Letter to WA-CASE Membership Regarding Governor’s Order to Close Washington Schools

Dear WA CASE members,

We have been fielding quite a few questions today after Governor Inslee’s comments during his press conference that has closed schools through the end of this school year. Specifically, these concerns have stemmed from a comment the Governor made regarding opening onsite instruction on a “case by case basis” for students with “severe disabilities”.

We have been in contact with Assistant Superintendent Gallo regarding clarification of these statements. She responded to an inquiry about this after the press conference with the information below. We are sharing her comments with WA CASE members today in advance of expected family, district leadership, and legal counsel inquires in the coming days.

We want to again encourage discussing this with your senior leadership team and your district legal counsel, but also encourage efforts to maintain as much consistency statewide in our response to requests for services for our students with IEPs as possible. We know that what one of us does impacts us all statewide. As noted in discussions today, the situation that might include onsite instruction for students with severe disabilities would be very rare, would require significant review of need, and is not consistent with the Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative which is our primary focus in our remote Continuous Learning plans for the rest of this academic year.

In the coming days, please collect the inquiries you receive about this from families, staff, senior leadership in your district, legal counsel and others. We wish to provide this feedback to OSPI and the Governor’s office to be sure we can request guidance and clarification as we all embark on new creative learning options for our students with disabilities across the continuum of all of our services.

Thank you for your support of each other during these challenging situations. My inspiration for our daily processes are how we have come together as a statewide special education administrative community and supported each other during these challenges.

Assistant Superintendent Gallo’s response to the inquiry is below.

Best regards,
Michaela

Dr. Michaela Clancy
WA CASE President
Director for Special Education
Clover Park School District

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Response from Assistant Superintendent Glenna Gallo

Q:  Is it true that the shut-down allows for school buildings to stay open to provide vital services to special education students?  

A:  The guidance from OSPI is consistent with the Governor’s “stay safe” orders, in that districts should identify ways to provide education services, including special education, safely for students, families, and educators.  This does not preclude districts from providing some in person services, provided that it can be accomplished safely; however, this should be in limited case-by-case circumstances, as it would be contrary to replace in person education in school buildings with in person special education services.  Guidance from the U.S. Department of Education specifies that special education services may need to be delivered in alternate manners.

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