The Times talked to parents at Lowell. They also talked to Susan Enfield via SPS Communications.
I can appreciate how tired the Lowell community must be. First one split, then another, then a felon goes on a field trip, then Principal King says he's leaving, then he's staying and now this investigation that calls out both of Lowell's principals. It's a lot.
And there are questions:
What led a special investigator to conclude that Principal Gregory King and Assistant Principal Rina Geoghagan mishandled the report? If they did mishandle it, why were they not fired? And why were the investigation's findings released after the close of the district's open-enrollment period?
What led the investigator was the evidence which was fairly clear-cut in terms of both principals being told about a behavior issue by one IA by a couple of staff members. The principals never did an investigation and then, when the district got wind of it, they both proceeded to say the staff members never reported it to them.
Why were they not fired? Here's where Dr. Enfield's statement comes in and it's somewhat shocking:
District spokeswoman Lesley Rogers said Interim Superintendent Susan Enfield decided to let the administrators keep their jobs, partly because no foot kissing actually occurred and the incident did not necessarily constitute sexual abuse.
Actually that sentence either was not stated properly or not written properly. It should read ".. because no foot kissing was ever PROVEN to actually have occurred."
No one, from either side, can definitively say any child's foot was or was not kissed. It was proven (and the employee in question said it was true), that the child's shoe and sock was taken off and the foot held near the employee's nose.
So the issue for Dr. Enfield is whether or not what was being reported was abuse, sexual or otherwise? That was never the point (or it shouldn't have been).
The point was that these two principals were less than truthful. And they were less than truthful in a situation that neither of truly knew WHAT had happened because neither could be bothered to even do their own investigation. So if it had been abuse, then Enfield would have fired them?
And the last question about the timing of the release of this investigation, after Open Enrollment?
Rogers said the report was supposed to be released last month but that King challenged some of its findings, leading to the delay. Parents seeking to move to another school with space can still do that until Sept. 30, she said.
Gee, thanks SPS. That's exactly what parents could do anyway.
It's interesting the way Principal King is allowed to state he is leaving his job, then get his job back when the people at the new job change their minds, have an investigation against him say he misled senior staff on a serious issue and then says the investigation is "made-up facts and faulty, biased assumptions." That looks like a guy who knew the investigation was coming, tried to jump ship, swam back (to a waiting boat), and was given extra time to get dry.
Parents new to the school? Not so much love from the district for them.
Director Smith-Blum also weighed in.
"It's been handled," said Smith-Blum, who represents the Central Area on the board. "Hopefully we can all go back to teaching and learning now."
If I were the PTA president, I would expect more than "I care about your kids, now let's move on." That's just me. Because there are new parents and students coming in so no matter what you, as Lowell parent know from your interaction with one or both of them, these new parents are looking at an expensive investigation that showed the principals who lead their child's new school to have told mistruths about investigating the safety and treatment of a child by a staff member.
It might be worth thinking of those parents.
But given his track record, I'm sure this won't be the last we hear of Principal King.
From OSPI: How to report a teacher or educator