Interim: Special Education

WSSDA’s strategic advocacy team hosted the third Leg Reps Learn of the 2021 interim. These webinars will be offered at no cost to WSSDA members on topics related to WSSDA’s advocacy efforts.

Leg Reps Learn

This week’s Leg Reps Learn webinar focused on special education, and offered the perspectives of three special education champions. View the webinar to see what they shared.

Advocating for Students with Disabilities*

To understand what your district needs in order to better support your students with disabilities and the teachers and paraeducators that serve them, ask yourself and your colleagues the following questions:

  1. What have we done to prepare for graduation pathways, and the ending the CIA alternative for our students with an IEP? Have staff been trained to discuss and plan? Have parents been informed? How are we ensuring this and tracking the access of pathways for equity?
  2. Are we ensuring that students with disabilities are receiving support on the High School and Beyond Plan from school counselors?
  3. How are the needs of students with disabilities built into the social-emotional learning and recovery activities for the district? How are they part of our overall strategic plan and culture?
  4. Does our use of improvement and restricted funding lead to more segregation of students with disabilities? How do we know?
  5. How are we ensuring that the use of restraint and isolation is only used in emergency circumstances? Do our staff have the training and supports to address inappropriate behavior proactively and intervene early?
  6. What are our post-school outcomes for our students with disabilities? Are we comfortable with those outcomes? If not, what changes are needed to improve?
  7. Are the only personnel reporting on students with disabilities from the special education department? If so, why?
  8. What assumptions have outlasted their usefulness?

*Key Questions for School Leaders by Glenna Gallo, OSPI

The time to advocate is now

Advocacy is a year-round endeavor. As the new and improved advocacy wheel reflects, the legislative session represents only a small part of the total need for annual advocacy. Students and staff are in need of mental health support 365 days a year – so our advocacy should also reflect that ongoing need.

Schedule a time to talk with your legislators this month to share what has been working and what else is needed to address your student and staff’s mental health and wellbeing. Your legislators’ contact information can be found on the Washington State Legislature website.

Need help?

If you need help contacting your legislator or want to share information about special education programs and services, contact Marissa Rathbone, Director of Strategic Advocacy at

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