The Seattle Special Education PTSA proposes a partnership and charter with Seattle Schools affirming that ALL students with disabilities are general education students first and foremost. Students with disabilities are general education students who also receive special education services. Educating students with disabilities is the responsibility of all school staff, not just special educators. Everyone working in our public schools has the duty to welcome students with disabilities as: full members of their school communities; and, as capable students on the path to becoming successful adult citizens.
The goal of the Seattle Special Education PTSA is to partner with the district and school staff to provide rich and equitable educational opportunities for students with disabilities. The Seattle Special Education PTSA identifies five key, related priorities to consider when educating students with disabilities in schools: Inclusion, Citizenship, Discipline, Individual Goals, and Academic Excellence.
- Inclusion All students with disabilities, even those who are primarily educated in self-contained settings, are entitled to a “seat” in regular, general education classrooms. They should participate in general education to the maximum extent appropriate for them as individuals, not the maximum extent that is least troublesome. The WA Supreme Court has ruled that students in special education are entitled to both a general educator and a special educator and are funded accordingly. While goals for students with disabilities may be different than for others (sometimes vastly different), schools should be “ready” for students with disabilities – because students with disabilities are ready for inclusion.
- Citizenship Students with disabilities are full members of their schools and communities. They must be afforded equal access to the breadth of offerings at their schools. This includes access to neighborhood schools, extracurricular activities, field trips, camps, sports, arts, enrichment, academic support, leadership training, and activities supporting career and college readiness.
- Discipline All students, including those with disabilities should be placed in schools with positive behavioral and emotional supports. The guiding principle in all school discipline is to instruct students in prosocial behavior. Suspensions should be minimized if used at all, and only if they are deemed appropriate by IEP teams. Our students should not be suspended or excluded for “incompliant” behavior. Restraints are never intended as discipline and should only be used for safety. Aversive Intervention Plans have no place in schools.
- Individual Goals The “I” in IDEA and the “I” in IEP stands for individual. Students’ individual, unique needs must be addressed by all school programs. Program scope, standards, curricula, testing and other norms must be flexible and accommodate students with a wide variety of needs and interests. When students are clustered together, physically or instructionally, because of their disability or deficits, they are robbed of their individuality and dignity.
- Academic Excellence Students with disabilities deserve high academic expectations – with support and accommodations. It is a constant balancing act. Students with disabilities need many opportunities to access and excel at age-appropriate, and standard materials – as well as high quality, research based alternate materials. Special education programs and classrooms should have well-defined curricula available. Like all students, students with disabilities need highly-qualified content area specialists, and certificated teachers – not ever-changing subs.