I believe whether you are LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, a foster family, a houseless family, an immigrant family or any student living with disabilities with an intersectional identity, your voice must be heard and elevated. Many of us who have children living with disabilities, or who live with disabilities ourselves, have different intersectional lenses that influence how we enter disability justice, and this is to be supported and celebrated. Our diverse voices must be at decision-making tables to ensure our lived experiences and the communities we represent are included.
I believe that all students and all identities are best served when diverse voices are included in budget and policy development decisions around Special Education Services.
I believe that our district needs to create authentic, accessible pathways of community engagement for students, families and educators of diverse voices – especially voices furthest from educational justice – around the implementation and evaluation of Special Education Services. In other words, nothing about us without us.
I believe there must be transparency in what Seattle Public Schools is doing to meet the needs of students with disabilities and transparent evaluation metrics that measure the effectiveness, especially for children furthest from educational justice. The School Board must also demand transparency in our budget spending on Special Education Services. Currently, we are spending $125 million beyond the Special Education funds we receive from the state. That money should be accounted for and audited bi-annually.
In my family’s journey as a foster family, my child was evaluated in preschool at Sacagawea Elementary (2020) and entered in-person preschool (SPP+) at Olympic Hills Elementary (2021) with an IEP. Our family continues to navigate and advocate within the Special Education system, now in 1st grade (Olympic Hills Elementary), to ensure her/their IEP reflects her/their needs to be academically successful in school.
In 2022 I had the privilege of being on the Seattle Special Education PTSA board where I gained resources for my family and learned more deeply about the history and current status of Seattle Special Education services. I am deeply grateful for this experience and continue to direct families to the Seattle Special Education PTSA; particularly to its Special Education Guide, which is available in 10 different languages.
Here are other advocacy organizations that also represent various student and family voices in the Seattle School District: