February 2020

Message from the Special Services Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch

Dr. Shannon Hitch

This is the time of year that many of our high school students start looking ahead towards graduation. It is an exciting time as they consider their next steps towards independence. For students with disabilities, we begin planning their future as early as middle school. Some of you may have heard about the changes in graduation requirements implemented by our state legislature last year. House Bill 1599 passed during the last session and updated graduation requirements. For the Class of 2021 and Beyond, to earn a high school diploma, students must complete a High School and Beyond Plan, earn high school credits and complete a graduation pathway. 

Students with IEPs can access any of the graduation pathways to meet graduation requirements. There are a variety of options including state assessment, CTE courses, national exams (ASVAB, ACT, SAT, AP, IB) or dual credit courses. The only alternative option, for students in special education, is the WA-AIM assessment. This assessment is specifically designed for students with cognitive impairments. We believe in high expectations and standards for all students, to best prepare them for life beyond high school. The new graduation standards exemplify this belief. If you would like additional information regarding these new pathways, please see the OSPI website: https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/graduation/graduation-pathways-cia-and-waivers

In addition to graduation requirements, students in special education have a transition plan as part of their IEP starting on or before the year they turn 16. This plan includes a transition assessment which considers a student’s strengths, preferences, interests and needs. The IEP team writes measurable postsecondary goals in the areas of education, employment and daily living as needed. Transition services are identified including specially designed instruction, related services, community experiences and employment/living skills. In addition, the plan outlines a course of student which includes classes, graduation pathway requirements and more. The student is an essential member of the IEP team at this point, as we seek to develop their self-advocacy and determination skills. For additional information regarding transition plans, see: https://www.seattleu.edu/ccts/

As we look ahead to the future for our students, we consider a variety of post-secondary options. These include our Transition Academies for students ages 18-21, vocational programs, military service, community college, and four-year college programs. These options are considered for ALL students, including those with intellectual disabilities. It is an exciting time for our young adults as we have seen a significant increase nationally in inclusive college programs. For additional information on these programs, see https://www.pacer.org/transition/learning-center/postsecondary/college-options.asp

I think this quote from Charles Kettering sums up my thoughts for planning ahead for our students with special needs: “High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation."

Dr. Shannon Hitch
Director – Special Services


Support for Families

If you are looking for support, further knowledge on how to help your student, or are new to the special services programs and want to learn more about what to expect at all ages, we have got an incredible resource for you. The Arc of King County’s website is a great resource for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families. They advocate for the rights of children and adults to live, work and play in the community. The website is full of invaluable information that will lay out how to navigate through multiple systems, provide helpful resources for grandparents or siblings of children with special needs, as well as sharing some emergency preparedness tips. 

For more information and resources, visit their website: www.arcofkingcounty.org

Featured Articles

Youth in Transition Survey

The Washington State Independent Living Council (WASILIC) is launching a Youth in Transition Survey on March 2nd, 2020 with the hope to hear the voices of youth with disabilities in every corner of Washington. The survey will be live for 90 days. With this survey, WASILC hopes to obtain county specific data for youth transitioning into post-secondary education, identify the barrios, untapped resources and gaps in knowledge to improve transition outcomes, and produce a written report including survey results and recommendations to distribute to schools, service agencies and other interested entities.

For more information, click here.


Boy with Dyslexia uses his "superpower" to make John Cena Portrait out of Rubik’s cubes

Regardless of your learning disorder, 9-year-old Benjamin Russo is proving to the world that anything is possible. Although Russo’s dyslexia inhibit his ability to read and write, his aptitude for spatial awareness is heightened. The video posted on social media shows Russo creating his masterpiece and demonstrating how “Dyslexia is my SUPERPOWER”. 

For more information, click here.


Special Services Newsletter – Available in Multiple Languages!

If you, or someone you know, would like to read our Special Services Newsletter in a different language, this is now possible! 

  • Follow the link for access to all of our newsletters here 
  • Select the month and year that you would like to read (Ex: December 2018, November 2018, etc.)
  • In the top left-hand corner of the web page, there is a small globe icon/drop down
  • Click on the drop down and select the language that you would like to have the newsletter translated to  

Happy Reading!

Upcoming LWPTSA Council Special Needs Group Meetings:

Date: 2/25/2020
Time: 6:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: LWSD Resource Center – Board Room (1st Floor)
                 16250 NE 74th St
                 Redmond, WA 98052
Topic: COMMUNITY RESOURCE FAIR. Come talk to vendors offering after school, summer, and other recreational activities or services to children with special needs and their families. Children welcome. We look forward to seeing you there!


Save the Date: Mark your calendar for the 2019-20 PTSA Special Needs Group Meetings:

*All meetings are 7:00-8:30pm

Networking Time: 6:30-7:00 – Parent networking and opportunity to meet Director of Special Services, Dr. Shannon Hitch and Associate Directors. 

  • Tuesday, 2/25/2020 (Resource Fair)
  • Tuesday, 3/17/2020
  • Tuesday, 4/21/2020
  • Tuesday, 5/19/2020
  • No Meeting in June 2020