I know that this blog is titled "Saving Seattle Public Schools", but what if someone had a beef against the District and wanted to make trouble? Think of the SOCKED folks who dragged the District into Court over the school closures claiming, among other things, that the closures violated anti-discrimination laws and the notice provided prior to the closure of Rainier View was inadequate.
SOCKED made use of RCW 28A.645.010 which allows people to have school board or school official decisions, actions, and in-actions reviewed in Superior Court. That's quite a hammer to be swinging around. The law is pretty vague about what sort of things can be appealed. It's also unclear about what remedies the Superior Court can order. The one thing that is for sure is that this law is a gold-plated license to be a royal pain in the ass.
Take, for example, a routine School Board vote, such as the one taken on November 15, 2006 in which the Board voted unanimously to approve the 2006-2007 Building Transformation Plans. With this vote, the Board attested that the school transformation plans were all complete and that they satisfied the requirements of WAC 180.16.220. Well anyone who has read any of the school transformation plans and has also read the WAC knows without a doubt that the school transformation plans don't begin to meet the requirements of the law. So imagine if a person, or persons, either severally or collectively, aggrieved by the vote on November 15, filed an appeal of the vote in superior court within the thirty day deadline. The District would lose and lose hard. The State Board of Education doesn't review the plans; they accept the Board endorsement without independent verification. The superior court, however, would actually check. The net result would be that the District would lose their entitlement to state basic education allocation funds. Seattle Public Schools would be seriously up the creek with no paddle in sight. Every school would have to scramble to draft a new school transformation plan that actually satisfied the legal requirements. No matter how much the District harangued them, I bet it would be MONTHS before some schools complied.
Is it irresponsible of me to point this out to the general public? Or is it irresponsible of the District to ignore the law, irresponsible of the Chief Academic Officer to endorse the School Transformation Plans to the Board without confirming their compliance with the law, and irresponsible of the Board to endorse the plans to the State Board of Education without confirming their compliance with the law? For what it's worth, I did advise the District leadership of this failing and I didn't appeal the vote before December 15. Maybe now that they have been put on notice they won't leave this door open next year.
There are, in fact, dozens of similar events and opportunities in which the District fails to comply with their Policies or the law. Their work is actually pretty sloppy. In addition, the District staff don't really know the District Policies very well. I think they pretty much ignore them. This speaks to the Board's ineffectiveness as a policy-making body, a condition that is directly attributable to their inability to enforce Policy.
If I had access to affordable legal counsel, say a lawyer/parent with an axe to grind, I could keep the District in Court much more than they would care to be there and I would beat them most of the time. Of course, I would forbear if the District would alter some specific decisions that I might name...
I would consider such extortion solely because no other method of negotiation or conversation has proven effective. I don't want to have a contentious relationship with the District. I want a cooperative and collaborative relationship, but they refuse to even talk to the community, let alone cooperate or collaborate. What other tool do I have to bring them to the table?