Special Needs Group

Special Needs Group Meeting Dates

LWPTSA Special Needs Group meeting dates for the 2017-2018 school year are listed below. Except for September, all meetings will be held on the third Tuesday of the month at the Lake Washington School District Resource Center Board Room from 6:30-8:30 pm (there are no meetings in December or June). Informal networking with other parents and the Special Services staff begins at 6:30pm with coffee and cookies, while the speakers will begin at 7pm.

Meeting topics will be filled in as we confirm speakers and topics.  Please check back often!

  • September 26, 2017 – Paul Vine, Director of Special Education, will give an overview of the LWSD Special Education Department, including an introduction of the administrative team that supports all the schools.
  • October 17, 2017 – Diana Lafornara a parent advocate volunteer at WAAA will be discussing the IEP process in Lake Washington and answer your questions on the process and materials. 
  • November 21, 2017 – Amy Patterson of Washington ABLE Governing Board will discuss the ABLE act, its rollout in Washington, and what it will mean for families. 
  • December – No meeting
  • January 16, 2018 – Dr. Ilene Schwartz of the Haring Center, UW will discuss full and meaningful inclusion, strategies, value, and implementation.
  • February 20, 2018 – COMMUNITY RESOURCE FAIR Come talk to vendors offering after school, summer, and other recreational activities or services to children with special needs and their families. Children welcome.
  • March 20, 2018 – Lindsay Beard, LMHC, CMHS will discuss behavior challenges and strategies, and parenting children with disabilities. 
  • April 17, 2018
  • May 15, 2018
  • June – No meeting


Looking for Special Needs Liaisons!
We are looking for special needs liaisons at each school. Our role is to:
  • Communicate with caregivers about Special Needs Group meetings and other community events.
  • Advocate for meaningful inclusion in school events.
  • Educate the student body and staff about disabilities.
If you are interested in this fully supported role please, contact your PTSA president or Jennifer MacLachlan at: special.needs@lwptsa.org

About Us

The Lake Washington PTSA Special Needs Group is made up of parents in Lake Washington School District whose children receive special services (IEPs) and accommodations (504s). The group also includes interested staff and students. The group meets every school month except for December and June. We hear from speakers, have an extensive lending library, learn about resources in the community, network with other parents and keep updated on district and PTSA issues affecting children with disabilities. Please click here for the 2015-2016 parent brochure created with input from this group’s members.

Considering a move to the Lake Washington School District? We hope you find our guide helpful. Click here to read: A guide from the perspective of family members with special needs students

Parent Advisory Committee (PAC)
Beginning in September 2013, the PAC has met monthly during the school year with Paul Vine, LWSD Director of Special Education, to work on a wide variety of topics to help all LWSD families.  The 2016-17 PAC members are: Amy Verrall (Co-Chair), Michele Johansen (Co-Chair) Laurel Spaeth (Communications Chair), Taina Karru-Olsen (Meetings Chair), Jennifer MacLachlan (Liaison Committee Chair), Betsy McAlister, Diana Lafornara, and Ramu Iyer. Our current work with Paul Vine and his team includes the following. We welcome your input and feedback – email the PAC at lakewashingtonsng@yahoo.com.
  1. Improvements to LWSD Special Education Website
  2. Input on transition information and protocol
  3. School liaison program
  4. Providing input to LWSD’s Special Services 5-year plan and its progress
  5. Family engagement
  6. Implementation of consistency regarding Special Needs information dissemination
  7. Consideration on how parents can provide input for “promotion day”  (when teachers meet to transition IEP students to the next school)
LWSD Ladder of Support

“Ladder of Support” is the informally used term to refer to the Special Ed Administrative Responsibility Chart.  The Lake Washington School District asks parents to first work through issues with school staff and the school Principal.  If, however, the parent still wishes to discuss matters with the District, this chart tells you who has responsibility for your school or issue.

LWSD Special Services Organizational Chart

All About Me – Teacher communication ideas and samples

When your child is starting a new school year or a new school, we often want teachers to learn more about them than what is on their IEP or 504. There are many ways to engage staff and help them to learn about your son or daughter. Different ages and different stages can bring about different approaches. A new school year is always challenging. We hope some of the below suggestions and templates are helpful.

Preschool and elementary school

At young ages, family members do most of the communicating so it is up to you to advocate for your son or daughter. Starting out early building positive relationships is helpful. One tool which can be used is a letter to your son/daughter’s new teacher. This can be used at many different ages.

This is an opportunity to tell the teacher(s) one or two things about your child. For example, what works really well for them? What is difficult? Sharing dreams or hopes is another way for the teacher to get to know your child. Keep it brief and positive. At the end of the letter, give your contact information and ways to reach you. Communication is key. You can email the letter or attend an open house and leave a copy with the teacher.

Another tool is an All About Me book. This is a short collection of pages with thoughts on dreams, strengths, weaknesses, communication tips, and a little bit about what makes your child unique. If possible, have your child make some of the pages. These books are fun and can be done with all family members. Once it is done, you can make a copy and leave with teachers. The book can also be used as an ice breaker for social situations. Think of including pictures of your child’s favorite pets, activities, books or games. This will help others to get to know him or her too.

Middle School and High School

As your child ages, think of their role in the process. How can they advocate for themselves? How can you be in a supportive role and not the lead role? A power point presentation is a fun way to engage staff and your child. If they are able, ask your child to make a power point about what they like and don’t like about school.

Have them think of things that help them learn. Have your child share with the staff before school starts or at an IEP meeting. In high school, the power point can list goals and classes they want to take. This is a great step in advocating for themselves. What are their career goals? Will they go to college? What makes their lives meaningful?

Have your son or daughter write their own letter or email. If they need help, step in if not, let them share what they feel is important.  Maybe making an appointment to share with their teacher is the next step. Empower them!

Click on the following document descriptions for samples/templates:

Visitors to the classroom (the District’s observation policy)

The District has a policy on classroom observations.  Click here for a link to a document that has a copy of the current policy and regulations, as well as links to the LWSD official website of the policy.

Bookshare – free books (Braille/digital)!

We want to feature this free service because so many people do not know about it.  Persons who qualify are those with visual impairment, physical disability or a learning disability that significantly interferes with reading.  Details are at https://www.bookshare.org/cms/

Getting ready for college on an IEP or 504 -When and how to ask for ACT and PSAT/SAT/AP accommodations

The Parent Advisory Committee has compiled a short summary of key steps required by the two testing organizations.  We strongly recommend that all families review each organization’s detailed websites before you begin the formal application process.  We hope this summary will help you more easily navigate the websites.  Click here for the 2015-16 summary.

Also, in September 2015 the US Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division, Disability Rights Section posted a nine page document outlining the ADA Requirement for Testing AccommodationsClick here for the document or go to http://www.ada.gov/

Dyslexia Group

Parents of the Lake Washington School District formed a dyslexia sub-group in 2010.  The document 2014 Welcome to the Dyslexia Group (linked below) describes who we are and what our purpose is.  The document includes a very short list of resources, because we know that for those new to dyslexia it can be overwhelming to figure out where to start. Documents referenced in the Welcome memo are also linked below. Be sure to check out the side bar for dyslexia related links.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

LWSD Transition Academy
On February 24, 2015, members from the LWSD Transition Academy presented on their community based program for young adults with developmental disabilities. The focus of the Academy’s program is to prepare students for work and life in the community after their graduation (usually the academic year during which they turn 21).  Here are the PowerPoint slides shown during their presentation; the related Transition Academy Checklist; and the related Transition Program Selection Process document.

The Arc of King County
The Arc of King County is a nonprofit that offers informational resources regarding public services (“DDA”) and community resources for individuals and families who have children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Students receiving Special Education often are eligible for various public services once they graduate from high school, and such transition planning is essential to be considered as early as middle school.  The ARC of King County has created a packet of information and resources for students in middle school, high school and transition programs, offered free of charge.

Transition Resources: Start in Middle School!

Special Needs Group Lending Library

Books, DVDs and other materials are housed currently at the Lake Washington School District Resource Center (16250 NE 74th Street, Redmond, WA 98052) in the Curriculum Library on the first floor. The same materials are also rolled on a cart into the monthly PTSA Special Needs Group meetings for self-checkout. These materials are available to parents and staff of Lake Washington School District.

What materials are available? 

Click here for a full list of available materials.

A variety of resources are available and are sorted by the following categories:

  •     Children’s books
  •     Education resources
  •     General health
  •     Media (CD/DVD/Tape)
  •     Parenting – General
  •     State and Local Information
  •     Special Needs – ADD & ADHD
  •     Special Needs – Autism, Asperger’s
  •     Special Needs – General
  •     Special Needs – Parenting

How to check out an Item:

  •     At the monthly meeting (select your item and fill out a checkout form).
  •     During school hours, you can check them out directly from the Resource Center Curriculum Library (Monday through Thursday).
  •     Call or email the Resource Center Librarian, Jennifer Gordon at (425) 936-1200 with:
  1. The name of the material that you would like to check out.
  2. Your name, your child’s name (if you’re a parent) and the school they attend.
  3. Jennifer will then send the book to the school via intra-district mail.

Materials will be on loan for four weeks. Please return items promptly so that others will have access to them as well.

How to Return Materials

There are three ways to return materials:

  • Work with your school to send it via intra-district mail, with attention to Jennifer Gordon, Resource Center Library.
  • Bring it to the PTSA Special Needs Group monthly meeting.
  • Bring your item directly to the Resource Center Library and leave it on Jennifer’s desk with a note.

Donations are Gladly Accepted
Donations of books, DVDs, CDs, videos, etc. about disabilities for adults and/or kids are always welcomed! Include a note that states that the items are for the “Special Needs Lending Library.” Donations can be sent in the same way that materials can be returned (see above).