(1) Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, school districts must document the language in which families of special education students prefer to communicate and whether a qualified interpreter for the student's family was provided at any planning meeting related to a student's individualized education program or plan developed under section 504 of the rehabilitation act of 1973 and meetings related to school discipline and truancy.
(2) For the purposes of this section, "qualified interpreter" means someone who is able to interpret effectively, accurately, and impartially, both receptively and expressively using any necessary specialized vocabulary.
Findings—2019 c 256: "The legislature finds that:
(1) It is the policy of the state to welcome and encourage the presence of diverse cultures and the use of diverse languages and modalities of communication in business, government, and private affairs in this state;
(2) Washington public schools' ability to effectively communicate with students and their family members who have language access barriers impacts the schools' ability to engage students and families effectively in the education process and contributes to inequalities and increased gaps in student achievement;
(3) Effective communication is not taking place for a variety of reasons, including: (a) Some school districts do not consistently assess the language needs of their communities or consistently evaluate the effectiveness of their language access services; (b) resources, including time and money, are often not prioritized to engage families with language access barriers; and even when language access is a priority, some districts do not know the best practices for engaging families with language access barriers; (c) school staff are often not trained on how to engage families with language access barriers, how to engage and use interpreters, or when to provide translated documents; and (d) there are not enough interpreters qualified to work in educational settings; and
(4) Providing meaningful, equitable access to students and their family members who have language access barriers will not only help schools meet their civil rights obligations, but will help students meet the state's basic education goals under RCW 28A.150.210
resulting in a decrease in the educational opportunity gap between learners with language access barriers and other students, because student outcomes improve when families are engaged in the student's education." [ 2019 c 256 § 1