April 2021

Message from the Special Services Executive Director – Dr. Shannon Hitch

Dr. Shannon Hitch

Dear Parents and Guardians,

In my recent letter, I shared information regarding the return to school for the majority of our students as well as guidance on recovery services. For my newsletter, I want to look ahead to the future. While we have been busy navigating the changes and transitions of this school year, we have also been working behind the scenes on a variety of projects and initiatives. We have continued our work with the TIES Center and the Haring Center on inclusionary practices, remaining focused on our goal of seeing every child receive the supports they need at their neighborhood school. This year, we began pilot projects at Rockwell Elementary, Twain Elementary and Kirkland Middle School. In addition, Twain has hosted leaders and staff from school districts from around the state as a model site for inclusion. We are focused on reducing disproportionality in special education and our work in this area has included training school psychologists and speech therapists on culturally appropriate evaluations, working with our early learning staff on interventions and culturally sustaining practices, and engaging with numerous schools on developing multi-tiered systems of support. We have offered professional learning opportunities for principals, teachers and paraeducators – building our e-learning library and resources. And currently, we are deep into our planning for Recovery Services. 

In addition to our on-going work, we have begun planning for the 2021-22 school year. Looking ahead, some of the highlights include a new intensive reading curriculum for children with dyslexia, new curriculums for social skills and social-emotional development, a district-wide focus on universal design for learning (UDL) and developing a new secondary task force focused on helping students achieve positive post-secondary outcomes. This type of work is what I find most rewarding and renewing – bringing creativity and focusing on research-based best practices in the hopes of improving outcomes for students. 

I want to take a moment to wish all of you a peaceful and relaxing spring break. The moment when the cherry blossoms explode across our community, and especially at my alma matter (UW), I know that spring is here. One of my bucket items in life is to visit Japan and see their beautiful gardens that are brimming with fluffy white and pink flowers. Sakura is the term that is used in Japan for these beautiful blossoms as they symbolize spring, the beauty of nature, and the fleeting and precious nature of life. Cherry blossoms only bloom for a week and as such, they remind us that life is short and must be lived and enjoyed to the most.  


Shannon Hitch signature

Dr. Shannon Hitch, NCSP
Executive Director of 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 provide direct support, both formally and informally, to any family impacted by disability. 

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


Featured articles and resources

Disability rights film ‘Crip Cramp’ nominated for Oscar

"Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution" was released in 2020 and has been recently nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary feature. The documentary highlights the story of a group of teenagers with disabilities who attended summer camp in the 1970s. Their time at camp spurs their fight for disability rights in the United States, paving the way for the Americans with Disabilities Act.  

Read the full article


Parent Resources 

Our partners at the TIES Center recently published four new videos for parents of children with significant cognitive disabilities on supporting the learning of reading and math at home: 

Educators and other audiences will also find the videos useful as they work with parents and families. Each video focuses on three key questions: Why is it important to focus on this with my child at home? How can I do this at home? What support can I ask for from my child’s school? These videos help families learn ways to support the learning of their children with significant cognitive disabilities at home and have conversations with teachers to link home- schools supports. Previously published videos in this series include: 


2021 King County Virtual Transition Fair 

This year's Transition Fair will be held online on a virtual platform that will be available from April 1st through May 31st. There will be live presentations from

  • King County School to Work 
  • DDA, DVR 
  • & other community resources 

The Transition Fair will feature two live Exhibitor Expos on April 20th and May 1st. This is a great opportunity to connect with organizations and agencies throughout King County. 

Join for live presentations through April from King County School to Work, DDA, and DVR. There will also be live Exhibitor Expos on April 20th and May 1st! Registration is free for residents of King County. Those outside of King County are welcome to attend for a $10 fee
Register HERE (registration is in multiple languages). Click HERE for more information.


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
  • 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  


Upcoming LWPTSA Council Special Education Group Meetings

Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2021
Time: 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Location: Join the meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone at https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/961179397

You can also dial in using your phone at United States +1 (571) 317-3112 Access code 961-179-397 

Topic: Equity Means Disability Justice – at the intersection of Disability and Race  

To learn more about the intersection of disability and race and how the lens of Disability Justice can guide caregiver and student involvement and advocacy within the k-12 education system and equity work, join us for a special presentation by Yordanos Gebreamlak of the Governor’s Office of Education Ombuds. 

Yordanos is a Senior Education Ombuds with the Office of the Education Ombuds. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work focusing on Children, Youth and Families and an unwavering passion for working collaboratively towards equitable access to education. Yordanos has worked with families who have students with disabilities with the goal of a student-centered resolution, with families who’ve experienced homelessness, students in foster care and families otherwise involved with Children’s Administration, and with refugee families. Her work centers on a holistic inter-generational approach. Yordanos’ own k-12 experience has been the driving force behind her desire to assist students and families navigate the school system and empower and amplify their voices and boost family engagement in important decision-making. 


Save the Date: Mark your calendar for the 2020-2021 PTSA Special Education Group Meetings

Meetings are typically held from 7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
Note: All meetings will be held via online platforms until further notice.

  • Tuesday, 4/20/2021
  • Tuesday, 5/18/2021
  • No Meeting in June 2021