As a task force begins this spring to revamp Seattle Public Schools’ approach to special education, it’s likely many classrooms around the district will begin to look more like Eckstein’s. The details haven’t been worked out, but in general, the district will try to deliver services to the students instead of bringing the students to the services.
A consultant recommended Seattle try to include more students in general-education classes and educate more special-education students at their neighborhood schools.
As the diagnosis of disabilities becomes more refined, school districts nationwide are faced with students whose needs are more complicated. At the same time, districts face federal requirements to meet individual students’ educational needs in the least restrictive environment possible.
Balancing those two realities can be difficult, said Doug Gill, the director of special education for the Washington state Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction.
“What I see is districts serving kids, sometimes with more complex needs, and as you see kids served with more complex needs, you need, really, a more specialized environment,” he said.