Press Release: Washington State Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Ruled in Favor of Students with Disabilities Whose Required In-Person Services Were Delayed or Denied by Seattle Public Schools This School Year

June 18, 2021

(Seattle, WA) - On June 1, 2021, and June 18, 2021, in two decisions, OSPI decided in favor of students with disabilities whose Individualized Education Program (IEP)s were not properly implemented by Seattle Public Schools during the past school year, finding that the district violating the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The first complaint was filed on April 2, 2021 and alleged that Seattle Public School District had significantly delayed implementation of in-person services for students whose IEP teams had decided that in-person services were required. At the time of the complaint, Seattle Public Schools provided a list of 329 students whose IEP teams had decided to require in-person services. OSPI investigated the files of twenty-nine of these students and found delays ranging from three to twenty-one weeks. OSPI decided that there was significant delays in implementation for some students. As part of corrective actions it ordered, OSPI will review the delays for all 329 students. Any student whose services were significantly delayed will be eligible for a year-long tutoring program that Seattle Public Schools will administer, in addition to any compensatory and recovery services that the student will receive. Seattle Public Schools is also required to provide transportation for the tutoring. Students who are eligible for the tutoring program will be notified in August by the school district. Previous complaints alleging similar scenarios involving delay of implementation of in-person services can be found here SECC 21-005, SECC 20-144, and SECC 20-148.

The second complaint, filed on April 20, 2021, concerned eleven students who required “Class A Nursing Services" while attending school. Students who require Class A nursing services are defined by OSPI and the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission as students who will suffer serious injury or death if nursing services are not supplied. Many of these students have tracheostomies and require ventilation. Others may have seizure disorders. The complaint alleged that the District did not follow procedures when it denied nursing services to these students during the pandemic. A review of emails obtained by a public records request indicated that staff made decisions regarding the provision of nursing services without considering the individual needs of these students. OSPI found that when Seattle Public Schools did not consider individual needs when it denied these services, it violated the IDEA. OSPI has ordered corrective actions to include reviewing plans to ensure that 1:1 nursing is provided during the upcoming school year and possible reimbursement for nursing services provided by families over the past year. OSPI is also requiring Seattle Public Schools to hold IEP meetings with each family affected and must invite a representative from OSPI to attend the individual meetings with families.