Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Department of Justice Reaches Settlement Agreement with Colorado School District to Address Racial Harassment and Discrimination

The Justice Department announced that it has entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with the Falcon School District 49 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, to resolve complaints about the district’s response to racial harassment and discrimination in its schools.   
The agreement will continue for at least three years and replaces a settlement agreement reached by the parties in 2010 which addressed similar issues. The agreement requires the district to take affirmative steps to eliminate and prevent racial harassment and discrimination in schools.  Specifically, the district agrees to:
  • revise its policies and procedures on harassment and discrimination;
  • maintain adequate records of all incidents of racial harassment and discrimination;
  • analyze incidents of racial harassment and discrimination to ensure that all incidents are properly identified, investigated, and resolved;
  • train staff in preventing and responding to harassment and discrimination;
  • provide training to students to prevent and address harassment and discrimination;
  • include restorative justice techniques and positive behavior interventions and supports in the district’s disciplinary responses to incidents of harassment and discrimination; and
  • hire a consultant to identify any additional measures the district should take to effectively address, prevent, and respond to harassment and discrimination.
“We applaud the Falcon School District 49 for working cooperatively with the Department of Justice to resolve this matter and ensure that all students can attend school without fear of harassment or discrimination from their peers,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Molly Moran for the Civil Rights Division.
The enforcement of Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex and religion in public schools, is a top priority of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  Additional information about the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department is available on its website at

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

115 years ago in place far far away, one man got it right.

The last few days I've been reading various articles and sections of books trying to create some sort of message that would resonate will the various camps in SPS. My partner pointed me to the Richard Hofstadter book - anti-intellectualism in American life.

I browsed thru various chapters and stopped at page 365, it was more like I hit a wall. Page 365 contains Hofstadter's paraphrasing of G.R. Glenn's - What manner of child shall this be. As I read Hofstadter's words I forgot the book was written in 1963, because I swear he was referring the current state of SPS. At that time I had no clue who G.R Glenn was.
G.R Glenn as it turns out was the Superintendent of public instruction for the state of Georgia and he wrote "What manner of child shall this be" in 1900.

I encourage everyone to go read both the paraphrased version and the original version of "What manner of child shall this be". Do this before you make any excuses for the state of Special education in the Seattle public school system.

I think you might have a change of heart.

“Time was when the power of the teacher was measured by what he could do with a bright boy or a bright girl. From the beginning of this new century the power of the teacher will be measured by what he will be able to do with the dull boy, the defective child. More than ever before in the history of this world the real test of teaching power will be measured, not by what can be done with the best, but by what can be done with the worst boy in the school. The new educational psychology will be “the psychology of the prodigal son and the lost sheep.” The “great rejoicings” in American life will come when child study is so mastered and the development of schools so perfected that the educational system touches and develops every American boy. “We shall come to out place rejoicing when we have saved every one of these American children and made every one of them a contributor to the wealth, to the intelligence, and to the power of this great democratic government of ours.”



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Good Intentions vs Ego

Answer these questions:


What do think is driving Seattle public schools administration decisions?

If you could do anything , what would you do to improve the education of ALL Seattle public school students?


What can you do today to improve the education of ALL Seattle public school students?

What's driving your choices, good intentions or ego?

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

An argument for the creation of unqiue programs for native American students.

 I'm usually advocating for more appropriate services for students under the IDEA or working with parents trying to get their student on an IEP, but this information shows how some districts abuse the IDEA and inappropriately place native American students in special educational programs.    

About 14% of American Indian and Alaska Native students received
IDEA services in 2006, compared to 8% of white, 11% of black, 8% of Hispanic,
and 5% of Asian/Pacific Islander students (Alliance for Excellent Education 2008).
Table 1 shows the percent of minority students enrolled in three specific special
education categories in 2006.
Nationally, American Indian and Alaska Native students are 1.53 times more likely
to receive special education services for specific learning disabilities and are 2.89
times more likely to receive such services for developmental delays than the combined
average of all other racial groups. Fifteen percent of American Indian and Alaska
Native eighth graders were categorized as students with disabilities in 2005, meaning
they had or were in the process of receiving Individualized Education Plans (IEP), compared
to 9% of all non–American Indian and Alaska Native eighth graders (Collier,
2011). A disturbing additional aspect of this disproportionality is that while overrepresented
in special education in general, AI/AN students are woefully under-served
in specific categories of special need, e.g.,autism spectrum disorder and intellectually
gifted. In 1998, American Indian and Alaska Native students made up 1.1% of
the student population but just 0.87% of the student population in gifted education
(Faircloth and Tippeconnic, 2000).
This dismal national picture is repeated within many individual districts. In a study
of ethnicity and gender in placement in special education in Portland Public schools
in Oregon (King & Pemberton, 2001), researchers found a consistent pattern of
disproportionality for AI/AN students. They were over-represented in special education
services almost 2 to 1 but under-represented in autism spectrum disorder. While AI/AN
students represented 2.4% of total enrollment in PPS, they represented 4.7% of
special education students but only 1.5% of those identified as having autism spectrum
disorder. In contrast, European American students represent 62.4% of the total enrollment
in PPS, but 78.7% of those with autism spectrum disorder.
This disproportionality in access to special education services for specific disorders
is also found among limited English proficient students from other diverse cultures.

Table 1. Comparison K12 Enrollment to Three Special Education Categories (U.S. Census)

                                     Hispanic African American  Asian/PacificIslander      Native American
% Total enrollment            18.51         14.91                    4.2                                 0.97
% Emotional Disturbance  11.90         28.79                    1.12                               1.56
% Learning Disabilities     21.22         20.52                    1.7                                 1.74
% Mental Retardation       17.27         20.6                      2.19                               1.53

Supreme Court Denies Cert in Ridley School District v. M.R.

 Congress intended stay-put placement to remain in effect through the final resolution of the dispute


On May 18, 2015 the United States Supreme Court declined to grant  Ridley School District's petition for certiorari  in the case Ridley School District v. M.R.   Ridley School District sought the petition after the Third Circuit ruled that  the "stay put" provision of the IDEA extended through judicial appeals.  The Third Circuit said: "the statutory language and the 'protective purposes' of the stay-put provision lead to the conclusion that Congress intended stay-put placement to remain in effect through the final resolution of the dispute." The court of appeals emphasized Section 14159(j)'s reference to "any proceedings conducted pursuant to this section" and noted that the proceedings unambiguously encompass civil actions filed in federal district court.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

COPAA Files Brief in 5th Circuit: IEE is a Primary Right of IDEA

COPAA filed an amicus brief in the 5th Circuit in the case of Seth B. v. Orleans Parish School Board.  Advocacy Center attorneys, Sara Hall Voight and Debra Weinberg, as well as Ron Lospennato, represent the Plaintiffs/Appellants in the case.  The issue is one of primary importance to COPAA members: the right to an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE).  The primary rights of parents and children under IDEA start in the evaluation process with a right to an IEE to supplement the evaluations conducted by the public agency. Parents and their children require a clear and fair access to an established dispute resolution mechanism when the school agency declines to allow the publicly funded IEE or to pay for it once it is completed, in procedures which mandate that the IEE be funded unless the district affirmatively seeks a hearing to prove the adequacy of its evaluation “without unnecessary delay.”  This explicit allocation of the burden of bringing a suit and the burden of proof lies with the district denying funding.  Significantly, this IEE clarification was made in 1997-1999 based on a concern that forcing parents to seek due process for reimbursement delayed the IEE process and interfered with the IEE right.   Jon Zimring and Selene Almazan authored the brief for COPAA.  The National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) also submitted a brief in this case on behalf of NDRN, the National Federation of the Blind and the National Assocation of the Deaf.  Ellen Saideman and Constance Wannamaker, COPAA members, wrote the brief for NDRN and amici.  

Brain scans show dyslexia, dysgraphia require different types of treatment

There was a recent article in the Seattle times covering the UW study on dyslexia and dysgraphia, two of my children participated in the study. Things are really changing fast in the area of understanding Specific Learning Disabilities. I was also able to participate in the study and it was very interesting to see how I compensate for my dyslexia in various areas of written and verbal language.

Brain-based language problems such as dyslexia and dysgraphia fall under the general heading of "specific learning disability," but a new study from the University of Washington shows that they are distinct disorders that require different types of instruction

Read the entire article here

Take a look at some of the salaries Seattle public school teachers make.

Should workers making over 6 figures really be walking out on students? If teachers want to protest, they should be protesting the excessive administrative cost at SPS.

Seattle Public Schools employees salaries 

SPS has had a hard time recruiting the past few years. Maybe they should offer sign-on bonuses to attract top talent, 60K doesn't go far in Seattle these days. Paying sign-on bonuses to new service providers would have been a much better use of the $460,000 they spent on the SENECA FAMILY of SERVICES contract..