DEEL Director Dwane Chappelle

The Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) was created to facilitate the City of Seattle's support for the educational and developmental needs of children in Seattle birth to preschool, students in Seattle's public schools, students in postsecondary programs, and their families. DEEL is responsible for leadership, direction, policy development, interdepartmental and interagency communication and coordination for early learning programs and education programs and policies and serves as the City's higher education liaison.  

DEEL works in partnership with the Seattle School District No. 1 (Seattle Public Schools), the Seattle Colleges, government agencies, and community-based organizations to: 

  • Invest in Seattle children, students, families, and communities who have been historically underserved to increase access to educational opportunities across the education continuum. 
  • Assure data-driven and outcomes-based decision making.  
  • Implement or continue evidence-based strategies and promising practices to improve program quality and achieve equity in educational outcomes.  
  • Provide access to capacity-building opportunities among partner organizations for historically underserved Seattle communities to improve program instruction, quality, and infrastructure. 


The mission of the Department of Education and Early Learning is to transform the lives of Seattle's children, youth, and families through strategic investments in education. We envision a city where all children, youth, and families have equitable opportunities and access to high quality education services, support, and outcomes.


DEEL is guided by our values of Equity, Results, Stewardship, Transparency, and Collaboration.


What we want for all children, youth, and families in Seattle:

  1. All Seattle families have access to quality, affordable childcare.
  2. All Seattle children are ready for kindergarten.
  3. All Seattle students graduate high school ready for college.
  4. All Seattle youth attain a certificate, credential, or degree.


We pursue these results through three key strategies:

  1. Equitable educational opportunities.
  2. Student and family supports.
  3. High quality learning environments.


The Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) stands in solidarity with our children, students, families, and communities against all acts of racism. 

DEEL uses its power and privilege, as the education agency within the City of Seattle to dismantle racially-biased systems and processes, to advocate for our communities within government, and to share power and resources within our Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPoC) community.

We work to advance as an organization along the Anti-Racist Continuum and acknowledge that this is a continuing journey. 


Dr. Dwane Chappelle HeadshotDr. Dwane Chappelle has served the City of Seattle as Director of the Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL) since 2016, overseeing stewardship of the City’s $619 million-dollar Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Levy to achieve educational equity and build a better future for Seattle students through strategic investments across the education continuum.

Under Dr. Chappelle’s leadership, DEEL's nationally recognized Seattle Preschool Program (SPP) providing universal access to preschool for 3-and-4-year-olds has grown from 280 seats to more than 2,130 in 2022-23 school year, with seventy-five percent of children attending at no cost. The Department’s Early Learning division also oversees the City’s Child Care Assistance Program, and has provided essential supports to stabilize the child care industry during the pandemic with the goal of strengthening the City’s early learning ecosystem.

Director Chappelle also directs DEEL’s school and community-based levy investments, which provide supplemental academic supports, enrichment, and school health services at select Seattle Public Schools promoting on-time graduation and college and career readiness. Investment strategies include funding areas advancing educator diversity by supporting teacher candidates of color with professional development and expanded pathways into the field. DEEL also continues to strengthen support and transfer pathways for Seattle Promise scholars, which celebrated record setting degree completion rates in 2021, exceeding national two-year and three-year college completion trends.

Dr. Chappelle is a lifelong educator whose mother was also a teacher and instilled in him the values of family first, hard work and integrity, leading with love, and community support. Prior to this role at DEEL, Dr. Chappelle served as principal of Rainier Beach High School, where the graduation rate increased by 25 percent under his leadership. Dr. Chappelle graduated from Grambling State University and earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Gonzaga University. He is active on several boards and committees, including the University of Washington College of Education Ambassadors, Burke Museum, Greater Seattle YMCA, Southeast Youth and Family Services, and a member of United Negro College Fund Leadership Committee, Mayors’ Education Policy Advisory Network (National League of Cities), Seattle Alliance of Black School Educators, The Breakfast Group, and the Greater New Bethel Church Elders Council.   

2020: Director Dwane Chappelle Reconfirmed in His Role as Head of Department of Education and Early Learning through 2024

Education and Early Learning

Dwane Chappelle, Director
Address: 700 5th Ave, Suite 1700, Seattle, WA, 98104
Mailing Address: PO Box 94665, Seattle, WA, 98124-6965
Phone: (206) 233-5118
Phone Alt: Childcare and Preschool: (206) 386-1050
Fax: (206) 386-1900

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