‘Disturbing reports’ about Seattle schools spark civil-rights probe by U.S. Department of Education

By: | January 15, 2021

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights is investigating Seattle Public Schools after hearing “disturbing reports” about how the district handled special education during the pandemic.

In a letter sent to Superintendent Denise Juneau, department officials cite concerns that some students with disabilities went without specialized instruction — and some teachers weren’t allowed to provide it.

“According to one local news report last spring, the District told its special education teachers ‘not to deliver specially designed instruction,’ and disallowed them from ‘adapt[ing] lessons to each child’s needs,’” wrote Kimberly M. Richey, the Education Department’s acting assistant secretary for civil rights, citing a KUOW report. “OCR [Office of Civil Rights] is concerned that the District has failed to provide a ‘free appropriate public education’ to each qualified student with a disability as required by federal law and denied students with disabilities equal access to education.”

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