Friday Open Thread

Happy May Day (and workers of the world, unite). 

From The Art of Simple, some good parenting ideas on "5 ways we can give our kids more freedom."  It's about finding that sweet spot between allowing your kid to explore the world and keeping said kid safe in that world.

Sad/funny video of Arne Duncan trying to explain programs that serve students with dyslexia.  From Diane Ravitch:
Senator Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana) asks a simple question: What specific programs do we have in place for helping students with dyslexia?
And it just goes south from there.
The answer, pretty clearly, is “none.” But Duncan is bound determined not to go there, so he tries, “Well, students with dyslexia have special needs, and we have a special needs fund, so they fall under that–“
Thanks for clearing that up, Sec'y Duncan.  Speaking of dsylexia, there's an interesting article in the Times about dsylexia versus dysgraphia based on an article in the journal, NeuroImage: Clinical.

Federal special education law lumps them under one category, but new research from the University of Washington makes the case that they are distinct disorders that require different types of instruction.

Candidate sightings - I'm going to start this bit so fill in as you can.  (Candidates, if I'm there, be sure to say hi; I don't want to leave anyone out.)
  • 43rd/46th Dems forum for City Council District 4 elections - Leslie Harris and Jill Geary  ( Public education came up as I - and apparently several other people - submitted questions about the role of the City in Seattle public education.  (I also asked about Mayor and/or City Council appointing School Board members. Both Tony Provine and Michael Maddux said - before any other statement - that they would not support the appointment of School Board candidates.  Mr. Maddux rightly said he thought the City had plenty to do with its own current work.  Jean Godden and Rob Johnson either ignored that part of the question or forgot to answer it.)
  • Bell Times forum at HIMS - Rick Burke and Lauren McGuire.
 As I have previously mentioned, the number of opportunities to speak with Board members - on any issue - are going by fast so take the time to go chat them up.  Tomorrow sees both Director Blanford  (10-11:30 am at the Douglass Truth Library and Director Peters at the Queen Anne library from 11 am to 1 pm.)

What's on your mind?


Anonymous said…
A systems break down at Stevens in implementing programming for students in the inclusion and EBD programs, which the District elected to wring its hands about instead of fix, led to a multi-family citizen complaint to OSPI, who woke up long enough to assess the damage at about $5000 per student in compensatory services (that's $5000 per 20-30 students folks) and to order the district to stop treating IDEA like guidance, instead of as law.

What's on my mind this Friday? Effective leadership is on my mind. As in, where is it?

Frustrated Stevens parent
Anonymous said…
Speaking of special education, an OSPI corrective action was handed to SPS by OSPI for failure to provide aid minutes and SDI to students in the Access and EBD programs at Stevens Elementary. There was also mis-use of safety net funds. It is clear that the district and principal knew about the issues in the first week of school and let it go on and on until February when a parent bravely filled the complaint on behalf of all students.
The report also reveals an intermediate EBD department with staff that has been in place for years that has no idea about social skills curriculum. And a practice of treating students placement and minutes not on what is in the student's IEP but on the whim and professional judgement of staff...
This is a small win for students in this school but points out just how little has been done in SPED even with the FEDs watching.
How is it we can spend millions on implementing the new kid on the block Common Core and the test dujour and not give one damn about the decades federal laws protecting students with disabilitys to ensure they get a fair and appropriate public education.

You can read the full report

-Shaking My Head
Anonymous said…
Thank you for posting the information on dyslexia and dysgraphia. Two of my children participated in the study. We have been involved in tense legal battles for the last 5 years and have been slowly chipping away at the districts refusal to provide any of the recommended accommodations from the study.

The district believes they know better on how to "serve" these students than Dr. Berninger and other clinical neuropsychologist.

We are preparing for a civil rights law suit and hopfully we can force the district to listen to the experts.

I can only say that these are issues that you should take up with ALL School Board candidates - assess their awareness of them and how he/she will support Sped students.

This is why we need a strong Board. Clearly, the almost apparent lip service being given to parents by district staff is not helping. I know that is harsh but how many times and how many parents will we hear this from? The deaf/hard of hearing parents? Parents with students with dyslexia/dysgraphia. Parents with students who are restrained?

There is a problem in this district and the best way to solve it is to be honest and transparent.
Anonymous said…
Interesting, I listened to Carr recently describe the district as a corporation and since she was only paid $4,800.00 per year she would leave these types of problems to the SPS administration.

Is having to pay out $150,000 worthy of a director's attention or do they only care when it hits $250,000?

Anonymous said…
Why did it take a citizen's complaint for the district to take any action on a well known series of big IDEA violations. Was the district just hoping that parents would not file? It is noticeable in the correction action that the district is agreeing with all of OSPI's findings. Or, acknowledging them. It is a big problem that the district's solution here is to wait and pay, not fix the problem in the first place. Whatever happened to integrity?

Anonymous said…
Where are the numbers from open enrollment posted?

Open enrollment used to be posted as a matter of course. Am I just missing the info on the district website? What is going on? This is not top secret data. Is it?

- worried
Anonymous said…
It looks like SPS paid Seneca $460,000 to create a SPED manual that SPS is not following.

It would have been money better spent on a comprehensive building by building program review/audit.

I'm sure this is not an isolated issue.

Anonymous said…
Third-graders took the ELA SBAC tests early so that they could get the results in time to schedule parent conferences. Plus, a perk of the SBAC tests is supposed to be that results are available in 3 weeks to benefit students and teachers - ha! So why does Nyland's info at the district website say the following?

Schools are expected to receive scores electronically within a month of the last assessment completed at that school, and schools will need time to distribute to families.

I'm tired of this and as a parent I want the scores as soon as they are available. When and how will third graders receive our scores?
Who do you email if the admin at your school says they don't know?

Has Ron English resurfaced yet?
Patrick said…
Does Garfield still have their Latin teacher?
Anonymous said…
Carr was asked "when you do the search for a new general counsel"

Carr replied it's "if ,not when"

I would interpret her response as
he is still a SPS employee.

Anonymous said…
Relavant to the OSPI Stevens case, we have this statement from the Friday memo:

Special Education Certificated to Instructional Assistant Waiver:
Historically staffing waivers were submitted by schools as a part of the annual budget process
where some were allowed to convert Special Education (SpEd) Certificated (Cert) Full-Time
Employee (FTE) to SpEd Instructional Assistant (IA) FTE. Last year this practice was restricted
as a part of the District’s process of ensuring compliance with State and Federal Regulations
related to Individuals Disability Education Act (IDEA). This year we are continuing to enforce
the need to maintain SpEd Cert FTE as distributed through the WSS process. We need to
adequately assign SpEd Cert FTE to ensure the designing and monitoring of Specially Designed
Instruction (SDI) is provided as described in each student’s IEP. As a district, we continue to
receive corrective actions from the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI)
monitoring and due process review for not providing the minutes and types of special education
services in students’ IEPs. One SPS procedural decision to assist with maintaining and
improving compliance in this area is to favor the allocation of SpEd Cert FTE over SpEd IA FTE
since IA’s can’t create or oversee SDI.
We recognize the need for continuity of staff as well as the difficulty of filing partial SPED Cert
FTE positions. We hope to address this issue in the upcoming negotiations with Seattle
Education Association (SEA). In the meantime, we will work with Human Resources, SEA and
district administrators in filling SPED Cert positons for 2015-16.

RosieReader said…
You definitely get what you pay for in terms of Board members.
I think Carr got overpaid!
Patrick said…
Overpaid, no, I think we got about what we paid for. We should be paying more. Sorry to hear her grousing about it, though. It's not like the salary was a secret when she ran for office.
Anonymous said…
I would like to see the current board pass a resolution to wave the districts lawyer client privilege(LCP). Changing to the same model OSPI uses. SPS is abusing LCP hiding gross violations by the district across all departments specifically with SPED.

Anonymous said…
I agree, whole-heartedly, Michael.

I'd also like to know where the buck stops?
-Will the EBD teacher and IAs who failed all of their students loose their jobs?
-Will the principal finally be be removed?
-Will Bill Keating's insufferable apathy get him the boot or will it yield another promotion?
-Will Wyeth Jessie continue to be praised and talk of how much better things are and will be under his leadership?
-Will Nyland waste more time threatening teachers to administer SBAC while turning a blind eye to doing anything to those administrators, principals, and staff that violate our most vulnerable students' rights.

-Tired of the lack of accountability
Anonymous said…
Is there a link to this EBD/Access Stevens decision? Near as I can tell, Stevens is just exactly like every other school in the district, stealing funds and staff out of sped for every other thing.

Sped Reader
Maureen said…
I have heard that the 'new' (3 years?) TOPS Principal is leaving. Not sure if he is moving internally or out of District. I hear the community will get some say in hiring the new principal (but not much time to recruit.)
BTDT said…
OSPI has an in house attorney and is represented by the AG's office. I am pretty sure that the assert privilege just like districts do.
Anonymous said…
TOPS principal is headed to Bellevue. My personal experience with him is that took a lot of vacations (which I didn't think principals got to take during school) and that he didn't really know what was going on at the school. His buddy from back east was the Salmon Bay principal who left suddenly last summer. I don't think it was a good fit.

-Hope Next One Sticks
Anonymous said…

Seattle opt out Facebook page has post on House Bill 2214 regarding high school graduation requirements.

Anonymous said…
There are 5 principal openings posted on the district website. TOPS, Emerson, John Hay, Sand Point, and South Lake HS.

Anonymous said…

Diane Ravitch has a link to Yong Zhao's speech to Network for Public Education regarding standardized testing.

Anonymous said…
I want the Seattle School Board to develop a policy that if a principal COMMITS fraud with intent to commit fraud in regard to provision of special education services (such as at Stevens and a few other schools that I could name) that that principal suffers the same consequences as a principal who does not following proper procedures regarding tests. Which causes greater harm?

Anonymous said…
GL, exactly. And where is Nyland on this Stevens situation? Has he been out there to meet with the parents and staff? Does he even know about it? Are these administrators going to be allowed to keep their jobs? What about EBD teachers who don't know anything about social skills curriculum after how many years on the job? Thank you Seattle Public Schools for all of your integrity and professionalism around special education. Not.

Anonymous said…
Concerning lawyer client privilege abuse. Recently I requested the same information from SPS, DOE, OSPI regarding civil rights violation complaints. SPS could only produce a limited amount of documents compared to OSPI and DOE, but what was irritating and possible a violation of the PRA was the use of LCP.

Everyone of the Districts responses to OSPI or DOE were 90% redacted to the point that the majority of the pages were 100% blacked out with WAC 44-14-06002 inserted. In contrast, the DOE and OSPI documents only had redacted students names and parents name.

So, I could easy contrasts and extrapolate the redacted information. Why would SPS want to block public citizens from reading their defense or denials.

Another abuse of LCP is when SPS refuses to release SPED citizen complaints they have received. They site they involve possible employee discipline, however OSPI will send to a lightly redacted copy if you know what to ask for. The same goes for due process filings regardless if they where withdrawn.

On that note parents thinking of filing should request from OSPI copies of all withdrawn due process filings, because these are the cases SPS mostly settles and are never published on OSPI website.

Anonymous said…
Michael -- how many due process cases are withdrawn, roughly speaking? And are you saying that the only way that parents/community will know what OSPI says about a citizen's complaint or even if one was ever filed is if you know what to ask for from OSPI?

All these strategies feel like they have one purpose: to mislead and manage parents/taxpayers.

Not, where is Nyland? Out visiting schools to write up his Friday Memo. I AM all for him visiting schools but I believe he is just a figurehead and not a leader.

He has not, on his own, lead on one single thing.
Anonymous said…
Yes, a figurehead drawing quite the retirement salary. Letting everybody down.

Buildings and JSCEE running amok on sped. Nyland MIA. School Board content with the Happy Talk.

BTDT said…

I understand your comment better now. I totally can see how OSPI and DOE are more forthcoming with the district-specific documents related to closed cases then SPS is. But I bet if you for example, ask OSPI for all of the emails between their in-house attorney and Doug Gill on things like the conflict of interest contracting issue that OSPI would be withholding those documents as privileged. My experience is that agencies are more forthcoming with other agencies documents that have come into their possession then their own documents.
n said…
Thanks, nh. I just watched the video and am thinking of forwarding the link to my classroom parents.

Also, I hope you watched Ravitch question Weingarten and Eskelsen at the same gathering. We don't hear from these two enough in Seattle. Gives me some hope that our union is still viable. Our leadership is so lame. Parents and teachers should watch both. (I hope it comes up on this link. Part of NPE conference.)
Anonymous said…
How well did your union work for the Stevens students? Are you going to claim not one card caring professional educator knew of the gross violations? Did any of the teachers report the violations to OSPI or better yet to the DOE OCR?

I have nothing against unions except when they are used as excuses for not doing the right thing.Where does WEA and SEA officially stand on the IDEA.

Spin this

Anonymous said…
Can somebody please advise me on who I should contact (as a teacher) if sped students are not being served adequately? I am appalled at the number of sped children at my school who only receive sporadic in-class help from IAs and no SDI from a credentialed sped teacher. Many of us have reported it to the principal.

As for the Steven's EBD teachers not having knowledge of Social/Emotional curriculum; it is heartbreaking, but probably more common than you think. I think the better question is- Why doesn't SPS provide all EBD teachers with a Social/Emotional curriculum?
Fired Up
Fired Up, who to contact? Well, you could start with your union rep or OSPI. I would tell you to ask the Ex Director of your region but frankly, I think it will fall on deaf ears.

You reminded me of one huge issue I'd like to start a thread on - PD for teachers.

What I have heard - in just the last few weeks - is that teachers need PD to support both ELL and Sped students as well as training in socio-emotional issues.

Where is the time and the money for this? And, on the latter, I'm not sure at what point we are trying to make teachers into counselors. I think they should have the training to have the basic understanding of what stages/issues students may have but I cannot believe they have the time to adequately address those issues.
BTDT said…
But if you contact your union rep, don't share student records or FERPA protected materials. You can tell them your concerns, but don't give student specifics or you will find yourself being the one in trouble. Better to raise the issue to the ED copying the head of HR and the two top people in Sp Ed so you have proof of raising a concern in writing if you get retaliated against by your principal.
n said…
Unions are legally authorized to bargain, wages, hours and working conditions. That's what they do. Yes, I agree that we should all be advocating for all our kids, parents, teachers, admin, union every single citizen in Seattle. Please don't place it all on the teachers.

Who better to rattle cages than parents - you are the clients. Make demands. Get out in the streets if you need to. Don't ask somebody else to do it. Spin this is not speaking on behalf of children. That poster is blaming teachers and unions. That poster is a reformer. I ignore those posts because blame isn't solving anything. I can't be everything to every kid. Much as I wish I could.

Get the money out of John Stanford and put it back into the schools. That at least would be a start.
Anonymous said…
If there's a problem with a specific student, then the proper channel for addressing the concern is actually the IEP team. Alert the case manager (special ed teacher), the parent, and the principal. SDI can be delivered by any school staff - general ed teacher, IA, or special ed teacher. But that should be listed in the IEP. How, where, and when students receive services is in the service matrix on the IEP. As a regular ed teacher - you are fully empowered to deliver SDI to a specific student. There are plenty of resources available to sped students. Walk into any class with special education students and you will often find 3, 4, or 5 adults. But what are they doing? A teacher who stands and delivers a lecture - does not use the resources in the school. And where and what exactly is the special educator doing? That person's schedule should be known and public too.

Been There

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