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Highline Public Schools
15675 Ambaum Blvd. SW Burien,WA 98166

Office Hours:

Monday-Friday: 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Special Education

students playing indoors

Highline Public Schools recognizes that some students require specialized instruction and/or services to achieve success in school. In order to provide appropriate educational opportunities designed to meet each student's unique learning needs, Highline has a continuum of special program options.

The school district provides services to identify and evaluate potential disabilities in children ages birth to 21 living within Highline's boundaries. We offer screening clinics that provide parents with information about their child's academic, vision, hearing, language, cognitive, and motor skill development.

Special Education staff are committed to helping you identify the services your child may need. If you have concerns about your child's development please contact the Special Education staff at 206-631-3009

Child Find

If you have concerns about your preschooler's development, we offer monthly screenings. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of this free service, especially if you have questions regarding your child’s development.

Learn more about Childfind

Special Needs PTA

Highline Special Needs PTA (HSNPTA) is the districtwide organization representing families with special needs students. Visit the HSNPTA website to learn more, or contact them directly. 

Learn more about the HSNPTA

Services & Programs

Birth to Three Programs

Birth to Three Community Agencies provide services for children with developmental concerns in conjunction with Highline Public Schools. Once a child turns three years old, if eligible, he or she may transition into the district's developmental preschool program.

Child Find 

Child Find is a process designed to locate children, birth through age 21, with a suspected disability to evaluate and identify a need for special education and related services. 

Highline Public Schools conducts specific activities for the purposes of locating, evaluating and identifying students ages birth to twenty-one with suspected disabilities and who reside within the district’s boundaries. This includes students attending private schools.

Approximately ten to fifteen percent of all children have a disability which hinders their educational development. Early identification of disabilities assists parents, students and schools in the design of appropriate educational services.

Community Based Services (CBS) 

Community Based Services (CBS) is a more restrictive placement on the continuum of special education services and is designed for student ages 18-21 who require more intensive levels of instruction and supervision in post-secondary transition. Students receive specially designed instruction in learning vocational skills, functional basic life skills, and appropriate social skills by engaging in real-life experiences. Students spend part of the day in a classroom setting and part of the day in vocational and recreational activities in the community.

Objectives

  • Provide educational services for students with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities.
  • Increase independence in communication, functional academics, daily living skills and self-care. 
  • Provide pathways for students to transition from school to work and adult living.
  • Students are offered opportunities for both academic and socialization within the special education setting. Access to less restrictive settings occurs through work and recreational activities in the community.

Program Focus

Students will receive functional academic and life skills instruction, utilizing individualized curriculum, adaptive, multi-sensory activities and tools. Highly individualized instruction will occur in a structured setting, with the use of visuals, picture schedules, real-life experiences and instruction in smaller chunks. The goal of this program is that students will become more independent and increase their opportunities for working and living in their adulthood. 


Description of Students

Students who qualify for services within this classroom typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Exhibit intellectual and/or multiple disabilities requiring a highly individualized instructional environment considerate of the student’s learning process, communication, rate of learning, and adaptive and daily living skill needs. Functional life skills are a primary focus of the program.
  • Require intensive, specially designed instruction in managing self-care, socialemotional/behavioral and adaptive needs, and in acquiring functional academic skills
  • Have significant related service needs.

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program (DHH)

Deaf/Hard of Hearing Program (DHH) provides comprehensive and appropriate special education services in the least restrictive environment to children who have a hearing impairment, age preschool through grade 12 (or age 21) . 

Highline Public Schools provides communication skill development and content area instruction including: 

  • Educational services for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students preschool through high school
  • Different placement options based on DHH students’ unique needs, including general education classes with interpreters and self-contained classes taught by teachers of the deaf.
  • Staff trained and experienced in working with DHH students.
  • Teachers with certification in special education for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students.
  • Sign Language Interpreters.
  • Signing paraprofessionals.
  • On-site audiologist to support FM systems, hearing aids, and cochlear implants and to conduct annual hearing assessments.
  • Speech and language therapists.
  • Development of communication in American Sign Language.
  • Post-high school transition learning, including college prep classes and career exploration internships in the community.
  • Relationships with community agencies/organizations serving the deaf.
  • Exposure to both deaf and hearing cultures.
  • Regional participation in gatherings of deaf peers.
  • Presentations by deaf professionals and community members.
  • Participation in all school events.
  • Family involvement based on interest.
  • Informational nights for families.
  • Lending library of sign language videos and books on deafness.

Highline has a regional program serving Deaf and Hard of Hearing students from Highline, Renton, Kent, Tukwila, Vashon Island, Tahoma and other surrounding school districts.

Contact: Gaye BungartDirector of Special Education at 206-631-3009

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE)

Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) is provided to eligible children ages 3-5, with the support of district special education personnel, including teachers, classroom assistants, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physical therapists and other specialists.

ECSE is designed for students who have been found eligible for specially designed instruction under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). ECSE professionals and related service personnel provide specially designed instruction to students with varying disabilities in an integrated classroom environment. ECSE supports student’s academic, social, communication, physical and emotional needs with the use of evidence-based instruction and research-based curriculum.

Objectives

  • Provide quality early childhood programs for children and families in the community
  • Provide individualized specially designed instruction to meet the needs of children with identified disabilities
  • Prepare children to successfully participate in the community, access their environment and be kindergarten-ready

Program Focus

The program provides specialized instruction in the areas of delay in order for the student to gain skills needed to be successful in his or her environment. Certificated special education teachers and related service personnel deliver instruction utilizing research-based and sensory methods that target and support the growth of developmentally appropriate and specific skills. Organized and guided play activities provide opportunities for practice of recently learned skills.

Description of Students

Students who qualify for services in this program typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Ages 3-5 with developmental delays in at least two domains that require specially designed instruction to make adequate progress
  • Range of delays in any of the developmental domains.
  • An inability to work independently in the general education classroom environment
  • Require repeated, systematic instruction with an emphasis on generalized performance of skills

Future Placement Options:

Placement will be dictated by individual needs. Students from ECSE could go to a general education kindergarten (with or without Learning Resource Center support), IK, IAC or ILC. (Please see below for definitions of these programs.)

Emotional Behavioral Center (EBC) 

Emotional Behavioral Center (EBC) is for students with identified disabilities who demonstrate primary learning needs in the social emotional skills domain. They may need specially designed instruction in academic skills or functional life skills; but the primary area of need is social-emotional skills.

Students receive training and instruction in social-emotional, coping and academic skills necessary to learn and progress in the general education setting. Teachers use a continuum of social skills training, which includes the use of research-based curricula for behavior and social-emotional skill development.

Objectives

  • Provide research-based classroom management strategies and curricula for students who have significant social-emotional and behavioral needs
  • Provide intensive social-emotional and behavior instruction and supports
  • Create opportunities based on data for maximum access to the general education setting
  • Provide individualized academic instruction aligned to the general education curricula
  • Facilitate students’ participation, by age 16 or before, in the development of their IEP transition plan with a focus on understanding their strengths and needs and how to access college, career, or post-secondary training

Program Focus

The EBC program provides an environment allowing students to learn using a systematic approach that focuses on developing self-control, decreasing disruptive behaviors, and generalizing learned skills to larger group settings. Proactive teaching is utilized to promote alternative behaviors for students who demonstrate the need for intense support in these areas. The anticipated outcome of the program is that students will successfully reintegrate into a less restrictive environment following an intentional transition process. The goal of this program and all programs is that students will increase access to general education.

Description of Students

Students who qualify for services within this classroom typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Severe behavioral, emotional and/or social concerns that may include internalizing or externalizing behaviors
  • Chronic pattern of behavior that impacts their learning and/or the learning of others to a marked degree, which may include unsafe behavior toward self or others
  • Has not responded to individualized behavior interventions based on an Functional Behavior Assessment (FBA) and Behavior Intervention Plan (BIP) in a less restrictive environment
  • May require specially designed instruction in one or more academic areas
  • Typically benefits from access to mental health and/or social work supports

Integrated Kindergarten (IK) 

Integrated Kindergarten (IK) is an inclusion program for kindergarten students, with specially designed instruction integrated into the kindergarten setting. 

Students receiving IK support receive their daily instruction through modifications and adaptations to the general education curriculum. The intent of the IK program is provide students with an additional year of support to create maximum opportunity to transition successfully to a 1st grade general education classroom. Supports include smaller student-to-teacher ratio, peer models, dual-endorsed teachers (special education and general education) and curriculum modifications.

Objectives

  • Provide students with appropriate compensatory strategies in identified areas of need
  • Design and implement pathways for students to fully access their least restrictive environment (LRE), including the consistent provision of appropriate accommodations and modifications across all settings, based on their individual education plan (IEP)
  • Provide students with a structure that mirrors a typical general education setting while offering appropriate supports during this transition year

Program Focus

The program focuses on providing specially designed instruction in multiple academic and non-academic areas with an emphasis on strengthening school readiness skills. Students access grade level content with their nondisabled peers to the fullest extent possible. Students have access to core instruction, Tier 2 and Tier 3 interventions and specially designed instruction. Students receiving IK services will be served within the general education setting, including both large group and small group instruction with the necessary modifications. Instruction is aligned to general education curriculum based on the student’s needs.

Description of Students

Students who qualify for services within this classroom typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Identified need in one or more domain that requires specially designed instruction for the student to make adequate progress
  • Able to access instruction in an integrated/modified general education setting that includes small and large group instruction
  • Students have the ability to transition between activities with minimal support and demands on staff resources

Intensive Academic Center (IAC) 

Intensive Academic Center (IAC) is for students with identified disabilities who demonstrate primary learning needs in the academic domain or in adaptive skills. They may need intensive, specially designed instruction to learn how to read, write and solve mathematical calculations and problems. They may have special needs in the social-emotional and/or functional life skills domains as well. 

The purpose of the IAC classroom is to provide a specialized program with reduced student-to-staff ratios emphasizing academic, functional academic, social, study and prevocational skills for students who cannot be adequately served in a general education or Learning Resource Center (LRC) setting, despite extensive accommodations, supports, and services.

Opportunities for inclusion with typically developing peers may occur in such areas as physical education, art, music and vocational classes, and may be expanded into academic areas or less restrictive settings as appropriate. This program utilizes district approved, structured academic, age appropriate behavioral and social interventions and supports. This is a classroom where students with a variety of disabling conditions are served.

Objective

  • Increase academic skills in areas including written language, reading and math, with supports in other academic areas.
  • Increase skills that support independent functioning within a school community, including appropriate social interaction skills, personal organization, self-advocacy, navigating transitions, and social problem-solving.
  • Facilitate students’ participation, by age 16 or before, in the development of their IEP transition plan with a focus on understanding their strengths and needs and how to access college, career, or post-secondary training.

Program Focus

Students will receive academic instruction in basic skills in the areas of reading, math and written language with supports in other academic areas. Acquisition of social skills and age appropriate behavior is explicitly taught. Concrete examples, hands-on experiences and practical application are used in the instruction of social, adaptive and academic skills. Increasing independence and functioning within the school and classroom is an essential part of this program. Students will be included in general education classes and provided access to the LRC as appropriate. Students who require a highly structured behavioral program but do not require an alternative academic curriculum are typically not appropriate candidates for the IAC program. The goal of this program and all programs is that students will increase access to general education.

Description of Students

Students who qualify for services within this classroom typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Significant academic deficits in reading, writing and/or math requiring more intervention than the LRC setting can provide. This typically includes the use of alternative curricula and instructional methods.
  • Student is receiving instruction in at least one or more academic areas at a significantly modified pace, intensity or method within a small group.
  • Significant delay in the acquisition and generalization of social communication, social skills, problem-solving and coping skills, typically requiring a higher level of re-teaching and practice.
  • Students have a significantly scattered cognitive profile, significant related service needs, and/or low adaptive functioning skills.

Integrated Learning Center (ILC) 

Integrated Learning Center (ILC) is for students with identified disabilities who demonstrate primary learning needs in the functional life skills domain. They may need intensive, specially designed instruction to learn how to independently manage self-care or to acquire basic academic and social-emotional skills. ILC is also for students with significant disabilities, including those who are medically fragile, who need to develop basic communication skills and skills for participating in daily support routines. 

Objectives

  • Provide educational services for students with intellectual and/or multiple disabilities.
  • Increase independence in communication, functional academics, daily living skills, and self-care
  • Provide pathways for students to transition from school to work and adult living
  • Opportunities for both academic and socialization, as appropriate, in general education settings
  • Facilitate students’ participation, by age 16 or before, in the development of their IEP transition plan with a focus on understanding their strengths and needs and how to access college, career, or post-secondary training

Program Focus

Students will receive functional academic and life skills instruction, utilizing individualized curriculum and adaptive, multi-sensory activities and tools. Highly individualized instruction will occur in a structured setting, with the use of visuals, picture schedules, real-life experiences and instruction in smaller chunks. The goal of this program and all programs is that students will increase access to general education.

Description of Students

Students who qualify for services within this classroom typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Exhibit intellectual and/or multiple disabilities requiring a highly individualized instructional environment considerate of the student’s learning process, communication, rate of learning, adaptive, and daily living skill needs.
  • Require intensive, specially designed instruction in managing self-care, social-emotional/behavioral and adaptive needs, and in acquiring functional academic skills
  • Have significant related service needs

Functional life skills are a primary focus of the program.

Learning Resource Center (LRC) 

The Learning Resource Center (LRC) serves students with identified disabilities who require specially designed instruction (SDI) in one or more academic or non-academic areas. Students in LRC typically receive a large portion of their daily instruction through general education alongside their general education peers. Students will receive SDI based on their IEPs, which may be delivered through various models, including co-teaching, push-in, or pull-out support.

Objectives

  • Provide students with appropriate, life-long, compensatory strategies in identified areas of need
  • Design and implement pathways for students to fully access their least restrictive environment, including the consistent provision of appropriate accommodations and modifications across all settings, based on their Individual Education Plan (IEP)
  • Create opportunities based on data for maximum access to the general education setting
  • Provide individualized academic instruction aligned to the general education curricula
  • Facilitate students’ participation, by age 16 or before, in the development of their IEP transition plan with a focus on understanding their strengths and needs and how to access college, career, or postsecondary training

Program Focus

The program focuses on providing specially designed instruction in multiple academic and non-academic areas. Students access grade level content to the fullest extent appropriate based on their individual needs. Students have access to core instruction, Tier 2 interventions and SDI. Students receiving LRC services may be supported in a special education setting and/or within the general education setting, including both large and small group instruction. Instruction is aligned to general education curriculum based on the student's needs.

Description of Students

Students who qualify for services within this classroom typically exhibit all or most of the following characteristics:

  • Require specially designed instruction in one or more areas of qualification in order to make adequate progress
  • Able to access instruction in general education settings more than half of the school day
  • Require more than accommodations and/or general education interventions alone

Realistic Transition Program (RTP) 

Realistic Transition Program (RTP) offers personalized, small group classroom instruction for students transitioning from high school to the adult world. Students with IEPs can have extra time (through the year they turn 21) to get support and services in learning how to be a successful adult.

This half-day program supports students in their transition from high school to the adult world.

Students receive small group and personalized classroom instruction in:

  • Getting and keeping jobs
  • Becoming more independent
  • Learning about finances
  • Connecting with community resources  
  • Finding post-secondary college/training
  • Completing high school requirements  

Description of Students

  • Students with IEPs who are at least 18 years old
  • Student who have had the opportunity to attend four years of high school
  • Student who have met state assessments (highly recommended) 
  • Students recommended by the home high school IEP team who need more time for supporting post-secondary success 
  • Students who have current IEP and evaluation
  • Students who still need to complete at least one graduation requirement, i.e., culminating project, credits or high school and beyond plan.

Staff 

Larry Hoff
206-631-7670

Karen MacDonald
206-631-7670

Registration Process

  • Send the RTP Move Up Eligibility Form with transcript and discipline to RTP
  • RTP will arrange a meeting with the student
  • RTP will notify student of enrollment status

Credits - Transcripts - Graduation

  • 1.5 credits earned for a.m. or p.m. session per semester
  • RTP case manages student’s schedule, registration and transcript management
  • Uses Alteration to Graduation form if needed
  • Diploma will be issued from home high school


 

Contact

Gaye Bungart
Director 
Special Education 
206-631-3009 

Darren Spencer
Assistant Director
Special Education
206-631-3009

Special Education Office
Telephone: 206-631-3009
Fax number: 206-631-3388

Records Requests