Friday, March 23, 2012

In the End, It's Just Depressing - the Lowell Investigation

I first up want to make a couple of statements about this report (which really turns out to be three reports.)


Memo #1 about whether 4 employees fulfilled their mandatory reporting obligations. Memo #2 is about Lowell Elementary School: complaints by two employees.  Number three is a letter to HR head, Paul Apostle, in response to the assertions of Rina Geoghagan and Gregory King about the Report (memo #1). 

One, there are only two people are named - Rina Geoghagan and Gregory King, both administrators at Lowell.  Everyone else gets a code.  It does make it difficult to follow the narrative.

Two, I am deeply saddened at this outcome as it leaves a lot of questions and for the Lowell community much worry.

Three, there is something to be learned here starting with the basics.

Every - single - person in SPS needs to know the protocol about reporting issues around adult and student interaction.

Every - single - administrator MUST be trained on the protocol and asked if they can be responsible for issues reported to them and be able to carry out investigations.

Yarmuth  Wilsdon Calfo, the same law firm that did the review of what the Board knew in the Silas Potter case, did the investigation of this issue.   

The Basics
This is a simple story that got completely out of hand.  It started in January of 2011.

Two different Lowell employees, independent of each other, observed what each thought was troubling behavior by an employee with students including one who is non-verbal.  This included sitting on a stool and hugging student front-to-front with the IA's legs spread.  It also included some kind of interaction with a student's foot, with shoe and sock off, near the employee's mouth.

To be clear, NEITHER complainant EVER alleged ANY abuse, sexual or otherwise. 

It seems to me, as a parent, the kind of behavior where anyone might pause and say, "hmm, that's odd."  The two complainants both mentioned the need for possible updates/retraining on student-to-adult interaction.

After the two complainants had made their concerns known, and nothing happened, then C#2 told the school nurse who told her supervisor who went to district Safety and Security.

A third employee later saw the foot behavior and reported it as well.

At no time was CPS called.

That's it.

Or that was it and yet it escalated into something bigger.   The two complainants ended up being investigated, left their jobs over the stress and had to wait a year to be fully exonerated.  All because they worried over someone's inappropriate behavior that could have been corrected with a reminder or more training.

The two people who made reports to Rina Geoghagan about the Lowell employee ended up filing an ethics complaint against the district, alleging retaliation by Lowell administrators. 


Memo#1 Findings:

The RCW states “professional school employees” (which includes teachers, counselors, administrations, child  are facility personnel and school nurses) to report when they have “reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered from abuse or neglect.”

This includes “intentional touching, either directly or indirectly through clothing

The reporting requirements of the WAC 388-15-009(3) do NOT turn on whether the alleged abuse actually occurred; rather, mandatory reporters are required to report abuse when they have reasonable cause to believe it has occurred.

The memo concludes that law enforcement did NOT need to be called because there was not enough information in April 2010 to believe there was sexual abuse harmful to a child's health or safety and were not obligated to report the allegations to law enforcement.

Memo#2
This memo involves the interviews with six employees including Gregory King and Rina Geroghagan.

C#2 had gone to Ms. Reoghagan about this issue.  There is a difference of opinion as to whether C#2 had mentioned the foot issue to Ms. Geoghagan.  Geoghagan then went to King who seemed to believe the report was about race.

“King took no responsive action, believing he could not be objective."

C#1 saw the same behavior from the employee and, with C#2, tried to report it to the administrators (but could not find them in the building).  Neither C#1 or #2 reported their concerns by e-mail to anyone.

Then, for some reason (which became clear later), an investigation was launched at headquarters of C#1 and C#2 based on the administrators denying that they knew of some of the allegations.

C#1 and #2 both received letters telling them they did not follow "proper guidelines" in reporting their concerns.

C#2, upset by the letter, resigned her position in a letter to district officials, worrying about proving the correctness of her position and the influence an investigation would have on her annual evuluation.  Geoghagan “accepted” the resignation.

Meantime, the employee denied kissing the foot and was not told of complaints by C1 and C2. The employee was cleared but only his version of his behavior was credited in the investigation at the school even though a third employee had seen the behavior.

C#2 tried to retraction her resignation and was told it would “work out” by a headquarters adminstrator who did not know of the investigation against C#2 or the circumstances of C#2’s resignation.

C1 filed an ethics complaint through ethics hotline, saying actions against her and C#2 were retaliatory.

The investigation of C#1 and C#2 by the district cleared them in May 2011 of any misconduct.

C2 filed a complaint against Geoghagan, King and a central adminstrator, alleging that the investigation and the refusal to accept her resignation retraction was retaliatory or at least improper.  C1 also filed a complaint.

 Findings
 There was evidence that C#2 had reported concerns to Geoghagan in Jan. 2011.  Geoghagan’s notes reflect meeting with C#2 and her concerns over the employee but they do not reflect the foot issue.  When asked Geoghagan said C#2 “might have” reported that incident.

King admits he met with Geoghagan and was told about C#2’s complaints against the IA.  But he said he didn’t have any details.

From the report:
 “I did not find King’s denial credible.  His body language, lack of eye contact, and demeanor when answering questions on this subject suggested he was being untruthful.”

While he denied knowing the substance of the reports, he did appear to conclude that they were racially-motiviated and he chose not to take any action.

“The evidence suggests the district’s decision to investigage C#1 and C#2 was the “result of rushed decision-making and a failure to consider all relevant facts (in part because King and Geoghagan did not disclose them)."

“As discussed below, there is evidence that King encouraged the investigation for dubious reasons but he was not solely responsible for the decision to investigate.  Evidence suggests that the decision can mostly be attributed to an incomplete and rushed process.

“Other evidence, including email, shows that King was very involved in initiating the investigation and that he was originally going to conduct it.  His claims to the contrary – indeed, he claims he played no role in the decision to investigate – are simply not credible, nor is his lack of memory about the April 6th meeting."

It appears that Principal King thought he saw a racial motive and it may have blinded him to any other facts.

He “did not understand the rules related to reporting child abuse…”

King could not identify any policies or statues that govern reporting of suspected abuse.  Thus while advocating for (and planning to conduct) an investigation into whether reporting protocols had been followed, King himself had little understanding of these standards.”



Geoghagan
“When one of the school employees she talked to shared C#2’s concerns or witnessed the behavior, she dismissed the complaint as unsubstantiated.  She did report it to King who did nothing."

She did not share knowledge of the foot-kissing to E5 and this contributed to the investigation against C#1 and #2.

“She also now claims she does not know why C#1 and #2 were investigated.  This seems incongruent with the fact that she sent letters notifying them of the investigation and was personally going to conduct it.” 

“In fact, Goeghagan states she would never want to decide whether someone should call CPS if she had not personally witnessed the purposed abuse.”


Employee #5
“E5 had little reason to be skeptical of the Lowell administrators’ statements."


C#2 rescission of her resignation District policy is to not allow employees to retract a resignation.  This was not retaliatory.  

 


Letter to Paul Apostle
After the district provided a copy of the Report to Geoghagan and King and disciplined them for findings made in the Report, King’s attorney Susan Mindenbergs challenged some of the Report’s factual findings and conclusions. 


 In a meeting with Patty Eakes, Ron English, King and Mindenbergs, King’s lawyer presented a different factual chronology.

Geoghagan was re-interviewed by Eakes with Goeghagan’s attorney Jeffrey Tyler present.   She denies C#2 reported foot-kissing in January.  Both Geoghagan and King deny knowing about foot-kissing but “I did not find the Lowell Adminstrators’ changed statements credible. “
King had been advised by Safety and Security to notify his supervisor, CA 2.

King says he doesn’t know why E#3 came to Lowell but King's denials “aren’t credible.”

Geoghagan confirms King did not direct her to investigate in January and that he really gave her no guidance as a new assistant principal.  This was her first investigation and she felt unqualified to handle it.

King says he didn’t investigate because he “was too busy.”   But then he put forth that he didn’t get involved because it was about race.  But Geoghagan said he never told her he was too busy.

Geoghagan never did an investigation.  She did not interview witnesses but just met with the employee and E#2 in the classroom.  Her “conclusion” was that the allegations were unsubstantiated.

“This is a far cry from ‘a thorough investigation to ensure that the children at Lowell are safe’ as Mindenbergs stated in her Feb. 29, 2012 letter.


Wrap-up:
It is unclear to me what the current situation is with the Lowell administrators.  I would think this is not the last we will hear about this situation.

83 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wait! If "District policy is to not allow employees to retract a resignation. . ." then why was Mr. King allowed to retract his resignation and return when Tacoma withdrew its offer?

Methinks there are some "different sauces" here, depending on whether one is the goose or the gander.

Jan

dan dempsey said...

Say what??? ... I am not buying this explanation and here is why.

“In fact, Goeghagan states she would never want to decide whether someone should call CPS if she had not personally witnessed the purposed abuse.”

So these folks are administrators in the Seattle Schools and they are unaware of a legal requirement ....... A requirement that I thought every school employee in the state knew from custodians, bus drivers, coaches, teachers, to superintendents etc.,

Sorry "I am busy" is not acceptable.

Who is required to report child abuse or neglect?

Any person who has cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect should report such incidents.

Those people legally required to report child abuse or neglect are:


Medical practitioners
Nurses
Dentists
Social service counselors/therapists
Psychologists
Medical examiners
Pharmacists
School personnel
Child care providers
Law enforcement officers
Juvenile probation officers
Corrections employees
DSHS employees
Placement and liaison specialists
Responsible living skills program staff
HOPE center staff
State family and children's ombudsman
Any volunteer in the ombudsman's office
Adults residing with child suspected to have been severely abused

Anyone who buys this story from an administrator is gullible plus.

These administrators were legally required to do something and they did NOT do it.

Now as to the retaliation or vindictive treatment ... that sounds very likely.

So do teachers need unions?

Too bad all there is in the SPS is the SEA. ...

{{{Hope everyone will like the Common Core State standards and all the other reform nonsense that the WEA and SEA supported.}}}

Anonymous said...

Not having any background on the people involved, I'm confused about the racial implications.

Is this right?

King - non-white
C1 and C2 - white
IA - non-white

--Confused

Anonymous said...

Never mind, I got it:

Principal: black
Complainants: white
IA: black

--No longer confused

dan dempsey said...

No longer Confused,

In January 2011 --- the Superintendent was MGJ.

She would have likely been too busy taking orders from "Broad and the big boys" to notice much even if brought to her attention.

Jon said...

Long story short, the problem itself was something simple, an assistant that needed instruction and monitoring on proper behavior with students. But Greg King badly mishandled it, responding to the first report with a spurious accusation of racism, ignoring the second report, and, on a third report, starting an investigation against those who did the first two reports as a cover up for his own actions.

Remarkable mostly for the unnecessary damage Greg King caused, and that someone on record as behaving this poorly is still a principal.

Jon said...

Adding to what I just said, coolpapa's comment over on the Seattle Times article nails the big picture questions about Greg King. Here is a copy of it:

So let me get this straight.

Gregory King gets a written reprimand for not knowing the correct procedure for reporting an allegation of sexual abuse.

He also lied about the report, denying he ever heard it, but the District is cool with that.

He also drove off nearly every single teacher (14 of 17) from one of the highest performing schools in the city - they all transferred to other schools where they were welcomed, but the District is cool with that.

He illegally and unethically retaliated against an employee, but the District is cool with that.

He has almost completely demoralized the staff (as evidenced in the annual staff survey), but the District is cool with that.

He tried to leave the school in the middle of the year and jump to another district, but the District is cool with that.

Wow. What a prize.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good point, Jan.

Confused, my apologies. Yes, you are correct on the races of those involved. Ms. Geoghagen is also white.

Again, Dr. Enfield found fault with Principal Floe to the point of letting him go and yet Principal King was allowed to retract his resignation and have the investigator do everything but call him a liar on paper and he stays?

As I said at the Times, if this is the leadership people want, it's all quite confusing.

onthefly said...

This can't be the end of this.

You can't let administrators get away with failing to do the most important part of their job -- ensuring a safe environment for children.

You can't let administrators off the hook for then waging an intimidation campaign against the people who were following legal requirements to report potential concerns.

You can't let administrators keep their jobs when they have been caught in an official investigation making outright lies about their own behavior.

Does Enfield and the board really think the citizens and parents of Seattle will allow this?

Charlie Mas said...

For Jon and any others who might not know...

I'm coolpapa. That's my user ID on the Seattle Times comments.

I have been using my real name for comments on newspapers and blogs for years and years now, but the Seattle Times user id is really old and dates back to a time before I started the more transparent practice.

The coolpapa pseudonym is a reference to Coolpapa Bell, a baseball player from the Negro Leagues who was legendary for his speed around the bases. Two stories:

Satchel Paige said that Coolpapa was so fast he could switch off the light and be in bed before the room got dark.

Coolpapa, they say, once hit a hard ground ball up the middle but was called out - for interference because the ball hit him as he was rounding second.

Actual truth about Coolpapa Bell is that he was timed running the bases in about 11 seconds. That's nearly as fast as world class sprinters cover the distance in a straight line, but he did it making three turns.

He frequently scored from second - and a few times from first - on sacrifice flies. Likewise, he frequently scored from second, and on rare occasions from first, on bunts.

The man had wheels.

I took coolpapa as my computer user id in self-deprecating irony. My speed around the bases is more along the lines of Edgar Martinez.

CT said...

This is the typical MO for Rina G. She's always been great at not telling the truth, blaming others, and retaliating against those she feels have done her wrong. It was bad enough when she was a teacher, but now to have her in an administrative position where she can affect people's lives like this is just plain lunacy.

Jack Whelan said...

Commenter 'Just Passing Through' says at the ST article: "Forget going after teachers, all you union haters. Apparently principals are untouchable at SPS, even when they lie to investigators, or allow suspected sexual abuse of students to go unreported to the police."

There seems to be an assumption--it was at the heart of KSM's defense of her pro-TFA vote--that principals know what they are doing, that they are not a part of the problem, but rather the ones on whom we depend for a solution.

What reasons do we have to accept this as true? I don't want to paint with too broad a brush, because some principals are fine people and fine educators, but here's the truth: too many principals haven't a clue about what's happening in the classroom, they don't understand the law, and they don't care.

If you don't believe me, ask a veteran teacher, and she will probably tell you that over the course of her career she's had some good principals, but most were not.

There seems to be an assumption--it is at the heart of corporate ed reform--that principals got promoted because they were "better, smarter, more natural leaders". Isn't that the way it works in the business world?

But that is not how it works in the educational world. The real talent works with the kids, and way too often the principal is a poorly trained, not-all-that-bright bureaucrat. And it's into the hands of people who too often don't know what they are doing that we are giving the responsibility to evaluate the people who mostly do know what they are doing.

It's an arrangement only those inured to the hierarchical power structures of corporate bureaucracies can approve. And It's a classic example of taking a technocratic business template and crudely imposing it where it cannot work effectively.

What's the solution? (1) Appoint proven, experienced master teachers to principal jobs rather than those who preferred not to stay in the classroom. (2) Develop a teacher-evaluation system that is broader in its scope by involving parents, faculty, and students (when they are old enough).

And most importantly, (3) there should be a similar, building-centered evaluation process for principals. As it stands now the principal cares mostly what her boss--the executive director or the superintendent--thinks about what she's doing. Shouldn't it be more important what the people in her building think about what she's doing?

How hard is it to see what's wrong with the current system? If a building-centered principal evaluation system were in place, Ingraham's Martin Floe would never have been fired, but Lowell's King most surely would have been. How many Lowell parents, faculty, and students would have come to King's defense?

Anonymous said...

Let's step back and realize that Greg King got to keep his job because SE, MGJ, Nancy Coogan, and a Deputy General Counsel from SPS legal gave glowing recommendations of him and never disclosed the investigation to Tacoma. They all would have face professional practices complaints and law suits of Tacoma hired him then this news broke. So easy solution, don't make waves and give him his job back.

Disgusted

Anonymous said...

To build on what Jack Whelan says about how to select principals - deal with the principal position the way the Amish deal with leadership by rotating it among the members of the community. You want an educator as principal? Select from among the teachers at the school, and after the term as principal/master teacher or whatever title you want to use, the person goes back to the classroom in the same school. Keep it in the community.

I cannot fathom being the parent of a child or a teacher with either King or Geoghagan as principal of my school. And as far as Enfield and her timing? Priceless.

Oompah

Anonymous said...

I don't know, many of you are saying that you would pull your child from the school these two are the principals. Really? Now? Or from next year? Or when?
Just a reminder: the open enrollment ended, and no way to get to a private school from September.
Is there anything else I could do to protect my child?
-Concerned

Anonymous said...

Aha! I know the endstory. The "backlash" against King and Geoghagan will be so "nasty" that it will be a "hostile" work environment in which they are unable to perform in their "professional" capacities and they will either leave the district (with a handsome $$ settlement as a parting gift a la MGJ) or they will be assigned to administrative positions at JSC in which their primary duties will NOT include DIRECT responsibility for the safety and well being of children. At a higher salary.

And you can bet that, for the Seattle Times and the "downtown establishment" it will be the fault of the two new school board members. Somehow. Just because.

Oompah

dan dempsey said...

Jack Whelan wrote:

"There seems to be an assumption--it was at the heart of KSM's defense of her pro-TFA vote--that principals know what they are doing, that they are not a part of the problem, but rather the ones on whom we depend for a solution.

What reasons do we have to accept this as true?"


JW, thanks for explaining why there have been few solutions but lots of spending. I can hardly wait for next year's knee-jerk programs...... sure to include more TFA.

KSB apparently thinks the solution is to ignore research on the achievement gaps and trust the principals to make good judgements which often includes violation of more laws.

Consider RCW 28A 600.020

(2)Any student who creates a disruption of the educational process in violation of the building disciplinary standards while under a teacher's immediate supervision may be excluded by the teacher from his or her individual classroom and instructional or activity area for all or any portion of the balance of the school day, or up to the following two days, or until the principal or designee and teacher have conferred, whichever occurs first. Except in emergency circumstances, the teacher first must attempt one or more alternative forms of corrective action. In no event without the consent of the teacher may an excluded student return to the class during the balance of that class or activity period or up to the following two days, or until the principal or his or her designee and the teacher have conferred.

=================
In one's first year of teaching in the SPS just try excluding a student from class for misbehavior and see if you get rehired at a low performing school. Hey how about at Aki Kurose, where three TFA Corps members were hired.

If most beginning teachers in SPS low performing schools wish to have the law followed and legally exclude disruptive students... they can look for work elsewhere.

Recent research finds instructional coaching does not positively effect either academic achievement in math by students or increase teachers math content knowledge at middle school. BUT improved disciplinary policies do make a positive difference in academic achievement.

So says WWC with this report:
“Middle School Mathematics Professional Development Impact Study: Findings After the Second Year of Implementation”

The study found no statistically significant difference in teacher knowledge of rational numbers or student achievement between treatment and control schools. ... but they did spend a lot of money on Pro D over two years.

Some WWC research on I CAN LEARN

Effectiveness
I CAN Learn® was found to have no discernible effects on math achievement for high school students.

==========
The SPS elementary schools have demonstrated worsening math results for low Income and almost every group of minority children since the adoption of Everyday Math..... but lets not even review that ... just listen to principals that will hire TFA teachers.

Principals of low schools with lots of low performing students wish to keep their jobs .... so they will do what Enfield and the big money wants and hire TFA. Gee I wonder what those evaluations of TFA CM teachers written by the hiring principal will look like?

(cont..)

dan dempsey said...

continued from above ....

========
Here are four recommendations for Turning Around Low Performing Schools and all four are based on minimal evidence.

============
So KSB and the Board wish to improve the level of community confidence in the district by ....

ignoring laws, ignoring relevant research, and making poor decisions.

The achievement gaps are not closing and the Board refuses to even conduct a careful review of why this is occurring. .... much less explore why schools with historically poor student behavior do not permit RCW 28A 600.020 to be followed.

Anonymous said...

Umm, naive I know but was the IA a male or female? It shouldn't make a difference but I'm assuming a male. Es correcto?

I like Oompah's idea of rotating master teachers from a school through the leadership level. Believe it or not, some schools have teachers who can be bullying even to principals. Such schools would become miserable places to work should those teachers become that powerful. Rotating by year different teachers with good evals and histories could really possibly change a school community for the better.

Won't happen. I know.

But, unlike Jack, I think we have a society that is becoming disfunctional in it's manner of choosing leadership in every area. The boot lickers, the enviers of the monied, the club people have taken over. As Dan showed in his post on another thread in which he posted a bill that in name because no one read it and no one will enforce it, it is all politics all the time without follow-up or intention.

And I hope that the teacher who's resignation was not allowed to be retracted gets a lawyer because that is obviously not enforce either.

And if either King or Rita get a golden parachute from this District, we should fire the whole damn administration and start over.

n...

Anonymous said...

REDO: The boot lickers, the enviers of the monied, the club people have taken over. As Dan showed in his post on another thread in which he posted a bill that in name only because no one read it and no one will enforce it, we understand it is all politics all the time without follow-up or intention.

n...

dan dempsey said...

From above ...
Think about RCW 28A 600.020 .... check out section (3) ... I wonder how those responsibilities are going?

----
(3) In order to preserve a beneficial learning environment for all students and to maintain good order and discipline in each classroom, every school district board of directors shall provide that written procedures are developed for administering discipline at each school within the district. Such procedures shall be developed with the participation of parents and the community, and shall provide that the teacher, principal or designee, and other authorities designated by the board of directors, make every reasonable attempt to involve the parent or guardian and the student in the resolution of student discipline problems. Such procedures shall provide that students may be excluded from their individual classes or activities for periods of time in excess of that provided in subsection (2) of this section if such students have repeatedly disrupted the learning of other students. The procedures must be consistent with the rules of the superintendent of public instruction and must provide for early involvement of parents in attempts to improve the student's behavior.

Someone said...

Wow - just - wow. Everytime I think SPS can not be more dysfunctionally operated, something like this comes around. I think Oompah hit the nail on the head with the "end game" - move them up to admin, not out where they belong. And as someone on a another thread asked - if the district policy is not to allow resignation retractions - why DID King get to retract his?

This whole thing just stinks to high heaven and was so completely unneccessary - ok so maybe you, Mr. King, didn't know what to do with the original complaint (benefit of the doubt) - so - don't you have an Exec Dir to ask for help? Can't you say something like "I'm uncomfortable dealing with this situation and need some help?" It was so easily handled and so so so screwed up by the end.

If I were Highline, I'd be panicked at the thought I just stepped in a big steaming pile by taking on Dr. Enfield - because ultimately - the buck stops with her in this sordid scenario.

aiyiyiyiyiyiyi!!

Anonymous said...

One more: no more superintendents or principals who haven't taught for a minimum number of years and understand the threats and needs each school community experiences. How about experience in diverse schools be part of the criteria?

You need master teachers who love education and kids to become principals and leaders. It is not a business. Leave business decisions to the superintendent and trust principals to be evaluated by community - the clients.

n...

Anonymous said...

To n: King and Goeghagan will pull the rip cord. It's inevitable.

King, by all accounts in the top tier and personally mentored by the Maria, makes a decision based on his personal feelings. This is when he stopped being a leader. Bigotry, racism, all forms of discrimination are fact. Life isn't fair.

If a person accepts that the world is not going to be nice or fair, your only valid choice is to rely on your integrity. You continue to work hard and be a leader. The minute you forget your integrity and make it personal, you fail yourself and everyone around you. You cease to be a leader. You have become a hazard.

Sure, you can listen to your gut, but intuition doesn't absolve you from integrity.

The IA is now the least of concern. The students aren't even on the radar of the leaders.

Mr White

Melissa Westbrook said...

Confused, if I had a child at the school, yes, I would either leave now or at the end of the year.

That or have a very serious talk with one or both of them. (If I were the PTA president, I would do this immediately.)

Parents shouldn't look away and pretend nothing has happened when they see these two coming. A good stare-down makes people know they are now going to be watched.

They broke the trust at their schools and THEY need to fix this.

I can only say that IF there had been any real abuse and these two had looked away (as they did), what a horrible thing for that child and that child's family.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sahila said...

I dont know how SPS could get any more rotten...

I think the teachers and parents and some of the principals are wonderful...

The administration/managers/majority of the board are a complete and utter disgrace...

I am glad we are no longer in the district - have taken my child out of school altogether...

Maureen said...

Jack said: way too often the principal is a poorly trained, not-all-that-bright bureaucrat.

While this may be literally true, I feel it is slightly unfair. We do have good and even excellent principals in our schools. The point is (and Jack did address this), how effective is our principal evaluation system? How much effort is being put into evaluating principals and helping them improve in ways that help their schools (as opposed to training them to report back to their bosses with the correct format in triplicate.)?

I think many good solid teachers do go and get principal certification because they prefer to work on the bigger picture and don't mind so much dealing with the politics and bureaucracy that is the reality of the job. I think many fabulous teachers would tear their eyes out rather than be forced to rotate through the principal's position.

Maureen said...

Melissa said: ... if I had a child at the school, yes, I would either leave now or at the end of the year.

You know, principals come and go, a strong cohesive staff and parent community can make a huge difference in a school. I think it is a mistake for people to make a decision about a school based on any one person, even the principal.

That said, (if as many teachers left as Charlie has reported) it sounds like Lowell's staff/community was not strong and cohesive enough to deal with the situation. It probably doesn't help that they also had to weather the APP split and the L@L division.

dan dempsey said...

Every - single - person in SPS needs to know the protocol about reporting issues around adult and student interaction.

I think that everyone does know and these two are the only two who pretend not to know.

When between a rock and a hard place try lying... it works great at all administrative levels in Seattle.

Oh lying --- "don't fail me now"

"Lying" is another strategy from the how to stay in a well paid Administrative position in the SPS.

Making every school in Seattle a quality school .... at least in the public's view .... one lie at a time.

Deception is our most important product ....

The teachers are becoming more skilled at every level in the use of the math materials
- S Enfield

Yet the scores of educationally disadvantaged learners are declining in math ....... No problem TFA is a solution. ... just ask Dr. Enfield

Melissa Westbrook said...

Maureen, I think a principal can make or break a school far more than staff but we can agree to disagree.

The district is saying that Mr. King never resigned when it was announced that he was leaving to go to Tacoma.

Here's what the Times said then:

"Gregory King, the controversial principal of Lowell Elementary School, announced this week he is taking a job in Tacoma."

"His new job is as principal at Bryant Montessori, a prekindergarten through eighth-grade public school in Tacoma, he said."

"Tacoma Public Schools announced its plans to hire King to lead Bryant Montessori, a kindergarten through 8th-grade school in that district."

King was to stay on until a successor was named.

I'm sorry. He HAD to have told the district he had a new job and was leaving but would stay until they moved someone else in.

He did this verbally? Or in a letter? I suspect it was written.

He announced this job to the world as did Tacoma district.

And yet the district says he never really resigned?

I do believe a clever person could ask for district documents around this issue and see what exactly transpired.

And, if he did resign but they allowed him to stay when the new job fell apart, then Jennifer Gary was just wronged again as her resignation retraction was not allowed.

If they have a policy, it applies to everyone.

SkritchD said...

I agree with most of what Charlie said on this situation and Principal King. Though I think his running 14 of 17 teachers out is inaccurate, but it was still high. Seven that I can count. I am upset that they allowed him to retract his resignation. Now that the investigation is over on this issue, I wish they would address the other concerns such as staff dissatisfaction, his heavy-handedness to those who disagree (staff or parents), and the incident about getting a student's private email or web password. Bottom line is trust and I have none with him.

Anonymous said...

Susan Enfield is first and foremost a political animal.

Ted Howard at Garfield has also had some serious issues that could have resulted in termination. Apparently, King and Howard seem to risky for her to touch politically. As usual for Enfield, ethics need not apply.

However, Enfield tried to prove to the board that she was tough enough for the job by going after Martin Floe as her sacrifical lamb.

Does Charlie still think it was a shame that we lost Enfield? Who would ever want such an unethical and unscrupulous person such as Enfield at the helm?

When you have an MGJ or Enfield in charge, lies and corruption work like trickle down economics.

When you have four school board members who are okay with state laws being violated and lies being told to them, they also enable corruption to trickle down into the whole system.

Situational ethics have been rampant and tolerated in this district for a long time. Parents sometimes look the other way, too, as long as their child benefits--see the inequities in staffing due to PTA funding as a prime example.

All of these examples breed a system like the one we continue to witness in SSD.

--enough already

Y2chaotic said...

As a parent of a child who swtiched into APP this school year, I feel again duped by SPS. Mind you, my personal observances of Principal Geohagen this school year have all been positive. But I am still offended and alarmed at the timing of the release of the news. A total repeat of waitig to drop the bomb AFTER the last school year ended before us that the program we signed our child up wouldn't in fact exist (due to overcrowding).

So I read here about people saying they would pull their kid from the school. In all honesty, that has entered my mind several times this year. But move to what?

Most of us arrived to APP after struggling to find a place our child fit and was adequately addressed by curriculum. I have my frustrations, irritations and even issues of outrage related to aspects of this school, but the cohort has been invaluable for our child. So it is not such a pat solution to cut bait. Especially when private school isn't an option, so that we would be stuck under SPS admin anyway. I am still processing all this and learning more and hoping to make enough sense of it to know what to do.

onthefly said...

I think many good solid teachers do go and get principal certification because they prefer to work on the bigger picture and don't mind so much dealing with the politics and bureaucracy...

People who become administrators may or not be good solid teachers. Unfortunately, that factor is irrelevant.

People become administrators because they want to administrate... they like the idea of being in charge of other people and obtain their job satisfaction from that.

Once in a great while, you cross paths with somebody who is honest and decent and intelligent and actually good at being in charge.

But this seems to be a matter of complete accident rather than any coordinated process of selection of the best and brightest.

I don't think we're much different than any other school district or any workplace... but here in Seattle it genuinely is like a daily real life Dilbert comic. We have a lot of pointy-headed bosses who are completely clueless.

Some are benignly clueless, but some are malignantly clueless... and worse.

suep. said...

It's true that many strong APP teachers were harassed or driven out by Lowell leadership last year. Some less stellar teachers were as well.

And I know firsthand that GK treated some people very well and others terribly. So one's perspective on how things were going at Lowell last year depended on whether you were a parent or a teacher, a favored teacher or a targeted veteran teacher, and yes, the Special Ed community in particular was not treated well, not only because of the complete failure of school administrators to look out for the safety of the kids at the heart of this investigation, but the willingness of school leaders to divide up the Special Ed classrooms and spaces in order to make room for the outrageous proposed capacity of 700 kids in fall 2011.

And then there was the matter of the negative climate surveys possibly being intercepted, the summary firing of the BLT team, angry outbursts, and more recently, a felon allowed to chaperone a school field trip -- all of this on GK's watch.

What the district needs to realize is that there are serious liability issues attached to all of this. Children's safety is at risk here.

Principals who do not know their legal and moral obligations to protect children by following the correct protocols and investigating claims of possible abuse are not fit to be principals.

If SPS allows this to go on, the liability reaches all the way to the top.

As a longtime Lowell parent I am deeply disturbed by all of this. Anyone who cares about the future of either Lowell schools needs to speak up and demand better leadership.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Pot! It's me,

Kettle

Anonymous said...

This isn't the first time a question of abuse or appearance of abuse has been passed up the chain and ignored. Whitman. Broadview? How many others?

Mr White

Anonymous said...

I would like to thank the poster for the following comment:
"I think it is a mistake for people to make a decision about a school based on any one person, even the principal."

So many of the comments on this blog are just sad. Can you please, please abstain from your reactionary call for families to yank their children from our schools?

Seriously.

As a teacher at Lowell, I have zero, zero say, zero influence on who SPS decides will lead our administrative team. There is little to no consideration toward what is best for - first and foremost - students and even less interest in what kind of person is best suited to work with that particular learning/teaching community. As a staff, our hands are tied and soldered.

Our collective frustration with SPS and the consistent way in which it fails ALL of our children is an embarrassment. it is an embarrassment to those who serve the children, their families and our region. How the hell is this consistent and endemic for of cultural treachery allowed?

Well...one way is this call for parents to pull students. This is a monumental amount of. B.S.

If it is the administration who fails us, the it should be them who must leave. It shouldn'tt be the families and children first. If pressure is called for, then put on the pressure.

As a staff, this year - beginning
At Summer when we first learned of a split - has a been a series of frustrations, disappointments and distractions from doing our damn job. And this collection of staff (at BOTH sites!) is remarkable. We work hard, long, long hours And do so because what is out important is working with our amazing, diverse community of learners.

And it is both those who serve them and the students who are the biggest losers here. We are held hostage by the political pissing match between SPS and our programs.

APP children and families have zero stability in the future of their education...where will they be next year? The year after that and in what form? Split yet again? They deserve the stability of knowing what their own educational future holds! Issues of identity and community are important for all and especially for a community of learners, many of whom feel ostracized and 'different' from age-level peers. The families shouldn't have to continue to pour money into this school simply to help it reach acceptable in terms of resources. Basic resources and services are something that ALL students should expect!

Gen. Ed. And SPED children and families are being denied the services they so desperately require and are entitled if only the District would officially, officially separate the schools: Capitol Hill is projected to be 63% fee-reduced lunch for the coming budget year. That is Title 1 people! These children deserve the necessary support that Title 1 funding would bring: full time math and reading specialists to begin. The Gen. Ed. Kids have also been through the SPS shuffle mill: first at MLK,then TT Minor and now Lowell. What next?

Please, please stop making it harder for those truly affected by the continuing SPS administrative (beginning at JSCEE) neglect and incompetence. Strike there. Start advocating and supporting the remarkable staff that's turning itself inside out for their students in the middle of a swirling lake of bile.

I'm sick and tired of not being in able to sleep at night, of being unable to stop stop the continuous, haunting of thinking about this mess and what it holds for our future as learning communities, to the continuing cornering by anyone who happens to hear that I'm a teacher at Lowell...

I want to teach and learn along with our students, their families, my colleagues. I want to work in a District that for one bloody moment isn't the laughing stock of public education. Help us accomplish that by focusing your efforts on JSCEE! That is where it begins and must end.

- Somehow Alive and Still Kicking

Kiernan said...

Some people are saying that they want to get their kid out of this school. They have a problem. This school teaches kids that are at extremely higher levels of thinking than most kids, they can't go to another school. And people will have to move to be allowed to go to the other APP school.

Steve said...

Somehow Alive and Still Kicking, thank you for your post and for teaching our (and my) kids. I totally agree with you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

To the APP teacher at Lowell, you are right about focusing on JSCEE because yes, that is where decisions are made about who to hire, who to believe and who to trust.

I absolutely understand your confusion and worry. On the Advanced Learning Taskforce, many of these issues have been on the table.

I didn't advocate for anyone to take their child out; I just said if I had a child, I could not leave them in a school with a principal I had lost trust and faith in. That's my opinion.

I had to delete an anonymous comment but I will reply. NO one is making any assumptions. We all patiently waited for the report to come out and it was a thorough investigation.

Anonymous said...

Last year, Gregory King shared with the entire staff during a staff meeting, a "This is my life" power point. In it he revealed that his father had been killed by white racists when he was just a young boy, I believe at age six. His brother was killed as a teen ager, also by presumed gang activities. We knew that he had gone through what would have a major impact on his phyche.

All year, when we saw teachers bullied, and his own outbursts, ranting at the staff, we all somewhat excused him, as we knew that he had suffered much in his growing up years.

I believe that I saw him lie about my colleagues and misrepresent scenarios that I had witnessed.

I saw Rina Goeghagan support his stances and stand behind behavior that was hurtful to the staff. I also saw her misrepresent facts in order to put teachers on improvement plans that would have been impossible for anyone to do. She was the one that Mr. King used, so that by pushing teacher's out, it would not look like racial predjudice was involved.

I do not concur with the idea that there were APP teachers who should have been weeded out. All the teachers were phenomonal from my stand point. I've never seen such a dedicated and skilled staff for gifted. And yes, our school was gutted of that staff. There is no reason to assume that the newly hireds, who had no gifted training, would have held a candle to those who are no longer with us.

Rina Geoghagan and Gregory King were the worst principals that I have ever worked with. I'm not just saying that in respect to how they treated staff, and all the political atmosphere they created, but also in their attack on what matters in a "gifted curriculum."
They have sold the gifted curriculum down the drain.

Former Lowell teacher

Anonymous said...

As a Lowell at Capitol Hill parent I'm sad to see this happening at our school. Most of the teachers and staff are exceptional. They truly care about developing people. I wouldn't pull my child out of the school over this situation because I believe it's overblown, and because everything else at the school is top notch.

- Lowell@CapHill Parent

Anonymous said...

The principal and vice principal lied to their bosses, and then set up employees (who had reported in good faith) in order to protect themselves.

"Overblown" is hardly the case here.

--enough already

Braessae said...

Still Alive and Kicking -- you raise many good points, but how does one put pressure on downtown? I am not even sure, at this point, that one can go to Kay Smith-Blum (in whose district Lowell is) or whatever director "has" the L@L building in their district -- because I think the "micromanagement" rules say that they are not supposed to criticize/complain about individual teachers and principals. So -- what do we do? Talk at board meetings? We can't. Slots are reserved for what is on the "agenda" and you can bet THIS won't be! There is no way to get to downtown management unless the board, who we elected to represent us and run this District right (hint hint) does something about it.

If the student population of the buildings dropped by half next year, if people simply put their feet down and damn well refused to let their kids go to schools run by these two, well it wouldn't go unnoticed.

Braessae said...

I agree with Maureen -- and sort of with flyonthewall (I think) that using good veteran teachers as administrators is a very limited solution. First, it deprives kids of great teachers, and while there are many good teachers, I still hate to see the really good ones squander their rare teaching talents and experience on administration -- unless they really want to.

Second, being a good administrator is also a highly valuable, and not overpresent skill (though much of it can be learned, if you want to learn it). Good administrators love facilitating excellence in the staff they support. They get a huge charge out of a building that runs well, and produces good results on small resources. They take pride in knowing "their" people don't go elsewhere -- even for better pay -- because the work environment they have created is so valuable that it retains people. They love knowing that their senior people mentor the junior ones, that people clamor to come to their schools when others have more space, or are geographically more convenient. They are good at defusing tensions, between staff members, between their staff and downtown, between staff and parents. They are either good at fundraising or have figured out how to tap others who are. While they need to know what good teaching looks like -- and what to do to nurture it -- not all good teachers have, or want to acquire these skills (as opposed to the skills of nurturing dozens of kid brains and bodies through a year of learning.

Maureen is right, though -- many of the best, most imaginative teachers are passionate about teaching, not running schools, are temperamentally unsuited to the headaches and hassles of management, and might prefer to gouge their eyes out before agreeing to be booted upstairs to a principal position. I suspect the same is true of many other professionals (doctors, engineers, lawyers, etc.)

There are, on the other hand, lots of people who have a gift for, or who have learned to love, being managers. We just don't seem to be able to pick them, probably because the downtown people we have hired to do the picking are themselves bad at management.

Dorothy Neville said...

Read the report. Three different people witnessed three different instances of toe-kissing. Even if for this particular relationship that was appropriate, the employee was also hugging older girls, multiple children. Seems to me multiple clear situations of "yellow light" behavior. I have heard anecdotally from several teachers that with other principals, a simple verbal report to the principal was all it took to nip it in the bud. There are principals who take this seriously and educate the staff member swiftly and discreetly.

Whether or not this fellow had bad intentions, the damage is twofold. One is that it would allow a culture where someone like Hill who was grooming children for abuse to thrive. Second teaches by example that such affection at school is normal, which can thwart any teaching at home about proper touching and thus confuse children and perhaps make them more susceptible to predatory behavior later.

Anonymous said...

Late last year, when I suggested that we reserve judgment about Dr. Enfield, I had this investigation in mind. (I'd heard about it through the grapevine.) I didn't expect the report to be released in late March, and so I thought we should wait to see how Dr. Enfield reacted to the report. My reasoning was that that would give us a better idea about whether she should be offered a permanent contract. My view at the time was, and still is, that Jonathan Knapp, in yet another instance of political ineptitude and hubris, made a mistake in showering love on Dr. Enfield.

Now the report is out, and the two administrators have received reprimands. Is this the end of it? Will Dr. Enfield take follow-up action? I will be interested to see how this plays out.

DWE

Anonymous said...

DWE,

Do you mean letting the court of public opinion overturn a decision made on her own accord, like the Floe and student newspaper censorship decisions?

Leading by polls and moneyed interests has been Enfield's M.O. since jump street. How much more information do you really need to figure out this politician?

--enough already

Dorothy Neville said...

We now have context for the issue of anonymity and the ethics hotline. The brochure staff got last year for the hotline clearly lists inappropriate behavior with students as one of the sorts of things one can report through the hotline. Anonymity was promised. So C1 called the hotline after receiving a letter identical to the one Jennifer posted on the same date.

Well, evidently the lawyers at the district end of the ethics office really only considered business ethics as protected. C1 got two replies. First, an email that included her entire complaint wad sent to her and cc'd to a whole raft of people saying that because there were issues of possible child endangerment it needed to to sent to others. A separate email, again with all the details of her complaint of retaliation was cc'd to various folk with the explanation that this was an HR issue, not an ethics one.

C1 felt understandably violated and even more vulnerable. Other staff who felt bullied and found out about this were similarly dismayed.

I spoke to Treat about this and at first he didn't get it. I think he does now. Unless there was a threat of immediate danger, he or Cerqui could have protected anonymity and followed through alerting Health and Safety. Likewise, informing HR (which does not have a good reputation) without C1's consent is a breach of trust.

Nancy Coogan was on these cc lists,and was also aware of the investigation. See Jennifer's email from Geohagen. Why didn't she show some professional curiosity and ask more questions? By simply believing the principal must be honest and the staff member untrustworthy, she exacerbated the situation in my opinion.

Note that Jennifer's supervisor was NOT included in this cc of the ethics report. Yet she found out about it and mentioned it during the phone conversation where she told Jennifer her resignation stood. Even if simply offhand that seems to me to be Very Unethical! At no point in the conversation did she mention district policy of not accepting retractions. No, the entire gist of the conversation that Jennifer reported to me almost immediately after, was that this person and this person alone had the discretion of accepting the retraction or not.

(Please note that at no time did I attempt to get district staff to discuss the details with me. That would have been wrong. Treat and I spoke in general terms, except for the time he invited Jennifer to meet so he could hear her side of the story. Jennifer asked me to accompany her. Shortly after that meeting, she was informed the district was hiring the outside investigator.)

Anonymous said...
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Floor Pie said...

"[L]et's move on from something that happened more than a year ago."

It doesn't really work that way, though. Sometimes it takes a year+ just for the dust to settle, and only then can people start sorting out their feelings and move on. This was a big deal, especially on top of all the upheaval uncertainty at Lowell this past year.

Bad things happen to good schools, and it's not helping anybody if we all just shut up about it. Count yourself lucky that this didn't affect you directly and let those who were affected have their process.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anon-

Your unsigned posts will soon be deleted, so I will respond by paraphrasing your comment: nothing happened so move on.

What you don't understand is that the principal and asst principal did NOT know that nothing had happened when they ignored the three reports. They are extremely lucky nothing happened because if it had they would be in significantly more trouble. The point is how do you feel your kids are safe if the principal is told of potential problems and ignores them because it's easier?

-realist

Anonymous said...

"Nancy Coogan was on these cc lists,and was also aware of the investigation. See Jennifer's email from Geohagen. Why didn't she show some professional curiosity and ask more questions? By simply believing the principal must be honest and the staff member untrustworthy, she exacerbated the situation in my opinion."

Dorothy, I think lots of people have lots and lots of questions about the role of the education director in this situation. I think you are right that this shows a big mess of incoherence above the building level (to say nothing fo AT the building level) in managigng things before they get out of hand.

Exasperated Lowell Parent

Anonymous said...
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suep. said...

@Anonymous 3/25/12 10:52 AM

I heartily disagree.

The two or three school staffers (C1 and C2) who reported their concerns about potential inappropriate behavior by the IA most certainly did not drop the ball.

They showed professionalism and genuine concern for the children and tried to address the situation. As far as I can see, they are the only heroes in this sorry and disturbing story.

The school administrators above them are the ones who failed to respond to the matter appropriately and adequately. I would argue that they not only 'dropped the ball', it sounds like they tried to hide it.

For it appears the school administrators instead targeted the very staffers who were doing the right thing to begin with.

This is appalling.

How do you know that "nothing happened" to the kids and the kids are all okay? Have you spoken with the families of the kids involved?

Would you like your own child touched by a staffer or teacher in the various ways mentioned in the investigation?

I know I would not.

That the issues that promoted this investigation happened a year ago is irrelevant on many levels, especially when you consider the fact that the two administrators involved -- who have been officially reprimanded by the district for their failures in leadership -- are still in positions of leadership and influence.

I've also heard the the IA whose behavior prompted the concerns may also be working in the same position.

The fact that neither administrator has expressed any understanding of or remorse at the whole situation or accepted any kind of responsibility for possibly not having done all they could have to ensure that the kids at the heart of this matter are okay is very troubling to me.

One of them angrily denounced the entire investigation as based on lies or racism, the other claimed the investigation was inaccurate.

What have they learned from this whole experience? It would appear nothing.

As for your statement that "the event in question affected only a few people," I disagree again.

The behavior of the school administrators described in the investigation was exhibited throughout the year with various people. It was a year of intimidation and bullying for many teachers -- and even some parents -- hence the huge turnover of teachers at Lowell at the end of last year.

This behavior did not affect only a few. All of us have suffered through the loss of many fine and experienced teachers, and an environment of intimidation in which our children's teachers feared for their jobs and were dealt no respect is healthy for no one.

We are all harmed if we allow such an environment to exist.

I for one cannot live peacefully in an environment where others are harmed, even when I or my own are not.

For whom the bell tolls...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
suep. said...

I am worried about our kids.

Unbelievable that you would fault the only staffers who tried to speak up about the safety of the kids, and let the two school administrators off the hook, when they were the ones who were little interested in investigating the matter and instead decided to investigate the wrong people.

How can you speak for all 700+ staff, teachers and parents at both schools regarding their views of Rina and Gregory?

You can't.

Stop trying to sweep this under the carpet. This is serious.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous
Let me correct some inaccuracies.

I did report foot kissing to Ms. Geoghagan in January. Perhaps you are confused by the language in the report, but I told Ms. Geoghagan the staff person was in a room alone with the student and her foot was up to his mouth. Could I see from the angle that his mouth was touching her foot? No - but her foot was pretty darn close to his mouth and I made that distinction clear so that my reporting was as truthful as possible. I did say I could reach no other conclusion than he was kissing her foot.

C1 was unmistaken that she saw the employee on a later date kiss parts of the student's foot. C1 and I went several times to look for Ms. Geoghagan and she was not available. When we finally had a chance to speak with her, C1 said "I need to tell you about some concerns with an employee." and turned and looked to the adjacent room where the person was working. Ms. Geoghagan nodded as if she understood. We were interrupted at that point by the arrival of some students. Ms. Geoghagan never asked any follow-up questions. C1 and I went to Ms. Geoghagan's office again a day or so later and she was out of the building for a week or more for a conference.

At that point I asked someone in central administration how to further report. That person knew what all my concerns were. The central administrator did not get back to me for a week. In the meantime I asked the school nurse what we should do to further report. She contacted her supervisor and someone from Safety and Security came to school to interview us. After I had already spoken with Safety and Security, the central administrator told me she had contacted the legal department and was told to report to a principal. I told the central administrator I had already reported it further and the Safety and Security person had contacted the principal.

I called CPS and was told this would be a school issue - not a CPS issue. This was consistent with written school district procedure. Family abuse or neglect needs to be reported to CPS. School based misconduct is properly reported to school administrators or law enforcement.

In April, a third person saw a foot kissing incident. Either the employee had never been told to stop kissing feet or was told and chose to ignore the warning. Either scenario is troubling.

I hope this clears up your misunderstandings.

-Jennifer

Melissa Westbrook said...

To the Anonymous person who just want parents and staff at both Lowells, the parents and staff at all other schools and district administration to move on, I have one answer for you.

No.

If the principals had followed the protocol they had been trained to do, NONE of this would be happening. That they allowed their personal beliefs about race and their ability to carry out an investigation color their actions is wrong.

Then they did not fully disclose everything they knew when questioned about these incidents.

This how it starts. This how one guy molested children in our district just a few years back.

By people who turn their heads and pretending like nothing is happening.

Again I say, no.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Anonymous, I'm going to reprint what you said but do give yourself a name.

'Jennifer,
Thank you for the clarification. It is unclear by the badly written report by a junior attorney( she has less than five years experience). You are one of the few people who can give any real insight into the events. Why do you feel that after the spotlight was placed on this event that the district still did nothing.

And to Melissa, do you really believe that Gregory allows race to color his decisions, since many of the staff that forces out last year were African American.

People, please read the source materials or at least read threads through. They contain a lot of detail.

Mr. King is the one who brought race up to the investigators.

Mr. King is the one who did a Powerpoint explaining how his father died (due to racism).

And he forced out some staff who were African-American? Well, yes it is confusing but the person to ask is Mr. King.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous,

The redactions, though necessary, make the report a bit difficult to follow for someone who was not a participant in the events or who does not have some background knowledge.

You ask for an explanation of the district's actions. I can not comment on what I do not understand. I think people need to speak for themselves and explain their actions or lack thereof.

-Jennifer

Michael H said...

"...do you really believe that Gregory allows race to color his decisions, since many of the staff that forces out last year were African American."

As Melissa said, he is the one who brought up race. He is the one that automatically dismissed the complaints as frivolous because he is a black man and the complaints were being made about a black man. That is racism, ala Silas Potter.

And, this is apparently not the only principal that dismisses complaints against black staffers made by white staffers (or complaints made by staffers of any other race). You'll see.....

Anonymous said...

I find it incredibly frustrating that a new teacher can be non-renewed (fired) based on a subjective rubric and these guys can have all of this going on and get a wrist slap.

-SMH

Anonymous said...

Heartfelt gratitude to Jennifer and C1 for their integrity, perseverance, tenacity and strength to see this through. This past year has taken a severe toll on them personally, the staff at Lowell and the school community. It is unconscionable that those with the power (and that is what it is in SPS - those with power vs those without) in the Special Ed department knew about this from almost the beginning and turned a blind eye - to the vulnerable children who cannot speak for themselves, who cannot move independently around their classroom. The Special Education Executive Director and other Spec Ed admin should have, at the least, “been curious,” as Dorothy Neville states, to make sure the vulnerable children in the department they were hired to lead were safe. Why did they not try to support Jennifer, who from all accounts was/is a stellar Speech Language Pathologist. Instead, they let her go, and turned their other blind eye away. Instead, they were promoted or are still in place. Maybe the next investigation should be on the Special Education Department.

Curious

Anonymous said...

does anyone even know who this IA is other than c1 and c2? is this person still working at lowell?
concerned.....

erik said...

Melissa,
Stop bringing up the power point presentation since what you are saying is wrong. During that presentation Gregory mentioned that his father was killed by a Hispanic man and his brother was killed by a black man. The investigator has made wild racial accusations regarding race which she knows, she made up. In fact, it was the I a's teacher who brought it up in April. This so called investigator had a conclusion that wanted and would support it. I'm not saying there was nothing there to investigate, just stop fueling the race card when you do not know what you are talking about. Do you even know Gregory or Runs?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Erik, no I don't know them. But I know them from their own words to the investigator. Again, it is Mr. King who brought the subject of race up. You might ask him.

Brian M. Rosenthal said...

I'm doing an article about how Lowell parents are reacting to the report. If any are willing to talk with me, please email me at brosenthal@seattletimes.com.

Thanks,
Brian M. Rosenthal
Education report, The Seattle Times

Anonymous said...

Brian H. stated that most of the teachers that Mr. King went after last year were black. Who is Brian kidding? I am a former teacher of Lowell, and I was aware of a number of teachers under attack. What I noticed is that they were senior teacher. For the most part, it looked like it was white teachers. Then, the strong attatcks came toward our SEA representative who had supported the targeted senior teachers. Another African American teacher, also senior, was under attack, and still currently is. I can't imagine that she will be able to hang in there much longer.

Someone also mentioned that the power point did not happen. It most certainly did happen. Most faculty members did a "This is My Life" presentation at faculty meetings throughout the year. It was a way of bringing our staff together. Mr. King's power point presentation of"This is my life," shared about the killing of his father and brother by white racists. It was news to us all. The entire faculty saw it, so please don't discount the reality of that power point. Our staff had compassion for him.

Former Lowell teacher

Anonymous said...

Melissa, and all the other writers of discussion topics,

I can't thank you enough for making this forum available for people to read. I don't know how many people read the threads, but it is fantastic that there is a way to say these things publically. This allows us to hear from others on the topics, and I value what I have learned here.

Ellen

Anonymous said...

How quickly will this all get swept under the carpet now that we have concerns about where our school will be housed next? I hope that both topics remain in the public eye.

Still tuned

erik said...

Former Lowell teacher

Why are you lying when you and I both know that Gregory never mentioned White racists. He got rid of of teachers who were not looking out for students best interests.

Anonymous said...

To Erick,
He most certainly did. That was during the question and answer part. I am not lying when I say that he indicated that they were killed by white racists.

I take it that you are using a false name. I don't believe that we had an Erick on staff last year. Are you the one making up the story that Mr. King did not say these things? Now, at the APP site, there are only three of our former staff, and there are not many left at Lowell. You would have to contact the former staff to see if they don't remember that same staff meeting. It made quite an impression on us all.

Former Lowell teacher

Anonymous said...

No Erick,

He got rid of excdellent senior staff, because they cost the district much more money. He got rid of staff who were approaching the fourteen years of teaching in state, the requirement for being able to receive retirement. He was so unfair in his treatment toward these staff, that the other staff reading his write-ups on them were horrified. He wrote memos to the staff that came accross as highly disrespectful. Even though teachers loved working with their students, the toxic work atmosphere created by Mr. King was overriding. As a result, we had mass Exodeus in a program that had formerly had stability. May I point out the other staff that were not with the APP program who also fled.

Former Lowell Teacher

Anonymous said...

To Erik

I just looked up the other blog sites for this week, only to discover that you are a current Lowell parent, indicating that you have been at Lowell for three years. You were not at our faculty meeting where Gregory King shared his story. Very few of the former staff are now around. I could name at least fifteen who heard that statement, as we referred to it quite a bit last year.

Again, you would not have been privy to the PIP plans, the write-ups, or hearing the teacher's side of what was happening. If there had been any fairness, this would not have caused the Exodus that it did. That was a "no confidence" move from the staff. That speaks louder than any staff climate survey could have. Remember the results of the staff survey gave Mr. King the thumbs down.

All I can say is that there is much that you do not know about the school dynamics toward teachers. That is understandable. Since you are a parent who has a child in the school, it would be unprofessional for staff to let you know.

Former Lowell teacher

Anonymous said...

To Erick from Former Lowell Staff,

I want to retract a bit of what I said, as I take it that you have talked to Mr. King about the murders of his Father and brother.
It was about a year and a half ago when he gave his presentation to the staff about his life. We asked some questions about various aspects of his life, and appreciated hearing his personal story. Believe me, we didn't pry into the story behind the murders. If you have another view than what we understood, please speak it. I take it that you have asked him more about this than we did at the time.

We all have compassion for these tragic events in his life.

Sincerely,
Former Lowell Teacher

Anonymous said...

I just read Erick's comment that said the father was killed by a Hispanic man, and the brother by a black man. I stand corrected.

Former Teacher of Lowell

Seattle School Teacher said...

It looks like Gregory King found a new school. Take a look:

http://enrolleaa.org/EAA-Newsletter-2012.pdf

He is the new principal of Pershing High School in Detroit.

I wonder if they know about his shady past? Do they care?