Saturday, February 18, 2017

Legislative report: Education policy bills

Topics in this legislative update on education policy:

  • Early learning, exclusionary discipline, family engagement, graduation & transition services, health & social emotional learning, language access, paraeducators
We encourage you to comment on these bills! Click on the bill number, then click on "Comment on this bill" to the right. Comments will be sent to your chosen representatives.


SSB 5247
SHB 1719
(Companion bills) Updating certain department of early learning advising and contracting mechanisms to reflect federal requirements, legislative mandates, and planned system improvements.
Sponsors for Senate bill: Zeiger, Mullet, Fain, Billig, Chase, Kuderer
Sponsors for House bill: Lovick, Dent, Kagi, Senn, Frame

These bills update the Early Learning Advisory Council to include more members with early learning expertise and community representation, including someone with a specialty in intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • The Senate version needs to pass Ways and Means before a floor vote.
  •  The House version needs a floor vote.


SSB 5155
Concerning suspension and expulsion of kindergarten and early elementary school students.
Sponsors: Billig, SaldaƱa, Liias, Rolfes, Frockt, Takko, Darneille, Wellman, Kuderer, Hasegawa

Prohibits school districts from suspending or expelling students enrolled in grades kindergarten through two (K-2) except in cases of a firearm brought to school or onto transportation.

Clarifies that removal of any K-2 student may not be punitive and may be used only for the purposes of developing and implementing a plan to support the student.

Encourages school districts to implement evidence-based preventative, restorative, or other practices that support students in meeting behavioral expectations and to train staff to implement those practices.

Includes language to limit the use of removing students “for the remainder of the day.” References preventative, restorative, or other practices, instead of programs.

Note: In addition to lost learning time and damage to a young child's emotional well-being, disproportionate  suspension and expulsion of children with disabilities has been flagged as a possible civil rights violation. Students with disabilities (served by IDEA) are more than twice as likely to receive an out-of-school suspension (13%) as are students without disabilities (6%).

  • Needs floor vote in the Senate


SHB 1618 
Sponsors: Ortiz-Self, Harris, Santos, Johnson, Bergquist, Kagi

Specifies certain minimum duties for a family and community engagement coordinator within a school building or school district.

Provides that state funding allocated to school districts for family and community engagement coordinators in the prototypical school funding formula may be used only for family and community engagement purposes.

Replaces the term "parent involvement coordinator" in the prototypical school funding formula statute and the Learning Assistance Program statute with the term "family and community engagement coordinator."
  • Needs floor vote in the House


SSB 5348
Concerning students who receive special education services who earn certificates of individual achievement.
Sponsors: Fain, Rolfes, Zeiger, Darneille, Conway, Keiser, Kuderer

Requires that a student receiving special education services who earns a Certificate of Individual Achievement (CIA) may remain eligible to receive transition services until the age of 21. (Current code references a certificate of attendance, not a CIA.)

Requires that if the school district provides transition services then the student will continue to generate state and federal funding from the school district.
  • Needs to pass Ways and Means before a floor vote.


SHB 1518
Improving student achievement by promoting social emotional learning throughout the calendar year.
Sponsors: Senn, Stambaugh, Lovick, Stonier, Harris, Slatter, Kilduff, Nealey, Caldier, Clibborn, Ortiz-Self, Haler, Kloba, Pollet, Orwall, Doglio, Kagi, Fitzgibbon, Goodman, Bergquist, Hudgins, Ormsby, Stanford, Santos

Requires that the Department of Early Learning contract for up to an additional 600 summer Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program slots at certain priority school buildings. (ECEAP serves children who are from low income families or who have developmental or environmental risk factors that could interfere with school success. It is one of the few inclusive pre-school options in the state.)

Directs the Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene a work group to build upon the social emotional learning (SEL) benchmarks developed in 2016.

Establishes a competitive grant program to increase the number of summer learning programs that combine academics and SEL, and specifies application criteria and reporting requirements for the program.
  • Needs to pass House Appropriations before a floor vote.
HB 1621
Providing funding allocations to promote children's health and social-emotional learning
Sponsors: Senn, Pettigrew, Stonier, Clibborn, Lytton, Farrell, Hudgins, Bergquist, Riccelli, Ortiz-Self, Fey, Doglio, Slatter, Kagi

Increases funding allocations for each level of prototypical school by one full-time equivalent certificated instructional staff until implementation of Initiative 1351.

Requires school districts to use the new allocation only for staff who support children's health and social-emotional learning.
  • Needs to pass House Appropriations before a floor vote.
SB 5448  
Concerning no required psychotropic medication use for students. 
Sponsors: Rivers, Chase, Zeiger, Walsh, Miloscia, Fain, Warnick, Becker

Prohibits school staff from denying a student access to programs or services because the parent or guardian refuses to place a student on psychotropic medication.

Prevents school staff from having a student undergo psychological screening unless the parent or guardian gives prior written consent.

Prohibits a child being taken into custody solely on the grounds that the parent or guardian refuses to consent to the administration of psychotropic medication.
  • Needs floor vote in Senate.


HB 1451
Improving language access for public school students and families with limited English proficiency.
Sponsors: Orwall, Johnson, Pollet, Ortiz-Self, Senn, Pettigrew, Reeves, Gregerson, Stonier, Ryu, Peterson, Appleton, Tarleton, Farrell, Fey, Ormsby, Goodman, Slatter, Pellicciotti, Hudgins, Doglio, Kagi, Santos

Requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to improve language access for public school students and families with limited English proficiency by, for example:
  • Convening an advisory committee to develop tools and make recommendations;
  • Selecting language access lighthouse collaboratives to develop best practices and provide technical assistance;
  • Adopt a comprehensive language needs and language access inventory;
  • Adopt model language access curricula for interpreters, school staff, and families;
  • Develop a state language access plan; and require collection of language access service data.
Directs the OSPI to report to the governor and the legislature on the statewide implementation of the above activities and to recommend ways to continue to improve language access.

Requires the educational service districts (ESD) to maintain the capacity to offer language access training using the model curricula adopted by the OSPI.

Specifies that the state Health Care Authority must collaborate with the OSPI and interested schools, districts, and ESDs to claim federal reimbursement for the costs of Medicaid interpreter-related services performed in the school setting.

Note: This bill would improve access to IEP meetings and other important home-school communications.
  • Must pass House Appropriations before a floor vote


SB 5070
Concerning paraeducators.
Sponsors: Rivers, Mullet, Braun, Hobbs, Rolfes

Adopts statewide minimum employee standards for paraeducators. There are two paraeducator bills. In the opinion of advocates pushing for change, the Senate version is considered the stronger of the two. The House version makes the standards and training voluntary. A public hearing was held January 19 and The Arc of King County testified in support. Here is a hearing summary, including a link to video.

Note: Students with disabilities and other students affected by the opportunity and achievement gaps spend more than 60 percent of their instructional time with untrained paraeducators.We support standards, certification and training to better support our most vulnerable students, as well as career pathways for paraeducators.
  • Needs to pass Senate Ways and Means before a floor vote.
  • SHB1115, Concerning paraeducators. Sponsors: Bergquist, Muri, Ortiz-Self, Harris, Stanford, Stambaugh, Gregerson, Kilduff. Needs to pass House Appropriations before a floor vote. Our concern: removes requirements for paraeducator certification; no advanced paraeducator endorsement.


We have a separate analysis on the House and Senate education funding proposals. You can read that here.

Briefly, we are concerned that neither addresses the shortfall in special education funding or related policy problems. In public testimony, the state assistant superintendent for special education testified at least $160 million a year is being paid with local funds. Other analysis has put the figure at about $200 million. At The Arc of King County we are worried about several things:

  • It just doesn’t add up: While $41.7 million was awarded in safety net funds last year (districts can appeal to recover certain costs in excess of their allocation), collectively they backfill four to five times as much.
  • The allocation formula hasn’t been updated in more than 20 years. Some have discussed using a larger multiplier to determine the special education allocation. (Currently it is the base allocation x 0.93)
  • Funding for paraeducators is largely left out, though the Senate plan would include training and standards for paraeducators.
  • Both plans continue to cap allocations to districts. The state only funds up to 12.7 percent, leaving districts that go higher having to stretch their money more or backfill with local funding. Last year, 120 districts and a charter school exceeded the 12.7 percent cap. Under both federal and state law districts have to identify and serve all students who qualify for special education.
Related information: