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    Q: How can my organization approach partnering with Seattle Public Schools?
    A: Seattle Public Schools values the many collaborative partnerships with community organizations, government, and the business sector that support student success in countless ways. This work is supported by Board Policy 4265 and is steadily growing across the district. Partnerships can take on many forms, here a few things to consider: The goal of community partnerships is to more holistically support our youth; this means aligning your work with the needs of the school and or District. Explore the Continuous School Improvement Plan (CSIP) of the school(s) you’d like to work with and look at the data for your school or region. For more information on how to engage in a partnership with a specific school or central office please contact the School and Community Partnership Department.

    Contact:James Bush,

    Q: Where can my organization find more information about the demographics of Seattle Public School students and summary achievement data?
    A: A good deal of data is readily available through OSPI and District school reports and region maps.

    Contact: Nick Hernandez,

    Q: What procedures does my organization need to follow to work in SPS schools?
    A: The School and Community Partnership Department recommends that any time a non-profit organization provides a service to schools at no cost (e.g. grant funded) a formal agreement is developed between the school and partner outlining roles and responsibilities. If the school is contracting for services, the roles and responsibilities will be included in the personal service contract generated at the school. Generally, those responsibilities include WATCH screenings for all staff working with children, a national check (a fingerprint check or a check through Verified Volunteer) for all staff working unsupervised with children in their first year of providing service (in subsequent years they must get a WATCH check), general liability insurance coverage up to $1 million for partner organizations, a business or non-profit license, and a W-9 form.

    For partnerships where no money is changing hands, a template MOU is available here. Our Department is happy to support schools and partners in the creation of MOUs.

    Contact: Rivka Burstein-Stern,

    In addition, ALL volunteers in Seattle Public Schools including community partners must complete the following:
    •A volunteer application
    •Background check (WATCH)
    •Sexual Misconduct Training (online)
    •And may need to be fingerprinted

    All related volunteer documents and trainings can be found here.

    Contact: Volunteer Coordinator,

    Q: How does my organization access student data from the District?
    A: The School & Community Partnerships Department is working closely with our families, community partners, internal SPS Departments (Legal, Dept. of Technology Services, Teaching and Learning), and schools to ensure that student data is protected and shared appropriately with partners. Additionally, the Community Partnerships Department is working with external partners to provide training on data stewardship, student privacy laws, and appropriate use of student data.

    Contact: Nick Hernandez,

    Q: What is FERPA and how does it relate to community partnership programs and services?
    A: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. You’ll find more information on the Department of Education’s website.

    The School and Community Partnership Department is working closely with community partners to ensure student data is protected and shared appropriately. Partners must have a data sharing agreement in place and have followed required consent procedures to have access to identifiable student data.

    Contact: Nick Hernandez,

    Q: What is an institutional service or institutional partner?
    A: The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) (20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99) is a Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education. Generally, schools must have written permission from the parent or eligible student in order to release any information from a student's education record. However, FERPA allows schools to disclose those records, without consent, to “school officials with a legitimate educational interest.” A “school official” has a legitimate educational interest in an education record if the official needs to review the record to fulfill his or her professional responsibility. FERPA defines “school official” to include “a contractor, consultant, volunteer, or other party to whom an agency or institution has outsourced institutional services or functions,” if the outside party:

    •Performs an institutional service or function for which the agency or institution would otherwise use employees;
    •Is under the direct control of the agency or institution with respect to the use and maintenance of education records;
    •Is prohibited from using personally identifiable information from education records for any purpose other than to provide the institutional service; and
    •Is prohibited from re-disclosing personally identifiable information from education records

    Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has a process in place to determine when a program or service can be considered an “institutional service” under FERPA. This determination is made on a case by case basis by an SPS cross-departmental committee that reviews submitted questionnaires on a monthly basis. The review team is comprised of: Teaching and Learning, Legal, Department of Technology Services, and School and Community Partnerships.

    Contact: Nick Hernandez,

    Q: What is the Creative Advantage?
    A: The Creative Advantage is a public-private partnership between Seattle Public Schools, the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts and Culture, and Seattle Foundation to restore arts education for all students by 2020. You’ll find more information on the Creative Advantage website.

    Contact: Audrey Querns,

    Q: When is the Creative Advantage coming to my region of SPS/the city? Where does the Creative Advantage money come from and is it sustainable?
    A: The Creative Advantage launched in the Central Region (a pathway of 13, K-12 schools) in 2014. Schools supported in the Central pathway include Garfield High School, Washington Middle School, Nova, the Seattle World School, and neighborhood elementary and K-8 schools. In 2015 the Creative Advantage will expand to a pathway of ten schools in the South-Southwest of the District. The schools served will include Chief Sealth International High School, Denny International Middle School, Middle College and the neighborhood elementary schools and option schools. The Creative Advantage will support all regions and schools by 2020. The full implementation plan can be viewed at

    Funding for this cross sector, cross SPS department partnership comes from multiple sources. The District supports arts staffing, professional development, supplies and resources, facilities, coaching and regional/school based strategic planning. The City of Seattle and Seattle Foundation support community partnership services, integrated arts learning, partner professional development, curriculum and assessment design, project management, fundraising and program evaluation. The Creative Advantage is currently funded through SPS baseline funds, City of Seattle baseline funds, local grants and private donors. The multi-year Creative Advantage plan was developed with a view towards accessing additional funding for education through McCleary and other local education investments like the City’s Families and Education Levy. The long term goal is that the Creative Advantage will be fully funded through public dollars.

    Contact: Audrey Querns,

    Q: Where do I find information about the Families and Education Levy?
    A: The City of Seattle administers the Seattle Families and Education Levy which supports positive child and youth development programs that will help all of Seattle's children become school ready, succeed academically, and graduate from high school. Seattle Public Schools works closely with the City’s Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) to align strategies and resources.

    Contact: Brent Jones,

    Q: How do I secure space in a school through building rentals and/or leasing?
    A: Seattle Public Schools has a process for leasing and rentals. Please visit Hourly Building Rentals and Leasing in Operating Schools or contact Lewis Carlson for building leases, or Eleanor Lockett for hourly rentals, If you are a CBO that is participating in the Community Alignment Initiative contact Susan Hall, Alignment Coordinator, at