Sunday, February 4, 2018

K-12 education and special education funding bills we are tracking in 2018

Now until February 14 is a critical time to act!

A bill is a draft of a proposed law. These bills have cleared the initial policy committee hurdles; some still need to clear fiscal committees. Once these hurdles are met, a Rules Committee will decide when and whether to present them to the full chamber for a vote.

If you see a bill you care about, please contact your legislators. You can click on the “Comment on” links here, or call the Legislative Hotline at 1.800.562.6000.

For TTY-ASSISTANCE: 1.800.833.6384 (voice) or 1.800.833.6388 (TTY).


HB 1377 - Improving students' mental health by enhancing nonacademic professional services

SPONSORS: Ortiz-Self, Stonier, Santos, Lovick, Gregerson, Peterson, Ryu, Appleton, Fitzgibbon, Goodman, Bergquist, Doglio

Specifies the roles and duties of school counselors, social workers, and psychologists. Requires a minimum of six hours of professional collaboration time per year for school counselors, social workers, and psychologists that focuses on recognizing signs of emotional or behavioral distress in students beginning in the 2019-20 school year. Establishes the Professional Collaboration Lighthouse Grant Program to assist school districts with early adoption and implementation of mental health professional collaboration time, subject to funding by the Legislature.Directs the Professional Educator Standards Board to convene a task force on the need for school counselors, psychologists, and social workers, the capacity of the state to meet the need, and the preparation of these professionals.

STATUS: Passed the House 64-34. Passed the Senate 43-3, with 3 excused. Signed by the governor March 22.

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
STATUS: Did not advance this session.

HB 2558 - Preventing public identification or stigmatization of public school students
SPONSORS: Kirby, Santos, Senn, Kloba

Prohibits schools and districts from stigmatizing students based on attendance, academic performance, or behavior that is unsatisfactory.

STATUS: Passed the House 66-32. Senate did not vote on the bill.


HB 2698 - Concerning paraeducators
SPONSORS: Bergquist, Muri, Ortiz-Self
Delays but creates a timeline for implementation of the minimum employment requirements for paraeducators and the provision of the fundamental course of study to paraeducators. Makes changes to the Pipeline for Paraeducators Conditional Scholarship. Authorizes appropriations to support the implementation of paraeducator certificate professional development.

STATUS: Did NOT pass the House, but a companion bill passed the Senate.

SB 6388 - Concerning paraeducators 
SPONSORS: Mullet, Rivers

Delays but creates a timeline for paraeducators to meet minimum employment standards. Revises requirements for participation in the Pipeline for Paraeducators Conditional Scholarship Program. Requires school districts to provide fundamental paraeducator training courses in school years that state funding is appropriated.

STATUS: Passed the Senate 46-1, with 2 excused. Passed the House 98-0. Signed by the governor March 21.

SB 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 certain circumstances. 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.

STATUS: Did NOT pass the Senate 

NOTE: There is striking amendment that some early advocates for the bill do not support, saying it will not do enough to change the practice of asking parents to pick up their child after school starts, and does not substantially change the way schools treat children with disabilities. Children with disabilities make up a disproportionate share of expulsions. In preschool, 75 percent of exclusionary discipline is for students with disabilities. In Washington's K-12 system, students with disabilities are the 2nd biggest subgroup for exclusionary discipline, after African-American students. There is a pervasive practice of telling parents of young children with disabilities that they need to come pick up their children, or otherwise limiting or denying access to learning.

SB 6141 - Strengthening school district plans for recognition, screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students
SPONSORS: McCoy, Wellman, Van De Wege, Keiser, Hasegawa, Kuderer

Requires the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop an online one-hour training module for school staff on recognition, screening, and response to emotional or behavioral distress in students. Directs educational service districts (ESDs) to identify a regional mental health coordinator with certain responsibilities.

STATUS: Passed the Senate 46-3. The House did not vote on the bill. (Updated Feb. 15)

SB 6162 - Defining dyslexia as a specific learning disability and requiring early screening for dyslexia 
SPONSORS: Zeiger, Wellman, Palumbo, Mullet

Provides a statutory definition of dyslexia. Requires each school district and charter school to screen each kindergarten and second grade student for indications of dyslexia.

STATUS: Passed the Senate 48-0, with 1 excused. Passed the House 96-2. Governor signed March 15. 
Note: A companion bill, HB 2796 (sponsors Pollet, Tarleton and Kloba) was introduced but not heard in committee.

SB 6360 - Improving transition planning for students in special education who meet criteria for services from the developmental disabilities administration
SPONSORS: O'Ban, Darneille, Zeiger, Walsh, Brown, Keiser, Hasegawa

Requires expansion of interagency agreements to involve the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) and Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) in postsecondary transition planning for students in special education.

Requires transition planning to be based on person-centered and age-appropriate transition assessments that outline the student's individual needs, strengths, preferences, and interests.

Requires transition planning for students who are potentially eligible for services from the developmental disabilities administration to include skill development, job interest sampling, and job exploration, and may include other activities explored by students and young adults prior to job development. The developmental disabilities administration, division of vocational rehabilitation, and school must collaborate to provide these services. A school-to-work program that includes a partnership between schools, the division of vocational rehabilitation, and employment support providers may be used to meet these requirements.

Allows eligible students who participate in special education to enroll in DDA community inclusion services without first enrolling in nine months of employment services after January 1, 2021, or if they have participated in a school-to-work program.

Requires special education transition planning to include information for students and families about available DDA services and requires schools to coordinate with DDA to facilitate the application and assessment process.

Requires DDA to collaborate with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) to provide training for schools related to DDA services and eligibility criteria.

STATUS: Did NOT pass the Senate. 
NOTE: This bill affects special education IEPs, but was not heard in the Early Learning and K-12 Education committee -


Two bills to support Social Emotional Learning did not move this session:
  • HB 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)
  •  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)


In various public hearings, school districts have testified that they will have millions less (some districts say tens of millions less) for special education funding. This is because districts have been using local enrichment levies to cover special education costs, and going forward they can’t. They can only use state allocations.

The governor’s basic education plan (SB 6352) did not address the shortfall.

The House has a bill concerning special education funding, but it has not been heard. (HB 2964) It would phase in an increased multiplier (to 1.05 in 2018-19, then 1.09 by 2021-22). It would also allow local enrichment levies to be used to pay for special education until OSPI certifies special education has been fully funded by the state.

The Senate’s basic education plan (SB 6362) would increase the multiplier slightly, from .9309 to .9609. The Washington Association of School Administrators testified: “Please provide assurance that this is a first step, and not a last step.” The Washington State School Director Association and the State Superintendent of Public Instruction all also called out concerns about special education funding, and concerns that what little was on the table was not nearly enough.

- Ramona Hattendorf, Director of Advocacy
The Arc of King County