For this round of Education Lab IQ (Interesting Questions), we're investigating your questions about how special education works in Washington, an issue that affects 13 percent of state's 1.1 million students.

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For students with disabilities and their families, navigating the public school system is often a challenging and confusing experience. Though federal law requires schools to provide students with disabilities an education that’s tailored to their needs, meeting — and funding — that requirement is a different story.

In Seattle, for example, communication between schools and families regarding students’ learning plans was so poor that the federal government withheld $3 million in funding from the district back in 2014. When national consultants met with district staff that same year, they heard four different versions of how parent complaints about special education were processed. (Here’s an update from the Seattle Superintendent on how the district has reformed its practices.)

For this round of Education Lab IQ (Interesting Questions), we’re investigating your questions about how special education works in Washington, an issue that impacts 13 percent of state’s 1.1 million students. Fill out the form below with your inquiry. If we select your response, we’ll report back with an answer using information gathered from experts.


Education Lab is a Seattle Times project that spotlights promising approaches to persistent challenges in public education. It is produced in partnership with the Solutions Journalism Network and is funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

· Find out more about Education Lab  

If you need some guidance with what types of questions to ask, here are some examples:

  • How are students identified for special education services?
  • What’s behind the statewide shortage in special education teachers?
  • What steps can families take if they’re not happy with the services their child is receiving?
  • What are the most promising inclusive education practices around the state?
  • Why are students with disabilities sometimes segregated from their general education peers?