Saturday, November 11, 2017

Action is not the same as discipline

Comments submitted to OSPI on proposed discipline rules:

November 11, 2017

Dierk Meierbachtol, Chief Legal Officer
Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction
Re: Proposed Student Discipline Rules, Chapter 392-400 WAC

Dear Mr. Meierbachtol,
At The Arc of King County, we are concerned that language used in 4SHB 1541 was changed during the rules making process, with “alternative action” being replaced by “discipline.” Discipline, as commonly defined in dictionaries and understood by students and families, means “punishment.” “Punishment” is also a likely translation that non-English proficient families would arrive at. 

Advocates suggest improvements to proposed discipline rules

You can download a copy of the letter here

November 13, 2017

Dierk Meirbachtol, Chief Legal Officer
Officer of Superintendent of Public Instruction
PO Box 47200
Olympia, WA 98504-7200

Dear Mr. Meirbachtol,

The undersigned organizations (which include legal services providers, education advocates, social service providers, communities of color, disability rights organizations, and organizations representing parents and students) submit these joint comments on the proposed school discipline rules. 

Monday, November 6, 2017

What is in a definition?

Great resource for federal advocacy also raises some questions about what "substantial" means when it comes to developmental disabilities

From The Arc's national staff:
Chapters of The Arc have a long and proud history of mobilizing advocates to share their views on public policy and pending legislation. To assist you in your grassroots advocacy, The Arc’s Position Statements and Public Policy Agenda are readily available on our website. Thanks to all of you who have shared your strategies, accomplishment and photos – they truly make our day.

From us (The Arc of King County): 

These are great resources and will help you engage with Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and your Congressional representative.

But it is interesting that the definition of developmental disability listed in these brochures is a lot different from the one used by Washington state, and from others that may be used by policymakers. It is especially important to advocacy because policy makers may think they are helping certain people when in fact those individuals are not covered by state's Medicaid-funded home and community based services.

At issue is definition of the term "substantial."

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Discipline rules change, but will it matter?

What will move the needle for students with disabilities?

Suspension rates for students special education: 7.9%. Suspension rates for all students: 3.7%
Courtesy of the ACLU of Washington
Students receiving special education services
face the second highest discipline rates in Washington.

For years, advocates have worked to implement social emotional learning, positive behavior interventions and supports, and de-escalation strategies to help schools prevent avoidable disciplinary issues. And while some schools and districts have made headway, prevention strategies as a general practice are still not required by the state and are not uniformly supported through professional development.

In 2013, new legislation and advocacy efforts put a spotlight on discipline. Data showed schools suspended and expelled certain types of students more than others; and students of color faced more severe discipline for the same offenses.
Courtesy of the ACLU of Washington

In the years since, discipline rates have fallen for some subgroups of students:
  • 7.4 to 6.6 percent in 2016 for American Indians over the last 4 years, and
  • 10.3 to 8 percent for African American students in that time
But rates for students in special education have hovered near 8 percent. The needle hasn’t moved nearly enough for students of color, and hasn’t moved much at all for kids with disabilities.

How to weigh in on student discipline rules

In 2016, the state legislature passed House Bill 1541 to tackle some of the issues causing opportunity gaps in education. Part of this involved changing how schools could discipline students. That, in turn, required updating state discipline rules to govern how these changes in the law would be enforced.

If you are a parent or student, these rules tell you what schools are supposed to be doing and what should or should not be happening when a student is suspended or expelled.

The proposed discipline rule changes are now ready for review, and the public has several ways to weigh in on them. (See Attend a Public Hearing and Send Written Comments, below.)



  • Districts still need to offer educational services to students, even if students are excluded from the classroom.
  • The state put parameters on when long-term suspension or expulsion can be used and defined "discretionary discipline." For instance, students cannot be expelled for violating the dress code or using an electronic device (though they can be disciplined).

We signed! Working for housing solutions in 2018

Housing policy priorities focus on preventing homelessness, creating affordable homes and new options, and making rental housing more accessible


We experience it with our Supported Living program for adults with developmental disabilities, and every week we help families struggling to maintain it.

Lack of stable, affordable housing is pervasive in King County, and when it intersects with developmental disabilities, race and culture it becomes a huge issue for our community.

At The Arc of King County, we hear about inadequate supply and rising rents, housing instability and homelessness, suspected discrimination because of disability, and lack of options for adults with developmental disabilities.

We work with the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance to tackle some of these issues and sit on its public policy committee. That group recently finalized its 2018 legislation platform and The Arc of King County just signed on.

The 2018 housing alliance platform includes:
  • Secure significant funding for the Housing Trust Fund.
  • Secure and increase funding for programs that prevent and end homelessness.
  • Fund services to help people with disabilities and experiences of long-term homelessness access permanent supportive housing.
  • Outlaw discrimination against renters based on the use of rental or income assistance.
  • Protect state rental and income assistance for disabled, elderly, and extremely low-income adults.
Within the developmental disabilities community, we are also asking for a set aside of housing trust funds to serve people with developmental disabilities; and we are looking for ways to increase housing options for adults with developmental disabilities. One idea is to create regulations specifically for Adult Family Homes designed for people with developmental disabilities.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Members, you have a say in positions of The Arc!

Please help us craft feedback for positions on education and self-determination


The Arc’s Policy and Positions Committee will be revising its positions on education and self-determination in the coming months. As part of this, the national office is asking for feedback from chapters.

By participating, you will be informing the positions of The Arc nationally and helping us here in King County to better represent your interests and concerns.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Reconciliation may be back soon ... this time for both tax and Medicaid cuts

ALSO: Caregiver bill passes Senate; advocates worry about bill that cuts SSI benefits

Federal news from The Arc and other advocates
Budget & Appropriations

House passes budget resolution, setting the stage for tax and (more) Medicaid legislation

The House passed its fiscal year 2018 Budget Resolution on Thursday, October 5. It includes plans to reform Medicaid, cut spending, and enact tax reform. It incorporates the House-passed American Health Care Act.

Next up is the Senate. If both chambers pass an identical budget resolution bill, Congress can proceed with reconciliation again. This means tax cuts and Medicaid and Medicare reform can pass with a simple majority (51 votes) in the Senate.

The Arc opposes the House Budget Resolution.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Governor urges Congressional action to restore children’s health program

CHIP funding will run out here in January 2018; notices will go out by Dec. 1 to families who will lose coverage

Once again, health care advocates are alarmed about loss of funding for children and pregnant women. In the drama over the latest effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Congress let funding expire for The Children’s Health Insurance Program, also called CHIP.

In Washington state, these funds will run out in January 2018. The state is preparing to notify families of about 16,000 children that they will lose coverage.

According to the governor’s office, CHIP provides access to essential health care services to about 60,000 Washington children each year.

Congress has known for two years that funding was set to expire this fall, but failed to act.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Activist toolkit for Medicaid

This toolkit was shared by the Consortium of Citizens with Disabilities

Continued Threat to Medicaid


Senators Cassidy and Graham introduced a bill last week to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  This bill, like previous proposals, would make huge cuts to and place caps on the Medicaid program, end the Medicaid expansion and marketplace subsidies in the ACA, and allow states to waive consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions.

Analysis indicates this bill would be devastating to people with disabilities and their families, women and children, seniors, and low-income Americans. And for the developmental disability community in particular, it threatens access to community living, employment opportunities, and educational supports. These services are available through home and community based waivers; they are also part of Medicaid and they are administered in Washington through the Developmental Disability Administration. 

#SaveMedicaid #ProtectOurCare

Spread the Word: No Cuts! No Caps! Save Medicaid!
Flood social media, call your members of congress starting today!
Primary hashtag: #SaveMedicaid
Secondary hashtag: #ProtectOurCare

See below for date-specific action, sample messaging, who to tag, resources and more.