This is a lengthy post and has new information so I urge you to read to the end.
Gaps abound in the Garfield case. You can see this just from the Times' story this morning on last night's School Board election. (And welcome Times to this story - very late to it, no?)
Some have suggested that the Times article is slanted? I would say it is underwritten and has several parts wrong. I can say that just from a cursory reading of it. (The Times is not allowing comments but I think that is their policy on rape cases as the comments can get very unpleasant.)
Update 1: the girl did not go back to Garfield as a student. From an e-mail from her parents:
One point, she never
returned to GHS. the chat you likely read referred to going to GHS
after school to see friends. She then had a huge melt down
concerning the retaliation.
The District granted her a school transfer with rape as the basis
(we have that document), so they know she was raped. The 504
coordinator, Rusimovic, ceased communicating so we never were told
the accommodations she could have for PTSD. This is detailed in the
staff complaint posted on leaks. Also the OCR
complaint posted on July 16 on our FB page. Rusimovic's refusal to
explain accommodations earned her a part in the federal
investigation which is investigating the "alleged failure to provide
your daughter with a Section 504 plan."
end of update 1.
Another issue - I am trying to get a response from the family on the issue of why they did not give the district copies of the Parks Service investigation and FBI investigation.
The district continues to use that against the family, saying it made their investigation incomplete.
The District was denied access to the records and we were initially
concerned about the legality of providing materials they couldn't
The medical records were rolled into the report. Owing to the
victim's age, the law states she must give permission to hand them
over. She was in another state, deep into therapy, discussing this
was contraindicated, and the whole prospect of others knowing about
her body ("private parts") was overwhelming, as we wrote the
District numerous times.
In its typical disregard for the law, the District continued
demanding these reports, thereby requiring us to break the law.
end of update 2.
That is only partially true because the district was NOT doing a criminal investigation - they were trying to figure out what happened - I believe - primarily to find out why district policies either failed or were not followed. The district has no authority to do a criminal investigation and while it might have been helpful to cross-reference what staff told Parks and the FBI (and then what staff told the district's investigator), it wasn't altogether needed.
As well, last night at least two Directors cryptically said there was more to the case than the public knows and implied that they knew other information.
I find that troubling because if they didn't see the FBI/Parks Service reports AND had only read the district's investigation, then does that mean the district's investigation was not publicly fully released? Or were they given other information not in the investigation?
Either way, I'm not sure how they can keep that info from the public unless it is covered under FERPA or HIPAA. There's no on-going criminal investigation.
To note, a petition with 2300 signatures was presented to the Board last night in support of a new principal for Garfield. I was quite surprised when Director Peters said it was an on-line petition through a national petition group and so had signatures from around the country who may have signed just because of the nature of the incident (and not Mr. Howard's work). I was kind of surprised at this because, while that may be true, Garfield alum are scattered far and wide and would likely have heard of this effort.
I was at the Audit&Finance Committee meeting on Tuesday. Ron English, lead legal counsel, brought forth a document, "Legal Action Log Title IX Issues." (This came up from an agenda item Audit Work Plan for FY 15.) (I will try to scan this and put up a link.)
It's a chart of Title IX items and their status. The first three are about this Garfield field trip rape case. The first one is the OSPI hearing on the parents' appeal of the Board decision on November 1. 2014. Then there is an Office of Civil Rights item about "Negotiate Resolution Agreement." Then there is "incorporate OCR suggestions into policy 3208, clarify management roles." The initial draft of this is to be done by tomorrow.
There is also a notation that at the Summer Leadership Institute (for principals mostly) held last week, they were to have 15 minutes on the new Crisis Response Team (although this document says it might be called Sensitive Issue Team). The status says "Done?" Apparently no one knows.
They are to select and train a new Title IX officer by September 1.
There is "Identify Compliance Coordinators" with the notation, "Need for various substantive areas; do we need for each secondary school?" I'd say - yes.
There were seven (7) Civil Rights Findings from OSPI that the district responded to and were approved by OSPI on 8/4/14.
Speaking of this new Crisis Response Team brings me to a private conversation I had with lead counsel, Ron English, on Tuesday. He and I stepped out of the A&F meeting to talk about the Title IX issues.
(I had sent him an e-mail during the meeting, asking to talk about these issues. He came over, sat next to me and said, "How about now?" Naturally, I had no prepared questions but yes, it was a good opportunity so I said yes and we left the room.)
What followed was an awkward conversation because he needed to be quite careful and precise in his statements.
What I tweeted when he was speaking at the A&F meeting was this, based on his statements during the meeting:
Seattle Scls' legal counsel admits "deficiency" in Title IX oversight/enforcement esp around incidents of sexual harassment.
I told him what I tweeted and he said that "the district was doing a comprehensive review to improve efficiencies."
What was troubling about the discussion was what he knew and from whom. There was not sure on some issues and frankly, I think he probably was called in later than he should have been.
He was uncertain about the processing for the chaperones.
I asked him who told him that the FBI said for the district NOT to do any investigation while the FBI was doing theirs. He said Ted Howard, the principal at Garfield. (A KIRO producer last night told me that while the FBI would make no comment to her on the specific case, that they DID say that they would not have told any other entity not to do their own investigation.
I also note that it seems very unlikely that the FBI would have been in contact with Principal Howard and no one else in the district.
He said no, he did not know who the Title IX officer is and that the existing superintendent procedure had a job title that did not exist anymore.
I asked him about teachers bringing their own children (not in the school group) along on overnight field trips. He said he didn't know for certain if that was addressed in any procedure.
He said the response to these types of incidents "needs to be better" and that they are doing a general upgrade of chaperoning procedures. He said a Critical Response Team was being formed with one person from five different departments - HR, Legal, C&I, Ops and Communications.
I then asked him, okay, so if an incident arises, who should a principal call? He said, "Their Ex Director." I was startled by this answer because if you are a principal who believes a crisis event has occurred at your school or on a school-sponsored trip/event, why would the principal go to the Ex Director? He said, "Because that's their boss."
And here's right where this new CRT falls apart. When you have to go up the food chain, my experience is that people start substituting their OWN judgment, rather than following procedure. One Ex Director might listen and think it doesn't rise to a crisis while another might.
If there is an event that a principal judges to be a crisis, there should be a contact person on the CRT that the principal goes to directly.
So I will attempt to do what I had hoped last night to hear a single
Director say they would do - I am going to try to track the month-by-month activities of the effort by the district. I want to try to find
out what the progress is, when trainings occurred, who is on the Crisis
response team, etc.
Frankly, I don't really have time to do this. But I am so deeply troubled by this issue that I feel like someone needs to be doing it.
In summary, I cannot just take at face value what the district says it is doing. I have heard this one too many times.