Services and Accommodations

Placement to Assignment within SPS

Placement, Assignment, and Service Locations

Assignment and Service Locations

A student’s assignment is the physical location where they attend school. If a student has an Individualized Education Program (IEP),their assignment may be affected. A student’s assignment is based on their placement and SPS primary service type.When possible and appropriate, students receiving special education services will be served in their neighborhood school. Some students may have modified assignments due to the complexity of their services.


Least Restrictive Environment

Every student should learn in their least restrictive environment, or LRE. All students have a right to the general education setting, making it the default LRE. For some students, though, their specific learning needs make an alternative setting their LRE. Additionally, LRE will vary across instructional content and settings throughout the school day. The IEP services matrix and placement field will identify setting. A students setting is often summarized as the percentage of time spent in the general education setting.

Intensity of Services

Intensity of services is measurable through the IEP in both quantitative and qualitative ways.

  • Quantitative measures include: how many areas of special education instruction and related services, how many minutes of instruction and related service, how many accommodations, etc.
  • Qualitative measures are captured in narrative sections like the present levels of academic achievement and functional performance.

Both are factors in describing the intensity of a student’s services.

Instructional Content

Instructional content is the scope of what is being taught beyond the general education curriculum. Under IDEA it is calledSpecially Designed Instruction or SDI.

Placement does not guarantee or imply assignment to or attendance at a particular school.

Link to Learn

IEP Placement U.S. Department of Education


District Assignment

The physical school a student attends is the student’s assignment. Across the District, every school offers Resource special education services. Many, but not all, schools offer Access, Social/ Emotional, Focus, and Distinct intensive services. Limited schools provide unique placements and assignments including services for DHH, vision, and medically fragile students.

Where are services delivered?

The district determines a student’s assignment. Most students receiving special education services (about 70%) are assigned using the standard district process.

About 25% of students receiving special education services may have a modified assignment because of the complexity of their services. In these cases, closeness to home and the standard district assignment process guide decisions.

The method of service delivery in Seattle Public Schools is called the Continuum Approach. Every school offersResource special education services. Many, but not all, schools offer Access, Social/Emotional, Focus, and Distinct SPS primary service types.

Unique Placements and Assignments

A small percentage of students will have a Unique Placement and/or Assignment. These are for special education students whose needs fall outside the five Primary Placements. A few examples that meet this criteria are: deaf and hard of hearing, vision, and medically fragile services.

Due to limited numbers, unique placements and assignments are highly individualized and/or serve a very small cohort at a few locations across or outside the District.

Where will my student go to school?

The Linked Schools Chart is a guide to the schools and sites where SPS primary service types are currently available. To use the chart:

  1. Click on the Linked Schools chart appropriate for your student’s grade level .
  2. Find your student’s designated attendance area school in the left column. You can find your student’s attendance area school using the Address Look-up tool.
  3. Locate your student’s SPS primary service type in the headings across the top of the table, under the “Special Education” header. If you do not know your student’s SPS primary service type, ask your student’s current case manager for more information.
  4. Locate the intersection of the attendance area school row and the SPS primary service type column to find the school(s) that could potentially serve your student’s needs.

View Location of Student Services and Programs on the Linked Schools charts.


Requesting a Change of School Assignment

Families may request a change of assignment through two different processes: Seattle Public Schools School Choice or (rarely) special education assignment appeal.

School Choice and Open Enrollment

Open Enrollment is a process that provides an annual opportunity to request a school other than the one to which your student was assigned. This opportunity is called School Choice. It is a process administered by the Admissions Department. 

Learn more with the Change of School Family Guide about your student’s options regarding School Choice.

We cannot guarantee that every family will be assigned to the school of their choosing. But, we are improving equity in assignment by adjusting service sites in the following ways:

  • Increasing the range of continuum services available at the elementary level within each middle school region.
  • Increasing the range of continuum services in all designated attendance area secondary schools.
  • Increasing opportunities for students receiving services to participate in all of the District’s programs and Option Schools.

Siblings of Students Receiving Special Education Services

If a student receiving special education services is assigned by the District, and not through School Choice, to a school other than their designated attendance area school, the family may request to send non-disabled siblings to the same school, if space is available.

Students receiving special education services may not apply for a school that does not support their SPS Primary Placement, even if a non-disabled sibling attends that school.

Assignment Appeals

In extreme or unique circumstances you may use the Admissions Department’s assignment appeals process. It is a good idea to also contact the district ombudsperson for additional support if the appeal basis is related to your child?s disability or special education.