- Written by Jeff Meeks
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King TV is developing TV stories about Special education in Washington state. Susanna asks:
KING 5 is getting ready to launch a new series of reports on the state of special education in the state of Washington. The stories are scheduled to begin airing in late April or May.
We are looking forward to bringing these important stories to our viewers and online readers, but we need your help!
Special education in Washington is in crisis, and by any measure, Grays Harbor is particularly hard hit. School districts are required to provide appropriate education to their students with learning disabilities, and are given additional funding to do so. A school district is provided additional funding for their special education students, up to a cap of 13.5% of their student body, but roughly one-third (109 of the 322) of school districts in Washington State are over this cap, meaning that providing the services necessary to guarantee an appropriate education to these students may not be available.
There are 13 school districts in Grays Harbor and 12 of them are over this 13.5% cap - some are approaching 20% of their student body having an Individual Education Plan, but only get funding for 13.5% of them.
Looked at another way, roughly 1% of Washington's population lives in Grays Harbor, yet 11% of the school districts with the highest population of special education students are in our county. Only one of our school districts - Montesano - receives full funding from the state for each student with an Individual Education Plan.
This has had an impact on students and families. In my experience, local school districts and their educators are doing a generally conscientious job in providing the services that students need, but the resource shortages are bound to hurt students relative to what they might expect in a school district with fewer constraints.
So KING 5 is looking for family stories, in particular:
Funding Cap - A family really struggling for services (denied/greatly delayed) in a district that is over the 13.5% state funding cap.
Excessive Suspensions – A family who has experienced an inordinate number of expulsions/suspensions from school for behaviors. (any district)
Post high school lack of engagement – A family who has a high school graduate who is not engaged in meaningful activity such as job training, volunteering, or additional education. (any district)
Isolation/Restraint – A family who has a child who has had an inordinate number of isolation and restraint experiences at school. (any district)
Please let me know if your family is experiencing any of these situations so that we can get the word out to Olympia.