Saturday, August 02, 2014

Garfield Field Trip Rape; More Troubling Info

I myself have not spoken with the family of the victim but Charlie has and believes the sincerity of their story. 

I see now at their Facebook page -Stop Sexual Assault in High School - that the district is trying to shape the narrative of this incident.

Here's what the family says has happened recently:

Yesterday, the District wrote it was sending out the parents' Oct. 18, '13 response to the District's skewed investigation without including essential information we parents provided, e.g. National Parks Service reports with the assailant's testimony acknowledging rape. For the complete thread, request all correspondence between Julie Barbello, public information office, and the parents from July 29-August 1, 2014.

From the parents' e-mail to the district:

I spoke to a journalist today. The Seattle School District won't even return his phone calls.  (I'll bet this wasn't the Seattle Times where they still remain strangely silent.  They covered the Title IX issues at the district previously so I'm surprised they are not covering this story which includes that element.)

Today's correspondence with the School District shows how it was prepared to send out sanitized documents without information containing the assailant's testimony showing that a rape occurred. Families should not have to serve as a watchdog for public information requests. Stay tuned.

- e-mail to district public disclosure officer: 

Yesterday at 9:58 AM I informed you that our Oct. 18, 2013 response to the District [‘s investigation] was missing vital information, including the assailant's testimony that he raped our daughter. Instead of responding to the information that essential information was missing, you stated at 2:38 PM that you were sending the document out as is, without the essential information. You emailed us the document you were sending out, even though it lacked the essential information we informed you of that morning.

[Parents strongly objected in writing]

Today you say [on the phone] you were "planning to add the attachments," with the essential information even though you stated [wrote] the document was complete yesterday, already knowing from my 9:58 email that it was NOT complete.

The District is not in compliance with the requirement to provide complete records. . . . Parents of a sexually assaulted student--or any student--should not have to perform a watchdog role over public records requests.

It's also another example of the way the District says one thing, but then when caught not following laws, tries to find an explanation: "We were planning to add the missing attachments," even though the District knew that the attachments were missing at the time the record was announced as ready for release.

-"Beyond horrified" is how one state level education employee responded to the news that the victim's address, details of medical treatment, and second hand counseling information were released to media by the Seattle School District.

- We've spent the last two days doing damage control. More formal complaints are in order. We plan to excerpt some of our complaint to the District on this site. The implications are horrible for victims who want to report, knowing that their personal information can be leaked.

I'm hoping to have a conversation on Monday with a district official to get clarity on this situation.  However,

- if the district is giving out info to the media in a piecemeal fashion without telling the recipients that it is incomplete, that's wrong.

- if the district is giving out information on details of medical treatment of a victim - whether physical or mental - that's wrong.   

If this is the district's idea of damage control, I think they are wrong.
Beyond this case, I hope people realize that this district is in a flux period that could go very wrong to perhaps just okay.  New interim superintendent, no enrollment director, pressure to decide on a downtown school, this badly handled rape case and strife between the Board and senior staff plus the other myriad of problems that need to be addressed. 

The district always has challenges to face; that's the nature of public education.  I just like to think it's not problems of their own making.


Anonymous said...

I cannot really follow the information being posted on the Facebook page.

There's a statement about incomplete release of information (because some? of the park district investigation isn't included in the release -- to whom?) and a statement about release of protected information (about the victim).

Is the school district permitted to release testimony of a minor (i.e. the alleged assailant) made to Park District officials? My guess would be no.

They certainly shouldn't be allowed to release personal information about the victim to the media.


Anonymous said...

Them, the district, releasing the victims name, address, etc?

I don't for one second believe that was just sheer incompetence. These records and public requests go thought too many highly paid professionals hands AND this is such an ULTRA sensitive hot issue, no way is this an 'accident'. I smell malice. I smell intent. Did they 'accidently' release the rapist's name and address? Me thinks not.

How can this be anything else other than infliction of intentional harm on "Emily"? You simply can't convince me otherwise.

-beyond disgusted

Anonymous said...

But what media or who was the info released to? I am also having a hard time following the current thread of information.


Charlie Mas said...

My understanding - and it's admittedly confused - is that someone, apparently a member of the press, made a public records request for documents about the rape case.

It appears that the family contacted the public documents officer to ask about public documents requests. They were informed of the one mentioned above. The family asked what was sent - this is a bit meta, but it is a public document request about a public document request. The family received a copy of what was sent in response to the PDR and found two faults.

First, they believe the set of documents that the district sent were incomplete. There were missing reports that substantiated trauma to their daughter and the boy's statement that, in many minds, includes an admission of rape.

Second, on one of the documents the family's address was not redacted. They are confident that with that information their names could be discovered and, from that, their daughter's name could be discovered. This would be a terrible breach of privacy.

Does that clear things up a bit?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Yes, I'm not always clear on who got what but I think the family may be trying not to alienate any press.

This business of failing to redact some information is not new to SPS. Troubling.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think between this case and the case of the Garfield student who's parents are suing the district over his suspension for froshing, we may see some pretty heavy penalties for the district.

I wish one of them would go to court so that the public could see how the district doesn't follow its own policies.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Westbrook and Mr. Mas,

Owing to the chaos that has ensued from the events of the past week, we don't have time to address each one of these questions. However if one of you will submit a questionnaire, we will gladly provide succinct answers and references to documents. Both of you may phone us for clarification.

We are preparing a letter for Mr. Nyland and the School Board summarizing events and will post it on the FB page stop sex assault in high school. It reiterates what has occurred in the past few days.

Please note a message we received regarding incomplete documents issued by the District to the public. I wonder if your records support the experience of our family and the person below:

"I have often been frustrated over the years by disclosures that I knew were incomplete (provided by other SPS PROs). I've often thought about going to district court to call them on it. I would gladly contribute to a legal fund that leads to hefty SPS for failure to disclose."

The Family of the Garfield rape victim

Anonymous said...

ZB and Others:

The school district is required to dispense documents we provided. We provided excerpts from the National Parks Service 11/12 investigation, online posts of retaliation, our daughter's description of the rape, medical documents, etc. The NPS documents were redacted by the NPS but the District may redact them further if necessary. For example, the victim's name might have been left on because the reports were sent to the parents. The District is not allowed to withhold these documents just because the subject matter destroys their central strategy: that the victim was not sexually harassed/raped, therefore nothing was wrong with the field trip chaperoning, and therefore the District is not liable for the life scaring damage to the victim and her family.

The assailant and his eyewitness buddy who said "I have your back" are not named in the NPS report. This information is in the public domain once we gave it to the District. The District is obligated to convey it.

Instead of conveying this information, instead of incorporating it into its own investigation report, the District blames the parents for impeding its belated investigation, and complains that it does not have the FBI report that followed the NPS investigation. None of this was necessary for the District to conduct its own Title IX investigation.

Moreover, the District knows that we didn't have the FBI report when we responded to its investigation draft report in October 18, 2013. It took approximately a year for us to get the FBI report from the time we requested it. Nevertheless, we provided the District information from the NPS report that was far more informative than the FBI report.
Ironically, when the FBI report finally arrived, it was so heavily redacted that it contained nothing of interest, not even a summary or transcript of the victim's VOLUNTARY prolonged interview with the FBI. Basically emails between the parents and the investigators. . . .

The District continues to blame the family and the FBI for impeding an investigation. We have no evidence that the FBI told the Seattle District to wait 6 months to open an investigation in violation of Title IX. Moreover, the District should have promptly conducted an independent investigation, without relying on information from the family, and not 6 months after the assault. Nevertheless, once the District reluctantly agreed to investigate upon our demand (and after OSPI wrote them they must) we immediately volunteered in writing to participate in their investigation. We submitted our concerns in writing and let the District know we could be of service. We were NOT invited to participate even though an internal email invited other parents to participate.

Regarding the assailant's interview to the FBI. His mother was present, as permitted by law. How many kids will admit to rape in front of their mother? Nevertheless, he told the investigators that our daughter told him multiple times to stop before he raped and sodomized her. It's written in the NPS report. No wonder the District doesn't want to disclose it. It will be interesting to see what the District will disclose with our Oct. 18 response. It's a comprehensive document that parents should request.

--The Family

"I have often been frustrated over the years by disclosures that I knew were incomplete (provided by other SPS PROs). I've often thought about going to district court to call them on it. I would gladly contribute to a legal fund that leads to hefty SPS for failure to disclose.” –submitted by a concerned citizen to the family’s FB page

Anonymous said...

Mr. Mas is correct in his reiteration of the facst. In addition to disclosing our address --clearly displayed and easy to redact-- the District included revealing medical information in the report it sent out. Moreover, the District contends it may still leave the school's counselor's disparaging speculations on the victim's emotional health, completely irrelevant to an investigation of sexual assault. By leaving in such second-hand information, we clearly observe how the District's report is anything but the fair and equitable report Title IX mandates. The District paints its own portrait again and again.

--Mrs. Miller

Anonymous said...

A letter to Dr. Nyland and the School Board was posted on Facebook stopsexassaultinhighschool
this evening.

The Millers

mirmac1 said...

One possible exemption SPS may be hiding behind is that the documents at issue are linked to potential litigation and will only be released through discovery. Also they may argue that redaction of PII cannot be done without rendering the document meaningless. Both of these can be exploited by SPS and Ron English. Did you get a redaction log with the disclosure?

Challenge them in District court. They must "show cause" that the they acted within the law in failing to disclose. The onus is on them.

Stay strong!

Anonymous said...


Thank you for these suggestions.

If the District doesn't release the documents, we will.

The Garfield rape will be immortalized as the impetus that gave rise to the non-profit: Stop Sexual Assault in High School. This will be the legacy of Garfield High School, the Seattle School District’s lawlessness, the Seattle School Board’s failure to speak out/protect students, and former Superintendent Jose Banda’s failure to provide leadership.

It's only been two weeks since al-Jazeera broke the story. This will be a long sustained effort with student mentors teaching others about the dangers of a school field trip and what their rights are should they be sexually harassed. Experts, parents, college students, and others are excited about joining this movement.

With support, we can do this together.

The Mom

Anonymous said...

After following the story, I admire the tenacity of the parents, but what say "Emily"? I'm surprised that an issue as personal as her rape is being broadcasted so widely throughout her old community. I'd like to know that she's making the same efforts as her parents are in holding the school district accountable... after all, if she was 15 2 years ago, shouldn't she be nearly 18 now?

Anonymous said...

A Garfield alum has contributed the majority of content for a simple email effort to express concern about sexual assaults in Seattle Schools.

This contains accounts from other victims.

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