Mr. Greenberg has been teaching this class for years. It is an established part of the Center School curriculum. The district has been through a number of curricular reviews and all classes now in the high school course catalog - including this one - have district approval. The district paid a lot of money to consultants to clean up the high school course catalog. The district created a lot of turmoil with curricular alignment. The course should be known to the district, we have reason to believe that it has already been reviewed and approved. Yet they are choosing to subject it to another review and suspend it while that review proceeds. Curious.
"On Dec. 21, 2012, we received a complaint from a family at Center School alleging that the instructional activities used in the Citizenship and Social Justice: Advanced Placement Language and Compositions and Social Studies class included intimidating and discriminating actions, attitudes and classroom environment."The complaint (intimidating and discriminating) would fall under Board Policies 3207 and 3210. The procedures for these types of complaints is clear. The procedure for intimidation complaints (3207 SP-A) sets the standard for what rises to the level of "intimidation":
"Harassment, intimidation or bullying is an intentional electronic, written, verbal, or physical act that:The standard is futher defined as:
- Physically harms a student or damages the student's property; or
- Has the effect of substantially interfering with a student's education; or
- Is so severe, persistent or pervasive that it creates an intimidating or threatening educational environment; or
- Has the effect of substantially disrupting the orderly operation of the school."
"Conduct that is "substantially interfering with a student's education" will be determined by considering a targeted student's grades, attendance, demeanor, interaction with peers, interest and participation in activities, and other indicators."We are supposed to believe that the students was impacted to this extent, yet none of classmates know which student it is. Curious.
"All staff are responsible for receiving oral and written reports. Whenever possible, staff who initially receive an oral or written report of harassment, intimidation or bullying shall attempt to resolve the incident immediately. If the incident is resolved to the satisfaction of the parties involved, or if the incident does not meet the definition of harassment, intimidation or bullying, no further action may be necessary under this procedure.
All reports of unresolved, severe, or persistent harassment, intimidation or bullying will be recorded on a district Incident Reporting Form. Staff, students, or community reporters shall submit such forms to the principal or designee, unless the principal or designee is the subject of the complaint."We know that the principal had a meeting with Mr. Greenberg and the student's family. We also know that this meeting did not result in a resolution that satisfied the family. That means that the Center School principal either determined that the inicident was not intimidation or discrimination or that the resolution proposed by the principal was unacceptable to the family. The principal's decision was overturned. Curious.
According to the procedure, the next step is for an investigation. The building leader and the District designee are supposed to determine, between them, who will conduct the investigation. The procedure says:
We know this didn't happen because there are a number of other students in the class who would have knowledge of the alledged incident and none of them were interviewed. Curious.The investigation shall include, at a minimum:
- An interview with the reporter and/or targeted student, if known;
- An interview with the alleged aggressor;
- A review of any previous complaints involving either the targeted student or the alleged aggressor; and
- Interviews with other students or staff members who may have knowledge of the alleged incident.
The entire process is supposed to be very fast. No more than five days for the investigation and no more than two days for the results. The original complaint was made on December 21. Surely all of this should have been resolved by mid-January, but it has run much later. I don't know why. It could be due to delays in the investigation. It could be that the results of the investigation were unsatisfactory to the student's family and they appealed the decision. That appeal would have gone to the compliance officer - not to the superintendent. The next appeal after that goes to the School Board.
Complaints about discrimination follow a different procedure, the one for Policy 3210. These complaints go straight to the Manager of the Safety Department.
Upon receipt of the complaint, the investigator from the OEC or MSD will investigate the allegations and effect a prompt resolution ofthe complaint. When the investigation is complete, the investigator will provide the Superintendent with a full written report of the complaint and the results of the investigation.Again, this process is supposed to be quick and should have been complete by the end of January at the latest. This decision can be appealed to the school board.
The Superintendent will respond in writing to a formal complaint no later than thirty (30) calendar days following the district's receipt of the complaint, unless otherwise agreed to by the complainant. The Superintendent's written response shall clearly state whether the District:
(1) Denies the allegations contained in the complaint; or
(2) Confirms the allegations and lists the corrective measures that the District intends to take to eliminate the discrimination.
In his statement, the superintendent wrote:
"Our Human Resources Department then launched an investigation of this complaint, as is our process."Only now that we have reviewed the procedures, we can see that this is not, in fact, the process. Human Resources is not involved in any investigations under 3207 or 3210. Curious.
Nothing about how the district handled the complaint by the student makes any sense or follows the established procedure for those complaints.
That's all about the review of Mr. Greenberg's actions. Separate from that is the review of the course. According to the superintendent's statement:
At the request of the Superintendent, the Teaching and Learning Department reviewed this particular course, convening an ad hoc committee to examine the curriculum.The committee is making a recommendation. So it's an advisory committee. There's a policy (4110) and a procedure (4110 SP) that govern advisory committees. These procedures were not followed. That's nothing new. The superintendent has yet to follow the procedures for any of his advisory committees.
Then comes the whole idea of reviewing a class. That's certainly within the district's authority, but there doesn't appear to be any authority for the superintendent to suspend instruction pending the review. Actually, there is no established procedure for this. Nor is there a policy that governs it. In the district course catalog, the class is regarded no differently than any other 12th grade social studies and language arts class. The class is supposed to contain enough depth and rigor to prepare students for the AP tests
Anna Minard of The Stranger reported that Superintendent Banda said nothing's changed about the process this complaint is going through, that it's still up to Shauna Heath, the executive director of curriculum and instruction at SPS. "It was a very formal complaint," he said, resulting in a review of the class to make sure "it's in line with how the curriculum should be taught," and the "suspension [of curriculum] was pending that review." He said his understanding is that the race curriculum was mostly finished and that the class wouldn't be starting the next portion, a unit on gender, for a couple weeks, and the review will be done before then. The review of the class, Contemporary Issues/World Literature, is supposed to be complete by Thursday, March 14.
The cap on all of this curiosity comes from the Board. At the March 6 Board Meeting, no fewer than five Board Directors said that there is a process for reviewing the class and that the District is following the process. That's simply not true. There is no process for reviewing classes. So what was the Board talking about? And shouldn't the Board know? Isn't it the Board's job to hold the superintendent accountable for following policies and procedures? Isn't the Board responsible for fostering a culture of compliance?