Sunday, September 22, 2013

Mann Building Update

Well, sort of an update.  I am still waiting for a reply to what did or did not happen on September 18th at the Mann building.

I am more confused than ever.  It is clear that - for whatever reason - the terms of the lease were  enforced by the district.   I have no idea what is really going on because the terms of the lease are fairly clear.  

There was a letter sent to Superintendent Banda on August 1, 2013 from the group, NPARC, the Non-Profit Anti-Racism Coalition, outlining the situation and that they wanted to stay in the Mann building.

In the first paragraph, it is noted that NPARC "is an alliance of mainly human service organizations in King Country who are committed to identifying and dismantling institutional and structural racism."  It goes on to name "partners" such as Wellspring Family Services, YMCA, Childhaven" and a couple of others.  The letter then launches into a history and explanation of the situation at Mann.

There are no partners or coalition members named at the NPARC website other than Julia Ismael, Keiko Ozeki and Toi Sing Woo.

I was curious about the inclusion of groups like the YMCA and Wellspring.  I contacted all of them and, not surprisingly, most are are confused.  It seems that they have limited connections to NPARC but are not partners and, despite the linkage of their names in this letter, have no knowledge of it at all.  (UPDATE:  Wellspring is a paid member of NPARC but had no knowledge of their mention in the letter to the Superintendent.)
There is only one signature to the letter and it is the Chair, Julia Ismael.  She asks for an answer by August 9, 2013 and says, "Again, if no satisfactory resolution is reached by August 15th, the expiration date of the current lease, we will initiate our publicity campaign and support more direct actions."  

As you will see below, NPARC was never a signed leasee for the building so why they wrote to the Superintendent is unclear. 

I can give some more background on the lease/short-term agreement.

- the original lease was with one tenant - Peoples Family Life Center.  

- the lease was from October 1, 2010 to June 15, 2013 "inclusive".  So the lease was signed, knowing it would end in 2013.  The district didn't just pull this out when the capacity management issue became apparent.

- However, on June 15, 2013, there was a "Short Term Revocable Occupancy Agreement" signed.  It states, "This is not a lease. This is Short Term Revocable Occupancy Agreement gives Occupant only the right to use the premises for a limited period of time, and is revocable at the will of the Owner."  It further states that the Owner can terminate the Agreement within five calendar days notice and can change the locks if the Occupant fails to remove its possessions during this time period.  This was with a different group - Seattle Amistad School - which I believe was the original subleasee to the Peoples Family Life Center.

The rent is $100 to be used to pay the utilities. So the Seattle Amistad School - and whoever else is in the building - have been using it since June 15, 2013 for this amount.  The security deposit was waived as well.  The document states this is because the District will need to be in and out of the building for "capital planning purposes." 

It states that the ONLY use for the building is the Seattle Amistad School for K-5 childcare and bilingual education and "for no other purpose without the prior written consent of the Owner."

It states the original agreement with Peoples Family life has been terminated and that the Seattle Amistad School could stay until August 16, 2013. 

Lease

- the rent for the original lease was $3,334.00 per month with that same amount required as a security deposit

- the building could only be used for "business purpose" - Youth and family education and job training only.  (Pretty vague.)

- "it is the intent of the parties that Tenant, as the sole user of the Premises, shall assume all responsibility for the operation and maintenance of the Premises..."  So the district went into this agreement, as did the original tenant, with the idea there would be one single tenant in the building.

- Tenant shall comply fully with all Seattle School Board Policies now or hereafter in respect to the Premises and Tenant's activities therein.

- the lease was signed by Jocquelyn L. Duncan, named as Chair and Officer

- the lease also notes that if the Tenant or "allows subcontractors" operate a day care or other child-serving programs (where parents are not present), they have to provide evidence of insurance against child abuse.  It also states that if they do have child-serving programs that the staff who have access to children on the Premises have to take the Adult Sexual Misconduct (ASM) training class approved or provided by the district.  I have no idea if either thing happened given that there were children being served in the building but I've asked to see documentation of this.

- the lease also clearly stated that the Tenant cannot sublet the premises (or any part of it) without the prior written consent of Landlord in each instance, which may be withheld in Landlord's sole discretion.  We know this wasn't done because the district didn't even know all the parties using the building.    It also says that any transfer without the landlord's consent, by the sole discretion of the Landlord, be void and "shall constitute a default hereunder which, at the option of the Landlord, shall result in the termination of this Lease..."

- it also states, "Landlord does not by this Lease, in any way or for any purpose, become a partner or joint venturer of Tenant in the conduct of its business or otherwise."

In this statement we see that the district was never in partnership with any of these groups but acting only as Landlord.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is time to change the locks. The people there are there illegally, and it's a building owned by Seattle Public Schools (all of us). Get them out.

Anonymous said...

Oops. Mine is the previous post. Sign me...

- Vacate

Jet City mom said...

I really hate when groups purporting to represent unrepresented peoples behave this way, because it makes it harder for the next group, who could be much more above board & legitimate, to be heard.
For shame.

Anonymous said...
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Carol Simmons said...

This posting may be unpopular, but I felt it is necessary for me to do. After seeing "The Butler" I was reminded by the issues which continue to be so important to all of us. The Horace Mann building is a symbol and the occupation of this building must be respected. There is a line in "The Butler" which reinforces my belief that "sometimes the law needs to be broken." Why can't the building be shared? Historically, it has been shared. We had several programs occupying this building for many years such as the South Pacific Island Program, among others. I am very much aware of the legality of the issue and also know the "domino effect" that this sharing could produce.......but we hope that we are an intelligent district (so let's figure it out); and we state that we are committed to equity, (so let's prove that we are.) We could share this facility and I believe we should. I just hope it is not too late.

seattle citizen said...

Carol, my understanding is that the district is open to using the building during non-school hours. I respect the efforts by people in the community to occupy it to make a needed point, but I wonder why THIS building, which is still needed by the district. You write that the building is "a symbol"; could you expand on that idea?

seattle citizen said...
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Michael H said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't know much about the groups involved with the occupation but if one takes them at face value, I.e. their stated accomplishments and aspirations, they are doing things that will change the lives of young people for the better. How many or how much? Certainly dozens and from the literature they have on line, the amount of benefit would appear to be at least moderate.
So, shouldn't the groups get some credit for helping some kids who otherwise would be a pretty at risk group, statistically speaking?

Nick

Charlie Mas said...

There isn't anyone disputing the need for programs to address academic under-achievement among African-American students. That's not the point.

The point is that the District should take steps to manage their real estate, including the Mann building.

The District has well-developed plans for the Mann building. These plans have been in the works for years. The District wants to move forward with those plans and they should.

The folks looking to occupy the Mann building may have some virtues and they may be raising important issues, but that doesn't justify their occupation of the building.

The two issues are completely separate and any effort to link them is false.

Mary Griffin said...

I don't know enough about what is going on at the Mann building, but I think this is an opportunity to look at the meaning of the words "achievement gap," which is referenced by Charlie. The concept of an achievement gap, in itself, is very loaded. It's loaded with history, and it's used by various groups for their own purposes.

When ed reformers and others use the words achievement gap, it allows them to pinpoint blame solely on our educational system. Issues of social inequity can be easily be ignored and anyone who points to poverty or other lack of opportunity can be labeled as lazy.

Corporate ed reformers use the words achievement gap to demonize public education and teachers so that they can institute their in-school only reforms of privatization, test scores as outcomes, and constant crisis and churn.

Inasmuch as a school system perpetuates the systems of society, and continues to ignore the root causes of inequities by marginalizing the historically marginalized, it will only continue to perpetuate the "achievement gap."

When the words opportunity gap are used, it points to larger causes in society. For an elegant discussion of language concerning gaps, please see Dr. Camika Royal's post here.. And don't let yourself stop reading it because she admits she is a former Teach for America teacher.

Whether or not the Horace Mann people are able to continue their efforts to bring about change in that building, I think we need to hear their points.

Charlie Mas said...

Yes. We need to hear their points. They have an important message and the District should hear it.

That was the point of the occupation of the building - to bring urgency and a specific response to a chronic problem that wasn't getting a specific response.

But once they have the response - and they have it - they don't need the occupation anymore and they should let go of it.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't the building need to be updated to meet codes anyway? The remodel can't happen if they are in the building. So even if they were to share the building with Nova, they are going to have to move out in the mean time.

HP

Melissa Westbrook said...

I agree with Charlie; these are two separate issues.

The district - by forming the taskforce, providing other options and saying, okay let's hear about your programs and what you want to do - IS making the effort for these groups.

When I last talked to Pegi McEvoy, she said the district had asked for - repeatedly - for written documentation on the programs, what they do, who they serve and how they want to partner with the district.

That has not happened.

This is a reasonable request.

It also appears that at least some of the groups are not operating in the building in good faith. Allow this to continue and watch it happen elsewhere.

Charlie has long said the City should run the Facilities because of their expertise and I agree.

But the decision on the Mann building has been made and I have to wonder why there seems to be a stalemate.

Anonymous said...

it seems the work of the M4M groups goes beyond raising awareness to the actual changing of the outcomes for at risk youth. this is in their words, "triage"' to keep kids out of prison, gangs, the morgue, etc. it's not an exercise in political point making, at least not exclusively.
As far the linkage between saving the lives of youth of color and the Mann building, who is to say it's false?
I think that is in the eye of the beholder. Try to empathize and look at the situation from other people's life situation. Watching year after year as poor dark skinned youth move from school to prison while the power structure in our district does little or nothing to stop, reverse and eliminate this trend, creates an emergency situation that links the very lives of kids to district inaction. Occupying a school may focus the district enough to take real steps to save some kids.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Nick,

How does the district know that the More for Mann/Africatown Innovation Center/Umojafest Peace Center groups are changing outcomes for students?

The best things for these groups to do is to get themselves organized (in a legal sense). Incorporate as a Washington State Nonprofit, apply for federal not for profit status, keep financial records and records of activities and outcomes. If they did this, the city would likely fund their programs through the Families and Education Levy.

These steps are included in the Umojafest Peace Center's strategic plan. They incorporated in July of this year. Why leap ahead to Goal 3D: Identify and secureUmojaFestP.E.A.C.E.Centerspace through 2016?

Lynn


Anonymous said...

From what I read about the programs operating in the Mann building, these sound like afterschool or enrichment type programs--something to supplement, not replace, other educational efforts. If they were providing effective educational programs that met state requirements and were serving numbers close to the building's capacity, that would be one thing. But since that does not seem to be the case--and the district clearly does not have facilities to spare--the reasonable thing to do at this point is to say "Hey, we got the district's attention, and now we're going to be good partners and work with them to figure out a way to continue providing these services to SPS kids who need them." They have an opportunity to engage other parents across the district in supporting their mission, but they need to be seen as a pro-solution group rather than an obstacle if they want that to happen.

HIMSmom

Charlie Mas said...

It's not a question of empathy. It's a question of effectiveness.

The goals of the More 4 Mann group are obscure. They are stated in just the most general terms. And their means and actions do not appear to be aligned with those goals.

Moreover, the essential truths have not changed. The District needs them out of the building so construction can begin.

The More 4 Mann group does not want to share the building with NOVA. They want the building all to themselves. They want it as a gift from the District. And they don't want any District oversight of their programs. That just ain't happening. Not only would it be foolish for the District to agree to anything like that, but it wouldn't be legal even if they did.

Let's not forget that this community has already got two school buildings - the Colman school and MLK.

Anonymous said...

Umm, a little history on the Colman building (bought from SPS in 2008 by Urban League, and now house NAAM with Norm Rice on the Board).

http://www.historylink.org/index.cfm?DisplayPage=output.cfm&file_id=8602

MLK bought by AME as discussed on SSS
http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2011/06/first-ame-church-sold-mlk-building.html

From ST
http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2015242396_mlk06m.html

So which community are you talking about? Are black people interchangeable on this blog? I see names of individuals here.
-confused

Anonymous said...

Obscure? All they talk about is ending racial disparities and stopping the school to prison pipeline. Hardly obscure. As I said earlier, surely they have saved some kids from a future that most of us cannot even imagine happening to our kids. Another red herring is the gift(?) of the Coleman and MLK buildings. So our guilt is assuaged? Everything is hunky-dory with our friends down ther now?
My read is these people want to change outcomes for real kids, not get sympathy or more buildings. The district has failed the kids they represent, not moved them to a new building or taken away self-contained classes or split their gifted program again. No, their clientele are either going to prison, dropping out, getting shot or some combination. They are not, apparently , in the mood any longer to play by the rules and wait for the system to save them.

Nick

Melissa Westbrook said...

Confused, I don't think Charlie meant black people - I think he meant the Central District community which is the area that the groups in the Mann building want to support.


mirmac1 said...

"Incorporate as a Washington State Nonprofit, apply for federal not for profit status, keep financial records and records of activities and outcomes"

These things are absolutely no guarantee of outcomes, efficacy or legitimacy. Haven't all of Gates' shell "nonprofits" done at least the first two. Outcomes, not so much.

I dislike the use of "thugs" to describe community members not trying to score some special something for their unique, special children. This shows a troubling double standard to me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I managed to miss the name-calling this morning but I have now deleted them.

Again, we are not going to name-call. You can say you don't like a person/group's behavior or performance but we are not going to attack people personally.

Charlie Mas said...

confused asked:

"]So which community are you talking about? Are black people interchangeable on this blog? I see names of individuals here."

The community I'm talking about is Africatown. You know, the community in whose name the Mann building is being occupied.

Africatown's web site lists both the African American Heritage Museum @ Colman School and First AME Church as landmarks within their community.

Charlie Mas said...

Nick says "All they talk about is ending racial disparities and stopping the school to prison pipeline. Hardly obscure."

Perhaps obscure isn't the right word.

Let's go instead with "vague".

Yes, yes, yes, we all want to address the under-performance of African-American students and students living in poverty. We all want to end the school to prison pipeline. Parroting those wishes doesn't advance the conversation, let alone the work, and doesn't even add anything new about it.

So what does this group want - other than the Mann building? What is their intention? What will they do?

As has been reported, they have been unwilling to answer questions about their program, what they do, how they work, and how effective they have been.

Instead, all we hear from them is that they want the building. From the NPARC Seattle web site:

"the historically African-American community of the Central District deserve a centrally-located community center" as if there were not a community center directly across the street.

If someone has the answer, then please share it with me - other than the Mann building, what exactly do these people want?

Anonymous said...

Maybe they want kids to grow up and live productive and happy lives.

Pome

Melissa Westbrook said...

You'll note that no one will answer a specific question but there's a lot of vagueness and platitudes. The district can't work off that, not with taxpayer dollars and another whole existing school that needs a home (in a building that they were in for 20 years).

Anonymous said...

It is the greatest good to the greatest number of people which is the measure of right and wrong."

it would be the poor kids not the NOVA kids who will get the greatest good from use of the Mann building.

Sari

Anonymous said...

This is like telling a leg less veteran that they need to move off the sidewalk and quit asking for help because they don't have a business plan. If the ACIC people are doing something that is harmful to the kids they work with, shut them down. If they are taking a principled stand against racial inequity in Seattle schools, then it's about time. This districts history of neglecting poor kids and poor kids of color is absolutely disgraceful. Those who are so law and order now about evicting ACIC, are most likely the same categories that have traditionally benefited from so called white privilege. Ironic.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Sari,

Can you prove that?

Lynn

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It would be the poor kids not the NOVA kids who will get the greatest good from use of the Mann building."

And your proof of that would be?

"This is like telling a leg less veteran that they need to move off the sidewalk and quit asking for help because they don't have a business plan."

Nope, not at all. No one is denying anyone help. But you don't give away public resources and that's what seems to be the call.

All Charlie and I are saying is how do we know what these groups are providing? How does anyone know? We keep asking and there are no answers.

So far, this is a very quiet issue - no other media is covering it (except in the Central District). You really think that the rest of Seattle - the district or the city - is going to support the district abandoning a public school building?

Anonymous said...

For the sake of argument, can you prove NOVA kids would benefit more?
I think what is indisputable is that as a group, the kids served by ACIC have been traditionally under served.

Eldon

Charlie Mas said...

Pome says: "Maybe they want kids to grow up and live productive and happy lives."

I suspect they do. What does that have to do with the Mann building?

Charlie Mas said...

Sari says: "It would be the poor kids not the NOVA kids who will get the greatest good from use of the Mann building."

Really? How will they use it?

Why do they need the Mann building? Why can't they do what they are going to do in the Mann building at their own schools? And where will the NOVA kids go to school, Sari?

How about we give them your children's school as a space where they can nothing specific and we push your children out into the street?

Anonymous said...

Are you serious? The polemical questions that litter this blog are not useful in furthering understanding.

They want to use the building to help achieve the goals of stopping the school,to prison pipeline and to end racial and economic inequity in the school district and the city as a whole, starting in their neighborhood, the CD.
At least that is my understanding.

Eldon

Charlie Mas said...

Eldon asked: "For the sake of argument, can you prove NOVA kids would benefit more?"

Yes. I can.

Here's how:

The activities that the ACIC intend to do with these children - whatever those activities are - can be done in the school space already provided for those children. Those children already have a school space where their education can take place.

The students at the NOVA Project, on the other hand, have no other school space. None.

So the NOVA students, who have no other space available to them have a greater need for the Mann building than the unstated number of children who have a school space provided for them that will be doing unstated activities with the ACIC.

So the NOVA kids benefit by having a space at all, which is a greater benefit than having a second space.

There's your proof, Eldon.

Wanna play this game? Where else can NOVA go? What other building can be made high school ready for 360 students as a distinctive program at a location that offers equitable access for students from all parts of the District?

Tell us why the ACIC program cannot be conducted at Gatzert, Thurgood Marshall, or Madrona. You can't because you don't even know what they are doing.

Charlie Mas said...

"At least that is my understanding."

You understand? Help me to understand, Eldon.

HOW will they use the building? What will they do there? Why does it have to happen in the Mann building and no where else? Why can't it happen in the buildings where the children are going to school? Why does it have to happen at Mann instead of the space available at MLK or at the Garfield community center or the former site of the Islamic school?

Charlie Mas said...

I'm not saying that African American students, including those in the CD, haven't been underserved by the District.

I'm not denying the presence of the achievement gap or the school to prison pipeline.

I'm asking what do those things have to do with the Mann building. Who are the students that the ACIC wants to work with? Where are those students now attending school? Why can't the work be done in those school buildings?

Why do these students need two school spaces when the NOVA students don't have even one school space?

Charlie Mas said...

This is like feeling bad for a legless veteran on the sidewalk, so you allow them to steal someone else's home.

Anonymous said...

I don't want to play any games. I want see historically underserved, extremely at-risk youth catch a break. The same break white non poor kids have always caught. The breaks I imagine many of us caught. I want to see now, not in some distant or even near future, an end to the school to prison pipeline, an end to unequal outcomes among groups which are characterized mainly by race and income and I want to see a city that stops perpetuating race and class segregation and disparities.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

It's not about white guilt, it's about empowering the powerless. Keeping these kids out of prison, in school, in society, out of gangs- that helps everyone. If anything I'm selfish, not magnanimous. I want a better, safer, more diverse and less stratified society for my kids nd myself. And, horrible as it sounds, I want to see that veteran to show me and my kids the horror of war and the result of human intolerance.

Eldon

Anonymous said...

Eldon:

Have the groups occupying Horace Mann reached out to Nova? Two wrongs don't make a right. Combine forces. Is this possible at this stage or are each on their own trajectory? Seattle schools, LEV, all of them, have abused and mislead both cohorts.

Mr. White

Melissa Westbrook said...

What is ACIC (I need a scorecard for all these groups)?

Eldon, those are good (and lofty) goals. What is the PLAN to do this, who will enact it and what is it based on? Until the district gets these answers, we don't know.

If you don't like games, then explain exactly what is happening here because it feels a lot like a game to me.

Mr. White, I don't know if they have reached out to Nova specifically. At the one taskforce meeting I attended, they talked about sharing the building but then said the building would have to be prepared in ways to suit their program, not Nova's. They have offered that Nova should move to the nearby Islamic School building (but not said why they couldn't move there).

They specifically asked to speak to the contractor about how to make Mann more specific to their programs.

It did not sound a lot like sharing.

I can only say that the district made it clear that the building is for the Nova program. They said it was possible for other programs to use it before or after-school.

At some point, the district will take the building back. How that will happen, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

Mr. White,

They claim they have reached out to NOVA. I don't see how that matters though. NOVA doesn't get to decide where their program is placed. The building isn't theirs to give away. Even if an agreement is reached to allow the More For Mann groups to use the buildings after school and in the summer, they'll have to leave NOW in order for construction to begin. If they want to continue their fantastic programs, they should have secured space by now.

Lynn

erik tanen said...

Incredible that we are still having the same conversation regarding a small unproven, noncooperative organization wanting a seat at the table, but that is the overly PC environment that is Seattle.
The point is that this group ( peace now, ACIC Mann 4 Mann) needs to move out and stop holding up the renovation of the building so that Nova can move on, so that Meany can be renovated, so that Washington middle school can be relieved of overcrowding which in turn helps African American kids in the central district. Not the few kids that these organizations help but all of the kids in the area.
Seriously, If these groups really cared about the kids that they profess to wanting to help then they should be supporting the new Meany school not hampering it. If t hey want to use a space in SPS, let them make a proposal and submit it like everyone else.

erik tanen said...

Incredible that we are still having the same conversation regarding a small unproven, noncooperative organization wanting a seat at the table, but that is the overly PC environment that is Seattle.
The point is that this group ( peace now, ACIC Mann 4 Mann) needs to move out and stop holding up the renovation of the building so that Nova can move on, so that Meany can be renovated, so that Washington middle school can be relieved of overcrowding which in turn helps African American kids in the central district. Not the few kids that these organizations help but all of the kids in the area.
Seriously, If these groups really cared about the kids that they profess to wanting to help then they should be supporting the new Meany school not hampering it. If t hey want to use a space in SPS, let them make a proposal and submit it like everyone else.

Anonymous said...

'profess to wanting to help' 'fantastic programs'

your disdain drips from my screen into a puddle of distrust, anger and racial animosity

sadGrrl

erik tanen said...

sadGrll,
Anger and distrust you bet. This group is holding up a process that effects a lot of children in a lot of schools. They will not provide any information about who they serve and how are they effective. They will not say how many kids are being served by their organization. They are not the right organization to take over a school that can serve 350+ kid, just because they went too.
Racial animosity, ha, ha , ha ; won't even respond.
Of course there are huge achievement gaps in our kids and major challenges for children from poorer families, but this group, at this time, in this building is not helping their own cause and the district needs to stop doing them and the rest of the community a disservice by continuing to talk about the Mann building except for how it will be renovated for Nova.

Anonymous said...

I am amazed that anyone is even considering allowing this group to use the building. They are openly racist and violent outfit. Omari is the guy who broke mayor Schelll's jaw with a megaphone. Just watch this video http://www.youtube.com/user/AfricatownChinatown2

They teach kids the usual Farrakhan hate message and not to cooperate with police. They are embarrassment to neighborhood.

-Tommy

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tommy, I would caution you on what you say. There are multiple groups involved here (and yes, it's very confusing as to whose on first). I would not paint all those groups with the same brush.

As well, Wyking Garrett is not responsible for the actions of his father. And I have no knowledge that he endorsed that attack on former Mayor Schell.

Anonymous said...

"Racist and violent"

More name calling, I'm telling mom.

Lil sis