Friday, June 04, 2010

Charles Mudede, his daughter, her hair, and the Seattle School District

Charles Mudede, a writer for the Stranger, reported that his 8-year-old daughter was removed from her APP classroom at Thurgood Marshall and placed in a non-APP classroom at the school because a hair care product she was using purportedly sickened the teacher.

I won't make conjecture about anyone's motivations here, but I have to believe that there could have been another resolution than removal from APP. The weird thing about this - other than everyone feeling the need to lawyer up - appears to be how uninformed school officials appear to be about the situation.

Reports about the situation are thin.

130 comments:

Zookeeper said...

I don’t understand why its reported that the daughter was “removed” from APP. I heard the teacher in the classroom next door (which happens not to be APP) offered to take the girl to her classroom so that the sickened teacher could continue teaching the other students.

Teachers at TM and at other schools place kids in other classrooms for the day or for a short time for various reasons. For example, students without signed field trip permission slips will get placed in another classroom while their class goes away. I don’t see their parents calling the tv news or writing an op-ed or threaten to sue the school because of it.

Charlie Mas said...

First, couldn't the teacher find another solution other than sending the child to another class?

Second, couldn't the teacher or the school contact the family to respectfully ask them to refrain from using the hair care product on school days?

Third, couldn't the family choose a more reasonable response than keeping the child out of school until some pointless demand is met?

Fourth, is it really necessary for everyone to lawyer up before they try talking to each other like human beings?

Surely many of these options were considered or tried. So what went so wrong here?

hschinske said...

I know of at least one teacher in elementary APP who has said for years that certain fragrances make her ill and requested that people not wear scented products to class. If it's the same teacher, I'm fairly sure there should be written evidence that it's a longstanding problem for her, as far as that goes.

I'm not saying the teacher handled the problem correctly (from what I've seen, I doubt that she did), or that there mightn't be other issues involved -- only that I don't get the impression the fragrance thing came out of nowhere as a cobbled-up excuse, though I can see why it may have seemed that way to Mudede.

Helen Schinske

ArchStanton said...

District response here:
http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/06/02/the-seattle-school-district-responds

Melissa Westbrook said...

I contacted Charles after I read about it in the Stranger Slog (he writes for the Stranger). He was going to call me back but never did.

The issue seems to be how publicly she made the issue. This is a little girl and saying your hair smells in front of her classmates and she's one of the few African-American students in her class doesn't really help. The teacher may have a long-stand problem with fragrance smells but calling a child out in front of the class is not the way to do it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

There was one interesting comment at the Slog (there were lots):

"Interestingly the SPS is still involved with litigation over a Nathan Hale teacher's termination because the moldy environs of Hale left her medically unable to continue working. The SPS did not believe it and terminated the teacher."

And this is true. What would be interesting is to know how the district DOES handle these issues for teachers and other staff. Did the teacher do what she should have in advance of any problems like this based on district policy?

seattle citizen said...

I think Mudede's story is about racism more than it is about the hair care product.

Mudede carefully explains what his daughter's perceptions, as a brown child, might be of this situation. Numerous comments accuse Mudede of "bringing up racism," yet this is the very issue here: That little girl's perceptions of how she is treated. Even if the teacher had the best reasons, etc etc, what the girl SEES is just another instance of being singled out.

I also agree with Mudede's recent comment on the story: 28 students and only this girl's hair product is causing a kerfuffle? While it might have been that the other 27 students were scent-free (unlikely), it sure does seem strange...

emeraldkity said...

From the column she wasn't one of a few students of color in her APP class- she was the ONLY one.

That seems at least as big of an issue as how the teacher/school handled the disturbance.

Sean98125 said...

Why not just use a different product on your kid's hair before sending them back the next day? Or no product at all?

emeraldkity said...

I thought in all schools we had a " no perfume" policy- perhaps we should- strong products can be very distracting and even cause allergic reactions.

Yet another instance when the adults aren't acting like adults. The " solving" of the problem was handled badly ( although I can't imagine sending the girl to wash her hair would have been any better).

Drs. in my experience know little about allergies except for perhaps hayfever. So pulling his child out of school until he receives a physician recommendation of that the teacher was made physically ill by the hair product and not his daughter looks like grandstanding by Mudede and if the teacher had never made it clear to the class that she was allergic/hadn't been bothered previously by the product, the reaction seems hysterical.

He says she has been wearing it all year- but intermittently. So we don't know if her classroom seat had changed or something else did. Wouldn't he have known before the last month of school if the teacher had a problem with his brown child in the class? Isn't it more likely that she was actually made ill?

This is a good opportunity to remind parents that getting to know the teacher by volunteering in the classroom/school at least occasionally helps the teacher have a better sense of your child, helps the class by taking over chores so the teacher can spend the time on the kids and helps your kid by showing them that their parent values their education enough to spend part of their day there.

Not to mention but when a crisis occurs it helps to have non crisis experience.

Zookeeper said...

I really doubt that Mr Mudede’s child was the only kid of color in her classroom. I’ve seen plenty of APP classrooms with African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians all in the same classroom. He just wrote his article that way to sensationalize the issue.

Also external factors can cause different reactions to the same allergen. Perhaps the chemical in the haircare product was tolerable in the Fall and Winter, but when combined with the flowers or trees blooming in the Spring, or perhaps after a spring cleaning/dusting at home caused her to suddenly have the adverse reaction to the same allergen.

hschinske said...

Seems to me several of my son's elementary APP classes had no African American students at all -- why is it so unbelievable that there might be only one? (Incidentally, his neighborhood school was far less diverse, with even fewer black kids and not many Asian or Latino kids either.)

Helen Schinske

seattle citizen said...

I still want to know why it was this child, and no other, that apparently had a "scent."

That is the crux of the issue.

hschinske said...

http://milo.com/organic-root-stimulator-olive-oil-moisturizing-hair-lotion-1 shows some ratings saying that the product has a definite smell, which some reviewers liked and some didn't.

Helen Schinske

Melissa Westbrook said...

"I really doubt that Mr Mudede’s child was the only kid of color in her classroom. I’ve seen plenty of APP classrooms with African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians all in the same classroom. He just wrote his article that way to sensationalize the issue. "

Zookeeper, unless you know this for absolute certain, please don't make comments like that. It is not fair to Mr. Medede to cast doubt on the facts in his story (and what the class make-up is a fact) if you do not know this for certain.

emeraldkity said...

I think zookeeper has a good point- if you generally have been able to keep reaction under control- recent increases in pollen/other , can easily be enough to tip the scales and make it hard to manage.

I looked up the chemicals used in this product and several of them are rated as allergens- one used as a scented bug repellent and another banned by the International Fragrance Association as being too allergenic.


I wonder what would have been an acceptable solution to all parties-
but according to another classroom parent who posted on the Stranger comments following the article- she wore the hair cream the next day after being told it bothered the teacher- so it would seem as her parents want to make this a point of controversy between their child and her classroom- nice goin' guys.

seattle citizen said...

emeraldkitty, here is the comment on the Slog by the other parent (who has a child in the APP classroom):
"Our child said when this girl came to school with the fragrance in her hair and it caused severe problems for the teacher, and the child was asked to sit in a neighboring classroom for at least part of the schoolday. (This is sometimes done at this school when there are disciplinary issues). I was shocked when my child reported that the next day the girl AGAIN came to school with the fragrance. This time she was put into a different class for the whole day, is my understanding"

So, according to this third-party report, Mudede's kid was asked to sit in another room, "(This is sometimes done at this school when there are disciplinary issues)" and then sent to that room for a whole day the next day?

Is this a discipline problem?

Color me cynical, but I wonder what the racial proportion is of students who are "sent to another room" for "discipline."

emeraldkity said...

I didn't say the child was a discipline problem.

However- when something happened that was extreme enough that the adult in charge of the classroom- made a student leave the room for the rest of the day- I would describe that as a disturbance- perhaps some would use more words.

;)

seattle citizen said...

I appreciated another comment about, uh, the many odors put forth by children going through puberty. That teacher said that teachers just have to learn to ignore the many wafty smells.

This brings a question: A HS teacher, for instance, might see 125 students in a day. If that teacher is sensitive to odors, what can be done? Some students just can't have that teacher? Schedules have to be adjusted?

I understand the need to accomodate various special needs and circumstance, both of teachers and of students, but what might be done regarding a teacher susceptible to some smells or chemicals?

WV thinks the classroom atmosphere might be made sweeder somehow.

emeraldkity said...

perhaps whomever bought this stuff should be disciplined- but there should be some alternative to making a young child feel singled out- no matter what justification her parents get out of it.


I don't know the teacher- but from comments others have made- she may be a bit on the hysterical side?

The combination with a family who is quick to assume racial slights would make a sitcom on FOX but just another dayinthelife, of SPS unfortunately.

seattle citizen said...

EK, I know you didn't mention discipline; the parent commenting on the the Slog did. It raised flags in me that she used that word, threw in that information, regarding what was done with Mudede's kid.

Again, to me it's all about what the 8 year old brown child sees: "I'm the only brown kid, teacher is upset, I'm being sent out as if for discipline to THAT room..."

Again, I wonder that no other children had stinky products on them. Maybe that classroom is just soapy-clean except for this kid?

Melissa Westbrook said...

The original Slog story on this had several teachers weighing it. (But first, this is an elementary school, not a high school so hopefully no one is going through puberty.)

These teachers who mostly self-identified as high school teachers said that they (1) have smelled all kinds of odors (mostly body, not chemical although with the advent of Axe I'm sure it's worse there) (2) they either have a fan in the room or open a window (3) if it is on-going, they either have a private conversation with the student and/or a counselor because there could be grooming issues or health issues. The consensus was that some odor some of the time is a consequence of being a teacher.

seattle citizen said...

Yes, a teacher quick to feel extremes chose the wrong sparring partner when dealing with the child of Charles Mudede. He'll bury her with existentialist philosophy, in this case using race as the focal point.

Mudede is, in my opinion, quite an interesting writer who looks into the smallest aspects of life to illuminate the human condition. She's in for a run.

Mudede also graciously assisted 826 Seattle in working with students at John Marshall one year in producing their book of stories, Burning the Past.

seattle citizen said...

Melissa, that raises the issue of new buildings where the windows don't open because it would "interfere with the HVAC system."

Yikes.

Edward Abbey, in the Monkey Wrench Gang, introduces one of his protaganists, a professor, by having the professor complaining to the class about the non-opening windows of his classroom. He proceeds to pick up a chair and toss it through the window. problem solved, he gets on with the lesson...

Oh, and puberty is coming sooner and sooner: kids are experiencing puperty at ten, even eight.

hschinske said...

http://www.aafp.org/afp/20000915/tips/8.html

"Myth number 3 is that puberty in girls now begins earlier than it did in the past. The average age at menarche (12.8 years) has not fallen in the past 60 years, but the lower age limit for normal thelarche or pubertal onset is now generally considered to be below the eight years of age cited in most texts. Most pediatric endocrinologists, however, still recommend evaluation and follow-up of girls who start thelarche at six to seven years of age."

seattle citizen said...

Thanks for the correction and clarification, Helen. You rock.

Zookeeper said...

Melissa, let me reword my statement: I know for a fact that Mr. Mudede daughter is not the only person of color in her classroom. There are at least four Asians, and a Latino student in her classroom. In the other same grade APP classroom, there are two African-Americans, five Asians, and two kids with Olive colored skin.

Rosie said...

These issues come up regularly in the workplace. And while it may be "unfair" to the "rights" of a person to where/use whatever product/scent they want, the solution is always that the person wearing the product is told to stop doing so. And this happens without any "proof" that the complaining person is allergic to the scent.

Perhaps in the old days changing products under such circumstances would be a simple courtesy. Now enforcing that obligation is, in fact, a requirement under the ADA. Employers need to make "reasonable accommodations" to medical conditions. Compelling a person to switch their product would virtually always be one such "reasonable accommodation," as would removing the person from the immediate vicinity of the impacted person until the product was removed.

I agree that based on the various accounts it appears there has been a lack of diplomacy/maturity by pretty much all of the adults involved in the situation. It's too bad that a child got caught up in this.

hschinske said...

Well, what he said is "the only brown person in her class." That's a phrase that people have different takes on, whereas "people of color" has a much more stable definition, in my experience. I think he's probably right that his child was the most visible minority in that environment, and the most obviously "brown," but he could probably have been clearer.

Helen Schinske

Lisa said...

Wait, according to Zookeeper there is another same-grade APP classroom at the school? Why wasn't the girl sent there instead of to the classroom not operating at her academic level? That is odd, and gives credence to his take on the story.

This does bring to mind the many times I have had children in my house for a playdate, felt ill and needed to open windows. While I don't have "chemical sensitivity" some people seem to really pile on the laundry products to the extent I'm bothered merely having the person around me. Teachers must have to take this sort of thing in stride.

hschinske said...

Here's an email I've had from a teacher (likely the same one, and in any case showing the kinds of issues):

Dear Parents,

With Spring upon us, allergies are in full bloom! I, unfortunately, suffer from allergies all year long. I am allergic to perfume - including perfume which may be found in lotion, hair products, even flowers! As a result of perfume exposure I get blurry vision, headache, trouble breathing, which results in my not being as sharp as I should be as well as uncomfortable. I cannot be an effective teacher for your children under these circumstances. Your child may or may not have mentioned I was out yesterday due to a severe reaction to perfume. So, a reminder: please refrain from any form of perfume if you are dealing with the class, including field trips. If you show up with perfume, one of us will have to leave!

Thanks again for your continuing support.

Yours in allergies,

[name redacted]

P.S. We at Lowell try to respect nut/etc. allergies. One of the special ed teachers was forced to leave school Wednesday when bleach had been used in her classroom that morning causing her to have an allergic reaction. Let's respect all allergies that affect our abilities to do all that we can to learn and teach.

wseadawg said...

SC said: I still want to know why it was this child, and no other, that apparently had a "scent."

That is the crux of the issue.

Again, to me it's all about what the 8 year old brown child sees: "I'm the only brown kid, teacher is upset, I'm being sent out as if for discipline to THAT room..."

Again, I wonder that no other children had stinky products on them. Maybe that classroom is just soapy-clean except for this kid?


SC & the rest, the amount of speculation and conjecture on this blog, versus known, actual facts, combined with Mudede's one-sided, un-cross-examined, incomplete and self-serving account of the events should at least - AT LEAST - cause people to withhold rampant speculation and judgment until the facts are in.

All this hand-wringing over what girl might have perceived about herself, and how the teacher treated her differently and worse, because she was black - And let's not dance around the issue: That is the accusation - quickly ramps up the rhetoric and spins the story out of control.

We had a teacher who couldn't tolerate a hair product on a kid in her class. That's the origin of this matter. You don't see stinky or offensive hair products, you smell them first, then trace their origin. Am I suggesting only black people stink? Of course not. I'm suggesting that the first offense was to the olfactory senses of the teacher, and not, as Mudede hyperbolically suggests, that the mere sight of his daughter might make the teacher ill. Such gratuitous hyperbolic accusations serve no purpose but to agitate and unfairly demonize.

The kid was put out of the room because her hair product - not her, not her conduct, not her race - and the teacher's breathing tolerance or metabolism didn't match. That was the first issue confronted. Might it have been handled differently? Maybe so. Does it make the teacher racist? Absolutely not.

Could the girl or her parents have considered not using the product again instead of making the teacher sick, and instead of forcing the issue into a civil rights crisis?

If we're so concerned about the 8 year old girl's self-image, why are we exploiting her situation and making she and her teacher lightning rods for criticism. Will this little girl not now be labeld as "the one who got kicked out of class because of her hair product?" Will her teacher not now be labeled as a racist for "kicking the girl out of class for being black or wearing a hair product she couldn't tolerate, because only black kids wear it" (hint, hint..) or something worse?

How about not judging somebody until we've actually walked in their actual shoes, and giving the benefit of the doubt (i.e., innocent until proven guilty) until the facts are in?

Wouldn't we all want that treatment were we the person caught up in the mess?

hschinske said...

I don't agree with everything Mudede said or did in this case, but I still think he's right about "racial insensitivity, which amounts to the same thing for someone in that teacher's position." The racial context does matter, and I think the teacher was insensitive to that and made a bad matter worse.

Helen Schinske

Theo said...

This isn't just about odor. Odor is something a teacher can handle..even if it is putrid. However, when a particular allergen impregnates the air of a room because a student has put too much on their person (hair, skin, clothes) that the teacher cannot breathe then we have some issues. Does the teacher leave class? Do we pull a sub in? What about the rights of the other students to have their classroom teacher? What about the right of the teacher to breathe?

Sarovar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarovar said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rosie said...

Well put wseadawg.

Sarovar, if you used your name, and Mr. Mudede wasn't a public figure, your comments are of the sort that could lead to be a defendants in a defamation lawsuit.

Sarovar said...

Charles Mudede is an anti-white racist, a Marxist from Zimbabwe where his family made its fortune off of stealing from and killing whites (in Zimbabwe, raping and murdering innocent whites is pretty much the normal national policy).

Mudede is also a sexist, and a drunk, and no one should take anything he says seriously or place any importance on it whatsoever, except as proof of his racist drunk sexist marxist idiocy, which he proves beyond all doubt in almost every one of his babbling "articles".

Sarovar said...

Rosie: too bad for you everything I wrote is true.

Hippy Goodwife said...

The reasonable thing to do would have been a polite note home, followed by a phone call from the teacher explaining her allergic reaction and respectfully requesting that the students family find an alternative product for their daughters hair.

The reasonable response would have been for the family to try other products until one was found that was acceptable to all.

Did any of this happen? We don't know.

Did the teacher screw up? There has long been stereotyping and division in both the black and white communities regarding black women and their hair. Was she insensitive to that? Was she in the midst of a panic attack because her breathing was compromised? We don't know.

Did the family have a knee jerk reaction and cry foul before having the facts? Are they reacting to an overall perception of racism in the APP program. Did they have previous issues with the program or with this teacher? We don't know.

With all we don't know, it still looks to me like all the adults here acted badly, without facts and clearly without the best interests of this girl and her classmates in mind.

Lori said...

While I don't think, from the little we know about the situation, that the teacher acted appropriately, I just want to add that chemical sensitivities can be debilitating to people. I know, I'm married to someone who is exquisitely sensitive to smells that most of would barely notice.

When we started dating, I quickly had to change some of my own habits. Hairspray makes him sick to his stomach, as do most perfumes and fragranced lotions. It was honestly shocking to me how little of an offensive substance it took to make him miserable. If exposure goes on long enough, he gets a severe headache that limits his functioning. We use fragrance-free dryer sheets and detergents. I can't spray any room freshners or use carpet powders, and when we had cats, we had to keep the litterboxes immaculate. He is even bothered by low-VOC paint that I can't even smell.

I would not say that he is allergic to any of these substances. True allergies require generation of antibodies to the substances and don't usually manifest as nausea, which is what the Stranger article said this teacher experienced. Instead, it's chemical sensitivity, and until you've met someone with it, it's easy to think they are exaggerating about how these substances affect them. If this teacher is like my spouse, she may have felt truly ill and incapacitated.

Sarovar said...

http://ww.africancrisis.co.za/Article.php?ID=47276&

Scroll about halfway down the page for photographic evidence of the handiwork of Mudede's fellow marxists and anti-white racists in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

Sarovar said...

To put it all in another perspective, according to an informed reading of the Seattle PI's annual year-end homicide tally articles, teen and adult black males, who make up less than 3% of Seattle's population (population total for all blacks of all ages and sexes in Seattle is 8%), commit over half of the killings in Seattle every single year. Most of their victims are blacks. Most of the non-black victims were older white men and women.

Think about that while you whine about this supposed example of "unacceptable racism" displayed by the teacher, you naive progressive fools.

Sarovar said...

Yeah, this Mudede creature sounds like a real rational and level-headed dude! He refuses to answer rational, easy-to-answer questions which would definitively clear up the mater, and he answers with almost incoherent profanity, but you dumb white-gult liberal "educators" just go ahead and kiss his ass some more because you are afraid this marxist thug might call you a racist!!!! :

-------------

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/my-daughter-her-hair-and-the-seattle-school-district/Content?oid=4180400

" @ 51, please, i refer you to the cultural component i discussed earlier. it answers a point you seem to miss deliberately.

you have no idea the kind of climate of humiliation this situation created for my daughter, who was the subject of a witchhunt.

so fuck you and others who think this is really about chemicals and not culture.

Posted by Charles Mudede on June 4, 2010 at 12:44 PM · Report "

hschinske said...

Troll cleanup in Aisle Three!

wseadawg said...

Sarovar: That's a lot of provocative stuff, and certainly a little OT for this thread, but I do think Mudede's response you posted is revealing. He seems determined to burn bridges instead of build them. Case in point: If you disagree with him, FU! How practical. How progressive!

Sarovar said...

Troll cleanup??!!!??

All I did in my previous post was quote one of Mudede's posts VERBATIM.

What's wrong, can't you handle the truth? Because everything in my posts is TRUE. Black teen and males (less than 3% of Seattle) really do commit commit over half the murders here every year. Mudede's relatives and marxist comrades in Zimbabwe really do kill innocent whites almost every day.

WAKE UP TO REALITY YOU NAIVE THING

By the way, if it matters to you, which it probably does to you liberal racists, I too am a "person of color", to use your favored Orwellian NewSpeak term, since I am of Indian Hindu descent. Mudede's marxist family and their henchmen also kill many of my fellow Indians in Zimbabwe and South Africa too, but you people are SO NAIVE and uninformed that you don't even realize it.

Josh Hayes said...

I'm wondering if the mods ought to consider turning on moderation for this thread; it seems to be getting both hot-tempered and far afield.

Let us try to remain civil and on-topic, huh?

Sarovar said...

"Troll cleanup"???

All I did was quote one of Mudede's own posts, VERBATIM.

ArchStanton said...

To put it all in another perspective, according to an informed reading of the Seattle PI's annual year-end homicide tally articles, teen and adult black males, who make up less than 3% of Seattle's population (population total for all blacks of all ages and sexes in Seattle is 8%), commit over half of the killings in Seattle every single year. Most of their victims are blacks. Most of the non-black victims were older white men and women.

Think about that while you whine about this supposed example of "unacceptable racism" displayed by the teacher, you naive progressive fools.


Dude. Chill out.

Homicide statistics have nothing to do with this girl's choice of hair product and her teacher's reaction to it.

Furthermore, if you've read this blog much, you'd know that it is frequented by posters that fall outside of your blanket label of "naive progressive fools".

All I did was quote one of Mudede's own posts, VERBATIM.

No. you've made some other incendiary posts. What is your agenda, anyway?

Sarovar said...

My agenda is to get everyone to realize what a total loser this Mudede is, and to get him hounded out of Seattle and hopefully back to his native shithole of Zimbabwe. Is that straightforward enough for you?

ArchStanton said...

My agenda is to get everyone to realize what a total loser this Mudede is, and to get him hounded out of Seattle and hopefully back to his native shithole of Zimbabwe. Is that straightforward enough for you?

And you feel this is the best forum to accomplish that?

What's your beef with him? Did he write something about you that you didn't like?

Sarovar said...

My beef with him is that he is a racist, a Marxist, a drunk, a sexist, and babbling idiot.

He is Seattle's Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and Flavor Flav all rolled up into one.

Sarovar said...

Check out a comment Mudede just left on another topic where he was crying "racism" just a few minutes ago!

Even he admits he might have gone a bit overboard with the whole "Boy who Cried Racism" thing:

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archives/2010/06/04/race-and-guns-an-american-tragedy

"@29, you are right. this might have nothing to do with race. i'm in state at the moment where race has taken too central a role in my thinking. i will make the post just guns, an american tragedy.
Posted by Charles Mudede on June 4, 2010 at 1:05 PM "

zb said...

"And you feel this is the best forum to accomplish that?"

This is not the forum to accomplish that. Please go away, unless you want to talk about the issues we are talking about, not ad hominem attacks.

(What's the comment moderation policy? Last time, we had concerns about "outing" people's pseudonymity. Are the moderators planning on applying any other criteria?)

Sarovar said...

I haven't made any ad hominem attacks (at least any unfair ones), all I have done is post facts.

AND THE FACTS ARE that Charles Mudede is a racist, sexist, drunk, Marxist babbling idiot, and his whole life revolves around "being black" like it is a religion, and it is no wonder he causes trouble like this. It is the whole point of his very existence and the makes up the totality of the subjects of his "writing".

wseadawg said...

Soravar: You're not being helpful. Can't you realize that?

I probably speak for a lot of folks but keep me out of your crossfire on unrelated issues. In case you haven't noticed, we're discussing an unfortunate event where haste and hotheadedness worsened a difficult situation instead of resolving it.

I agree with Arch, CHILL OUT dude. If it isn't about hair product and a teacher, pound your keyboard on another blog.

hschinske said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarovar said...

Are you implying that the fact that Charles Mudede makes his living off of writing racist race-baiting articles is totally irrelevant to this discussion?

hschinske said...

Don't feed the trolls.

Sarovar said...

Since when is posting the INDISPUTABLE TRUTH being a "troll"?

Just because the facts of reality do not conform to your naive fantasy of what the world is or should be like does not make me a "troll".

Charlie Mas said...

Writing as someone who has the authority to delete a comment, I'd like to explain my decision not to delete those by Sarovar.

1. Neither Blogspot nor the blog is - nor will they be - responsible for the statements made by commentors.

2. The statements by Sarovar, while incendiary, don't appear actionable. Sarovar is certainly free to hold strong opinions about Mr. Mudede, who is a public figure, and free to express those strong opinions. This freedom extends to accusing Mr. Mudede of racism, sexism, Marxism, excessive drinking, and general lack of intellect. Mr. Mudede has certainly made similar accusations of his own and in more widely distributed formats.

3. To a significant degree, Mr. Mudede does make a living from making printed accusations of racism.

Now that Sarovar has stated his or her case - multiple times - there is no need for Sarovar to repeat it further. Moreover, there is little to be gained by engaging in debate over the questions of Mr. Mudede's character. I doubt anyone is going to convince Sarovar to another perspective.

I don't see any point in further discussion of Mr. Mudede's character.

dan dempsey said...

I just wish to point out that certain people with allergies to certain scents are incredibly impacted by some smells.

It may well be that the teacher in question made a less than advisable choice; I do NOT know.

The situation if it involved me as a parent would have merited a phone call sometime on day #1 to the teacher.

I can guarantee that under NO circumstance would my child have worn any fragrance on day #2.

I might have sought a greater explanation in the days that followed .... BUT give me a break here .. wearing the same fragrance again on day #2 ....

I would have been at the store buying a non-fragrance shampoo and it would have been in use on the evening of Day #1.

I am not sure many of the comments here pass the smell test and it appears the young lady left the house on Day #2 without passing it either.

seattle citizen said...

wseadawg, you wrote
"SC & the rest, the amount of speculation and conjecture on this blog, versus known, actual facts, combined with Mudede's one-sided, un-cross-examined, incomplete and self-serving account of the events should at least - AT LEAST - cause people to withhold rampant speculation and judgment until the facts are in. "

I'd respond that I'm not judging anything, and if I did, I apologize. I'm speculating, yes, out loud, because this situation is a very complex and important one.

Mnay perspectives, perhaps many of them accurate (if I may so speculate)...My "fascination" (no, drivingly urgent obsession) is with the perceptions people involved with this might have, the cast.

But my main nagging worry as I contribute to this thread is about the eight year old: I feel...awkward, or indelicate for speculating or ponitificating or analyzing the parameters while this little girl suffers the hot lights and crowded questions.

I'm going to bow out of this thread and continue to probe race issues, but not, if I can help it, when the topic is a kid. I think I'll give her some privacy. I should have in the first place.

Teachermom said...

This was handled badly if the child was called out. Period. When a teacher gets ill during the day, a sub or someone in the building covers for them.

I have taught kids who smell like urine, feces and cigarette smoke, and I would never call attention to them the way attention was called to this little girl. For leave-in conditioner? Black hair needs moisture added to prevent tangling, overdrying, and breakage. There are lots of natural and low-odor options,and if the teacher had calmly and privately brought this up with the family, I would imagine they could find a mutually agreeable hair lotion.

I would do it as a parent if someone had approached me respectfully about the sensitivity they had.

As a teacher, it is part of the job to know how to communicate with parents, recognize potential hot button issues, and handle them appropriately.

PS: Lots of elementary students begin puberty before they go off to middle school.

Sarovar said...

Thank you Charlie Mas, and I will henceforth refrain from discussing Mr. Mudede.

Are you the "Charlie Mas" posting on Slog and addressing Mudede here?:

http://www.thestranger.com/seattle/my-daughter-her-hair-and-the-seattle-school-district/Content?oid=4180400

wseadawg said...

SC: I think reasonable people would have resolved this matter already and the hot lights would've been turned off days ago. Because of the paralysis caused by allegations of racism, progress toward solutions all but stopped, keeping the kid under the lights. I hope folks will learn from this issue that demanding perfection is often the enemy of the good. Wouldn't it be better if this girl, the teacher, and her family had already met in the classroom together and developed an alternative arrangement that worked for all?

Charlie Mas said...

I usually post under my real name - here and elsewhere.

In the Seattle Times my user id is coolpapa. I think I'm coolpapa on P-I Sound-offs as well.

Charlie Mas said...

I think there is a lesson here on how to make an effective complaint.

For one thing, you need to ask for a reasonable and helpful resolution. Mr. Mudede's demand for a doctor's note is neither a reasonable expectation - healthcare information is confidential - nor is it helpful - the doctor's note won't tell him anything he doesn't already know.

For another thing, if you're going to lay down an ultimatum make sure it's something that the other side cares about. Mr. Mudede's threat to hold his daughter out of school was met with a marked lack of concern. "You're going to keep her out of school in protest? Okay. Do that." This protest proved pointless after three days and Mr. Mudede then resorted to legal redress.

If you're going to sue, have damages. What did his daughter suffer? He says she was humiliated. So will there be litigation everytime an eight-year-old is humiliated? Will this become the primary business of the Courts? And what damages will he claim for the humiliation of an 8-year-old girl before her classmates? A cupcake party would probably wipe the incident from their minds - if they were still thinking of it at all - so, with punch, I'm thinking about fifty dollars.

By the way, the humiliation that Mr. Mudede says she suffered was to have to sit in a classroom with mostly black children. That was the horror. Who's supposed to be the racist here?

If you're going to complain you should acknowledge your role (if any) in creating the problem. Mr. Mudede is silent on the contributory role his family played in creating this little drama. After the hair treatment was identified as an allergen the family insisted on continuing to use it. So I'm thinking that they are going to be on the hook for about $20 of the cost of the party.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sarovar, I would back off on the comments about Mr. Mudede. Sorry, take that somewhere else if that's what you want to do. You say you have an agenda with Mr. Medede, then take it up with him. This is NOT the place for it.

I pass no judgment on the teacher personally but I think her professional behavior towards this child could have been better because she has now labeled this little girl in some way in front of her peers. I haven't heard anyone here say the teacher is racist.

To up the ante, here's a story from the NY Times. There's a woman who has severe peanut allergies even to the dust. Her office was notified but some people continued to go get Thai food with peanut sauce and she would have a reaction just smelling it. So she was allowed to get a dog that can detect peanuts so that she could get far away. BUT there was someone else who was allergic to the dog so the dog had to go.

Whose allergies trump here?

Tosca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tosca said...

My child is in this class and this incident happened at least two weeks ago now. There a quite a number of facts that were completely left out of Mr. Mudede's account. Such as, the teacher was in the midst of a remodel, which produced a lot dust and aggravated her allergic condition. On the day in question, the teacher had serious trouble breathing and had to leave the room. Out in the hallway, the teacher from next door helped out the struggling teacher in question, it was determined that this child's hair product was the source of the problem, and the other teacher offered to take the child into her classroom. It just happens by a matter of geography that the classroom and teacher next door are ALO and not APP.

I have no knowledge of how the parents were informed, but ALL of the parents in the classroom received a email explaining the situation (remodel, allergies, breathing problems) and asking for
help by sending in children without perfumed shampoo, laundry detergent, etc. My child has no recollection of how the student was called out of the classroom, but it was not apparent to him that she felt humiliated.

Now that the parents have made a public issue of this, engaged a lawyer, pulled their child from school (possibly for the rest of the year), and written an editorial about the situation (leaving out a number of facts), it has spiraled into something that is truly sad and unfortunate.

I have absolutely no way of knowing what Mr. Mudede's agenda may or may not be. What I can definitively say is that there are plenty of facts completely left out of his version of the incident, and, perhaps intentionally, his published version has not be a constructive way of having a useful discussion about race and racism.

There is so much as parents that we are able (even unconsciously) to put on our children that can influence how they feel about something. I have no way of knowing how this young girl feels about what happened to here, but I can only agree that the father ought to clearly acknowledge how his own experiences and filters have affected his actions here and may not be in anyone's best interest but his own.

Ben said...

Tosca, are you up for posting your thoughts on Slog? Or is that a can of worms you don't feel inclined to open?

Tosca said...

Ben, my inclination is no, I would prefer not to repost on the Slog. One parent from the class already left comments over there about the background details regarding the construction and the teacher's allergies, so I think the facts are at least more balanced for "the record." I only said something here, because I felt that for all the speculation and interest in this topic on this site, I needed to add a bit of context and/or facts that had been missing from this discussion.

As for the rest--specifically my concerns about how his article is not doing anyone any good--I would be happy to say that to Mr. Mudede directly in person, but I would imagine that posting on the inflamed and hostile environment of the comments section of his blog would only add to the problem. The hornet's nest, as you say, is best left to swarm and sting on all on its own without me.

By the way, one erroneous fact that irritates me is that Mr. Mudede keeps stating that there are 28 children in the class. There are only 22, including his daughter. If he can't get that basic fact right, how can we trust anything he says?

Tosca said...

Sorry, can of worms is the phrase Ben used. Can or worms, hornet's nest, either way it's not something I want to touch!

Stu said...

Let me see if I get this right.
Teacher has allergies . . .
Teacher informs students early in the year . . .
Teacher's allergies are so bad one day that SHE has to leave the room and enlist help from the teacher next door . . .
Teachers determine that the scent in a hair product is causing the problem that day . . .
Girl with product in hair is asked to do the rest of day in class next door. [manner of "ask" is the unknown here]
Letter is sent home with ALL students asking them not to use scented hair product . . .
Girl comes back to school next day with scented hair product . . .
Father blames school for racism.

There should be a license required for parenting. What kind of lesson is he teaching his daughter if his response to a reasonable "I have allergies" request is to have his daughter return with the same offending ingredients in her hair?

This has nothing to do with race and everything to do with someone willing to "use" his daughter to make a point.

stu

PS - I know the APP teacher in question and, while I do not have first hand knowledge of how this went down, I can easily imagine her kindly explaining to this girl that an ingredient in her hair product was making her sick. Children aren't stupid, especially an APP kid. This girl knew it wasn't about race until her dad told her it was. I'm not saying there isn't racism; I'm saying THIS isn't racism.

Charlie Mas said...

Now we have a poorly researched and poorly written story in the Seattle Times about this. The Times reporter doesn't quote anyone other than Mr. Mudede and doesn't appear to have spoken with anyone else. She has the name of the program wrong and repeats Mr. Mudede's sleight of hand by writing that the child's hair was the source of the reaction instead of saying it was the hair product.

I think the perspective of the story is made very clear by the headline "Daughter taken out of class at Thurgood Marshall Elementary; parents have lots of questions". The child has no identity of her own; she is the daughter of Charles Mudede.

Ben said...

Can someone confirm this basic fact for me?

Charles's daughter wasn't kicked out of APP, correct?

This is the impression many Slog commenters have been allowed to have.

She was asked to leave the classroom, yes? For the rest of the day, or whatever. Right?

ArchStanton said...

Now we have a poorly researched and poorly written story in the Seattle Times about this.

I find this whole thing disappointing and depressing, but I guess litigation and grandstanding is the way that we resolve conflicts theses days.

This should have been handled with a face-to-face between the parties involved; it might have required a mediator, it might have taken more than one meeting, and everyone might not have gotten everything they wanted. It might even have been a valuable "teachable moment" for the teacher, student, and parents. Instead Mr. Mudede chose to use his platform in the Stranger to to drag this into the spotlight. I guess that's his right, but he can't claim surprise at the talk of a lawsuit he set into motion or surprise that his daughter is drawn into the spotlight:

"There is a great sense of embarrassment for us," said Mudede, who seemed surprised the situation had reached the point where there was talk of a lawsuit, the very thing that would shut down discussion.

"How do you neutralize this exactly?" he asked. "It's the last thing I wanted to happen. ...


I'll tell you how you neutralize it - you apologize for blowing it out of proportion and get your family and the school together with a mediator and you talk about it.

/on a snarky note: Wasn't the split supposed to increase diversity/access/awareness in APP? Wasn't it all going to be rainbows and puppies? How's that working out?

ArchStanton said...

It occurs to me that at Lowell we have this program where the older kids are trained to be conflict mediators and help to resolve issues between kids on the playground. (not sure if this continued at T. Marshall - but T. Marshall APP kids would have bee exposed to it)

It's a shame the grownups can't practice what they preach. You could cut the irony with a knife.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Charlie, the very first sentence in the Times article references the hair product. Mudede said he couldn't get answers from the school or district and was left with his daughter's version.

I absolutely agree that the reporter should have noted if she had tried to contact the teacher, the school or the district.

That now the NAACP has decided to jump in means this thing is really spinning out of control.

From Tosca:
"There a quite a number of facts that were completely left out of Mr. Mudede's account. Such as, the teacher was in the midst of a remodel, which produced a lot dust and aggravated her allergic condition."

One thing(and I'll probably get slammed for it but oh well) is that if the teacher's allergies were so aggravated by her house's remodel that any sort of scent will set them off, is that any child's fault? What happens to the teacher if she goes to the teachers' lounge? The grocery store? A movie? It's pretty difficult to control everything.

If the teacher is having this much trouble, maybe she needs to move in with a friend or relative during the remodel so that her allergies are not on such high alert that a single child's hair product scent sets them off.

Tosca said...

Melissa,

Yes, I think it is absolutely fair to say that in hindsight, the teacher could have done some of things differently. I do not know if she was even aware that the remodel dust was causing additional problems until this incident occurred, but perhaps, yes, she should have known better. But we have all had the experience of looking back in hindsight and realizing we could and should have made different decisions. Most of us don't have those decisions dragging out publicly without an opportunity to defend or explain ourselves.

What is really upsetting about this for me personally is how manipulative this feels on the part of the father. He has a very public forum in which to air his grievances--so much so that the Times picks it up and runs with his story. How does the lawyer or the press actually help solve the situation? How is this constructive for the student? And, frankly, there are consequences now for the other 21 children still in the classroom. Did Mr. Mudede consider anyone besides himself in this whole situation?

hschinske said...

The child has no identity of her own; she is the daughter of Charles Mudede.

First people get after him for making this public, and now for keeping his daughter's name out of the paper? That seems pretty unfair to me. Frankly, I'm *happy* his daughter's name hasn't been mentioned. That seems like a sensible decision to me.

I do think he's making far too much of a hoohah about it, by the way, and hurting his own cause, but he did have a point, and he does have a right to be angry.

I can't agree with anyone who comes down totally for chemicals being the issue OR totally for culture being the issue. IT IS BOTH. There is no simple answer here.

Helen Schinske

Mary said...

There is so much we don't know here. The whole remodel story may have been mentioned by the teacher precisely to spare children's feelings. No one wants to say, "your perfume is making me sick." It's embarrassing to all concerned.

The fact is that perfume/chemical sensitivity is a very real issue, but if you haven't experienced it yourself or know someone who has, it's easy to discount it, disbelieve in it, or make light of it. There is very little awareness of it, and people who live with it have to put up with a lot of insensitivity from those who don't.

And to answer your question, Melissa, you leave the teacher's lounge, you run to the other side of the grocery store, and you don't go out to movies much. You *can't* leave the classroom, so you open the windows, send polite notes home to parents and deal with the asthma or migraine attacks that happen when a child sometimes forgets. It sounds like this teacher might have already run through all those options, but again, there's a lot we don't know.

wseadawg said...

Now comes the shakedown from daddy and his lawyer.

What a lesson to teach your kid: Cry foul, racism, sexism, or any other ism, bring the heat, then collect the $$.

Nice gig if you can get it.

Charlie Mas said...

I didn't mean that the Times should have published the girl's name. I meant that they could have written "Girl taken out of class" instead of "Daughter taken out of class". She is an individual in her own right, not merely in her role as someone's daughter.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well and then there's the issue of the response. Anyone know the Lowell principal? A listener? A circle-the-wagons? I don't know. But between the principal and the district this probably could have been defused. But, the Times report mentions nothing about asking them for a comment or for what they did when Mr. Mudede complained. I can honestly believe he didn't get a clear answer because I've seen this when schools get nervous when asked hard questions.

reader said...

Perhaps Ms SniffProblem should have gone to teach the unwashed masses (and therefore unscented) in the "ALO" classroom. In fact, she should just have that job from now forward, since she is unable to do hers in the assigned classroom. Incidentally, all the kids at our school were informed that they MUST wear deodorant. (we all got a letter) Something about puberty making them smell bad... and scenting them up was therefore necessary.

Charlie Mas said...

The District's Handbook of Student Rights and Responsibilities clearly states that:

"every student must take personal responsibility to:...
Dress appropriately for school in ways that will not cause safety or health problems, or disruptions;
"

In addition to this rule the handbook says:
"Students will also be disciplined if they fail to comply with any of the written rules and regulations in any other setting having a real and substantial relationship to the operation of Seattle Public Schools, including, but not limited to, the preservation of the health and safety of students and employees and the preservation of an educational process which is conducive to learning."

It appears to me that, strictly speaking, the use of the hair treatment, which caused a health problem for the teacher, was not only inconsiderate and callous, it was also a violation of district rules.

hschinske said...

I meant that they could have written "Girl taken out of class" instead of "Daughter taken out of class".

Oh, okay, that makes sense. But still, I think the headline focus was on the parents, so it's not that odd they said "daughter" rather than "girl." I mean, you wouldn't have a headline saying "Parents question why girl was taken out of class", because then it wouldn't be clear whether it was one set of parents wondering why their daughter was removed, or a bunch of parents wondering why some girl or other was taken out of class.

Helen Schinske

Skeptic said...

As a Thurgood Marshall parent, I think one of the possible culprits missing in this whole discussion is the principal. Why didn't she step in to mediate this whole mess? One account I read suggested that she took several days to get back to anyone to try to sort out what was going on.

Or maybe she did, and her efforts were as ham-handed as they were when I went to her with my concerns about the way my children were being bullied on the playground, and her answer was that perhaps the "anxiety" they were feeling about being taunted and shoved to the ground by kids they didn't know suggested that my kids needed counseling to help conquer their anxieties.

Who knows? Maybe she told Mudede and his family that they all needed counseling to handle their angry feelings when what she should have done was show a little leadership to bring everyone involved in the confusion together to talk through the whole mess and solve the problem.

Stu said...

Perhaps Ms SniffProblem should have gone to teach the unwashed masses (and therefore unscented) in the "ALO" classroom.

Ahh, "reader," I've missed you somehow . . . as idiotic as always, comparing "your" unnamed district to our horrible institutions. Thank God we have you here ushering your warnings again.

The teacher has allergies; the students were notified of this earlier in the year. This isn't about "smell," this is about ingredients that cause a reaction. (Ingredients that have gotten this product listed on allergen lists, by the way.) It's about the health of the teacher and the strong-arm tactics of a parent trying to make a point.

I'm sure that, in your district, kids who have peanut allergies are locked away in another building with no rights to any learning at all, let alone advanced learning. And I'm sure you'd send your kid with a peanut butter sandwich to sit at the no-peanut table . . . just to prove a point.

stu

98118 said...

I'm a little struck by the many dismissive critiques of Mr. Mudede for "lawyering up" too quickly. These statements seem odd on a blog where many contributors are actively involved in multiple lawsuits against the district, some of which might be considered pretty fringe-y. It seems hypocritical to judge Mr. Mudede for using litigation as a blunt instrument to drive his agenda with SPS, when many on this blog cheerlead other lawsuit efforts.

Josh Hayes said...

I understand where Stu (and others) are coming from: my wife is chemically sensitive, but thank goodness, her sensitivities are pretty well defined by now.

The trouble is, nobody can know a priori what will induce an allergic response, and what won't. Are kids in the classroom of a chemically-sensitive teacher to eschew any and all potentially allergenic products? No wool blends? No toothpaste? No peanut butter toast for breakfast?

In this whole story there are so many unknown details. Each of us can make up a story to comport with what we want to be true. Am I being too goody-two-shoes to hope that all the grownups who have behaved so badly - which is just about all of them - can pull themselves together and remember who this is all supposed to be about: the child?

When stresses hit my school, this is my bedrock principle: It's about the kids. Nothing else is as important. Let's see if we can all agree on that.

squeagle said...

Video anyone?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1U0JVX1fH70

dan dempsey said...

98118,

After multiple years of attempting to get the district to make decisions that appropriately weigh evidence and follow their own procedures multiple lawsuits were filed against the district based on violations of the state constitution.

I fail to see any such long term attempts to resolve issues in the current hair care hub-bub prior to initiating legal action.

98118 said...

Dan, I'm not saying that it's hypocritical to criticize the strength of Mr. Mudede's case. But I think the commenters who say or imply that Mr. Mudede is being frivolous to use a lawsuit as a means to his end are being hypocritical, if they support lawsuits as legitimate means to their own ends.

Also, in response to this:

"I fail to see any such long term attempts to resolve issues in the current hair care hub-bub prior to initiating legal action."

Though I get that you don't see a legitimate connection to racism in this case, Mr. Mudede (and others) do, and there are few more "long term" issues in Seattle Public Schools than the achievement gap. (The achievement gap that results in only a few students of color in an APP classroom.) Didn't the recent math lawsuit couch itself in these terms as well, using the scores of Black students as evidence, and accusing the curriculm of being racist?

I think it is interesting how different the reactions are depending on who is accusing the district of racism. Dan, I don't think you criticized Mr. Mudede for getting a lawyer, so I'm not directing this at you, but that comment or a similar implication layered through several different posts, and I believe that many of these commenters support the efforts behind several different lawsuits themselves. And that seems inconsistent to me.

Stu said...

Though I get that you don't see a legitimate connection to racism in this case, Mr. Mudede (and others) do

One of the things that bothered me most about the story, even more (believe it or not) than any racial aspect, is that The Seattle Times published this without ANY facts. They wrote only what Mr. Mudede said and never did any investigation. We have people on this blog whose kids are in this class and they dispute many of "his" details.

But the single thing that takes it out of the realm of racism for me, takes it out of the "reasonable response" category, and makes me doubt the methods and purpose of the parties involved? They sent their daughter back the next day with the same product in her hair!

If I was outraged about something that happened in my son's class, something like this, my FIRST action would be going in there and giving them a piece of my mind, finding out the facts, screaming and hollering at the way it went down . . . basically, I would have been in their faces about it. (Perhaps that's what Mr Mudede did, thought the principal at this school is pretty responsive to parents.) But I would have never sent my child back to school with the same offending product in his hair just to prove a point. THAT's what makes me question his credibility and integrity.

Sorry . . I stick with the peanut metaphor. We make certain concessions in public places and I would like to think that Mr. Mudede would not have his child bring a peanut butter sandwich to the peanut allergy table. And if, out of ignorance, he did so and someone had a reaction, I'd like to think that he wouldn't send her back the next day with another sandwich, just to prove a point.

stu

emeraldkity said...

We make certain concessions in public places and I would like to think that Mr. Mudede would not have his child bring a peanut butter sandwich to the peanut allergy table. And if, out of ignorance, he did so and someone had a reaction, I'd like to think that he wouldn't send her back the next day with another sandwich, just to prove a point.

I would like to think that too- however- if Mudede decided that a peanut butter sandwich was critical to his child's " culture", as he has this particular hair product for some reason- I don't see any indication that he wouldn't behave in that fashion.
- although if you think about it- Mudede would not be the plaintiff in that situation- since he was the one to make the choice to inflict harm- as he did when he chose to continue to expose the teacher to the allergen.

Sarovar said...

I hope the teacher sues Mudede.

SPS North said...

There are signs posted in my place of employment that read "fragrance free zone". As much as I love wearing perfume, I don't wear it to work as I respect other peoples rights to work in a comfortable environment.

There are signs at the doctors office that does my mamograms that say "no perfume please". I don't wear perfume there either. Nor do I wear perfume when I know I will share an office or small space with others - even if they don't say anything, and no sign is posted.

The fact is that Mudede's daughters teacher sent a letter to all families at the beginning of the year asking them not to send their kids to school with heavily scented products, laundry detergent, etc, as she had sensitivities. One family choose to ignore the teachers plea and continue (mudede says on the slog that his daughter has worn this product intermittently all year long) to send his daughter to school with a heavily scented hair care product (that has a slew of known allergens in it).

A second letter was sent home - to the entire class, and Mudede ignored the plea again. Finally, his daughter was removed from the classroom for 1/2 day because the teacher became ill. The child was sent to school the very next day with the same product in her hair again. Daughter was removed from the classroom again.

Should the kid be removed from class? I don't know? The teacher may have been able to open a window and turn a fan on. The teacher may have called a meeting with the family and principal and herself and get the matter resolved face to fact. There may have been other options.

Should Mudede have changed the hair care product his child was using? Yes, he should have. Absolutely. Nobody said you can't use culturally necessary products on your childs african american hair. What was said was that this particular product make the teacher ill. All Mudede needed to do was change hair care products. There are shelves full of hair care products everywhere, surely there was one that the teacher could tolerate? He didn't even make an attempt to change.

As a bi-racial family it irks me when people use the race card inappropriately. And this was inappropieate. There was no racism here, at least not on the teachers part. If there was any racism, it was on Mudede's part.

hschinske said...

Wait. Mudede's having behaved badly is a REACTION to the incident, not the incident itself. You can't logically draw any conclusions about whether race was involved in the original incident from the fact that Mudede didn't respond in the exact way you or I might think he should have.

In any case, a lot of posters seem to be under the impression that it's the easiest thing in the world to just wash your child's hair (no matter how recently it was previously washed) and send her back to school with no conditioner in it. That doesn't always seem to be possible when it comes to black people's hair. I don't know much (which is why I haven't said much earlier, hoping someone more knowledgeable would chime in), but I've read a bit on adoption sites (which break down the details of this kind of hair care into small steps for parents with no previous experience): see for instance http://www.adoptn.org/hair.html.

I can very easily imagine Mudede and his wife talking this over and then saying, well, it's whatever o'clock at night, we can't get her hair washed and fixed now, the hell with it, she's been wearing the stuff all year, can one more day really be that important, maybe everyone will have calmed down by tomorrow. At that point, remember, they had far less information to go on and were still very much in the "Wait, organic olive oil conditioner is a problem now? That makes no sense" frame of mind. They're not thinking of it at all in the same terms as anaphylactic shock due to peanut exposure, or anything like that.

Helen Schinske

SPS North said...

"You can't logically draw any conclusions about whether race was involved in the original incident from the fact that Mudede didn't respond in the exact way you or I might think he should have."

What? I think it is easy to draw a conclusion that race was involved in the original incident by Medede's response. It is Mudede that pulled his kid out of school accusing the teacher of being racist and demanding a doctors letter for her "sensitivities". It is Mudede who got lawyers involved. It is Mudede that dragged in the NAACP.

What other conclusion could be drawn?

dan dempsey said...

98118,

Thanks for your response.

I am interested in what the Seattle NAACP may do.

School Closures ... Nothing of substance

New Student Assignment Plan .. ditto

Math .. ditto

Hair Care? who knows.

As a friend of mine said:
pre-1965 NAACP an incredible organization.

post 1965 only another complaint department.
---------------------
Note there is an NAACP legal defense fund that has NO connection to the main body of NAACP.

NAACP LDF, a separate organization since 1957.

reader said...

Hi Stu, my kids are in Seattle Public Schools, since you wished to have the district named, not sure why it was in question or why it is interesting. And yes, we were told at the start of the school year that we HAD to wear deodorant.... because well, our kids stink. No cultural sensitivity need apply, and no allergens considered. It wasn't personal, sent in the welcome to school message. Really, it seems completely obvious to me that if you become ill, suddenly. You call in a sub. Duh. The kid has been wearing the hair product all year. Now suddenly a problem? Watch the video, the mom seems perfectly reasonable, and truthful. Where's the district? Why no response? Why no apology? Why... nothing at all..?

hschinske said...

SPS North said:

"What? I think it is easy to draw a conclusion that race was involved in the original incident by Medede's response."

I was responding in part to Stu's post that said "But the single thing that takes it out of the realm of racism for me, takes it out of the "reasonable response" category, and makes me doubt the methods and purpose of the parties involved? They sent their daughter back the next day with the same product in her hair!"

Helen

emeraldkity said...

I've been a hairstylist in salons that attract AA clientele and there are lots of ways to manage delicate hair.

( not to mention- hair is all colors and textures no matter your skin tone)

The product in question according to this site has ingredients that would actually contribute to drying out the hair in the long run.

Black hair care

As I tried to emphasize in slog- Organic- slapped on a label doesn't mean Non-Toxic

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, we just don't know.

But, as was reported by Tosca, the teacher's house is being remodelled and her allergies are on high alert. (Note: this is a choice SHE is making. If it is really such a health problem during this remodel, maybe she needs to live somewhere else.)

So, Mr. Mudede and his family may have been using this produce off and on during the school year (despite the letter asking people not to use products with fragrance) and the teacher may not have objected. So, their family thought this product was okay.

This could be, because of the teacher's heightened allergies because of the remodel, the first time she has reacted to it.

reader said...

So... a teacher's need to remodel her house supersedes a student's right to remain in her classroom with whatever residual organic olive oil products are in her hair? If the teacher is so sensitive, doesn't it make sense that SHE take precautions while remodeling? Or, not remodel? Or, move out while you're remodeling? Why should classrooms full of kids have to unreasonably accommodate this employee who doesn't seem willing to do anything herself? What if the next thing she says is she's allergic to kids? Or their body smells? Or the smell of a particular racial group? Should the district just oblige that too?

SPS North said...

"Why should classrooms full of kids have to unreasonably accommodate this employee who doesn't seem willing to do anything herself?"

Lets see.....

Teacher's choices:
A) move out of her home while remodeling (at a great expense)
B) shouldn't remodel her home at all
C) remodel while living in the home and take a leave of absense from work because of heightened your sensitivities

VS

Mudede's choices:
A) try a new hair care product that doesn't cause the teacher to have a reaction.

Now who are we asking unreasonable accomodations of??

Ben said...

"So... a teacher's need to remodel her house supersedes a student's right to remain in her classroom with whatever residual organic olive oil products are in her hair?"

The student is out of the classroom now because her parents are keeping her out of school.

I'm not sure about the "residual" products. It has been reported (or, simply, claimed) that the student had continued to use the product.

I also think it's telling that you mention that this product is "organic," the implication being that nothing called "organic" could possibly trigger an allergic (or other) reaction. Which is another way suggesting that the teacher blamed the hair product as a pretext for finally ridding herself of this particular student. Which is silly.

reader said...

Let's see... who has the right?
A) students have a right to an education
B) teacher has a right to teach.

There is no "right" or entitlement to a teaching job.

I mention organic, because that's what it said on the label. Olive oil isn't really all that allergenic. The mother claimed she used it quite infrequently. I believe that. And, mother said was never informed of the problem. Sure, somebody could be allergic or sensitive... but it sounds like the teacher didn't do much to help herself either. Yes, she could have done the remodel in the summer. A summer remodel would be preferable because... uh, you can open the windows. Yes, she could have NOT remodeled. Yes, she could have worn a mask. I find it hard to believe that somebody with so many sensitivites... can be just fine with a remodel.

The teacher sounds like a piece of work. That's all. And a whiner. And somebody unable to deal with much, unless she wants to... as in... putting up with many smells of a remodel. So sorry. It is public school. The student's right to an education, as she is, within reason... is greater than this teacher's right to pick her students or their odors. I don't know if it was this particular student she wanted out or not, and I'm not implying it... but my guess is that this teacher can't deal with much.

As to the parents keeping her out of school. They obviously don't feel comfortable with this teacher, or her ability to teach and accept their child. Who are we do second guess them?

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, SPS, those are not the only options. The teacher could stay with relatives or friends.

As I stated, it could be this is the FIRST time she has had a reaction from the hair product because of her heightened sensitivity because of her remodel. It is possible that this is true and if so, Mr. Mudede and his family may have used the product previously and thought it was okay with her.

I'm not siding with anyone because (1) I don't have all the facts and (2) it looks like there is shared blame. Question is, what is the school/district doing about it?

ArchStanton said...

Lots of labels say organic. It doesn't mean that every ingredient in the product is organic. I can buy organic peanut butter, but it could still kill someone who had a severe reaction.

It's been posted elsewhere, but in case anyone missed it, here's a list of the product's ingredients:

Aqua (Water) , Cocos Nucifera Oil (Coconut) , Sorbitol , Petrolatum , Cyclopentasiloxane , Carthamus Tinctorius Seed Oil (Safflower) , Ricinus Communis Seed Oil (Castor) , Cetyl Esters , Cetearyl Alcohol , Sodium Cetearyl Sulfate , Stearic Acid , Olea Europaea Fruit Oil (Olive) , PPG-3 Benzyl Ether Myristate , Dimethicone , Glyceryl Glycol , Triethanolamine , Carbomer , Disodium EDTA , BHT , FRAGRANCE , Benzyl Alcohol , Benzyl Salicylate , Geraniol , Hexyl Cinnamal , Lilial , D-Limonene , Linalool , Lyral Methyl Ionone , CI 42090 (Blue #1) , CI 19140 (Yellow #5).

http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Root-Stimulator-Moisturizing-Lotion/dp/B000EGZ3FC/ref=pd_bxgy_bt_text_c

Maybe the olive oil (12th ingredient) was organic or maybe it was the Glyceryl Glycol or just the water.

At any rate, the people who make it sound as if she went to the co-op and got a little organic extra-virgin olive oil for her hair are either uninformed about the chemical makeup of the product or are being intentionally deceptive.

ArchStanton said...

Question is, what is the school/district doing about it?

Hiding their heads in the sand until the lawyers tell them what is okay to do/say for fear of making things worse, I suspect.

emeraldkity said...

[i]They obviously don't feel comfortable with this teacher, or her ability to teach and accept their child[/i]


Join the club-

How many parents in SPS have a problem with what/how their child is being taught?

Should we take a poll at a board meeting?

The thing is- many of us try and build communication much earlier in the school year than during the last 30 days- when there is a problem.

If there is a concern it is much easier to address it at the beginning of the year- I would be curious as to what this family has tried previously-and what success they had.

another mom said...

I am also not siding with anyone here, but it seems to me that there need to be protocols in place -for this teacher and others with chemical sensitivities and allergies. Escort the child to the office and contact the parents, immediately. Have the principal or another staff member sit in the classroom until a sub arrives. What do they do when a teacher becomes ill during the day and needs to leave? There are solutions. While we don't have all the facts, it sounds as if staff in the building was trying to be helpful, but removing a child from a class is a drastic measure and is perceived as punitive.

reader said...

Wow. Another APP circle the wagons adventure... protect the wonderful APP teacher... or anything APP... at all costs. It must be an assualt, right? Nobody said organic=good. Nobody said organic=non-allergenic. Nobody said Mudede=good. The thing is, this teacher sounds like she's a problem and could have done a much better job. These parents did sign the kid up for the program didn't they? Are people so paranoid as to think she signed up for APP, only because her parents wanted to sabotage it? Frankly, that position is pretty hard to believe. What motivation would exist for that behavior?

EK. It doesn't sound like there was any problem at all... until the last 30 days. Why should the parents have to do do anything? Or prove themselves at some point before there's a problem?

emeraldkity said...

am also not siding with anyone here, but it seems to me that there need to be protocols in place -for this teacher and others with chemical sensitivities and allergies.


You'd think wouldn't you.
However, you might be surprised in how much depends on the building and principal to establish and maintain procedure.

From what to do- when a substitute doesn't show up, to when a student is raped in the building to when a teacher becomes ill.

I wonder if the union has written guidelines ? It isn't always under the ADA

Sahila said...

I think if your allergies are that bad, you take precautions and some responsibility for keeping yourself safe and healthy...

I wouldn't expect a person allergic to pollens etc to choose a job as a gardener; or a person allergic to household cleaners to be a maid; or a person allergic to the ingredients of shampoos/conditioners to be a hairdresser; or a person allergic to bee stings to become a beekeeper etc, etc...

Maybe if you are so sensitive to fragrances you ought not to be working in a closed environment, surrounded by 20-30 people all day, every day....

And maybe you need to take responsibility for the fact that you are endangering your own health by remodelling your house and living in it while its being done....

Similarly, once children are older and are fully educated about the extent of their allergies and to be alert and to stay away from the specific allergens, I wouldnt expect their classmates not to be allowed to take nut products or soy or strawberries or tomatoes or whatever is the problem food to school....

SPS North said...

I agree that removing the child from the classroom should not have happened. I think this situation was handled badly by the teacher. If after being told not to send their kid to school with scented products (as everyone else in the class was) the Mudede's refused to comply, then the teacher should have been the one to leave the room, not the child - at least temporarily while the principal and staff worked on a compromise and/or solution.

The teacher should have gone directly to the principal. They could have met with the Mudede's face to face and asked them to please change the hair care product.

While I totally, 100% agree, that removing the student from the classroom was wrong, I don't think it was a racist act.

If Mudede wrote an article about his child being removed from the class, sans racism, I would be much more sympathetic. But to accuse the teacher of targeting his child because she is "brown", lawyering up, and dragging in the NAACP, is, well, ridiculous. It also shows that it's not about his poor daughter at all - she will suffer the consequences of being in the media spotlight.

It's all been blown way out of proportion.

ArchStanton said...

I missed you too, reader. Any time someone has a different point of view they're circling the APP wagons? They can't just have a different opinion?

"Nobody" said any of those things?

Maybe not you directly, but there's about 440 posts between the Seattle times and the Stranger and my unscientific guess is that about half of them are suggesting that this teacher is overreacting to a little organic olive oil, calling the teacher racist, and asking for her head on a platter - and that's the polite version. (and the other half want to crucify Mudede)

If you are aware of the ingredients in the product and wish to suggest that no reasonable person would have a legitimate reaction to any one of them, I'm willing to listen to any medical evidence you'd care to provide.

But in the face of that list of ingredients dismissing the teacher's reaction because the product "said [organic] on the label. Olive oil isn't really all that allergenic" without acknowledging the other ingredients is disingenuous.

We don't have much more than hearsay and conjecture about this story, but as usual everybody's an expert and knows what happened and who's wrong and why.

ArchStanton said...
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ArchStanton said...
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ArchStanton said...

So, here's a real cynical/nasty idea that crossed my mind:

Suppose SPS just throws the teacher under the bus? Regardless of the truth, what if they offer her up as a sacrifice to the gods of diversity/inclusivity/political correctness? It could be a small price to pay (what's the career of one teacher?) for engendering good will among those who see APP as white/elitist/privileged. They wouldn't even have to go out of their way to get more black students into the program, but would make a clear demonstration that APP doesn't tolerate even a hint of racism. Nobody thinks they'd stoop that low - do they?

SPS North said...

I honestly don't know what part APP plays in this situation?? Would it be any different if it happened at Bryant, or McClure, or Montlake, or any other predominantly white school?

ArchStanton said...

Would it be any different if it happened at Bryant, or McClure, or Montlake, or any other predominantly white school?

That depends. Presumably if the child were moved from a Gen. Ed. class to a different Gen. Ed. class at the same grade level, the mix of students would be about the same. Likewise, if the child moved from a Spectrum or APP class to a like class at the same grade.

However, if the child were moved from an APP class to a Gen. Ed. class at a predominantly white school (if such a thing existed), it is reasonable to suppose that there would be a few more minorities in the Gen. Ed. class - though not as many as at T. Marshall.

Whether it is different depends on whether Mr. Mudede is more concerned about his daughter being placed temporarily in a Gen. Ed. class or in a class that is predominantly black or white.

Ben said...
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emeraldkity said...

think if your allergies are that bad, you take precautions and some responsibility for keeping yourself safe and healthy...

I wouldn't expect a person allergic to pollens etc to choose a job as a gardener; or a person allergic to household cleaners to be a maid; or a person allergic to the ingredients of shampoos/conditioners to be a hairdresser; or a person allergic to bee stings to become a beekeeper etc, etc..


I find people are happier when they pursue their dreams and follow their talents rather than be trapped by their limitations.

Pollen is released once a year- some years are worse than others but why tell yourself " I can't do this" if you are drawn to working in nature?

Not alot of people find fulfillment in being a housekeeper for pay- but there are alternative products that are better for the environment and better for health than what Dow Chemical would have you believe.

Contact dermatitis is a hazard that hairdressers , dentists, and others in the health professions run into. Even something as " innocuous" as washing your hands 10-15 times a day can cause problems. There are ways to cope with it however- gloves for instance.

Apitherapy has converts all over the world- I even know people who get massages with bees.


You really need to stop relying on your old & tired assumptions.
Question Authority.
Your own!

Anonymous said...

I'm shocked that someone was willing to reproduce with that useless, obnoxious douchebag.