State will approve Seattle’s special-education plan, with conditions
The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction will accept the Seattle school district’s latest plan to improve special-education services if the district meets some final conditions.
Seattle Times education reporter
The state will accept the Seattle school district’s latest plan to improve special-education services for its 7,000 students with disabilities if the district meets some final conditions, according to an Oct. 15 letter to the district.
“We’re over here doing the happy dance,” said Zakiyyah McWilliams, the school district’s special-education executive director. She expects the district can easily meet the conditions and move on to putting the plan into action.
Last spring, the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction gave the district 18 months to fix longstanding problems or risk losing about $11 million a year in federal support. But it’s taken the district this long to even come up with an acceptable plan.
The state rejected the plan the district submitted in June, and sent back a modified plan last month asking for clarification, explicit details or additional information on 25 items before agreeing to release federal special education funds.
Some of the answers to those questions prompted the state to add conditions before approving the plan, said Doug Gill, the office’s special-education director.
For example, the state is concerned that part of the district’s plan appears to be more concerned with meeting the staffing needs of teachers than in meeting the service needs of children, Gill said.
So one of the conditions is that the district recognize that the state isn’t endorsing that part of the plan.
McWilliams said a task force working on how to improve services will make sure that the staffing agreements made with the Seattle teachers union don’t interfere with the decision-making of the teams of educators and parents who design individual learning plans for students with disabilities.
The state also wants the district to spend about $150,000 of its federal money on outside consultants to help improve services rather than the $60,000 the district initially indicated it would spend.
The 18-month clock on making improvements started June 30, according to Gill.
“That’s why I think it’s a good idea to have some national assistance to come in and get them back up to speed a little bit,” Gill said.
John Higgins: 206-464-3145 or firstname.lastname@example.org On Twitter @jhigginsST