the Supe billed as the Equity Guy by some parents and current board members who wanted Goodloe-Johnson out has been saddled with the fallout of years of crap management and now the population of SPS is exploding because of demographics (not excellence, again IMHO). Big issues.

But Banda has been here a year and go find a group who thinks he's doing a good job. Not hearing it. He inspires no one. No one sees him. No one hears from him. His lieutentants are not strong. Good employees have fled. Things are bad downtown. Look at the stupid transportation changes. Again. Look at the stupid equity issues. again. Look at the stupid AP issues. Again. Look at the lack of capital planning. Again. Look at the crap PR and community outreach. Again. Look at special ed. Again. Look at the teacher unhappiness. Again. Look at HR. Again. Where's the success story? Not hearing it.

Banda's backer Kay Smith-Blum conveniently quit the board before the crap hits the fan. Interesting. Does the rest of the board support Banda? Who knows but at least some of them chose him so they seem stuck. Does staff and board work together? Who knows. From watching the board meetings at home I guess no.

Now the budget process is going to start guided by someone who just took the job. The state won't be ponying up money as they are supposed to. Disaster predicted.

Even Melissa said a bit ago that her temper is running short. And anyone reading this blog knows she though Goodloe-Johnson was horrible.

If the heavy hand downtown doesn't cut it and the opposite, Banda, doesn't either, that leaves the city.

This NW Center eviction is a straw for the camel. If @(#*@& JSCEE administrators can't figure out how extremely bad it looks to kick out heavily disabled kids from a building that has served them when SPS WOULD NOT, then the fools deserve to lose their jobs. It does not matter that there is no space or that Cascade needs a home. We all understand that. Tough. Go find a solution.

Want to see this issue used to float a city takeover? I predict it's coming and today I don't know if I care anymore.

Anonymous said…
SLOG just posted that City Council and other legislators are now leaning on Banda over the NW Center issue.

My point in spades. JSCEE = STUPID.


I posted this on the open thread, too, and will continue to discuss my opinion there not on this thread.
Charlie Mas said…
The City can solve this quickly and easily by finding space for CPPP.

The City was all set to find space for the children of Amazon employees at a downtown school, so surely they can find a space for CPPP so NWC can remain in place.
Anonymous said…
DistrictWatcher -

You do realize that a significant population of the public school children can not be in regular school don't you?

A lot of students at CPPP have learning disabilities, physical health/medical challenges and mental health challenges which is why they are at CPPP.

Just because you can't see my child's diagnosed mental illness and learning disabilities (until he is running, in a group setting or trying to write) does not mean that they are not significant.

Also, a significant proportion of the population is working poor. Parents are having to stop working or work at night or other odd times so that the kids can be in this school.

Samantha said…
The Washington State Supreme Court is demanding funding, too.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Another Cascader said…
If anything, admitting that the district was about to plunk down $10 mil in renovating the Queen Anne building for Cascade shows that the NW center claim about $250k being a deciding factor is just smoke and mirrors. A small drop in the bucket compared to what was intended. What amazing PR they have. But then, they have money.

Not like the low-income special needs students at Cascade, at least.
Another NWC Parent said…
To anonymous:

“NW has had 27 years to find a permanent facility and knew for at least 2 years now that SPS was discussing not renewing their lease.” This is untrue. This building WAS the permanent facility for Northwest Center for the last 28+ years. When Northwest Center inquired about whether the building would be taken back by SPS as rumors were circulating, a clear response (“no”) from SPS was given, along with an assurance that SPS would keep Northwest Center updated.

“They did this knowing that every 6 months their lease was up and that SPS could take back their school at any point.” This is also false. The lease was renewed in 1997 and expired in 2015. There was, however, a 6 month termination clause, which is what the school district is now exercising.

“SPS has an obligation to the students and staff at Cascade and after 2 years of debate and meetings, and tours they recognized that Cascade needs to be housed in their own building.” I absolutely agree with this. SPS owes it to the students at Cascade to give them a long-term home. This is a disaster, which should not have happened.

You are correct that Northwest Center, like all private early learning centers, charges tuition for its students, although the early intervention services are funded through state/county/city funding, as well as private insurance and Medicaid. Northwest Center provides over $13,000 in scholarships each month to families who need help accessing the services. Northwest Center also accepts vouchers for low-income and foster families, which reimburse at a much lower rate than what is standard compared with the costs involved.

However, just because tuition is involved does not make these children any less worthy or important. This poorly thought out decision by SPS places the well-being of 100+ children in jeopardy, potentially places their families in crisis, and demonstrates a horrible standard of operations and communications by SPS. Surely it is reasonable to ask for more time so that neither program dies.

I am missing how charter schools are even relevant to this conversation or how this would even apply to Northwest Center.
Another Cascader said…
Cascade cannot afford to be somewhere temporarily. It would be just as disastrous for Cascade as it would be for NW Center.

I wonder if the district can hold off on demolishing Wilson-Pacific, instead?
Another NWC Parent said…
"What amazing PR they have. But then, they have money. Not like the low-income special needs students at Cascade, at least."

Are you kidding me? This is a ridiculous statement.

Both programs support families from a broad range of socioeconomic situations. And that is a great thing!
Both programs are admirable.
Both programs have parents who are fighting for something that has served their children well and that will hopefully serve future children well.
Both programs are worthy and need to continue.
Another Cascader said…
And yet, Cascade has reached out to news outlets, council members and other avenues to get a seat at the table and been rebuffed. And yet, the letter from the council members who have strong connections and ties to the board of NW Center used the word "homeschoolers" in their letter. And yet, misinformation abounds.

We don't have lawyers to subpeona email records. We are just trying to survive on an abysmal operating budget. We are at the mercy of Seattle, but we have no voice. We have no money and no connections to push for it, either. Every time the NW Center is interviewed, misinformation about our program is released. To the point where they convinced the finance chair person that the funds the district was asking for was for a temporary place for a homeschool program that isn't connected with the district. Yikes.

On the plus side, at least my kids are getting a real-time lesson in classism. Lip service is paid to how necessary Cascade is, but no real effort is put behind it. You can say you believe it's worth all you want, but the actions of the media, the council, and the people behind those pushes say something totally different.
Anonymous said…
As I stated above this is not about Cascade or NW Center. This is about the incompetency of planning within JSCEE. A solution needs to be found yesterday for both programs.

I believe it will require renting commercial or government space near outdoor facilities - for PE and recreation -, for Cascade for immediate use and giving them a specific destination for long term use.

If NW Center needs to move, fine. Give them time to do so. This is the same (@*#@* administration that dithered for months on the occupation of the Mann Building. No need to kick special needs kids not served by our own dysfunctional system onto the street because of some SPS legalese that has been ignored many other times when it was convenient for various incompetent JSCEE administrations.

I do not want to hear that SPS can't afford this or does not have time. It can and it does. If it cannot solve this operational and PR nightmare for some of this city's most vulnerable families then these people should not be administrators.

As I said, this is the exact straw to turn operations over to the city. Watch.

Another Cascader said…
In fact, I happen to know that our school staff is awash in emails from confused and misinformed council members etc. who CC NW Center lawyers and state that the information they received about our program was from them. So yeah. Lip service.
Another NWC Parent said…
One doesn't need to be a lawyer to request public records. I am not a lawyer, and I have been able to quickly navigate this process.

Another Cascader said…
Thank you for the straw man, but that's not what I said or what I meant.

Frankly, it's ugly out there, and we as a community are feeling very bullied. When will The Stranger tell our side of the story? Where's the news report on our program? Why is NW Center telling city council members that we are a homeschool program, that Queen Anne would not fit our needs, and that it would be a temporary site? Why is it okay for us to move somewhere temporarily but not you?

Anonymous said…
SPS has a colorful history of pitting communities against each other. This appears to be the most recent example. I agree the shame is on SPS Central and not on either parent community, both of whom appear to be fighting for the ability to educate kids who do not fit into the neat little box of a 'typical' student - whatever that is. I don't think there is a typical student.
Anyhow, parents, you are on the same side. Do not turn against each other. Band together to insist that SPS provide a solution that does not kill either program.

This situation is extremely dispiriting. Parents must insist that this district do better.

Another Cascader said…
I thought we WERE together. Until the relentless PR machine, the email trail, the continued misinformation, the smile and pat on the head while the back is stabbed, etc. convinced me otherwise. We are not firing shots at their program, but we have only been in the defensive situation this entire time. It's pretty incredible. But that's what entitlement does to a person, I suppose. We didn't bring the council into this. We didn't bring the news into this. At no point were we approached by NW Center, and at no point were we included in any of the articles and whatnot. The council met with NW Center but not us. We have been playing catch-up, and we can't seem to get heard. The misinformation abounds anew every day, and it's not coming from us. It's not even being verified before it's used to make policy decisions or write articles. It's very frustrating.
NWC Parent said…
I am saddened that the Cascade community is feeling bullied, but I truly believe that the anger is misdirected. NWC parents have not been painting Cascade parents or kids as the enemy. NWC did not create this situation, nor did Cascade.

SPS created this situation. SPS can make the decisions necessary to make appropriate, long-term plans that will not harm either program.
Anonymous said…
SavvyVoter -

It wasn't the SPS that started the misinformation campaign against Cascade. It was Queen Anne blog. After that it was again written up negatively towards Cascade on another major media site.

Now this letter here: http://nwcenterkids.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/NWCenterKidsLetterFinalFeb20.pdf continues the process.

That is why the families at CascadePPP feel like we are being mistreated.

After the way the media has treated CPPP and now the letters from council members - I truly feel like my child is considered worthy of throwing away. He can't fit in, so throw him out.

Cascade is supporting our family. But if the city and the school system won't support us and the media continues to degenerate us and continues to not offer any other viewpoint (These are City Council Members who again are discounting our children!) then we are being told that if our children have an difficult learning disability or mental illnesses, then they are not worth the time and effort.

As there is no where else in the public school system for my child - and we are losing our building, and no one will help us, then my son is worth throwing away - the actions are proving it.

It really stinks to be on the receiving end of that.

Anonymous said…
NWC Parent -

Look at the letter:


There it is again - the importance and value of the program is being hidden and denigrated by calling it a homeschool program.

This is PR so that the students value is decreased. Their needs are decreased.

We have kids coming in because they are dropping out of conventional school where their disabilities and mental illness or trauma from being bullied will not allow them to learn or feel safe.

Cascade has provided a safe atmosphere for them, and working with the parents allows them to learn.

Labeling the public school program ALE as a homeschool program is designed and meant to undercut us. It is a purposeful act of sabotage.

How can we feel like we are together when that is occurring.
Kathi said…
Whoa. Several NWC parents have made many efforts to connect with and communicate with Cascade, both with parents and with the principal. There have been numerous offers to meet, to work together, and other collaborations.

I understand that Cascade parents are angry and tired of having to fight for this program. It's horrible that Cascade has endured such an uphill battle, and the school district should be held accountable for this. Let's hold them accountable for ALL of the bad decisions and poor communication. Let's demand that they do the right thing by both programs.
Another Cascader said…
SPS did not tell itself, the media, the city council, or others that the Queen Anne site wasn't adequate for the needs of Cascade (it is), that we are merely a 'homeschool' program (not even close), or that the move to Queen Anne is temporary (nope--that was meant to be our forever home). In fact, letters and emails from NW Center members and lawyers have repeated this information to those people. To the public yes, all efforts to be seen as the magnanimous little guy are being extended. But behind closed doors? It's brutal.
Another NWC Parent said…
You can choose not to believe it, but Northwest Center parents have made an organized effort to not refer to Cascade using the phrase "home school."

With that, I will be done. I hope that this ends well for all of the children involved.
Anonymous said…

I have to say I literally laughed out loud when I read the question from the report:

"I can't help but wonder—does Seattle Public Schools have a longterm plan or have any idea how to manage their demographics? "

Perfect question to ask, and I hope she asks it repeatedly until they daylight more accurate projections (maybe they now have since Flip testified at the legislature on bill 2780, and said that they now expect 7000 new kids over the next 5 (?) years) AND show how the facilities plan actually lines up with the projections. As of now, I don't think it does...

--Random Thought
Anonymous said…
Kathi -

I am not angry. That is a secondary emotion. I am feeling hopeless and helpless.

I have tried to speak up about the program and the children that it serves. I have tried to correct the misinformation, yet it persists.

Even until the letter that was written here:

A lot of people don't like homeschoolers. That was put in there purposefully and CPPP has been represented that way purposefully.

How can I feel OK about that and not attacked.

Unfortunately, no one wants to listen. Not one story about the kids at CPPP has been published. Only this misinformation.

I see the writing on the wall. We have been put in an unhealthy building for years. We have reduced funding. And now we have a truly uncertain future.

And no one cares but us. If NWCenter did care about our kids. They would show it by correcting the misinformation.

I am very disappointed - defeated and like I said helpless and hopeless as I watch such a great program be treated this way. I don't see how it can survive.
Anonymous said…
NW Center parents -

You can choose not to believe it, but Northwest Center parents have made an organized effort to not refer to Cascade using the phrase "home school."

Then stand up and correct it. When you hear it - or read it in print - come out and correct the information.

I noticed a change publically part way through, but then still it is appearing in the letter.
I have not seen them but other reporters have. There are e-mails that clearly show the district had been very much planning to take the building back from NW Center (and, for whatever reason, did not tell them sooner).

They also show that staff DID know about the building changes (and were actually happy about them). I think the issue may be that NW Center may not have filed some "official" SPS form but that does not negate the district's knowledge of the changes made to the building.

I would suggest calling the Mayor and the President of the City Council and asking them what THEY could do to help in this situation.
Another Cascader said…
The emails that I saw, at least what was posted on the Stranger article and elsewhere, show that the district was aware that there was a possibility of renovations, and that if the renovations went through, it MIGHT benefit SPS eventually but certainly it would benefit the tenants in the meantime, and isn't that nice? Either way, the point I made was $250k is a drop in the bucket against 10 million dollars...especially if some of the renovations have to be undone (like all the tiny toilets). So whether the district was fully aware of it or not, I think, it's a moot point. I don't believe that played in to the decision at all, but that aspect has been played up as a point of pathos.

Planning to use the site, well no official decision was made until November, but it was discussed as a possibility as far back as 2012 that I know of. And you have to agree no matter what, that if it was a POSSIBILITY they should have alerted NW Center. They may not have been able to say more than that, because no decision was made. It's not like they could say "Move out because in three years we need your program"; it wasn't known at the time. Seems to me, however, that common courtesy would have been to let them know it was a possibility. Maybe they'd have to move, maybe not, maybe soon, maybe later, but either way they'd know that it was a possibility and that their building was being looked at as such. That absolutely is a gross failing on SPS' part, especially if it's true that they explicitly told NWC otherwise.
Another Cascader said…
The idea that the SPS isn't going to use the QA building for something, that's a pipe dream. Cascade wasn't the only program being discussed to be put there, and in fact there was some administrative office type program that wouldn't need to renovate and would be cheaper to place there.

So placing Cascade elsewhere won't 'stop the clock'. It might delay things, but it won't stop things.

That said, I wonder if SPS can delay demolition of Wilson-Pacific to keep Cascade on campus for the remainder of the 2014/15 school year. That would give NW Center more time to move. Instead of having to move this June, they could conceivably stay until next February at least. That will give them a year from now to find a place and complete the licensing process. And Cascade would still have a forever home without having to move a bunch of times, which would be traumatic to the children and the program.
Anonymous said…
I'm disturbed just by the title ... a tug of war between a public and private school over which school Seattle Public Schools will support.

If a public school is placed in a position where their program is at jeopardy by being moved multiple times or to a neighborhood far from where the student body resides so that a public school doesn't have to do the same, it is appalling.

How has this issue gone so far in the media? SPS needs to focus on its students.

-SPS Parent
kellie said…
I have posted this before but it seems to be applicable once again to this conversation.

The BEX plan was fatally flawed from minute one because it did not plan adequately either for growth or for the need for interim housing during construction. In this case, the BEX plan displaced Cascade from Wilson Pacific building without a specific landing place.

The BEX plan did not have a home for Pinehurst so there was the big shuffle a few months ago to find them an interim home. Likewise with Indian Heritage.

Cascade has been homeless for almost two years now but this was a hidden problem. Now the problem is not hidden.

The problem is that the district is out of space, plain and simple. Services to both NW and Cascade are critical and necessary services. This should not be an either or conversation, the conversation needs to be about where and how the district is going to acquire NEW space.

mirmac1 said…
Kellie, as far as you know is Lowell full? Why couldn't this work temporarily? It has a central location.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
"It is unfortunate, but that is the risk when renting a facility...at the end of the day it's all business."
That's rubbish. Education is the primary function of Washington State government. Read the state Constitution if you don't agree with that. These are our kids we're talking about. When we reduce issues such as these to "it's just business," the terrorists have won.

-- Ivan Weiss
A Tired NWC Parent said…
@Melissa: I appreciate your continued attention to this topic. However, I agree with a previous poster that your title on this topic is (unintentionally) inflammatory.

This is NOT a tug-of-war between NWC and CPP. In fact, from the very beginning, the NWC Community has been advocating for both programs.

There is zero risk of the CPP program ending up without a location. They are a legitimate SPS program and the district is obligated to provide them with the space that they deserve. In fact, they will most likely end up with a BETTER location than QA due to our lobbying/advocacy.

The NWC Community is fully aware that QA is now a short-term location for us. We are working fervently on identifying alternative locations, how we will organize the sweat equity of the parents who will need to work on the needed renovations, etc. All we are asking for is MORE TIME so that we even have a chance to implement these plans.

Again, this isn't a tug-of-war for a building. Despite what a couple of CPP parents are saying, there is no "PR Machine" working against them. (I don't know if I should scream in frustration or laugh at that notion.)

Our community just needs more time, and hopefully cooperation, to resolve this mess created by Banda and SPS.

Lynn said…
Ha! Zero risk they'll end up without a location? It took intervention by a couple of board members to save AS #1. District staff are perfectly capable of ending the program and reassigning the students to their attendance area schools if that makes their jobs easier.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Another Cascader said…
There is definitely NOT zero risk for Cascade. It was nearly shut down five years ago over a funding issue. It had to shut its high school program down last year due to the district cutting our funding. Several of our dedicated teachers are on a part time contract even though they work full time, just so we can retain enough teachers due to the funding cuts. Fact is, it's an alternative school. The district has been quietly and at times openly hostile to Cascade over the years, and toward other alternative schools as well.

We had to fight to get the QA location as it is; one of the "options" was a GYM. Yes, to stick our whole program in a GYM. The district was seriously considering that.

Lobbying for more time for the NW Center does nothing for Cascade unless you are lobbying specifically for what Cascade needs for in a building. Having the city council members refer to us as homeschoolers in passing does not help our cause.

I said before, and I say again, if there is a different equitable or better option out there for our program, I'd happily take it. Many others more familiar with the building issues the SPS has have pointed out this might not be possible. Which is why I hope that the district will instead delay demolition at Wilson-Pacific to give NW Center more time to move.

In terms of the 'drop in the bucket' that the $250k was to the district, I was speaking to the notion that the district specifically chose both the moment in time to announce they needed the building and that they needed that SPECIFIC building due to the $250k in repairs. No, the timing was due to the pressure of demolishing W-P and needing the building for a variety of possible uses. Being willing to sink millions into the place, including probably having to UNDO some of the renovations, doesn't seem to be much motivation for it at all.

That said, of course I can understand how you felt. Cascade parents have been living for the past two years with the spectre of knowing we had to move somewhere but not being able to get the district to nail down where that somewhere is. Not knowing if our program was going to continue to exist, and watching the district chop us up due to funding and pointless regulations. We've been homeless for years, and juuuuust when it finally felt like all those months and years of worry and writing letters and making signs and protesting and attending meetings and everything else because the district finally said YES, you are important enough to us to be given a permanent home and here it is, we find out that it's already occupied and the tenants are fighting hard to keep their space. And now we have nowhere to go, and we're out of time. That's pretty depressing, just saying. Some of our more fragile kids were really impacted by all the news coverage, because having security is really important to their mental and emotional health and when it was a 'sure thing' it was announced to the school and the kids and we celebrated. So then, suddenly, after all that, they see and hear their parents worried and all the stuff going on, and it hasn't been good for them at all. They are old enough that they can't be fully shielded, so unfortunately they are aware. It sucks.
Anonymous said…
I have no dog in this race, and I knew nothing about either the NW Center or Cascade Parent Partnership (CPP) before this incident. For the record, I do understand that SPS needs its building back, but I think they should give the NW Center more time to find a new home.

But now I am really curious about CPP, state law about Alternative Learning Experience programs in general, and individual school districts' obligation to support them.

From what I can tell, ALEs (like with home schooling) require a parent to be the primary educator for a student. It seems to me that this de-facto would exclude any children from single-parent households from participating. Additionally, it seems this would exclude any children from two-parent households where both parents must work full-time (or more) to support the household. Also, it would exclude any families who were unable to provide transportation to the onsite classes. In a nutshell, it seems that ALEs are intended for families of means. (Also, it seems like a double-standard to me that state law will forbid charter schools from requiring any parent volunteerism, yet our state public school system supports programs in which a parent is required to be the primary educator for a student.)

Am I the only one who thinks ALEs seem classist? I have not seen this discussion anywhere. Why is SPS devoting resources to a program that bars entry to families who cannot devote a parent to being a full-time educator? Why should SPS pony up valuable Queen Anne real estate to a program that requires students to have parents who can afford not to work? (Unsurprisingly, CPP is significantly whiter than the district as a whole, and has fewer families who qualify for FRL.)

I understand that many CPP students have special needs. But there are lots of special-needs families in the district who could never access this supposedly all-district program. How is this fair?

--Just Curious
Another Cascader said…
Anonymous Just Curious, I'm going to assume you aren't a troll or trying to start something, and really are just ignorant.

I can't speak for every ALE, but there are single parents and working parents at CPPP. A good portion of our school qualifies for (and depends on) free lunches and breakfasts. Actually, even more would qualify but they don't apply. To qualify, you can't be a family 'of means'. CPPP works with parents to figure out how things can work out. It doesn't have to be a parent, by the way, it just has to be an authorized guardian on campus. We have some kids whose parents aren't able to come who are still able to participate in the program because other parents in the program have stepped up and offered to be the responsible guardian. We have other parents who work opposite shifts, or trade off during the day. We have many families who depend on the near location or public transportation (including a family who buses from West Seattle, which is crazy far away, but they make it work). Currently our population is mostly north and centrally located, but we do get people from other locations in the district, even outside the district (we have a couple of Shoreline families).

The programming and scheduling of classes at CPPP is part of what makes it work. For me, my kids are fully enrolled. I don't do anything except help them stay on top of homework.

For others, it works more like homeschooling...they may only be on site one or two days a week for a couple of classes. Unless you are claiming that all homeschoolers are people of means and include no double income households or single parents, which would be incredibly ignorant, I assume you can understand how it might work out in our program.

Knowing some of the high schoolers at other alternative programs, I can also say that not everyone there is from a family of means where one parent is always available to them. In fact, at our high school, the parents did not have to be on campus. Many of our students took the city bus. SPS provides vouchers for some bus situations, and orca cards for families that qualify. At CPPP, the age for a parent to not be on campus is 13, so we currently have a pack of 8th graders whose parents are not on campus at all times. Including two who have IEP's ;)

Bottom line, there are tons of helps and resources for low-income families at a program like CPPP. Most of our population is very, very far from well off, of means, or rich. We have quite a few single parents. The unique way our program works and the tight and beautiful and welcoming community that exists there bands together to help each other out. We care for each other and everyone's children, and we take care of each other. The program itself also takes care of the vulnerable members of our program.
Another Cascader said…
We have like 33% who have applied for and qualified for free lunches, yes. But there are many others who simply haven't bothered, because they are only on campus two days a week and they may not be there over a meal. The stat is misleading. I know that when we qualified, we didn't bother applying either. Now we make just enough to not qualify.

As far as whiter, I don't know what to compare it to, but that's just those who report...I don't report on our race. I refuse. 40% non white in a small population like ours is not really indicative of anything. It also seems off to me, based on my daily interactions. We are a rainbow...lol! We have also been a haven for the Muslim community, especially after their main school closed.

If you are truly curious, why not visit and see for yourself?
Anonymous said…
I truly am ignorant about CPP and ALEs. I never knew before that there was an SPS-supported program that required students (or virtually all students, if 13-year-old 8th graders are not included) to have a parent (or other volunteer responsible guardian) as the primary educator, and present with them at onsite classes.

I don't intend to be a troll; I'm just concerned about financial and racial equity in SPS.

In terms of the racial and FRE population, I was just referring to the numbers available on the OSPI site (SPS 44% white, 42% FRL; CPP 60% white, 33% FRL); I have no particular insight into whether potentially quslifying CPP families opt out of applying to the FRL program at a greater or lesser rate than district families on the whole.

I also didn't know that CPP was accepting Shoreline students as well as Seattle students.

Regardless of whether special shared-guardianship arrangements can be made for some students in the CPP community, I don't see how this is an equitable program for families across the district.

--Just Curious
Another Cascader said…
Considering that again, it seems to work for those who qualify for the lunches and it works for low income families and single parents and working parents and Muslim parents and parents of various races and backgrounds, I am not sure that your concern is valid.

But it is also a program that you have to seek out, isn't well advertised, and is an alternative learning program. It's a small program, not a large one. Not everyone will want to engage with it, or understand what an option it is. That doesn't make it unequitable.

You aren't sent there by the district, you choose it. If you WANT to be a partner in your child's education, it's a good place for you (or various other ALE's, though not all are run the same way). If your child has not had success in a traditional classroom, but you cannot afford a private school, and/or you cannot homeschool them for whatever reason, this program would be a good fit. We have many students like that, particularly in the middle school.

It includes all of the vectors your are concerned about, but that doesn't mean it is the right fit for everyone.

It IS serving the needs of a variety of SPS students, and there's nothing classist about that. It IS a safety net for kids who wouldn't do well at home but can't function in a regular school, or even a contained classroom. We have a couple kids like that, too, particularly in the past.

I am a little bit disturbed by your assumptions and insinuations, but you claim you are just ignorant. I've been with the program for years, and I know it is not what you are presuming.
Anonymous said…
Some facts:

A parent needs to be onsite, but a parent can designate another caregiver or CPPP parent to be the responsible party. Fellow parents support one another. There are families of all income levels (FRL 33%), and not all have two-parent households. The location is important because many families rely on public transit (there is no district provided transportation).

Classist? Almost laughable if you knew families participating in the program.

WAC 392-121-182 regarding ALEs:


SPS parent
Another Cascader said…
Just as a clarification, the Shoreline students LIVE in Shoreline but do a district transfer (making them Seattle Public School students) to be able to attend a Seattle Public School. I think it amounts to three students, but either way, that means the Seattle school district receives federal monies for those kids. Considering how little of that money is transferred to each kid's education with our abysmal operating budget, that is basically SPS making money.
Lynn said…
I think you haven't done any research on Alternative Learning Experience Schools or Programs. Here's the Board policy that authorizes them. There are only two. The district doesn't classify them as option schools - they're listed as service schools. If you look at the students who use these programs, you'll see that your theory that they're inequitable havens for rich white homeschooling parents is a bit off base. Those parents would not seek out a program located at Wilson Pacific. Have you read descriptions of the building and grounds?

The FRL rates at the schools closets to WP are 17% (Bagley), 33% (Olympic View (33%) and 27% (Greenwood). A school that doesn't provide yellow bus service and isn't centrally located can't be expected to draw many students from outside it's general area.
name said…
Just curious, you really should go look at the program and you'll see its about as far from elitist as could possibly be. Mist kids and famies there are there out if necessity - they cannot make it at traditional school and the parents have had to quit jobs, go part time, or see their child be institutionalized because of depression and anxiety. This is not the only reason why kids attend but I know there are many families there for this reason and this is why the parents are desperate to preserve it
Anonymous said…
District transfers are common, I have friends in Seattle who transferred in to Shoreline. Sometimes the right program is outside of one's district and schools/districts are able to support this for the benefit of the children.

Parent partnership programs are under A.L.E.'s but not all A.L.E.'s have significant parent involvement like Cascade. For instance, Salmon Bay is an alternative learning experience school.

Most importantly, this post is from the single mother of of a free lunch receiving student in her 6 th year at Cascade PPP. I creatively make it work for my child to receive the education she needs, as well as supervise another child of a single parent who isn't able to be on campus. So grateful SPS has been here supporting my child through the years.

-SPS parent
CascadeMom said…
I'm hesitant to engage this question. It's a poor place to ask it. If you are curious about ALE's, the best course would be to look it up or call and speak to principals of the schools. Not ask stressed-out and scared parents afraid of losing their safety net and trying to defend not just their program but ALE's in general....

But I'd like to share a story, about when we first toured Cascade as an option for my son, who had been previously homeschooled (we also tried other ALE's) because of severe sensory processing issues (and dysgraphia). He can't be in a room full of 20 kids, or in a gym when a sport is going on. He reads at a high school level, but can't remember what a G looks like. It's invisible to those who don't know him, and a complicated puzzle for us who do.

But anyway, on the day we toured Cascade, there were a few things I noticed and loved. 1 - the children's art in the art room was all different, not 30 versions of the exact same thing. 2 - Parents are on site, which leaves very little room for bullying, and a community of adults to be a support to my whole family. 4 - There used to be an open mic at lunchtime. Where the kids were free to express whatever they like. There was rapping (from all colors), there was songs and stories from Russia, and others I can't remember right now.

This experience - the beautiful diversity and loving kindness of the families, superseded my concerns about the building. The water is poisonous (kids have to bring water from home), there's asbestos warnings everywhere, a quarter of the gym is blocked off due to water damage, the boiler occasionally malfunctions making the school have to decide between heat and school computers (or during the winter, cancel classes due to freezing classrooms). Walls are literally crumbling, mentally ill and drug addicts walk on the grounds (there's no fence), there's no playground of any kind. It should be embarrassing for the district to put kids in a space like that. But the community helps each other out and puts so much time and love into the space, and do all that they can for each other.

Both my children attend classes with children from many countries, religions, backgrounds, learning difficulties... .. and that's a big part of what we love. Our neighborhood school does not have the diversity (and time/closeness to really get to know them) that Cascade does. It's so special.

On income - I think the working dad/mom at home is quite a small percentage. I can only think of a couple. I know nurses who work nights and weekends, foster moms, grandmas, both moms and dads who do their schoolwork while their kids do theirs.... there are as many stories and differences as there are families. People make it work with the help of family members and friends, childcare trade-offs, alternative schedules. And even then, if a mom (or dad) is a stay at home mom (or dad) does not mean their family is well-off. It's a well thought out decision with sacrifices of its own, that families decide on because it's what is needed for their families (and even then, might be temporary). (PART 1)
CascadeMom said…
(PART 2)

My child (and others) attend classes less than 5 days per week (we've varied between 2 and 3) with therapy or other services on the other days. My daughter does not have any learning difficulties but also thrives at this school.

It's important that an option like this exists, through the public school system, at no cost to those who need this type of option for their children. Not everyone can succeed in a normal school environment, and homeschooling isn't an option for everyone. There needs to be more choices.

From what I know about NW Center, it's also a beautiful and supportive program. It's so important that all children, from all walks, with all abilities and differences, have access to a educational option that is a good fit for them and their families, and helps them succeed.

In regards to the PR concern: NW Center has had several TV news, newspaper, the stranger, etc tell the story of their difficulties. Cascade had just one visit, by King 5. They announced their intention to come learn about Cascade on Thursday night. They said they'd come less than 24 hours later - on a friday afternoon - when there is nobody at school. The principal called parents asking anyone who can come to come and show their support. The building was FILLED with loving families ready to tell King 5 all about what we love about Cascade. But King 5 declined to interview even one person. All they showed was a short interview clip with Flip from our modest library (which by the way is donated). All other communication has been on the defensive, after learning about inaccurate descriptions in the media or online. That can make anyone feel pretty awful.

I so hope that SPS and the city and NW center's management and all others involved are able to come to a solution to support ALL these kids. And I sincerely hope their communication improves. They are in charge of taking care of such a treasure.
Anonymous said…
Does the Shoreline school district have any available properties? We have out of district transfers, why not some shared spaces.

Lynn said…
Salmon Bay is an option school not an Alternative Learning Experience program. ALE's are defined by state law.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
The CPP community sounds wonderful.

But I still don't understand how it's equitable for SPS to provide a district-wide public school resource to only families who can have a qualified parent as the primary educator and a guardian with the child onsite at all times. I understand how parents are trying hard to make this work for all who want to be involved, but the program set-up is exclusionary. (Which is why the charter schools are being set up so as to not require any parental volunteerism -- it is exclusionary.) I'm sorry if I'm not explaining properly why I believe this is exclusionary; it seems self-evident to me. If someone can explain how it is not exclusionary, that would be great -- I could be missing something.

It also seems strange that, for all the talk of lack of space in Seattle schools that we have room for Shoreline kids in the program as well.

Also, I'm sorry if this all seems trollish, or if these aren't appropriate questions to be raising, or if this is the wrong forum. I've just found this site to be a great resource in terms of getting answers to why SPS is set up the way it is.

--Just Curious
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Stranger Slog story details a timeline for NW Center. Six months won't work.

As for Cascade, from my research and listening to Board testimony, they have a lot of diversity. I think, Just Curious, for many parents who have children with challenges, you have to find a way to be there to meet those challenges.

I saw this a couple of times;
"I'm disturbed just by the title ... a tug of war between a public and private school over which school Seattle Public Schools will support."

I did not mention SPS in the title at all. The building is the tug of war.

Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Concerned parent from a business perspective said…
Melissa, the problem with the title of the story is that it is not a tug of war over the building or between programs, it is a battle over the lease and terms that were agreed to. The situation is that SPS has a duty to its students first and foremost, they made many mistakes in closing schools and the biggest of all was issuing long term leases to bring in money while not thinking about what would happen if the population grew. Titles like this only go to fuel the fire between the 2 communities, not the ones actually behind the problem.

The papers are filled with headlines like this, demonizing SPS and belittling CPPP and it's students. It is not the kids fault and it sucks that they are sucked into this (both schools). The bottom line of all of this mess is NW failed to think about how much time they needed when they agreed to the terms of lease and the 6 month clause, and SPS failed continually to plan for potential growth (to say the least).

I hope that SPS has learned their lesson in this and refuses long term leases of any sort with private school, I pray that Hamlin Robinson (in TT Minor building) is their last private school lease and that when their lease is up they have another facility scouted and ready to go.

I say this out of concern for all involved. I know it sounds calloused, but it really is a matter of poor planning on both sides when it came to leasing terms. It is a landlord-tenant issue that has nothing to do with the kids, yet the kids are the ones suffering. My heart goes out to all involved that are stressed and suffering because of this.
A NWC Parent with two special needs kids said…
In response to:

"Why is it that NW can guarantee their 0-3 year old program will remain intact regardless of placement if having to vacate QA by the start of summer? Why can they not guarantee their other ages and programs? What is the difference?"

This in reference to the "Birth to Three" program which is a WA State service for kids with disabilities. NWC is one of the approved care providers for this program.

If the QA location is lost, NWC will send their therapists to the child's home a few hours a week. While this is a reassurance that our kids will still get some services, it's still not the same as being able to be in a all-day classroom setting. Being physically at NWC allows for social interaction, continued care from specially trained staff, and a sense of community. So yes, these kids will get the state mandated few hours of therapy, but have to do it within the confines of their own homes.

NWC was founded almost 50 years ago by mothers who were told by SPS that their children weren't allowed into public schools due to their disabilities. Now this generation of parents are fighting a similar fight with the same government body. Disgustingly ironic.
Anonymous said…
Re "delaying" demolition of Wilson Pacific:

1,800 children need to go to that site for two schools by 2017 (600 kid elem. and 1200 kid middle school). The 600 kid elem. will be full on DAY ONE when it opens its doors, with the 600 kids sitting in temporary space at Lincoln HS (which is being repurposed as a high school). The middle school will also fill very quickly. Construction of those buildings CANNOT be delayed, not from a fiscal management perspective (think: losses per day of delay), and not from a badly needed seats perspective. Capacity is a disastrous domino effect, as the Cascade/NW Center debacle shows - and the 1,800 vital seats needed at Wilson Pacific cannot be delayed. Delaying demolition of Wilson Pacific is not on the table, and should not be.

On a separate note, one of my children was part of Cascade for a while. It is wonderful for the children it serves. It is not privileged, and was far less "white" or whatever that's code for than several of the north end elem. schools. It is a Seattle school - homeschooling is different. If a person registers a child with the state as a homeschooler, SPS does not receive state $ for that child. If a child enrolls in Cascade, that child is basically in an alternative program and SPS still receives the full state $ for that child. The parent has a lot of flexibility in curriculum and timing, with supervision of Cascade and using more or less of the available Cascade resources. The people I met there were not privileged. The privileged people whose kids are not a fit for their neighborhood schools go private (about 30% of Seattle goes private). These are people who are investing TIME in their child, big-time, and it's a hard road ... it doesn't mean they're rich. They could be immigrants in a small apartment, for instance, and many of them seemed to come from the far-flung edges of the city. I didn't see a lot of the people who live in the high property price areas there. Again, 30% of Seattle students go private. The people investing 6 hours a day working with their kids overlap some, but not much, with those who can afford tuition. It's not "homeschooling", it's parent supervised learning supported by a very limited set of administrators and staff. They are a school. SPS receives state $ for those kids, and they deserve a school just like kids in Salmon Bay or TOPS or Stevens or wherever.

I'm not saying the crap SPS pulled with NW Center is justifiable -- it's not -- but if that private school didn't see the writing on the wall with every other private school in West Seattle or the Central Area getting booted from SPS facilities, and the agitating for a downtown school to relieve QA crowding, they had their heads in the sand. After the largest levy in state history predicated on the capacity crisis, they didn't think their space would be needed sooner rather than later? And they trusted SPS? Seriously?

Signed: not naive
New people: understand, we do NOT allow anonymous comments. It's stated right in the block above the comment block.

Also, we don't allow more than a two-word name. I'll give Concerned Parent a pass to answer an issue raised.

"..it is a battle over the lease and terms that were agreed to"

That is a very basic way to see it and not at all the whole story. I'm writing about a whole story.

As well, it is more complicated than just a lease because of the fact that the district does have different leasing for groups that are serving students. It is not just a strict lease agreement.

And "demonizing SPS?" I can only say that nearly ALL of this issue falls at the feet of the district. I don't have to really lift a finger to "demonize" them - I just point out the obvious problems to their actions.

A point that keeps getting missed is that yes, Cascade is the SPS program serving SPS students. HOWEVER, NW Center is serving some students that SPS would otherwise be legally obligated to serve.

I agree that NW Center clearly was either not keeping up or did not believe they could/might have their lease ended. Maybe it was because of their population, I don't know.

Lastly, this needs some long-term thinking about leases with groups that serve K-12 aged students and the district. Does the district have to find space for any non-SPS group? I'm sure the Mann group would have something to say about that.
Anonymous said…
@Just Curious - Several area school districts have very similar ALE schools. It's not unique to Seattle Public Schools.

Edmond Heights K-12

Home Education Exchange Shoreline

Emerson K-12 Kirkland

another parent
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Numericmama said…
Well darn it - I keep doing anonymous because I don't want my child to end up with a stigma of metal illness and learning disabilities.

I KNOW they are nothing to be ashamed of - but I do not think that the general public or future employers do.

Is it OK if I just say Numericmama at the bottom? That has been my web presence for about 5 years now.
Numericmama said…
So, we are one of the families from Shoreline.

We moved from the Greenwood neighborhood when my children were 5 and 2. Our network is in Seattle. I know almost no one from Shoreline.

In addition, I am a nanny to one of the kids at CPPP.

I don't want to say anything that could compromise his reputation or situation. But trust me when I say that for him to be in a school/classroom environment he needs to know that either I or his mother are present on site and able to step in at a moments notice.

So we have in essence formed a long term (5+ years now) partnership.

I didn't want to move the 2 miles from that family that I did, as we currently have a parenting partnership that has lasted 9.5 years.

However, we could not afford any houses in the neighborhood. Duh - because we are lower middle class and we didn't get in while the prices were super deflated.

Even though we have these extenuating circumstances, if there was not space available in the CPPP then we would have been turned away.


PS I love Cascade. The program and staff has helped my children so much. If your child is having problems in his/her school - then please investigate. The families are nice and accept everyone regardless of religion, color, or behavioral problems. We all work together to help our children. It is truly beautiful.
Numericmama said…
Here is another piece that has been really bothering me about the silence on CPPP and the ignorance reflected in above comments.

Dyslexia is said to be in about 10% of the population. So think about boys in school, not learning how to read until very much later than is normal. The effect on their self esteem and how they will most likely strike out at others or themselves as they fail.

When parents can step in and bring their kids to CPPP where the kids can get the help they need - with their parents (I know that therapy works much better with parent involvement due to our life history) then they are literally keeping their kids out of prison or off the street.

This is a close topic to me because this would be our path. Fortunately I have some contacts that allowed me to get help for that part of the challenges that we face.

But look at this report about dyslexia in prisons. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10876375

This is absolutely atrocious. CPPP provides a place to keep the child from going down this path by giving access to the help needed.

If a child isn't given help by age 9 - it requires a lot of action to prevent this. I know of at least two kids whose slide was prevented by this school. And I don't know that many people. I'm sure that there are more stories like this.

AND there are many low income, barely scraping by people at cascade.

I think that we are probably one of the more affluent members. And we are lower middle class, not really poor - like we have enough food to eat. But even then, we only have one old car that we bought used and we don't buy new clothes. The kids only get 1 pair of on sale sneakers a year and 1 pair of sandals. They where hand me downs from their cousins. I don't have an official job outside the home, but I have patched together a few ways to make a little money. Our only vacations are tent camping 2x a year - one time is paid for by my parents. I don't have money to get my hair cut except a couple times a year.

If I could send my kids to normal school and work, we'd be doing pretty good. But we are making a lifestyle choice so that we can go to CPPP.

I see other parents where one is working at night and the other during the day. It looks hard. It looks tiring.
Lynn said…
not naive,

When is demolition of WP scheduled to start? The Superintndent was perfectly happy to incurr additional costs and delay the opening of the Mann building while he negotiated with people (not tenants, not an SPS program) occupying the building. There is precedent for delaying projects now - and the Board made no complaint when he did it.

If the city wants Northwest Center to have more time to move out, someone on the council or in the mayor's office should be out scouting sites for Cascade.
Lynn said…
$20 million isn't enough to reopen the Magnolia school. The budget for Meany is $21 million and it's already occupied. Magnolia has been closed for decades.
CascadeMom said…
The principal of Cascade confirmed that the North Queen Anne location is the ONLY option given Cascade so far, and that it IS adequate. The letter from Seattle City Council "We also understand that the Cascade Parent Partnership, which is the home school designated to move into the North Queen Anne site, believes the site is inadequate for its needs." is 100% inaccurate. City Council members have never visited Cascade and have not spoken to anyone with Cascade regarding it's space needs.
Anonymous said…

I'm flabbergasted. Delaying renovations at Mann for a couple months doesn't really impact much - the building is usable however you cut it, and the total number of kids to go in the building is relatively small, and the building they're vacating is also doesn't need a huge amount of work - it's not going to be torn to the ground. The kids will move in on time in all those projects, and the buildings are already there, so a domino effect doesn't leave kids without a building to go to school at.

Delaying demolition at Wilson Pacific is a totally different beast.

There's site work to be done, two massive ground up facilities to be built ... scrape the place clean, build two entire new schools for 1600 - 1800 kids and all the associated work.

No, that can't be delayed by a year, which is what leaving them at WP for a year is ... You don't make up that level of delay and still open the two new schools in 2017. It's ambitious to say both new buildings are going to open for fall 2017 when WP isn't going to be torn down until this summer. Cascade is finishing out this school year at Wilson Pacific. There is no possible way that it can go there next year -- both new buildings in a year? The taxpayers have hundreds of millions of dollars invested and there are almost two thousand kids who will need a place to go to school. Delay that opening, you delay reopening Lincoln High School ... so you make Ballard and Roosevelt 2000 kids apiece by 2018, b/c there's no relief for them? That's the cascading capacity crisis. If you can't reopen Lincoln as a high school, the kids from the crunched elem's and middle schools have to go SOMEWHERE, but where? You can't put 20 portables each at Ballard and Roosevelt unless you just do away with all the fields.

It sucks. Management of this issue sucks. Wilson Pacific on time, and Lincoln HS on time, doesn't even solve the capacity problems. Messing them up and coming in late on those projects? That pretty much guarantees multi-shift school days of 2000 kid high schools, etc.

Signed: not naive
CascadeMom said…
Cascade wasn't scheduled to move until February 2015 - so Wilson Pacific would still be standing (although poisonous and crumbling) until then.
Concerned parent said…
Thanks Melissa!

Just so you guys are aware, when commenting from the mobile website the instructions for posting a comment below the comment box. Many people miss this, I did.
Another Cascader said…
Yes, Cascade will still be on site until early 2015. Demolition doesn't start in earnest until then. So having Cascade finish out the school year at Wilson Pacific means a delay of 4-6 months, but that delay would give NW Center time to move. Renovations need to be done at the QA location, so that work would also get pushed up. The district estimates 6-9 months for those renovations as far as I'm aware, and that would give both programs time.

That's why they want QA out in June; it will take many months to make the building up to code with current SPS standards, not just a few quick fixes over the summer. They need the summer AND Fall semester to fix up the QA building.

If they delay demolition, though, it would conceivably give NW Center until next January or February to move, because they'll have Spring semester and that summer to finish the renovations on the QA building. Yet, it would only set back the demolition schedule by a few months. Not an entire year.

If demolition can't be delayed, then somebody better come up with a building for someone really fast.
Lynn said…
not naive,

I'm not suggesting demolition should be delayed - just warning that the superintendent might do it to give the impression of engagement with the Northwest Center community.

It sounds like the birth to three program at the NW Center is the only one providing services for the district - and those can be provided at the student's homes. I don't think we should hold up construction projects for the benefit of an organization that provides preschool programs and after-school care.
Anonymous said…
Wait, so Cascade isn't even scheduled to leave WP until 2015? Why does 9 months of construction need to be done on the QA school to get it ready for Cascade, and where is that money coming from now that SPS rescinded its request for the $10 million? Is it BEX money?

Another Cascader said…
I don't know that part. On the other hand, they rescinded the $10 mill on false information, which is being hopefully corrected. I've been in contact with the chair person myself. He had very much the wrong idea about what the money was going to be used for. And yeah, it'd be great to put it into Magnolia or whatever, but that is years away and many more millions of dollars than what they have. If they can't unrescind it, I assume it will come from another source. It may not be as much as that, but it will probably be adequate to address the outdated and dangerous problems that currently exist at the QA campus.
Another Cascader said…
I also don't know why it will take that long because I don't know what the district has to do; I heard something about possibly replacing some pipes and asbestos removal, but again, I don't know.
Special interests said…
I guess at some point it comes down to whether sps will serve the students who have paid for services, or a special interest group with powerful political and media ties.
One, here's another great example of NOT knowing what capital money is being used where. The district doesn't seem to think its their duty to tell the public this.

Two, I would hardly call NW Center "a special interest group." They may be organized and have better messaging but that's it.

Three, why is the Board so silent?

Four, why doesn't the district's own messaging sound more helpful and promising?
Anonymous said…
What this tug-of-war comes down to is the district perpetually insisting that it has things under control when it does not. This pattern extends back at least 10 years. Different staffs. Same story.

The lack of staff planning for Cascade as well as for the impact on disabled families served by NW Center who would otherwise be calling on SPS to provide those very same services is another in a long list of public district gaffes.

It does not matter how deserving Cascade is of the Queen Anne space. When you P*** *** a group of city and county councilmembers and state legislators by demonstrating a lack of coherent strategic planning and money management your leadership capabilities head south.

Because the SPS board has not stepped in with any leadership on this matter those people are now in the same sinking reputation boat.

This is a political gaffe of major proportions and it is in the process of undermining Banda's administration. Frankly, it's his own administration's fault and I expect the consequences to play out publicly and behind the scenes in coming weeks and months with less support from local and regional civic leaders.

That means this costly error is affecting all SPS families as it calls the viability of JSCEE leaders and plans into question.

That this is playing out even more ham-handedly than both the Mann debacle and the Northeast capacity tug-of-war means district leadership not only is not learning from mistakes, it is regressing.

It's shameful.

Seen It
Anonymous said…
At the meeting I was at, the woman speaking for the NW center was the director of communication for Zillow. This isn't some sort of happy band of parent fairly organizing against another equally privileged one in the form of Cascade. The northwest center is running an extremely slick campaign, and that makes me question everything they say. Sps needs to focus on enrolled public students, not a private preschool.

Mike said…
NWC is not pushing an us-vs-them with CPPP. SPS pushed that.

*Every* message I send demands that SPS find an solution that doesn't harm either NWC or CPPP. We might have some expertise, but we are advocating for CPPP too!

If SPS or CPPP would describe your facility needs, I'd search for something that NWC could lease for you, in a better location for you, to give enough time for NWC to move. NWC *is* moving. The only question is in the timing.

As far as the SPS board goes, I think they are silent because staff is lying to them. Staff told them they had no idea of the work, that they told us they might need the building back earlier, and then we uncovered emails proving that knew about the work and that while we begged for an update (and while their internal legal council told them to give us regular updates), they were silent and told us that there wouldn't be any changes in the next few years.

Cascade, SPS hasn't returned phone calls for weeks, let alone visited the NWC program to know if 6 months is reasonable or not. We wouldn't be using every tool at our disposal to reach out to anyone who will listen if SPS had simply picked up the phone.

Finally, SPS had a 6 month clause in the written lease, but they were verbally saying "don't worry, it takes us 18 months to do anything, you will have time".
Cascade mom said…
Mike, I disagree. NW administration might not have directly stated that it's NW vs Cascade, but by the belittling of Cascade through the media, be it by the media or resulting from NW interviews, it has been spun as SPS making homeschoolers a priority over disabled children. This is evident in all but maybe 2 articles that I have seen, it is also very openly stated by NW families in the Seattle SpEd PTSA yahoo group as well as the coffee discussions where both schools are present.

It is very biased and has been continually discussed as a special needs vs homeschool matter, both of which are untruths. NW is in no way just a school for special needs and Cascade is not a homeschool program, if it was then students would not receive public school credit or a public school diploma as HBI students don't get either.

Cascade had chosen to stay removed from the situation as it was not in our view to be an us against them issue, we sat back and got drug through the mud letting SPS handle their tenant dispute, we are now only speaking to clarify misnomers about our school and the fallacies spun by media, as well we are speaking to let NW families know that we are not targeting them and feel bad about their situation.

Regardless of what SPS told them or didn't tell them about a rush to move does not matter, what matters is that since the end of 2012 and most definitely by the middle of last year to current, NW is still not securing or making efforts to secure a home for the future...even now they are putting efforts into the present and not working on the near future.
I feel bad for NW families because they were caught blind sided by matters that had been in discussion for at least 2 years now. SPS has been at NW on numerous occasions over the past 2 years and has toured and even gone over things with Cascade to make sure it was a good fit and SPS staff visited to see what needed to be done to bring it up to code. I'm not sure if they are waiting for a formal assessment closer to summer as they don't want to disrupt NW's day.

I do want to point out 2 things. The first being Cascade is not the only program that was in line or fighting for placement in QA, but it is the one that SPS decided needed their own facility.
Second, Cascade should never have even had to interview or be contacted about any of this if it truly was not being spun as an us vs them situation. It is, as others have pointed out, a landlord-tenant dispute, not a Cascade or NW family dispute.
we're not evil said…
"...but by the belittling of Cascade through the media, be it by the media or resulting from NW interviews, it has been spun as SPS making homeschoolers a priority over disabled children. This is evident in all but maybe 2 articles that I have seen..."

Can you point me to an article or media piece in which a parent or a NWC administrator or staff is quoted in giving a poor impression of Cascade's program? If it is happening at all in the media, it is not likely to be coming from NWC.

Similarly, it is unfortunate that the letter from elected officials included the word "homeschool" but it is silly to assume that NWC would have intentionally lobbied to have someone in the city offices put that in there. You are grossly overestimating the ability or malicious intent of NWC.

"it is also very openly stated by NW families in the Seattle SpEd PTSA yahoo group as well as the coffee discussions where both schools are present."

Having attended several of the open meetings with elected officials and school board members, I am not sure what you are referring to. Every person that I have heard has spoken of not wanting either program to be harmed. I haven't heard anyone affiliated with NWC decry or belittle the work of Cascade (or even mention the word "homeschool").

I am sorry to hear that the yahoo group has not been the same; I can't speak to that, as that is not a public forum. I would hope that you are not seeing malice that isn't actually there, and if there has been something inappropriate, that's really unfortunate.

Northwest Center is absolutely making plans for the immediate future. The frantic efforts to come up with a plan started on day 1. It is foolish to assume otherwise. Given various requirements necessary for licensing and to even meet the needs of the population being served, 6 months was never enough time. Everyone knows and understands that NWC is not going to stay in that building, regardless of whether Cascade moves in or someone else does.
I would agree that Cascade's need for a space of their own makes it more difficult. Even World School and Nova shared and they have completely different needs and students.

I understand the need but in today's space-challenged district, it does make it more difficult.
Cascade mom said…
Mike and we're not evil, as I said much of is was printed by the media following interviews with NW, but there were not quotes. This will probably be chalked up to media spin and bias, but it came from somewhere.

I do want to ask, the petition that NW started that is found on their website states that SPS enacted a "6 month eviction clause," is that an accurate title for the clause? It was this that turned things into headlines like SPS Evicts NW Center Kids (The Stranger) and thus became SPS evicts special needs kids in favor of homeschool, and so on.


the links to all of these can be found on NW's page linked above.

I can dig through articles later on.
Anonymous said…
If Cascade publicly is claiming it is a unique program needing its own unique space, then it is putting SPS into more hot water than it already is.

Cascade does not serve all levels of disability. But if a public school program setup is unique - not offered elsewhere in the district - a district cannot deny access to the program if the student's IEP says he/she will benefit from participation.

From what research I have done, SPS does not envision serving the full disability community at Cascade's new home at the same time it is displacing a program that does a better job of reaching a wide range of disabilities.

This is messed up at the least. On the other end of the scale it is probably lawsuit worthy.

This is not a crack against families using Cascade. It is a smack at a district in deep denial about its obligated-by-law responsibilities to its vulnerable students.

This is the sort of noncompliance that could be grounds for getting the Federal Office of Civil Rights involved.

SPED Family
Cascades needs are unique in a few ways: We require parents or adult authorized by parent to be on site until the age of 13 unless that child is unable to be onsite without parental supervision. Cascade schedules are very different than traditional schools and kids are all on different schedules, classes meet on alternative days, with no classes on fridays but those are field trip and event days, class times also vary and students are outside playing, or in the library or commons studying or having free time at any given time during the day.
Traditional school bell schedule would be disruptive to Cascade students, as would the playground sharing and Cascade students unique schedules free time would be a distraction to traditional school children. Parents being onsite is a big issue for traditional schools...do I even need to explain that?

As for Cascade only being allowed by law to enroll anything other than SM1 students, Cascade's director has worked hard over the last couple of years (since I've been there to witness), going to IEP and SIT meetings of students with escalated levels of service who wanted to attend Cascade and felt it would be a good fit. She has been succesful in numerous cases in advocating and getting the LOS reduced to a SM1 so that those students could attend Cascade. Those that did fight to get their LOS de-escalated have been very succesful and are currently THRIVING at Cascade. These students were in EBD classrooms as well as Autism SM4 classes to name a couple, it is especially great to see these kids now as they have little to no behavior issues in class, their parents are there if needed and can help de-escalate melt downs and intervene or prompt calming techniques, and they get FULL IEP support. My son is one of those of which I speak.
I don't know the State and Federal laws surrounding ALE and SM2-4 students, but if you feel that you want your kid at Cascade and it would be a great fit and are available to be there then talk to your child's team and Cascade about de-escalating their LOS so that they can attend.

From what I have heard, no Alternative Learning Experience, virtual ALE's included, in any state are allowed to admit students with escalated LOS's. And from what I know of Seattle, there are 1-2 schools per district that allow SM2-4 students now and each SM model is placed at different locations...ex. EBD classroom is only at Stevens and 1 other school, SM4 is at...

I was lucky, when they wanted to escalate my son's LOS in 4th grade I brought up Pinehurst and Cascade, Michael Sanford advised me to try those programs first because it is hard to de-escalate a LOS, but so many aren't told this or are forced by their child's "disability" to begin with an elevated LOS, this is not right and is something within IDEA and Public school that needs to change. It is very frustrating dealing with the SPED system.
Rant said…
I detest the way parents lose control of their child's educational decisions once they escalate to another student model/LOS! I also don't agree with FAPE when it comes to having to try and fail an EBD self contained inclusion program before they will consider placement in a private Therapeutic Day School which would provide a better service to the child. And I don't agree the fact that you can't just drop one subject from an IEP without dropping the whole IEP or proving through a reassessment that you are ok in that subject...they are our kids, not the state's or schools. Sorry Rant over.
Anonymous said…

Your principal's outreach and willingness to take on special education students speaks of commitment and compassion. It does not, however, speak of compliance. This is no doubt less the Cascade principal's fault (unintentional ignorance) than the fault of SPS (willful ignorance), which has been so noncompliant with the law that both the state and the feds are currently monitoring it.

Cascade has its admission of SPED students backwards. It is trying to lessen a student's level of service so that he/she can attend Cascade when instead it should be broadening its staffing levels and knowledge to find a place for children with a wider range of disabilities.

Here is the deal: If multiple schools in a district offer the same curriculum/experience, a district is not mandated to offer all SPED services at every school. It must, however, give access to that curriculum/experience, even if it is via multiple buildings, to the full spectrum of disabled students. A disabled student cannot be denied an educational opportunity because of his/her disability. A well-written IEP can do wonders for breaking down these "barriers" to opportunity, but unfortunately the IEP process in Seattle is one of the areas being monitored by higher government. Yes, it has been that bad.

When a program is unique, which Cascade's is - meaning no other SPS locations offer the same opportunity - it must be open to serving all students. Not just those with low level/high incidence disabilities.

SPS can try to deny that they have to do this, but an OCR complaint and/or lawsuit will prove otherwise.

So in summary, why are many families with disabilities expecially angry with SPS on displacing NW Center? Because they are taking a program that does a much better job of reaching the disabled community and replacing it with one that is out of compliance with the law.

SPS Administration can take that point, put it in its pipe, and smoke it. They need to deeply inhale the heat because they are about to get publicly burned (again).

SPED Family
Another Cascader said…
Out of compliance with the law? Hahaha. No.

Comments like this are why Cascade parents feel attacked. Why we feel marginalized. I don't think at this point there's a thing any of us could say that you couldn't spin to suit your agenda, but frankly it's gross.

It's not supposed to be program versus program. What SPS intends to put in the QA building is irrelevant. It was even being considered for some needed administrative space. Would you have argued as vehemently? Probably, but the again, it doesn't matter what SPS is putting there. It needs the space. Period. It isn't about kicking out NW Center or trying to tear down the program or being or not being able to serve the needs that NW Center does--it isn't the only program, in SPS or outside of it, that serves that population of kids.

This kind of rhetoric is exactly why Cascade parents are upset. We have found a school to serve our children's unique needs, a place that no other program in the district could, and because it doesn't fit in with your ideas of 'compliant' it should go? Please. Not every school has contained classrooms; should they be shut down because they can't accept every form of student? Are you seriously suggesting that a good portion of SPS schools be marginalized or underfunded or without a building because they lack the physical or budgetary or staff means to serve every single possible iteration of student?

That's ridiculous, and it does nothing for any of the existing programs. Whether you believe it to be so or not, Cascade deserves to flourish and continue. NW Center deserves to flourish and continue. I'd also point out that Cascade isn't an option school, it's a service school, so the rules are a little bit different in this regard.

Come visit our campus and see for yourself.
Lynn said…
SPED Family,

Is Northwest Center doing a better job of providing basic education services to school age children with disabilities than Cascade?
Disappointed said…
So disappointing.

Again an attack on Cascade PPP but from yet a different direction.

Over and over again I am told that our program is being supported and negotiated for as well as NWC.

Yet here it is again.
Disappointed said…
Oh, and clearly I, as a CPPP parent shouldn't feel attacked at all by that.

Cascade mom said…
Like I said, Cascade is not the problem the federal and state guidelines regarding Special Ed is the problem. It's not just in Seattle, it's every ALE in the NATION! Including WAVA/k12.com, they are not allowed by the state to admit any level of service above a SM1. If your child is able to do inclusion with accommodations and you are available to be onsite with your child then there should be no barrier.
Cascade does not disagree with this.
However the displacement of NW Center has nothing to do with the type of program it is, the only thing that it has to do with is the fact that it is a private school who's leasing space from a public school and the lease is up and the district needs it back. Period. I understand the frustration, a big percent of Cascade can relate to frustrations over SPED, but no matter how we look at it the bottom line is still the same; Lease is up and SPS has a duty to it's students after so many years of closing everything good about the district. I do hope that Van Asselt or something good and permanent for NW comes available soon!
Special interests said…
So let's just get down to basics-should sps space go to current sps programs and students that need space, or should sps give priority instead to a private school?
Cascade mom said…
Thanks Special Interest.
What are the consequences to the district if they leave NW in QA until they get their space approved, and throw Cascade into another temporary facility? That sounds like a big legal issue if they put a private school program above a public school program.
CP Landlord said…
Special Interests . . .

That is the heart of the matter. And since there really is only one direction to go with that, that is why CPPP has been subtly under attack since the beginning of the media coverage.

How often have you seen the fact that this is about a private school in a public building that is needed - or is this fact down played?

That is also why the story was done about how the SPS owes NWC for the work they do.

It is to draw more connections between the SPS and NWC and SPS's debt to NWC for providing that service.

This is to keep the general public from looking at that underlying fact.

This media campaign is a gorilla effort to buy more time. I don't blame NWC for this. I totally get it.

But I absolutely think it is morally wrong that CPPP has been attacked in this way. Morally Wrong.

I get that we all want to advocate for our children. However, I have not EVER belittled the children and their needs in the way that was done to the children at CPPP.

Now, do I think this was mishandled. Yes. Do I have concern and empathy. Yes. I have my own ideas for what I would like to see happen for a year or so that I will not share because I do not know if they are possible or desired.

And, I do see that both sides made mistakes. (Not something that has been admitted to at all by NWC.)

So the bottom line is. Looking at the cold . . . hard . . . facts. This is a landlord tenant issue and that is all.

I do know of another school that is going to be put back in service. The tenant I know of was living in the school for 24 years or so. It is what it is and she is not complaining because she is renting in a school. It's not that this is not difficult for her. She is low income - so she has had to find a new place that will fit her budget. But she is renting and the landlord is changing the use for the building.

My family owns a house. My mother will want to live in it when my Dad dies. We rent the house out. Potential tenants ask us if we expect anything to change. No, I didn't in August. But shoot, my Dad is looking really bad right now. He could actually die within the next 6 months. If he does, then we won't renew the lease and my mother will move into the house. It is what it is.

Cascade Parent And LandLord.

CP Landlord said…
Oh, and before anyone gets all elitist on me.

We were able to keep the old house because, it was the downturn and we couldn't sell it.

And my parents invested in the project so that we could get out of it. The rent covers the mortgage plus a bit so that if anything goes wrong hopefully we can pay for it.

Yay last generation where the middle class could live on one income.

Landlord and Cascade Parent
Deep Breaths said…
I think you may have misunderstood the "SPED Family" poster's point. Nothing in those comments appears to disparage what Cascade is doing, but rather to support that it is important and that the Seattle Public Schools administration should figure out how to improve what Cascade is doing and offer it to even more kids who need it to avoid getting nailed for not making it accessible to all.

Not everything is an attack.
Curious voter said…
What is the false information you referred to regarding the $10m?
Cascade mom said…
I am still wondering why NW keeps referring to their expiring lease as an eviction? Was it literally called and Eviction Clause in the lease agreement?
Another Cascader said…
That the money was going to be used for a TEMPORARY location for a HOMESCHOOL program. If I had been in his position, I'd have done the same thing. You want me to take funds, kick out the wonderful and worthy tenants that exist in the building already, and spruce up a building for a temporary, "stop-gap" measure/location where a homeschool program may use it? Are you kidding me? I would have been like...uhhh.

In fact, Cascade is an SPS ALE and it was to be its permanent home.

Anyways, Deep Breath, I'm not sure how else one can take statements like "So in summary, why are many families with disabilities expecially angry with SPS on displacing NW Center? Because they are taking a program that does a much better job of reaching the disabled community and replacing it with one that is out of compliance with the law. "

as anything but an attack and undermining of our program. Already Just Curious claimed we were 'too white', 'classist', etc. Not sure how else to take any of that...it's kind of ridiculous, all of it, but very frustrating to have to defend against.

Do I think that the administration of NW Center is behind this? No. Do I think that most of the parents at NW Center are spreading things like this? No. But someone is. Someone told the council that the money was not going to be used for the purpose it was, in fact, going to be used for. And someone is very hell-bent on finding ways to discredit the good work that Cascade does.

In a sense, the SPED person is right that the district is responsible for making sure that everything is compliant or whatever. But ALE's operate differently, and it isn't about we don't have the right staff or the right building space or whatever (we do have SPED staff). This whole argument is moot and frustrating. It's pointless; it gets us nowhere, it puts needy children at risk, and it actually has nothing to do with the issue at hand. If the district intended for Cascade to be something more, we would be an option school and have the funds to do it. As it is, we are an ALE and we are only given so much budget for things. That's on the district, and that's on the law, not us. It makes no sense to pit the unique, necessary, worthy program at Cascade and the amazing, beautiful, wonderful children of Cascade who receive services through the district at Cascade against the wonderful, amazing, beautiful children at NW Center who attend the necessary, worthy, unique programming there. Our populations overlap, but it shouldn't be an either/or situation. Can't we focus on solving the building issue and stop trying to determine the legitimacy of either program?
Anonymous said…
What word works better than "eviction"? It was not a mutually agreed upon early termination, as Northwest Center would have certainly wanted to stay until the lease expires in 2015. Given that the district is ending the lease early, the word is not inaccurate.

- Splitting hairs
Cascade mom said…
If it was not called an eviction in the lease agreement (the 6 month clause that SPS is said to have enacted) then the admin of NW is at fault for fueling a fire by giving a very tainted angle to their lease termination. This goes to an earlier conversation with Mike today.

An eviction is a very ugly legal process that involves court and other specific processes. NW has numerous documents on their page that they wrote referring to this as an eviction. Which it is not unless the actual clause was called a 6 month early eviction clause.

SPS has done nothing illegal in this case. The terms were agreed to 28 years ago.
Brutally Honest said…
splitting hairs -

not inaccurate, but connotations?

Again we are back at the same ugly word play that was used to call CPPP a "homeschool" program implying that these are a bunch of homeschoolers asking for school space thus removing a legitimate program.

Sorry - after the purposeful and purposefully damaging "homeschooling" word choice I am no longer filled with trust.

As I said, I support all children. The homeschooling word choice implied a misconception that I think is IMMORAL.

Once someone acts immorally like that, I can no longer afford them trust.

So what would I use instead of eviction - "chose to exercise the clause in the lease that allowed them to end the lease early so that they could use the building."

But oh wait - that is not an inflammatory statement. Oh, and it doesn't make me look like a victim, so it is harder to garner public support.

Again, a lot of activities took place before the clause was exercised, and no one from NWC took action or thought twice. This was a mistake. It should be owned.

And yes, I hold myself to high levels of honesty and I speak clearly without that kind of hair splitting.

Honest to a Fault.
Mike said…
Cascade mom,

The lease doesn't naturally expire until 2015.

The letter to NWC didn't name the clause or quote the lease, so I don't know what the exact wording is.

What I do know is that the letter was essentially:

We need the building back.
You need to be gone in 6 months. There is a clause in an amendment to the lease that lets us do this.
We know this is a surprise to you and that you expected to have a few more years. Sorry for the inconvenience.

After that, SPS went silent on NWC.
Cascade mom said…
Mike, are you staffed through NW where you have seen the actual lease agreement, contract terms, or other? I have heard many things, the first being NW was on an annual or 6 month lease, which you have said is not true. The later being what you have stated a few times in this blog commentary. I would really like to know what the actual terms are.
Numericmama said…
Yes, I agree. I would like to see the actual contract.

That would actually define what is right and appropriate.

It would also define the terminology to be used.

This is a legal event.
Cascade mom said…
Here is the link to the actual letter that SPS sent to NW.

The way that this reads
"This lease termination is being given according to Lease amendment III, a 6 month written notice is required for a lease cancellation."

This makes me wonder about the lease itself. Regardless, it is clearly a legal and agreed to lease amendment.
Mike said…
"home school program" is the description SPS gave NWC when they told us they needed the building back.

"home school program" is the description given by two SPS board members for CPPP.

Reading the earlier CPPP website, I read every page and every document, I couldn't tell a clear distinction between what CPPP was and what a home school program is.

I only figured out that there was a difference from reading comments here, but I am still hard pressed to briefly say what CPPP is.

Can anyone give a simple one sentence description for CPPP?
Anonymous said…
The 1/5/2014 letter actually does name the lease clause. The letter is on the NWCs website. The contract is not.

The subject line:
RE: Termination of Lease Agreement….

The second paragraph reads:

This Termination notice is being given according to the Lease Agreement III, a 6 month written notice is required for lease cancellation.

Eviction is legally accurate but it does have a negative connotation.


Anonymous said…
actually it says
This Termination notice is being given according to the Lease AMENDMENT* III, a 6 month written notice is required for lease cancellation.

Amendment not Agreement so I take it back, it's not referencing the section of the lease... just the Amendment to the lease.

Anonymous said…
Cascadites, I do understand your defense of your program and desire to find a permanent home. You do deserve one. District planning is beyond atrocious. Does the District have a plan for the program? That seems a more immediate need than a place for the program. How can the program have a place if there are no plans to grow, change or even shrink it? Providing a suitable facility becomes impossible.

On that note, I am sorry but you are factually incorrect that your program need only serve SM1 students. FAPE applies to ALEs too. In fact, ALEs should be a natural haven for SPED students. It is typical Seattle district administration that students are steered away from your ALE.

So yes @ Lynn, I am saying that NW Center works with a wider breadth of school age students with disabilities than Cascade. It doesn't mean Cascade is not a valuable program. But it does mean that Cascade needs to grasp the anger of the disability community and local politicians around the short notice of removing NW Center and interrupting services for some very vulnerable children.

I am not saying that Cascade does not also have vulnerable children. But when a program isn't serving the full spectrum of students it should be serving, the district has a federal issue on its hands, not just a hell of a local placement mess.

Sadly for Cascade, after the district has completely botched its commitment to the ALE over many years, Cascade's cause comes off less sympathetically in the press precisely because of its association with district management. A bitter pill for Cascade no doubt.

Cascade, demand, don't ask - demand, better program and capital planning from the district for yourselves and at the same time a near-term solution for NW Center that won't leave those families in the lurch. It is the only way forward, I believe.

SPED Family
Mike said…
Cascade mom,

No, I am just a parent who waited 13 months to get his son into NWC, and now after he has been in NWC for 5 months and loves it and is doing great, I'm trying to help find ways to keep the program from dying.

I see his classmates who have disabilities who wouldn't be doing as well as they are without the type of program that NWC offers.

I see the classroom aide in his class, who has down syndrome, who was in his class and had his teacher when she was a little girl.
? said…
Could you please clarify SM2-4 models and how they work? Are they not housed separate from SM1, and slowly allowed to prove that they can handle desired gen-ed classes and worked into inclusion?
At what point is their level of service de-escalated?
Cascade mom said…
Darn, thanks Mike for sharing your story. I was hoping that you had insight.
SPS has stuck firm to their claims that NW was on a continually renewable lease (6th months I believe), but I really want confirmation of that.

Are PS lease agreements public record?
Lynn said…
Northwest Center may work with a broader range of school age children, but according to their website, it does this through before and after school programs and summer camps. The district is correct to prioritize an actual public school over Northwest Center at a time when we are out of space.

"That sounds like a big legal issue if they put a private school program above a public school program."


One, if NWC is serving students that would otherwise be in SPS (or need to be served by SPS), I don't think there would be anything "illegal" in trying to keep that program in place.

Two, who is going to sue? There are so many SPED families who don't get their student's needs met and reallly their only recourse sometimes is to sue and yet most don't. It's costly in more ways than money.

Anonymous said…
One point - and I'm not going to wade into the larger issue - but an EVICTION is definitely not the same as a lease termination clause. Far, far different. An eviction is a court proceeding and lawsuit to have a tenant removed. It's what happens when a tenant fails to leave the building, and usually involves the sheriff coming down and forcibly making them leave. This is really important, critical yet basic stuff. It's not splitting hairs to say that you're terminating the lease, rather than evicting. Eviction gives the connotation that the authorities are going to NWC and physically removing disabled kids, so yes, that is hugely inflammatory.
-Just a Lawyer
Anonymous said…
to "Honest to a Fault" and others splitting hairs...

To follow up on my last comment - I have been a Tenant Advocate at Catholic Community Services, and I know what an eviction is. I've helped clients who got a "NOTICE OF EVICTION" posted on their door for non-payment. Then on the arranged upon date, the sheriff comes and physically escorts them out, kids and all. Then all the furniture and belongings of the family are hauled out and left on the sidewalk while the family cries. It's an awful scene. You know that other building that SPS owned that was occupied (I can't remember name)? But the one where the police went in with guns, cop cars and arrested the inhabitants and cuffed them? THAT is an eviction. It is awful to think about this taking back of a leasehold by force happening to special needs children. That is why it is inflammatory. A lease termination clause is very standard and a common practice. I know nothing of SPS's larger obligations to this population, but as a legal tenant matter this is fairly straightforward. Also, I would note that NWC must have gotten some terrible legal advice, relying on verbal statements to not worry - and they also must have had their heads totally in the sand if they didn't know that SPS was out of room. I sincerely hope every other single tenant of SPS is on notice that termination clauses are going to be invoked, because the district needs every available space, no matter how worthy the tenant. (And there are other great nonprofit tenants out there too.) I think we can all agree SPS has behaved horribly here, but I'm pretty sure they are within the law and I am certain they are not EVICTING anyone - at least not yet.
A Lawyer
Anonymous said…
The description is complicated because "homeschool" has specific definitions and connotations. Parents at CPPP provide some instruction at home, but can't technically call themselves homeschoolers - it will incite ire from those who truly "homeschool" - yet to those not familiar with the semantics (most of the general public) "homeschool" program is perhaps the best way for others to grasp the program.

Those that are homeschooling without support of the public schools have fought quite hard for that right. There are many who are vehemently opposed to any connection with a public school. They will tell you in no uncertain terms that CPPP students are not homeschoolers.

CPPP students are enrolled as Seattle Public School students. Parents must develop a written plan for their education, which is approved by staff at CPPP. CPPP is staffed by certified teachers and they provide instruction in all core subjects - reading, math, science, social studies, art, and PE. Families choose the level of involvement, but students must have contact with a certified teacher each week. Classes are scheduled in a way that families could be at the school anywhere from 1 to 4 days a week. They might have science and math Tuesday and Thursday, then language arts and social studies Monday and Wednesday. Art and PE might meet once a week. Some students might get a significant amount of instruction at home and perhaps attend school only for science, art, and PE, just to give a random example. All students have access to the library and computer lab. They take district and state assessments (MAP and MSP).

SPS parent
Anonymous said…
Mike -- I understand why you were questioning what exactly the CPPP is, because I was also recently trying to understand this.

It's an Alternative Learning Experience (ALE), as defined by WAC. As I understand it, a distinguishing characteristic of ALEs is that a parent or guardian must be a primary educator of the student. Individual districts may provide ALE services, and receive funding for those students (the funding formula may be different than for other programs; I'm not sure). For on-campus learning, a parent or other guardian must accompany students under the age of 13.

The similarity to homeschooling is the involvement of a parent or guardian as the primary educator. However, ALEs must use curriculums similar to standard education programs in the district, and may not include religious instruction.

I absolutely understand that this model is allowed under state law. But I'm interested in learning more about why this is an equitable model for our district to choose to support. The way I see it, any model that requires a parent or other volunteer guardian to be the primary educator, and accompany children up to age 13 on campus, is, by definition, exclusionary.

I've cited the example of how the new law for charter schools (which many here, including myself, fear will be exclusionary) specifically prohibits any parental volunteerism requirements at all because they are, by definition, exclusionary. (I also understand that the wonderful, beautiful families of CPPP work together to overcome logistical challenges that the model presents for working families, but note that I am saying the model itself is exclusionary, not the people who participate in it. I also understand that the Wilson Pacific space has been abysmal.)

No one has been able to answer this question for me ("Why does our district, which purportedly supports equitable access, choose to support the exclusionary model of this ALE?") to my satisfaction. So I'm now assuming that everyone realizes but no one cares, which is not shocking to me.

It is interesting to me, though, that the district doesn't have enough space for Seattle families in our schools and is accepting Shoreline families into this program. Especially when we need to find seats for not just these students, but the parent/guardian who must accompany them, per the program requirements.

(P.S. I have no vested interest in the NW Center placement. My opinion is that the district should have given them more notice to vacate before reclaiming the space for district use.)

--Just Curious
Anonymous said…
Many of the students at CPPP may not be enrolled in SPS otherwise. For whatever reason, and the reasons are varied, the traditional schools have not worked for them. They still have a right to a public education. They still may need services beyond what a parent can provide at home.

In Washington state, homeschoolers can also access any class or program available to public school students. They can enroll as part-time public school students. Homeschoolers can participate in their neighborhood sports team, or take a science class or band class, yet still be homeschoolers. The state then prorates the funds directed to the school.

You can find more info here:

Washington State's Laws Regulating Home-Based Instruction

Each state varies in how homeschool students are defined and overseen. Washington state is considered very friendly to homeschoolers. Families have many options thanks to those that helped craft the laws for Washington State.

SPS parent
Anonymous said…
Just Curious,

I don't have a dog in this fight, but I have to comment on your questions. I hear your opinion that Cascade is "exclusionary" but it is just that - an opinion. It's a legal ALE, and they don't have to prove to your satisfaction that it is legal or kosher or good. You don't have to go there - but you need to recognize their right to exist. And a few Shoreline residents is irrelevant - they are SPS students, and you'd find a handful at any northend school due to vagaries of address changes and program fit. It seems to me if you are so "curious" and I somehow doubt you are really an idle bystander, you should get in your car and drive over and ask to observe, rather than posting your opinion multiple times here. I think the issue is whether they have a right to the QA space, not whether you approve of parents who participate in their children's education in this manner. It seems short sighted of you not to understand their are family dynamics different than your own - and the assumption that they are all affluent and 2 parent homes seems really off the mark. If you're really curious, go down and check it out. I hear the principal is very accommodating.
-a Lawyer
Definitions said…
Difference between Homeschool and ALE:

Homeschool - file letter of intent at age 8 and thereafter.
Child takes one test a year OR can have an assessment done by a teacher.
Parent has complete control.

ALE (At CPPP) - enrolled in public school as public school student.
Weekly contact with certified teacher in a class
Student Learning Plan that meets WA state requirements filed with certified teacher contact.
Monthly meeting or progress report given to teacher demonstrating how the SLP is being met. I bring workbooks, and child's work to our meeting and provide photographs. This is only for the work that he does with me. With the work he is doing in his classes, the class teacher does this.
If we are not meeting the goals, then the teacher is to step in and make sure this happens. We have to be showing progress on our SLP.
Curriculum needs to be approved through the teacher.

A critical difference lies with who has ultimate control.

A "homeschool" family retains control of the student's learning.

In an ALE, the district has the ultimate control.

Lynn said…
Just Curious,

There are plenty of programs my children cannot access because it is not convenient for us. Ballard has a wonderful film program for example, but even if we could get a seat there, I would have to quit my job to drive my child to school every day. Is that program exclusionary?

Parents at CPPP aren't volunteering their time at the school. They are accompanying their children. I don't know if charter schools could set up an ALE - but there are plenty of things public schools can do that charters cannot. They can for instance operate programs or schools that exclude students who have not been identified as highly capable.

As for Shoreline, it's quite possible Shoreline takes more Seattle students than we accept from them. It's a matter of whether there are empty seats in the particular building. I'm certain that we would accept any Renton students who want to attend Rainier Beach too.
Tough Choices said…
Just Curious -

I would like to revisit your thoughts about exclusion because parents/guardians are required to be on site.

Realize, I am not coming from my viewpoint with thoughts of judgement. Each family and parent needs to weigh their options and make the best choice for them.

I know single mothers who homeschool - obviously not at Cascade as that is an ALE. I am speaking of true homeschoolers.

She felt like her daughter would not do well in school because of a variety of reasons. Knowing this in her heart, she chose to step into poverty to keep her daughter home. She has a small job on the day that her child is at Dad's and has a small other bit of income. She volunteers at a garden for food, etc. She is really poor. This is a choice that she has made.

What I am saying is, that requiring a parent on site is not in itself exclusionary. Although, for many people it would require a rethinking and drastic reduction of lifestyle. It may mean a significant loss of income.

But that is a choice. A person can look at the situation and say, darn it, the only way I can participate is if I only work three days a week (I know someone who did this). Or the only way I can participate is if child goes with Grandma (I see this too) or the only way I can participate is if we chose to be poor for the next 10 years (and I see this too).

It's a tough choice. It's not a fun choice, but it is still a choice. Not inherently exclusionary. Although, if a person does not feel comfortable with that shift of framework, I can see how it would feel that way.

Mike said…
Cascade mom (2/23/14, 3:44 PM),

I missed something you claimed on 2/23 that I want to correct.

You claimed that NWC hasn't been looking for a new facility, that they have just been fighting for more time. I'm just a parent, but as far as I can tell that is completely untrue.

I've been told that staff have toured multiple other facilities (all too small to fully contain the program, and licensing is still a question). I know they have been evaluating suggestions submitted by anyone, including almost a dozen suggestions submitted by me. Most of my suggestions would be long-term options not short term options due to remodeling requirements.

The state licensing folks are in communication and know the situation, but they don't give priority and can't guarantee turnaround times.

It sounds like "searching for a set of partial temporary homes" and "searching for a new permanent home" is being done via every avenue possible.

The 6 month timeline is simply too short.

When NWC started the Chinook downtown facility, the process took 3 years. Being in downtown, and part of new construction, took extra time, but this isn't normally a quick process from what I can tell.
NWC Parent said…
In January, the SPS Facility Operation Program Manager sent the message below in an email to Flip Herndon. I haven't seen the lease myself, but this seems clear to me.
"The lease allows for an early termination with the 6 month notification which was exercised. The lease was to expire May 2015 and we terminated effective June 2014."
I will end this discussion here as I have an e-mail from NWC that I find somewhat disturbing. We'll have a new thread.

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