University of Washington Bothell Announces Statewide Collaboration to Prepare New Special Education Administrators

Initial funding provided by the State’s Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction

April 10, 2013
CONTACT: Goodlad Institute for Educational Renewal, 425-949-7680,

BOTHELL, WA – The University of Washington Bothell, Washington State University, and the special education directors of the state’s 9 Educational Service Districts are collaborating on a new program to prepare well qualified educators to assume positions as local special education administrators (LSEAs). Enhancing Capacity for Special Education Leadership (ECSEL) will substantially contribute to meeting persistent annual needs for qualified special education administrators across Washington State, ultimately to result in consistently effective district services and successful outcomes for students with disabilities.

With initial funding from the state’s OSPI, the ECSEL partners have launched the new program with an initial cohort of 10 aspiring administrators and have plans for admitting a new group of candidates every other year.

ECSEL is a two-year program that incorporates the most current research on leadership and special education. Year 1 focuses on special education leadership at the school level, and Year 2 on district-level leadership. Each year’s program includes three year-long seminars (each addressing a critical theme and related topics) and a 400-hour internship to be completed in the candidate’s home location.

ECSEL represents an innovative alternative to conventional leadership programs offered by individual institutions. By combining a variety of communication technologies, weekend scheduling, and convenient meeting sites, ECSEL makes it possible for experienced individuals in special education to complete the requirements for a master’s degree and state administrator certification while remaining in their existing positions in locations around the state. The program’s faculty draws from the combined resources of ECSEL’s higher education and K-12 partners, so that seminars and internships will be guided by faculty with both academic and practical expertise.

“This is an important collaboration which will ultimately yield powerful benefits for students with disabilities across our state,” says UW Bothell chancellor Kenyon S. Chan says, “The program allows us to meet educators where they are. Rather than pulling them away from their normal environments, they are able to learn theory and immediately practice it in their own educational setting.”

Tom Bellamy (UW Bothell), Gene Sharratt (WSU) and Gene Edgar (UW Seattle) initiated the ECSEL partnership, which quickly grew to include faculty from most of the UW and WSU campuses, state organization representatives, and local special education administrators in school districts and Education Service Districts.


About UW Bothell: The University of Washington Bothell provides an internationally and nationally-ranked university experience that inspires innovation and creativity. With more than 30 degrees, options, certificates and concentrations, its curriculum emphasizes close student-faculty interaction and critical thinking. UW Bothell builds regional partnerships, inspires change, creates knowledge, shares discoveries and prepares students for leadership in the state of Washington and beyond. For more information, visit