Something's missing and we all know what it is.
It's the unfulfilled commitment I have been requesting for over ten years. It's the hole at the heart of the district's dysfunction. It is the emptiness at the root of the complaints and protests about the Garfield rape case. It is what was absent from Director Peaslee's understanding of the protests and it was omitted from Dr. Nyland's letter.
The District staff does not comply with procedure, policy, regulation, or law and they do so without consequence. No matter if the violation is trivial or tragic, they are not only neglected, not only forgiven, but even defended.
A sea of outrage rose up against Director Peaslee's tonedeaf remarks at the Board meeting. We were shocked by her misunderstanding of the protests. They were not calls to hold the boy accountable for his actions but a call to hold the district staff accountable for their actions (and inactions). How was it possible for Director Peaslee to get this so wrong?
She was not alone. No one else on the Board spoke about compliance. Review Dr. Nyland's letter to the community. Nowhere does it mention the district staff's past failures and, more to the point, nowhere in this letter does he make a commitment to comply with the rules or enforce the rules going forward. He comes close to making such a statement. He creates the suggestion of such a statement, but he does not actually make any such statement.
Please. Take a minute. Go and re-read Dr. Nyland's letter to the community. Look for any commitment to address the real concern. It's not there. There is nothing in this letter about complying with procedure, policy, regulation, or law, nor is there anything in this letter about enforcing those rules, nor is there anything in this letter about holding people accountable for violating these rules.
This is the central focus of the protests. This the central failure. Yet Dr. Nyland, like the Board, has neglected to address it.
I have written to them asking them to address this omission. I have little hope that any of them will.
Dr. Nyland's letter does include these words:
"We are also working with the Office of Civil Rights and will give careful consideration to their recommendations for improvements in our compliance" Yeah, they will give them careful consideration, but he doesn't say that they will adopt them. The district, more than likely, will reject them. Think of all of the times that district officials have promised to give something their "careful consideration" before they went ahead and did whatever they were going to do anyway.
The senior management working group will "review all processes related to the requirements of Title IX on sexual harassment to improve our notices, training, investigation practices, compliance actions..." Let's be clear: a promise to review processes on compliance actions is not a promise to comply. It is, in fact, two steps removed from a meaningful commitment to comply. First, it is only a promise to review compliance actions. Second, it is only an indication of an intent to improve them - an improvement that could be incremental and not qualitatively different from the current neglect.
Ted Howard "and the Garfield staff are now even more aware, knowledgeable and committed to enforcing our field trip policies rigorously". The field trip policies? Not the sexual harassment policies? Not the sexual harassment procedures? Not RCW 28A.640? Not Title IX? Nope. None of those. Just the field trip policies. To see this issue as a problem with the field trip policies is willful blindness.
Dr. Nyland's letter does not include these words:
"We are committed to compliance with all procedures, policies, regulations, and laws regarding sexual harassment and we will enforce these rules with meaningful consequences for anyone who violates them."
Think how much better the letter would have been if it had included those words. Think how much better the letter would have addressed the central concerns of the community.