Medical Lake School District adding resources

MEDICAL LAKE – Residents wanting to de-stress, connect, or learn more about the schools and the resources provided within the Medical Lake School District will have their questions answered at the Wellness Center at 317 N. Broad Street on March 7. The information session is part of the Help Unite Build (H.U.B.) program from 8-11 a.m.

The school district’s Parent and Family Partner, Nikki Bauman, worked to develop a relationship with the wellness team and social workers to get this idea on the ground and operational.

As the parent of a child with specific needs, Bauman wanted to have a space where parents of children and kids could learn or find a moment of respite. She initially focused on children with individual needs but looked to help all kids and families with this effort.

“Connection is everything for some special needs children,” Bauman said. “This can help break the boundary between the community and the schools.”

Bauman specializes in answering parent questions and explaining specific processes such as 504 Accommodation Plans. The plans, guided by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), allow changes such as frequent breaks or modified homework for qualifying students.

To qualify, children must have received a diagnosis for a physical or emotional disability that is restrictive to the child’s everyday activities. The 504 plans cannot provide specialized teaching services, however.

Bauman also helps parents work through the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process, driven by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This process includes special education services for qualifying individuals, including a modified curriculum, focused instruction, or potential therapy if needed.

“Through the HUB we can provide a space and opportunities for both groups to come together and get to know each other—see that our neurodiverse folks are not bad or scary. They just have different ways of navigating the world,” Bauman said. “I think of things like stimming, no eye contact, very direct speech, instead of small talk or non-verbal, not picking up on social cues, etc.

“Those things that can sometimes be off-putting or misunderstood by our society at large. I believe if they can come together in a safe space with the idea of creating understanding and community, they will find that they have more in common than they know.”

Tawni Barlow, District Student Services Director, explains that the system is very similar to what the school follows within a Multi-Tiered System of Supports Framework (MTSS).

“Our education system has a comprehensive intervention process in place regarding academics. Meaning if a student struggles with reading, we have experts, strategies, and interventions to support the student individually,” Barlow said. “As a state and district, we have taken this same system and used this same comprehensive response to meet the needs of students regarding their wellness, social-emotional management, and mental health.”

Community partnerships, donations, and grants fund the H.U.B. program. Barlow said it looks to build on the Wellness Center’s “best practices” approach.

“We have school board support, leadership support, and community support,” Barlow said. “The Washington State Department of Health even started following the product Medical Lake established. This support comes because we are doing the right work.”

Bauman anticipates being busy after opening but building trust in the community to increase engagement, she said, comes first.


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