Wednesday, April 29, 2015

SPS fails to meet RC-CAP Special Education deadline OSPI capitulates illegally extending deadline one more year.

As I predicted last October, SPS and OSPI have colluded to deny FAPE to thousands of special educational students. OSPI has agreed to grant Seattle public schools another year to meet the most important part of the mandated corrective action, IMPLEMENTATION of  fixes for the identified service implementation violations.

I find this egregious and illegal, but OSPI claims they elevated SPS compliance status from the worst level 4 to level 3 based on SPS's timely implementation of Citizen Complaint district focused corrective actions.  My idea of improvement is not same as SPS or OSPI and it's extremely difficult to  understand how any competent compliance auditor would think an increase of 400% in Citizen Complaints while under the nose of the OSPI and DOE auditors equates to an IMPROVEMENT.

In fact several successful citizen complaints have reveled some schools with wholesale failures to provide services to any special educational students. It's truly eye opening to read that the 23 citizen complaints filed in the last 300 days is the highest yearly count ever for any WA state district, shattering the old record of 14 back in 2004 also held by SPS.  Add in a half a dozen Civil rights violations , Due process filings, out of court settlements and you have a bureaucracy light years away from compliance.

Shame on anyone who reads this and does nothing, you don't need to travel to Ferguson or Baltimore
to experience injustice or get your PC social justice fix, just visit your closest SPS building.

Please let this guy know how you feel!

Doug Gill, Assistant Superintendent | | 360-725-6075 

Seattle Public Schools’ Special Education Department has completed a series of activities with
set timelines that are listed within the Revised-Comprehensive Correction Action Plan (RCCAP).
As of May 4, 2015, thirty-nine of the forty activities within the RC-CAP were completed
with the one remaining activity on hold while Seattle Public Schools completes the budgeting
and staffing process for the 2015-16 school year. The RC-CAP was intended to address the
systemic root causes of the on-going compliance concerns of Seattle Public Schools. The
completion of the activities outlined in the RC-CAP, including the improvement of the Special
Education Department’s central office infrastructure, stabilization of leadership and
establishment of policies and procedures, demonstrate the foundational steps towards
systemically improving SPS’s Special Education Department.
The next step is to provide evidence that the activities linked to the RC-CAP are implemented
and sustainable throughout the District over time. OSPI has provided SPS with a Memorandum
of Understanding (MOU) (see attachment) intended to replace the RC-CAP so the steps are clear
on how SPS can demonstrate substantial compliance. The MOU is comprised of six Evidence
Standards focused on central office operations (1) and regional school site visits (5). OSPI will
perform an assessment of each Evidence Standard when SPS determines that it is ready for
review. OSPI’s verification of each Evidence Standard will be equal to an amount not to exceed
$500,000. Successful completion and verification of all six Evidence Standards by June 30,
2016 will lead to the full release of the current withholding of $3 million in federal Individuals
with Disabilities ACT (IDEA) Part B Funding. Resolving the IDEA Part B fund withholding
for the 2014-15 school year would be the first step in removing the District from its current
status as a “high risk grantee.”


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Democrat Patty Murray is wrong on dyslexic students

Washington DC  April 15 2015,

It's a disappointment to see Democrat Patty Murray come out in opposition to the amendment pushed by Senator Cassidy (R-LA) to fund teaching students with dyslexia. She incorrectly ignores the overwhelming science of teaching dyslexic students and wrongly believes every penny used to teach teachers must benefit all students to learn to read, not focus solely on one diagnosis. While it's true all students with many differing abilities or disability labels, who are entirely capable of learning to read, and yet are not being taught to read simply because the teachers have never been taught the science of reading. Murray does not understand or chooses to ignore that it's not possible to teach every student with the same approach and dyslexic students require very specific methods.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Suicide Prevention for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities have a variety of unique personal factors, often excel in academics, and are frequently well able to advocate for themselves. However, students with both learning disabilities and physical disabilities are a higher risk for mental health problems than those without such disabilities. Students with learning disabilities typically have higher rates of depression, and students with physical disabilities have more thoughts and attempts of suicide compared to students without disabilities. Additionally, students’ risk for suicidal behavior has been shown to be higher if the disability is less visible.
Students with disabilities face problems similar to those experienced by other students, including relationship and family problems, academic and career concerns, anxiety, and depression. However, the problems of student with disabilities may be compounded by unique factors such as prejudice or discrimination; the severity and visibility of a disability; loss of income and status; loss of caregivers or problems with developing or maintaining independence; difficulty with adjustment depending on when the disability occurred or developed; and other factors related to specific diagnoses, including mobility issues, impulsivity, or deficits in social skills.
Similar to other students, a number of personal and environmental factors can help protect students with disabilities from mental health problems and risk of suicidal behaviors (see protective factors below). Factors that are especially helpful for students with learning disabilities, emotional disabilities, and mobility disabilities include family connectedness and religiosity.


  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Substance use/abuse
  • Previous suicide attempt or previous thoughts of killing oneself
  • Coping style in which problems are kept inside/unexpressed

  • Low self-esteem and lack of self-efficacy

  • Feelings of loneliness, guilt, shame, or inadequacy

  • Academic concerns

  • Financial concerns

  • Conflicts with friends, roommates, peers, or partner

  • Recent loss (e.g., death or breakup)
  • Loss of caretakers
  • Social isolation, particularly from family or spiritual community
  • Conflict with parents about choice of academic major, career, or dating partner
  • History of physical or sexual abuse
  • Family history of depression and/or suicide
  • Easy access to firearms or other lethal methods
  • Unwillingness to seek help because of shame in seeking mental health services
  • Lack of access to mental health care

Protective Factors for Suicidal Behavior for Students with Disabilities

Protective factors are characteristics, skills, strengths, or resources that help people deal effectively with stressful events and reduce the likelihood of attempting or completing suicide. They enhance resilience and can help compensate for risk factors. Each person has his or her own unique set of protective factors, which can be either personal or environmental. Increasing protective factors can help decrease risk of suicidal behaviors, and students should work to maintain and increase these protective factors.

Emergency Numbers

  • National Suicide Prevention Hotline
    1.800.273.TALK (8255)

Senate ESEA bill makes strides for students with disabilities but still lacks strong accountability!

 WASHINGTON, DC – Denise Marshall, executive director of The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, Inc. (COPAA) released the following statement regarding the Every Child Achieves Act (ECAA) amending the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) scheduled for mark-up on April 14, 2015 by the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
“In January, COPAA made recommendations to improve the Senate ESEA draft proposed at that time. Today, we want to thank Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray for listening because most of the pivotal provisions we requested are now part of the ECAA -- including a 1% state cap of all students on the use of alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. Giving standardized tests to all students, including children with disabilities, is essential to identifying whether public schools are effectively educating our children. Students with disabilities can learn, graduate, go to college, work and contribute to society. We know that the biggest challenge they face is low expectation. Limiting the number of students on the alternate assessment is critical to keep expectations high.”
In a letter to Senators Alexander and Murray, COPAA highlighted several provisions as major progress for students with disabilities such as: requiring annual statewide, standardized assessments; prohibiting states from developing additional alternate or modified standards; and, adding importing clarification so parents understand the decision to place a student in an alternate assessment. COPAA’s letter also stated that without strengthened accountability for students not making gains, COPAA would be unable to support the bill.
“Despite the bill’s progress,” Marshall continued,” the ECAA still lacks strong accountability when student groups fail to meet state-set goals. One purpose of testing is to highlight where districts and schools are successful and where they are not – so that the state can identify where to help target effective intervention. Without accountability, students in schools and/or districts who are making little or no progress may never receive the attention, support or intervention they need. This is unacceptable. States must be held accountable via Title I dollars for the achievement of all groups of students.” 
COPAA also asked for:
·         Requiring states and districts to report results including data related to enrollment and performance for all student groups with the only exception being if an “n” size in a cell falls below 10.
·         Allowing the Secretary to regulate on key provisions in ESEA to protect the civil rights of students    and enforcing the written law.     
Marshall concluded, “Many students with disabilities have learned to read, do math and graduate from high school because of the higher expectations and accountability under current provisions of ESEA. Congress must maintain the important historical commitment ESEA makes to our nation’s children who are most in need of the instruction and support that leads to academic achievement. Achievement for every child really matters and when students are struggling, we need assurance that something will be done about it. We urge Congress not to step back from this important promise.”
Contact Congress about the Every Child Achieves Act Today, click here 
More about COPAA's work on reauthorizing ESEA

Thursday, April 2, 2015

When Vulnerable Readers Thrive Dreams Come True

Summit 8
Seat tle
May 1-2, 2015
Washington State
Conference Center

Early Years Research
Each speaker will reference the key research that is aligned with
the Washington State Early Learning Plan. This research makes
it unequivocally clear that even if children begin school with
challenges or deficits, over 90% of them are fully capable of reading
at grade level by the end of third grade. The entire Summit is built
on this conviction. If we want to change the trajectory of vulnerable
readers’ lives, we must rely on this research to guide our path. The
Summit program will include the following six essential components.
A variety of the listed speakers will be selected to address each of
these topics. The detailed program will be available in the spring.

Six Essential Components
While there are many components in a balanced literacy program,
we have selected six key topics as our focus for Vulnerable Children
Thrive, as the research has identified these essential components as
foundational to any successful early literacy program. Our keynote
and workshop speakers will specifically target these areas in their

1. A Dynamic Learning Environment
“Learning environments are largely invisible yet permeate everything
that happens in the classroom. Perhaps because of their invisibility,
we tend not to talk about them very much… These missed
opportunities diminish teachers’ awareness of this critical aspect of
schooling and their intentionality in developing environments that
actively invite learning.” (Sousa & Tomlinson, 2011)

2. Foundational Skills and Knowledge
Contrary to recent decades of practice, it is now clear that explicit
instruction must begin in kindergarten (or earlier) for vulnerable
children. Research tells us that mastery of alphabet knowledge
and phonological awareness will have the greatest impact on a
child’s future literacy success, as will knowledge of high frequency
words learned by memory (NELP, 2008). How do we incorporate the
instruction of these essential skills and knowledge into a play-based
learning environment?

3. A ssessment to Inform Instruction
Children must learn over 41 sets of essential skills in their first three
years of school, and some of these key skills have sub-sets of skills
within them. The teacher needs to know if children have been taught
the skill, if they require review of the skill, and if they need to be referred
for special assistance. The teacher needs to be able to assess each child,
track mastery of each skill and be able to group children according to
skill needs. The teacher needs to use all of this information to inform
daily instruction.

4. E mergent Shared Reading and Shared Writing
Shared Reading and Shared Writing are listed in the research (NELP,
2008) as two of the most impactful practices that accelerate future
literacy success. What is Shared Reading and Shared Writing and why
do they have such an impact? What makes these two practices different
from guided reading or other traditional approaches to emergent
reading and writing? How do we merge the best of all approaches? How
do we introduce reading and writing in kindergarten and grade one?

5. Brain-based Differentiated Instruction
Recent research has revealed so much about how the brain learns,
and we can no longer ignore the implications of these discoveries
for educational practice. Teachers need to find ways to use this brain
research to develop strategies that will allow students to succeed in
classrooms that enroll students with a diversity of abilities, cultural
backgrounds, and languages. This research pool (called educational
neuroscience) offers information and insights that can help educators
make implementation decisions.

6. L eadership and Change for Early Learning
There is no more powerful way to initiate systemic change than to
implement “pilot sites” or “demonstration sites” as laboratories where
we can implement research-based change, apply theories, and measure
success with hard data and qualitative stories. These sites can provide a
snapshot of what the change would look like for those who are not yet
ready for full implementation. We can celebrate victories and provide
evidence to skeptics or critics. These sites will not only require key
leaders to be on board, but also committed teachers who feel ready to
take a big implementation step.