Special Services

Transition Room students smiling while working on an assignment.

Serving students with disabilities and special needs, as well as their families

Special Services Department
The Special Services Department is comprised of three specific areas that support students: Special Education, 504 and Health Services. The focus of the department is to provide students with disabilities or health-related challenges the tools and resources to benefit from their educational program.

Special education
Special education is not a “place,” rather, it is a set of services. The district’s goal is to partner with families regarding the individual needs of children. The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the federal legislation that helps guide school teams and families in the qualification of students and the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEP). LWSD has a continuum of services to meet the needs of our diverse student population.

Lake Washington’s journey to inclusion

At a recent after-school event at one of our elementary schools, I watched with amazement as a group of students from the Eagle Club from Franklin Elementary provided professional learning on inclusionary practices to their teachers and principals. Franklin is one of our cohort elementary schools implementing inclusionary practices and their Eagle club is an after school club comprised of students with and without disabilities. I sat there with tears in my eyes watching children with complex disabilities and their peers engaged as friends and working collaboratively, to teach the adults in their school how to be inclusive. Each student participated equally and with support and compassion … Read Executive Director of Special Services, Dr. Shannon Hitch's full statement plus inclusion FAQ here.

Parent engagement

We often have opportunities that come up throughout the school year where we seek parent input. If you are interested in participating in any of these opportunities, please complete an interest form.

PTSA Special Education Group
2021-22 Special Education Chair: Muusa Liinpaa, specialeducation@lwptsa.net
The Lake Washington PTSA Special Education Group (formerly Special Needs Group) is made up of Lake Washington School District community members whose students receive special services (IEPs) and accommodations (504s) as well as interested staff and students. The group meets every school month except for December and June. We hear from speakers, have an extensive lending library, learn about resources in the community, network with other parents and keep updated on district and PTSA issues affecting children with disabilities. Visit the LWPTSA Special Education Group page.

Procedural Safeguards: Parent and Student Rights
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires schools to provide parents/guardians of students who are eligible or referred for special education with a full explanation of their rights. School districts must provide a copy of the Procedural Safeguards (Español) at least once each school year, or when the parent/guardian or others, including the district, request that a student be evaluated to determine eligibility for special education services; the first time you file a citizen complaint in a school year; the first time you request a due process hearing in a school year; when a decision is made to remove a student for more than 10 school days in a year as part of a disciplinary action and that removal constitutes a change of placement; or upon request.

Section 504 Services
Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (“Section 504”) is a federal civil rights law. It is designed to eliminate disability discrimination in programs and activities that receive federal funds. Since all public school districts receive federal funds, all public school districts must comply with Section 504. Under Section 504, denying a disabled student a free appropriate public education (“FAPE”) is disability discrimination.

Health Services
Health services in LWSD are designed to ensure schools have the resources and systems to provide students with the health-related care needed to access school. Duties of Health Services include medication management, health care collaboration, monitoring of life-threatening emergency care plans, and general oversight of student medical related needs.

Continuum of special education services:

  • General education
  • Special education services
  • Intervention centers
  • Preschool services
  • Transition Academies

Services are provided to students based on their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The IEP is developed based on evaluation results and in collaboration with both educators and parents/guardians.

District program locations

Contact Us

Dr. Shannon Hitch
Executive Director, Special Services

Debbie Wagner
Director, Special Services
Juanita amd Lake Washington Learning Communities - Elementary

Dr. Natalie Pullen
Director, Special Services
Juanita and Lake Washington Learning Communities - Secondary

Craig Mott
Director, Special Services
Redmond and Eastlake Learning Communities - Elementary

Erin Romanuk
Director, Special Services
Redmond and Eastlake Learning Communities - Secondary

Kim Brenner
Director, Early Childhood Learning

Shelley O'Rourke
Health Services Supervisor

Special Education Student Records