Roosevelt principal Brian Vance sent home a letter to parents about the rape at Roosevelt (it is also posted online).
I plan to write a detailed thread about this incident because it raise a lot of issues that all parents should understand about what can and can't happen in our schools. It may inspire us to tell our legislators to change notification laws.
But to address this letter, I have a continuing troubled feeling here. On the one hand, the district was very clear, in its statement to the press, that the school knew of this student but did not tell the district. (The law requires the Sheriff's office to notify the school, not the district. Dumb? Yes.) My first reaction, because I worked with Brian for two years when I was co-president of the RHS PTSA, is that there is no way Brian wouldn't have done due diligence on this work. He is a good principal, a decent man and a detail-oriented person. I find it very hard to believe he overlooked telling the district this. I told him such yesterday when I went to RHS.
What is odd in this letter is the wording here :
Seattle Public Schools complies with all laws and statutes that govern the enrollment of student offenders, including laws related to notification. In this case, we received a letter from the Sheriff's Department informing us of the presence of this student in our school. I informed our administrative team and select teachers.
State laws determine who should and can be notified when a student offender enrolls in a school. In general, notification is prohibited. The exception is that principals have discretion to inform certain staff within the school for safety purposes. The extent of the notification is established within the law. That means SPS employees are specifically prohibited by law from notifying other students, family or community members about the presence of a student offender in our schools.
So he doesn't say "When I was informed, I told the district." That doesn't mean he didn't but, for some reason, he didn't put it in the letter that he told the district. Red flag, so why not?
What is also troubling is that the suspect was on probation. So, in essence, the staff at RHS were almost de facto probation officers. Notifying them likely meant "keep your eyes and ears open" about this student. However, we don't know how many staff knew about this student but certainly not all. But if the Special Ed staff probably didn't know but if they had and saw this student interacting with one of their students, they probably would have immediately told someone. If all the staff had known, it would have been that many more eyes watching to make sure he stayed on the straight and narrow. (This is not putting a scarlet letter on this guy but it's a big school and I'll bet he flew under the radar.)
I know, it is not the job of staff or teachers to be probation officers. But when the law allows these students, who have committed crimes against children of a sexual nature, then you'd think you'd want that student watched over to protect other kids.
There is a lot wrong here and I'm still working on figuring it out.