Seattle Public Schools

Services and Accommodations

Related Topics and Services

Services for Students and Related Topics

This section includes information about different types of services that special education students may access, other topics related to special education students, and related departments that special education students may also receive support from.

504 Program

Not all students with disabilities need special education services. Those who do not need special education services may find useful supports through the Seattle Public Schools 504 Department.

Advanced Learning: Twice-Exceptional Learners

Students who meet criteria and opt to participate in the program for the Highly Capable Cohort (HCC) receive more challenging and complex curriculum. They typically need differentiated programs and services provided in an environment that encourages and nurtures inquiry, flexibility, and critical and creative thinking.

Students receiving special education services are also eligible to be evaluated for advanced learning services. Students who meet criteria in both areas are considered twice-exceptional learners. The Special Education and Advanced Learning departments collaborate to best support these students.

Assistive Technology

Assistive Technology (also known as AT or adaptive technology) is defined in several Federal laws (Assistive Technology Act, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Developmental Disabilities Assistance and Bill of Rights Act) as including both assistive devices and the services needed to make meaningful use of those devices.

Learn more about Assistive Technology including How-to’s for academic and communication set up and how-to steps.

Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services and Audiology

Audiology services may include identification of students with hearing loss and/or providing specialized activities, programs, or aids to address a student’s hearing loss.

There is a continuum of educational options in Seattle Public Schools for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Parents/guardians take part in determining what services are appropriate for their child or children through the Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan process.

Preschool Services

Preschool Services are provided through a variety of agency contracts based on the student needs as identified in the student’s IEP or 504 Plan.

Kindergarten through 12th grade

Neighborhood Schools

Students may receive services in their neighborhood or assignment school.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Programs

Kindergarten through 8th grade program is provided at TOPS K–8 School, while the 9th through 12th grade program is provided at Roosevelt High School.

Each of these sites have native signers and deaf adults. Modes of communication include American Sign Language Bilingual and Auditory Oral

The Washington State Center for Childhood Deafness and Hearing Loss (CDHL) has provided a review of the deaf education program: Seattle Public Schools Deaf Education Program Review: Observation and Report.

Contact Ann Curry, Student Support Supervisor – Sensory Services  

Additional Resources


All students, including students with disabilities, are subject to discipline practices for violations of student conduct rules. A student receiving special education services may be removed from their current placement up to ten consecutive days, or up to ten cumulative days, if the same removal would apply to a student without disabilities.

Students eligible for special education will not be improperly excluded from school for disciplinary reasons that are related to their disability or related to the district’s failure to implement a student’s IEP.


The IEP team may decide to conduct a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) and Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP). The FBA and BIP will allow the team to develop and implement appropriate behavior interventions and services designed to address the behavior and prevent its recurrence. These will then be included in the IEP.

Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA)

If a student has behaviors that interfere with their own learning or the learning of others, a functional behavior assessment (FBA) shall be conducted to identify the function of the behavior. The FBA is used to provide the IEP team with additional information and analysis for dealing with undesirable behavior when it is interfering with a student’s education and to develop a behavior intervention plan (BIP).

Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP)

A Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) is a written plan that describes interventions and other strategies that will be implemented to address goals for a student’s social, emotional, and behavioral development.

A BIP includes observational and behavioral data from the functional behavior assessment (FBA) as the basis for a plan of action for managing a student’s challenging behavior. A BIP may include ways to change the student’s environment to:

  • Prevent the behavior from occurring
  • Provide opportunities for positive reinforcement to promote appropriate behavior
  • Teach replacement behaviors
  • Provide supports or planned responses to reduce a student’s problem behavior

Manifestation Determination Meeting

The IEP team may decide to change the student’s placement. Immediately, if possible, but no later than ten school days after the decision to change the student’s placement, the parent/guardian and IEP team will hold a manifestation determination meeting to review the IEP, any teacher observations, and information provided by the parents and discuss the relationship between the student’s disability, whether special education services were provided per the students IEP and the behavior subject to disciplinary action. If your student is removed from school for ten cumulative days (meaning the removals can be due to multiple and separate, but similar, incidents), they will receive educational services. Educational services allow a student to access the curriculum, although in another setting.

Emergency Response Protocol (ERP)

The Emergency Response Protocol is an addendum to the IEP that documents the advanced planning, conditions, and precautions needed in the case that isolation, restraint, or a restraint device may be used. The form must be signed by a Parent/Guardian, documenting their prior consent. The District must also provide Parents/Guardians with their policy on use of restraint and isolation. ERP’s must be incorporated into a student’s IEP and reviewed annually.

Early Childhood Special Education


Special education services, required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) part B, for children age Birth-Three is administered by Within Reach of Washington State, and referred through Child Find.

Birth-to-Three Transition

Special education services, required by the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) part C, for children age three to five is administered by Seattle Public Schools.

Children already receiving birth-to three early intervention services, who live within Seattle Public Schools District’s boundaries, may be eligible for special education services through Seattle Public Schools starting at age three. This shift in administration of services is referred to as birth-to-three transition. Sometimes, you will also hear the more technical term Part B to C transition used.

A transition meeting takes place with each child’s family, Within Reach staff and District staff at least 90 days prior to the child’s third birthday. At the meeting a determination is made if concerns in development continue. If so, a referral for consideration of special education evaluation is requested. The team will also gather available information about the child’s development and develop a transition plan. If the child is found eligible an Individualized Education Program will be developed.

Preschool services

Seattle Public Schools offers special education services for children age 3-5 determined eligible through evaluation. A continuum of preschool placements is available to serve a range of student need based on each child’s Individual Education Program (IEP) .

If you are concerned that a preschooler may have a disability or delay in development, contact Child Find for screening and referral.

For questions regarding enrolling your typically developing preschooler in our program, please contact the preschool in your neighborhood.

English Language Learners (ELL)

When a student is being evaluated for special education services, the evaluation team must take into consideration if they are an English Language Learner and what language or communication mode is most appropriate for assessment. If an interpreter or second-language services are required for evaluation or IEP development, the district will collaborate with the ELL Department.

English Language Learner Services are available at every school within Seattle Public Schools. Students may qualify for both special education and ELL services.

Interpreting (for families)

The District provides language and sign language interpretation to families who need it. This service is intended to provide both direct translation and to support understanding of the of student’s IEP, related forms, meetings, and communication. To request interpreting contact Translation and Interpretation.

Interpreting (for students)

Interpreting services are provided to students who are deaf, hard of hearing, or deaf-blind. They may include sign language or other transliteration and communication services.

Extended School Year (ESY) Services

The purpose of Extended School Year (ESY) services is to provide special education services for eligible students beyond the dates of a normal school year when doing so is needed to support their progress on goals. The consideration for ESY services is a team decision, based on the individual needs of a student, and supported by data. ESY services are not limited by category of disability, or limited by type, amount or duration of the services. ESY services are provided on an individual basis and (re)considered, at minimum, on an annual basis. For eligible students, ESY services are provided at no cost to the parents. Transportation to and from ESY is provided for eligible students.

Extracurricular Activities

Students receiving special education services have access to the same extracurricular activities as their non-disabled peers, as appropriate for their needs. Extracurricular activities may include eating lunch with peers, going on field trips, attending assemblies, and participating on sports teams. The IEP team should work to determine what is appropriate for each student.

Homeless Student Resources (McKinney-Vento)

The goal of Seattle Public Schools is to keep students in school. The District staff works to support families’ of students who qualify for both special education and homeless student resources.

Health Services

Health Services can assist parents and guardians to ensure their child receives proper services and care when there is a known life-threatening health condition, serious medical condition, disability, or extraordinary nursing or dietary need. Visit Health Services for health packet forms, or contact your school nurse.

IEP Process and Information

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) is a written record of the special education services a student will receive for one calendar year. Read more about the IEP implementation process.

Mental Health

Seattle Public Schools recognizes that mental health is an important component in a student’s academic success. Each school has a counselor or school psychologist available to support students with mental health and emotional wellbeing.

In addition, the District is currently working to implement Multi-Tiered System of Support (MTSS) in order to better meet all students’ needs. MTSS is a framework designed to accelerate academic and social/emotional learning behaviors for all students through high quality instruction and intervention. MTSS is an integral part of the district’s strategic plan.

Community Agencies

Occupational Therapy (OT)

Occupational Therapy services help children to participate in activities of daily life. Services may address a broad range of need from strategies to maintain attention in class to assistance holding and using a pencil.

Learn more about SPS school-based Occupational Therapy

Orientation and Mobility

Orientation and mobility services are provided to students with visual impairments. They are intended to enable a student to safely navigate their school, home and community environments.

Physical Education and Adaptive Physical Education

Physical education is a core component of a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn, as well as mitigates education and health disparities. Physical education services must be available and accessible to all students with disabilities.

Physical education services may be provided through either general education or special education, as determined by the IEP team. The IEP team is responsible for addressing a student’s physical education program at student’s IEP and annual review meetings.

The need for adapted physical education or adaptations to general education physical education will be determined by the IEP team in alignment with the evaluation results. IEP teams should use the adapted physical education worksheets to help decide on the appropriate model for health and fitness access for the student.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy is a service provided to students who have conditions that impact their movement and mobility, that interfere with the student’s ability to participate in the educational environment. Movement and mobility activities include standing, transferring, and muscle strengthening. The need for physical therapy is considered during a student’s evaluation.

Every school in the district has access to a Physical Therapist.

Private School and Special Education

Parentally-placed private school students may be eligible to receive special education services through an IEP or Service Plan. The following information describes the two types of services available to parentally-placed private school students, and identifies which students may be eligible for each service. Students may not simultaneously have an active IEP and Service Plan.

A parent guide to private school special education services

Psychological Services

Every school in the district has access to a Psychologist.

Psychological Services are related services to assist students who benefit from special education. School Psychologists conduct student evaluations to determine what areas of support are needed to assist students to make academic progress, and collaborate closely with IEP teams when concerns arise.

Special Education Records

The district will maintain student record confidentiality in compliance with state laws. Written parent consent is required before personally identifiable information is disclosed to anyone other than official agencies providing educational services.

Parents/Guardians have the right to review their student’s educational records during school business hours and can contact their school representative to do so.

Specialized Equipment

If a student requires special equipment, this should be discussed with the IEP team and written into the IEP. This equipment is highly individualized to each student. The IEP Case Manager will work with the Program Specialist to ensure the specialized equipment is in place by the first day of school.

Speech Language Pathology

Speech Language Pathologists (also known as SLPs, Speech Therapists) in Seattle Public Schools work with students who have difficulties communicating, impacting their learning and/or social interactions. Common areas of treatment include speech sounds, language, fluency and social communication. Students are served one-on-one or in small groups depending on their needs. In addition, students can be seen within the classroom or in a therapy room. Speech therapists work with teachers, parents, instructional assistants, and administrators to ensure student success.

Supplemental Aids and Services

Supplemental aids and services are highly individualized to each student. Some Examples include: preferential seating, teacher planning time, or special materials.


Students who receive special education services are expected to take the state assessments whenever possible, with or without accommodations. However, if the student’s IEP team determines that the student is not able to participate in the state assessment in one or more of the content areas (writing, math, reading and science), alternative assessments may be chosen.

Parents or legal guardians are important members of the IEP team and are always included in decisions about assessments. It is important to understand that the decisions about testing and alternatives will have an impact on the student’s choices after high school. All parents/guardians, including those of students with disabilities, have the option to exempt their students from state testing. As a reminder, parents/guardians may refuse to have students participate in state testing. In order to do so, communicate to the principal in writing (as practical) the intent to refuse testing and reason. From there, the principal is responsible for notifying staff to ensure student is not tested.

Students with disabilities have a number of options when taking State Assessments (Measure of Student Progress, the High School Proficiency Exam, and the new End of Course Exams for High School Mathematics). The options include:

  • Taking the grade level test with accommodations;
  • Taking the grade level assessment with a pass level of “2” (MSP or HSPE “Basic”);
  • Taking a different grade level assessment (a developmentally appropriate proficiency exam or “DAPE”, which is accessible to 11th and 12th graders for the purpose of meeting State graduation requirements);
  • A Locally Determined Assessment (“LDA”), also accessible to 11th and 12th graders for the purpose of meeting State graduation requirements; or
  • Creating a WAAS (Washington Alternative Assessment System) Portfolio, an option for students with significant cognitive disabilities.

Determinations about accommodations and/or alternative assessments are part of the IEP process, and must be documented in your student’s IEP.


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) includes transportation within its definition of “related services.” This means that students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) have the right to receive special transportation services if it is needed.

If the student requires transportation as a related service, determined by their identified needs, the IEP case manager should begin coordinating these needs with the Program Specialist prior to the IEP meeting. The District Transportation Department requires 7-10 days notice before transportation begins. The Program Specialist will enter the initial transportation request into the Transportation Operations Procedures System (TOPS) in a timely manner so that transportation can begin immediately after the IEP meeting is held.

The Seattle Public Schools Transportation Department provides yellow bus, door-to-door, Metro, and cab service to a variety of students attending Seattle Public Schools and Head Start.

Vision Services

In Seattle Public Schools, Vision Services are available to qualifying low vision and blind students in their neighborhood or assigned school. Services are provided on an itinerant basis and may include Orientation and Mobility (O&M), instruction in vision-specific skills, adaptation of school materials, and other supports necessary to access the school day.


Additional Resources

Problem Solving Resources

Seattle Public Schools is committed to helping families resolve issues and address concerns to serve students in the best way possible. This starts with relationships built with teachers, IEP Case Managers, and other school staff, and extends to the central office Special Education staff who are here to support students receiving special education services.

The Special Education Department is here to support needs that may not be adequately addressed at the school level, including regional Program Specialists and Supervisors, as well as the District Ombudsperson. See contact information as needed.

District Policies and Procedures

Seattle Public Schools has policies and procedures in place to guide and inform employees. In addition, the Special Education Procedural Safeguards are provided to families prior to all evaluations and IEP meetings. You can access these resources below.

Dispute Resolution

Parents/Guardians as well as the District can file a request for a due process hearing. If you request a due process hearing, the District will schedule a resolution session to try to resolve the issues. The purpose of the resolution session is for the Parent/Guardian to discuss the due process hearing request, and the facts that form the basis of the request, so that the District has the opportunity to resolve the dispute.

The resolution session need not occur only if the Parent/Guardian and the District: 1) agree in writing to waive the session; or 2) agree to use the mediation process.

Due process hearing request forms are available from Seattle Public Schools and OSPI Special Education and Administrative Resources.

Parent Tools

We offer a variety of tools and resources to help support parents/guardians as they navigate their student’s special education services. These supports include people to contact, informational resources, educational opportunities and ongoing changes to improve family experience.

People to contact

We provide a dedicated Seattle Public Schools District Ombudsperson who can assist parents/guardians by answering questions and addressing concerns when answers are difficult to find. Through the Ombudsperson, you may also request support from a Parent Partner. These are parents of students who are receiving, or have received, special education services who are additionally trained by the district to provide guidance and support for families.

Informational resources

The Special Education section of the Seattle Schools website now serves as a parent guide to special education, District policy and procedure. It provides an organized, comprehensive and sequential guide to basic information enhanced by links to very detailed information. These links connect to resources within Seattle Public Schools and to outside sources. Overview sections are further simplified to guide newcomers. These sections will become the basis for printed and translated learning materials.

Educational opportunities

The Special Education Department hosts learning opportunities in several forms. Regional meetings provide opportunities for parents/guardians to connect with District staff and learn what’s new within our boundaries. Co-sponsored events with community partners provide instruction on specific topics within special education.

Ongoing changes to improve family experience

The Special Education Department has initiated review, parent/guardian engagement and design to improve navigation, access and communication. The goal of this effort is to simplify and improve the parent/guardian experience for every student we serve. This web-based parent guide is one product of this ongoing work.