Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Garfield Cancels all Field Trips for the School Year

Principal Ted Howard II and the Garfield PTSA sent out this message today. It's confusing because he says there will be no field trips "for the current school year" (which would be 2014-2015) but then says it may change in Jan. 2015, depending on the recommendations of the taskforce.  Apparently he didn't check the link to the taskforce because they won't have recs until Oct. 2015.   Maybe he meant January 2016. 

I have already heard from parents who have had students go on successful trips in the past.  Will he actually say no if the Garfield Jazz Band is again invited to the Essentially Ellington competition? 

I find some of the "suggestions" for future field trips both surprising and sad, mainly because I can't believe they weren't in place already.

Create and require Field Trip Point/Lead Team: Field Trip Point/Lead Team should ideally have a male and a female faculty person and will need to receive training on protocol, systems, requirements, expectations, etc.

There's no lead for field trips? How can that be?


How to create a safe environment where students are able to get the resources that they need?

I'm not even sure what this means? Provide a safe environment on a field trip? What resources does he mean?

Here's his letter to parents:

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) is currently conducting trainings and restructuring the District field trip policies and procedures. At this time, I cannot approve any overnight field trips, until I am assured systems are in place to provide educational, empowering and safe experiences for all participants.

Seattle Public Schools is seeking feedback and task force involvement to review and improve our field trip policies. I have attached here for your review, some of my input. It is crucial that our Garfield community lead by example, and unite to advocate for a resolution. I encourage you to be part of this dialogue.

Here is the link to the task force. Please sign up by Friday, September 26, 2014.

Editor's note:  Here's the salient link for the taskforce.

Contingent on the task force recommendations and the resulting District field trip policy revisions, I hope to again accept field trip applications in January 2015
. This deadline may change, depending on the recommendations from the task force. 

As Principal of Garfield High School, I am responsible for all areas of our school, including the safety and security of all students and faculty.  Please understand that I fully appreciate the value of field trips and am making every effort to work with the District to complete the field trip policy update, as soon as possible. At this time though, there are no Garfield overnight field trips approved for the current school year. 

I always welcome and appreciate your feedback and concerns. 
Ted Howard II Principal, Garfield HS
Garfield HS PTSA


Anonymous said...

Garfield Orchestra field trips are meticulously planned, with chaperone training and a 4-to-1 student/chaperone ratio. Curfew is enforced. Kids know they will be sent home for any trouble caused. This decree sucks.


Anonymous said...

As usual, no vision, just TH CYA management in action. So disappointing. So expected.


Anonymous said...

So if a principal is unable to figure out how to structure a safe overnight field trip, then why does he earn such a big paycheck? Is this not his job to have a handle on this sort of thing at all times?


mosfet said...

The problem with the 2012 NatureBridge field trip wasn't that field trip policies were unclear or non-existent. The field trip policies were reasonably comprehensive (some errors, though, as the Stranger pointed out). The problem was that no one bothered to follow field trip policies or even read them.

As sidneyd mentioned, some GHS teachers do know how to properly run a field trip. Some teachers do demand that their students conduct themselves properly or be sent home.

A few possible interpretations of Ted Howard's actions here (you can decide how cynical you want to be):

Interpretation #1. Howard is genuinely concerned about authorizing a field trip and then having to cancel it if the district policy suddenly changes. That would be pretty rough for the students looking forward to the trip. Overnight trips are also fairly expensive, so it would be a huge waste of money to authorize a trip if there was a significant risk that it would be cancelled.

Intrepretation #2. He's concerned about the PR fallout if a field trip isn't perfectly chaperoned and parents, already frustrated by NatureBridge, catch wind of it.

Interpretation #3. Howard wants to deflect blame to the parents of the 2012 GHS rape victim, so that GHS parents will blame them, rather than GHS, for their kids not being able to go on field trips because GHS administration couldn't be bothered to do their job when authorizing the 2012 NatureBridge field trip.

Anonymous said...

@sydneyd - It's great that the Orchestra trips were well planned and chaperoned, but why wasn't that same standard of care applied to all GHS field trips? All children should be equally well-served by the GHS community. Until consistent policies and protocols are created, followed, and enforced, it makes sense to suspend all field trips. I think this is a wise and reasonable decision.
- Neighborhood Parent

Anonymous said...

Policies are in place. They were not followed and nothing has been done about that for two years. Orchestra trips follow the policies, and there is nothing keeping other teachers from following the policies. Who can say why those Ecology field trip chaperones were not properly trained and did not take seriously the protection of the kids. Who knows why the teachers checked out at night and didn't send kids home who were out of control the first night? Who knows why Ted is only now knee-jerking? Enforce all the policies NOW with every field trip. Every kid deserves nothing less when their safety is entrusted to us. But don't just ham-fistedly cancel everything.


throw the fat heads out said...

I agree with all the statements above except neighborhood parents.

-two cents

Anonymous said...

No one got sent home from the wild first night of NatureBridge 2012 because Snookal is so invested in her persona of the hip and chill permissive teacher introducing everyone to nature. The parents followed the tone she set.

Snookal's negligence is appalling. She should have felt so responsible for what happened that she should have personally seen to the follow-through of services to the victim and enforcement of policies for all future trips among her colleagues. As a parent herself, wouldn't you think she would?Maybe higher-ups need to take some of the responsibility, and that's why we are seeing Ted get some pressure now... Wait, wasn't his kid in her class?

open ears

Anonymous said...

Looks like the SPS legal department, having realized Garfield is in a world of hurt in culpability not to mention horrid national PR for its nonexistent chaperoning on the NatureBridge trip has put Howard's butt on the line. Good.

This hammer fiat only serves to further highlight how outrageously lax his administration as well as SPS downtown administration has been in the past.

The full Garfield community should have been outraged by the NatureBridge incident. If it is now angry, because the fallout is affecting students not on that trip, then perhaps the community will join in assuring the complete disregard of chaperoning policy never happens again at Garfield or any other SPS school. Which means parents, students and teachers need to insist that administrators do what they are paid to do and actually own 'oversight' of field trips. And that teachers step up to adhere to that oversight.

And no, Howard et al, just cancelling all field trips is not 'oversight'. That's just CYA.


Charlie Mas said...

This is why we can't have nice things.

Charlie Mas said...

There are a number of confusing messages here.

First is the statement that the District is doing a bunch of work to revise the field trip procedures. I thought they already did that. Are they saying that their earlier revisions weren't right and need to be re-done?

Second, if the Garfield principal has some ideas to improve field trip practices like male and female faculty trained on protocol, he's free to implement them himself - whether they are part of the District procedure or not.

Third, the inexplicable and baseless decision to prohibit all field trips until the new procedures are set. This clearly expresses not only a very low opinion of the current procedures (wasn't Mr. Howard touting them last month?) but an inability to set better procedures.

All of this, of course, reveals a gross failure to understand the problem: it's not having good procedures that matters - it's following them. And following procedures - and making sure other people follow procedures - is Mr. Howard's job. So he saying, in short, that since he is unable or unwilling to do his job, he will simply make the job go away.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mosfet, good analysis (and I hope no one blames the Nature Bridge victim or her parents).

I think some of the issue is the lack of clarity around what happened to those who were in "charge" of the Nature Bridge trip. If their lack of oversight and follow-thru is the issue, then THAT should be addressed and not lain at the feet of parents and other teachers/staff who HAVE done a good job with field trips.

I will state that if you are going to call out a teacher or other staff member, you should be fair and say "in my opinion" or "alleged."

mirmac1 said...

Sheesh, get a new Garfield principal who can follow policies and procedures, and properly plan a field trip.

Puffin said...

Why wasn't action taken in 2013, immediately after the disastrous November 2012 field trip? Why wait two years?

Because Garfield and District administration were in cover-up mode until the sexual assault and its sorry aftermath were daylighted by the media this summer.

Also two years later there is suddenly a revised sexual harassment policy 3208SP that actually mentions Title IX (

What does it take to get the administration to act responsibly? Draw your own conclusions.

mirmac1 said...


Here is what staff admitted to. There's nothing "alleged" about it. And the district's $350/hr lawyer absolved them, 'natch.

Po3 said...

Sports related travel.
Considered field trip or not field trip? Allowed not allowed?

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Reposted because someone forgot to sign.

Anonymous Anonymous said...
Thanks for staying on this case that has me utterly concerned for the safety of my middle school daughters. While I agree that there's blame all around on this field trip, I am concerned that the conversation doesn't address the root of the problem(at least that I've heard from online posts and from the handful of Garfield parents I know,) Here's what keeps me up at night: the Garfield culture (and culture at many schools) is broken. What makes kids think it's ok to do extreme sexual acts against another's will? And why did the alleged accused's friends who were in the same room not intervene or at least state what really happened afterwards. This field trip, along with the hazing incident at Garfield last year, shows their is a culture of lawlessness and disrespect at Garfield. I might shut down all the extra activities as well if I were principal, but I would make sure that time was spent trying to build a community of students who are respectful citizens.


Anonymous said...

So no marine science trip to Hawaii then?

Howard managed not to fix what was wrong and additionally has made things worse.

With this memo, he looks a lot like Roger Goddell. And District administration looks like the clueless NFL.



Anonymous said...

Wow, Anonymous - you aren't a Garfield parent, you know "a handful" of Garfield parents, and yet you can state conclusively (and without divulging your name) that "there is a culture of lawlessness and disrespect" at the school, and that the culture at Garfield is "broken".

Hyperbole like this is completely unhelpful to the discussion.

(Garfield parent)

Anonymous said...

@Ruthie - how else would you explain what happened on the Naturebridge trip? The Africa trip? The 2013 hazing? GHS is making some steps in the right direction, Link Crew for instance and additional staff training, but lots of things need to change for the school to have a respectful and safe environment for all kids. - Neighborhood Parent

Eric B said...

Male and female faculty leads on a field trip would be quite a burden for small clubs. At Ingraham, we have a number of small clubs that travel on official field trips to competitions (rocketry, debate, FCCLA, etc.). These clubs usually only have one faculty sponsor, so it would be hard to get a second faculty member. I assume Garfield is in the same position. Requiring a male and female faculty lead as opposed to a faculty lead plus trained parent chaperones as required to cover both genders and a reasonable chaperone-student ratio is a much more reasonable requirement.

And I really feel for the orchestra and marine science people, getting kicked in the butt by the knee jerk.

Anonymous said...

@Charlie Mas Just Garfield right now--Garfield can't have nice things. The time they would have spent on field trips should now be allocated to creating better traditions--not hazing. Seriously, if these kids are hazing in high school, what are the chances they're going to continue it in college?

Good Grief

Anonymous said...

All this time I assumed there was a District level policy regarding overnight field trips, and it had simply been ignored or poorly implemented in some instances. Is Policy 2320 (from Sept. 9, 2014) the only thing we have? It does nothing to outline basic protocol.

It's hard to believe suspending all field trips is the solution.


Anonymous said...

I see a general problem with Principals in the Seattle Public Schools. Garfield is an extreme case but we have experienced myriad examples in the last 8 years of arbitrary decision-making with the aim of preserving the central district appearances over student needs.

-My Impression

Anonymous said...

This is a good thing, if the students are also taking the measure of their own contributions towards creating a safe and respectful environment. Let's not forget the stupid bystanders while the rape was occurring. That speaks to a huge need among the students for some serious self reflection.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

This wasn't a few. This was many right there in the cabin, and then on into the bullying in social media again with no intervention from peers. Where was the student government or student newspaper? That student body ought to be doing a whole lot of soul searching. Instead of field trips, soul searching.


Anonymous said...

Yes Garfield Orchestra field trips are very carefully planned. I have my fingers crossed that the committee will proceed quickly and make it possible to approve this year's already planned field trips using the protocols that were already in place and use those protocols like the orchestra has done in the past, with a high level of parent chaperones who get trained in advance about their duties. Fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

It could very well be a CYA move. On the positive side to all of this "all or none" move, a complete pause is what this school needs. What happened was horrific and this move will hopefully compel all of the staff to reexamine the building culture. As many of you have stated, policies in place mean very little if not enacted.

This will be a good time for those teachers who have successfully led overnight trips to music competitions or Hawaii to provide leadership and set the tone on how things should be done. Just as teens need to watch out for one another, so do the grown ups. It'll mean all of the staff need to do some self-checking and check each other's action or lack of them. That's part of rebuilding.


Anonymous said...

And what about Jazz? Possibly an even larger parent driven program than orchestra. I bet both of these programs will figure a way out of this edict and their overnight field trips will continue.

One thing no one has mentioned is that Orchestra, Jazz, Post, Marine Bio all have students from the same demographic participating. High achieving kids with lots of parent support and involvement for the programs, classes, clubs. Students taking Marine Bio did not take Ecology. My hunch is that the Naturebridge field trip was an attempt to level the playing field for kids taking Ecology to have an experience similar to Marine Bio. This fact does not excuse anything, but the nature of parent/chaperone participation on this field trip was far different than on Marine Bio, Orchestra, Jazz, etc.

I suspect TH has wanted to get rid of these experiences because they are so disproportionately geared towards the privileged population at GHS. Now he has the excuse to take out the whole field trip experience at GHS because of one badly managed trip. It's a shame, but not unexpected.


Anonymous said...

Reposting for anonymous who did not sign and wrote " How is it a good thing to punish the entire school for the mistakes of a few?"

In response I would say that it is a good thing because everyone (students, staff, parents, admin, faculty) is responsible for creating a climate of respect, concern, and safety. Haven't you ever been on a sports team or in a class where someone messes up and the whole group is held responsible and faces consequences? As long as one or two groups can say, "it doesn't affect me -- I can still go to Hawaii, play music" etc then change won't happen and problems are pushed off as only affecting "those people" or "other people's kids".
- Neighborhood Parent

Anonymous said...

Then the fix Howard could have considered is "unless and until xyz is undertaken, then no field trips will be approved." That way field trips that have staff and chaperones w/ their acts together can proceed, those that don't, aren't approved. XYZ includes all the procedure and policies/protocols - and securing chaperones well in advance, training them, outlining behaviour expectations w/ students, consequences for violating the rules, ENFORCING those expectations/rules.

This is the equivalent of too harsh a punishment ('you're grounded til you're 30') v. a when/then solution which would allow for improvement and appropriate consequences.

-outside observer

Anonymous said...

I find the analogy of Ted Howard to Roger Goodell and Seattle Schools to the NFL sadly apt.

Did a point person and the organization he represents take a bad situation and flailingly and failingly and publicly make it worse?

Apparently, yes.

Central District

Anonymous said...

Or perhaps Ted Howard decided it's time to rebuild his school. The whole school, not bits of it. What that means is for people to look at themselves not part of this program or that population, but as part of Garfield as a whole. It means asking people to step up and put aside the Jazz competition and personal ambition for a bit while helping the school heals and works on its problems.

People asked why didn't someone in that room intervene or say something? Well why should they if we all take the view that It's not my problem. I'm still ok. If you can't get pass the idea that none of what happened should be your problem and you're being punished unfairly and fail to see how this one awful event is part of a bigger picture, then Ted Howard really has a problem. And it's not just following policies.

Grad, please read what you wrote again. Are you a Garfield grad or a Garfield Jazz band grad or a Garfield marine bio grad? What's on your diploma?


Anonymous said...

"These other people", the ones with time, power and money, can take their clubs/programs off campus and organize trips without being involved with GHS. Absolves TH of any responsibility for, a) the very existence of the disparity between the field trip going students at GHS and those who do not go and b) whatever happens on these trips is not under his authority.

It happened with GTA. It is now TSC and runs amazing trips governed by a parent board that has nothing to do with Garfield, except that most students and parents who participate are from Garfield. It also has, by design, the most diverse group of students participating. Many scholarships and thoughtful application process.

He's a genius, really. Got a problem? Make it someone else's problem!


Anonymous said...

It's a widespread problem. The Garfield assailant was emergency excluded for having sex in the bushes on the lunch break at Mercer Middle School. A student was raped at a Garfield dance, according to an identified student who posted on the Move On Org petition to replace Ted Howard. The more we research, the more horrible reports we find and are documenting.

We're making a massive complaint today. The District earned itself a federal investigation owing to our efforts. We won't let the District get away with finding the principals, staff, and others innocent of misconduct. Their lawlessness has ruined lives. New sexual harassment policies mean nothing when they won't acknowledge that the Garfield victim met the definitions for sexual harassment and assault by the assailant's account and medical confirmation. When will the District find the next rape to be "consensual" and privilege the valued male athlete's story?


Anonymous said...

Neighborhood parent said:

Haven't you ever been on a sports team or in a class where someone messes up and the whole group is held responsible and faces consequences?

Yes, and ever since I was in 3rd grade I've hated that ridiculously overzealous approach. Why stop at just Garfield students? Let's cancel all the field trips throughout the district! The "innocent" kids at Ballard are just as responsible as the "innocent" kids at Garfield.

I can assure you that my Garfield student had nothing to do with this field trip gone awry (and its sordid aftermath) and only learns the worst kind of lesson by being held responsible for something he didn't do.

- Another Neighborhood Parent

Lynn said...


What part of this rebuilding do you expect my child to do? My child would not assault a classmate, protect a friend who assaulted a classmate or deny a classmate was assaulted to protect herself. There are many, many students just like mine at Garfield. What do you suggest they do to change the culture? Why should their opportunities be limited in this way because adults at Garfield were negligent in fulfilling their responsibilities?

Principals at every other high school in Seattle appear to be confident they can keep their students safe on field trips. Maybe the rebuilding we need starts with a new leader.

Anonymous said...

So all Garfield students are rapists by association now. Punish the whole school! That'll teach them!

Teach them what?


Anonymous said...

"Or perhaps Ted Howard decided it's time to rebuild his school."

TH has neither the leadership ability nor vision to rebuild Garfield. And I would disagree that GHS is HIS school. Any school can certainly use improvement, but I think the idea that Garfield needs to be rebuilt is not accurate.


Anonymous said...

Remember that GSA was shut down as a school sponsored/school affiliated activity in part because a student was raped on a field trip to Ghana. Maybe the parent board is doing a much better job of ensuring safety. Clearly the school hasn't improved since 2007.


Eric B said...

Neighborhood parent, my child suffered from exactly that in third grade. The teacher wouldn't let table groups go to recess if one member of the table group had been disruptive. Since she couldn't prevent another student from being disruptive, she learned that sometimes she gets punished for no reason. Once recess was lost, she had no incentive to follow the rules, either.

I agree that an if/then consequence is needed. If that leads to inappropriate disparities (jazz goes on trips but ecology doesn't), then require that all trips be staffed before any trip can go. There are plenty of ways to find better solutions.

Anonymous said...

Oh boy. This isn't about Ted Howard. (It's not even a judgement on your kid or you as a parent.) Sure put in another principal, but Garfield still needs work. Read through the comments, go back to last year posts. It doesn't even have to be even about Garfield. My point is even with all the best policies in place and followed, it doesn't guaranteed prevention of a rape, assault, cheating, or hazing. You want those rules/policies there and enforced to make it very, very hard for any of these things to ever happen. To get there, you need a school united in building a positive and safe place.

It's also about the idea that each of us is part of a whole. You know, that each has a certain obligation, a little sacrifice, as part of a community to help others, especially the weak ones. Isn't that something worth cultivating and be proud of?

I also think It would be a mistake for other principals or schools to think it can't happen to them and it's just a Garfield problem. My bet is they don't think that way and this event is that reminder. Building culture is always a work in progress. It's not static. With every new staff and crops of students and parents, it's a start over.

I'll end here as ugh work which contributes to important paycheck calls.


Anonymous said...

In middle school my kid can't go to recess after lunch until everyone has finished eating. Some kids join their table at the end and eat slowly. How fair is that?

I think Mr. Howard is under pressure from the parents of the victim to make changes. He is feeling pressure from all the media pointing to him. He may be compelled to make changes from the school board or the superintendent. I think it is ridiculous to make such a drastic change. All that is needed is to follow the rules that were in place and not to ignore them. Common sense and adult chaperones who are trained and will do their job plus students who know they must be responsible. Trust but verify. That is all. Why harm the students who are caring and rule following who would have spoken up for a friend in danger?

Anonymous said...

Canceling all field trips 2 years ago, as a clear response to the rape, would have made sense - that would have given a clear appearance of being a response to the incident and an attampt to ensure nothing like that happened again.

Canceling all field trips NOW - well, that just seems kind of petty. "Oh, people won't stop complaining about nothing being done? Fine, we'll do something! Nya, Nya, happy now?"

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

To clarify, I said it would have given the appearanve of being a response because the school district seems to be more concerned with appearances than anything else. Of course, actions should have been taken immediately out of a genuine concern for student safety.

Mom of 4

Anonymous said...

I think the band & orchestra probably have their own non-profit organizations that can sponsor & insure travel. PTSA could also do this. It seems like a way for the school admin & district to push legal responsibility onto others.

-HS parent

Anonymous said...

I just volunteered for a daytime HS field trip. I was asked to return the usual background check. I was also asked to complete online sexual harassment training through SPS. It addressed inappropriate adult behavior, but did not address supervising students or overnight field trips.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"It means asking people to step up and put aside the Jazz competition and personal ambition for a bit while helping the school heals and works on its problems."

Look, if Garfield's community has an identity problem, then they should work on that. Maybe the real issue might be that Howard has run his course at Garfield and maybe someone else should come in.

BUT kids in high school find tribes and that's a good thing. It keeps them in school and motivated.

I know from the Roosevelt jazz band that it is NOT just "oh you get to go to a competition." It's the premier one in the country. I know a kid who got a full scholarship for his talents and that doesn't come easily. Those kinds of chances don't wait.

Anonymous said...

"It's also about the idea that each of us is part of a whole. You know, that each has a certain obligation, a little sacrifice, as part of a community to help others, especially the weak ones. Isn't that something worth cultivating and be proud of?"

Sure it is, Reader, and that goes on a lot, every day at Garfield already. (Not that you'd know it from these threads). But dragging people into a particular cause or issue, against their will, thwarting their personal autonomy and freedom, and punishing them for acts they did not commit is plainly wrong. Jessie Jackson loves to say, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." Nonsense. Free people can be pro, con, or neutral. Do we not have the right to be left alone? Otherwise, these kids are involuntary conscripts in someone else's army, and I'm sick and tired of other people's kids once again not being respected as individuals, but treated as pawns in someone else's game.

This is classic SPS political BS that diverts attention from those involved, onto everyone else, so we can pretend something has, or is, actually being done. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

I urge everyone to view the Opinion/Documentary being offered on the front page of the New York Times today. It is a very personal look at the Title IX/ Sexual Assault issue at the university level and it is so applicable to the Garfield incident.

I think Ted Howard's actions are shifting the emphasis from the 2012 NatureBridge incident to outrage over students being denied field trip participation. This is a dispiriting change of focus.

If the emphasis can remain on SPS, parents and students insisting "never again" as far as the NatureBridge incident, then positive progress can be made. Otherwise, like Brown University which is featured in the film, the past will be the present once again.

Please take a moment to watch the video.


Anonymous said...

If any good has come of this.. my kids are still elementary. for the first time in my 5 years of volunteering in SPS classrooms, i just took required sexual predator training! and filled out 3 more forms than usual! I never knew this website existed (or is it brand new):

Parents at our NE school are being directed to fill out the forms and take the training before setting foot in a classroom or chaperoning a field trip. I think the video puts an onus on volunteers to step up and "see something, say something".


Chukundi Salisbury said...

I was AT the meeting that Mr. Howard hard prior to the start of school with the PTSA, District Officials, and others when we discussed that THIS COULD BE A POSSIBILITY! So it is AMAZING to me that folks on this discussion board are throwing out scenarios on why they think this happened and surprised as if it was not an option.

One thing to consider is that there are TEACHERS who do not feel supported and are not going to take Trips Until these new policies are in place. MR. HOWARD does not lead the trips.. if you have some teachers that want to go and others that do not.. then what to do? So while some may think its just CYA management.. it is not JUST the management.. you have to have TEACHERS that want to go.. to have a trip. I was at the last PTSA meeting and we do have some new forms and policies but apparently it is not enough to make ALL of the teachers and the administration feel comfortable to continue.

I do know that TRIPS are part of the CULTURE at Garfield (I attended and my daughter does now) and they WILL CONTINUE.. we just have to take some time to work things out.. I am taking MR. HOWARD at his word and hope that Trips will resume in January.

Chukundi Salisbury
C/O 1987

Anonymous said...

Before getting excited about school trips (our daughter was supposed to tour with an elite ensemble) please head this warning:

The Seattle School District's spokesperson, General Counsel Ronald English, writes that sexual activity on field trips, including the sexual assault on our family member, does not signify a failure in chaperoning and adult supervision. He twice wrote that SEXUAL INTERCOURSE MAY OCCUR ON FIELD TRIPS "under specific circumstances" when chaperones are appropriately performing their duties. So why have chaperones?

School Board member Susan Peters asked the same question in an internal email and concluded: "I would assume that proper chaperoning would keep all students safe." Parents need to be apprised of this new ad hoc policy before entrusting their children to a school trip. We asked Superintendent Banda, School Board Past President Kay Smith-Blum, and the current School Board Directors to clarify or repudiate this statement made on their behalf by the General Counsel. None would.

Release forms need to be revised to state that sex is a new risk on field trips.

See full correspondence at Stop Sexual Assault in High School Face Book July 16 post

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Trips will resume in January."

Well that's the confusing thing about Mr. Howard's letter. He says he is waiting for the Taskforce recs and those won't be done until Oct of 2015. And yet he says maybe in January.

I think Mr. Howard does himself no service when he is not clear about what is truly happening.

Anonymous said...

This is pass the buck, big time. Ron English does a good CYA for the District, who passes it to Ted Howard, who passes it off onto the entire student body and community. Oh and the parents of BOTH of the students involved in the Naturebridge case passing the buck off. What happened to personal responsibility and integrity? Sexual assault cases like this happen all over the country, at colleges, at elite prep schools. Everywhere. Parents of boys: teach your sons that no means no. Parents of girls: teach your daughters that there are inherent risks that are part of being female. Teach kids that rules are there to be followed and don't sneak out of your cabin at night through a window and into the boys cabin to make out. What a mess. Let's teach our kids to have integrity be responsible for our own behavior and model it ourselves. This goes for hazing, too.

Garfield mom

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Oh and the parents of BOTH of the students involved in the Naturebridge case passing the buck off."

Whoa! How is that? I don't know about the boy's parents but the girl's parents have been vigorous - from the time of the attack - to get Garfield to acknowledge the issue and address it. How is that "passing the buck?"

I have to politely say your words about the victim - and she was a victim - make it sound like her fault.

I absolutely agree that parents of teens - of both sexes - need to talk about realities of life. But no girl or woman deserves to be assaulted for making a bad choice in who to trust.

FYI, a lot of high school girls make out with boys they like but do not expect to be assaulted. It's hard to know what is worse - being assaulted by a stranger or by someone you thought you trusted.

The WHOLE point is that if the chaperones had done their jobs - from the get go - it is highly unlikely this would/could have happened. There were multiple points the chaperones should have covered and did not.

I note in all your singling out people, you left out the teachers and chaperones.

Anonymous said...
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Puffin said...

KIRO-TV now has a brief story about this on their web site.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

My personal opinion as the mother of a 16 y.o. girl is that I hope she knows the inherent dangers of going into a guy's room or into a place where she might get trapped. Whether it is all wrong on the perpetrator's part or not doesn't matter if a terrible thing like this happens. All parents should teach their sons that no means no, but there are many boys who don't have trained parents. And many boys don't do what their parents told them to do. What is left? The girls have to be careful and be safe. How can they be safe? They should think about what place they are in and what is the bad thing that could happen,

Anonymous said...

@ GHS Mom: As a parent of a freshman girl, I completely disagree and I find your comments scary. "Parents of girls: teach your daughters that there are inherent risks that are part of being female". Your comments make it sound like if a girl gets raped it is her fault! People end up in situations ALL THE TIME that seemed safe at the time, turned bad in some way, or they potentially misread a situation or misjudged someone they trusted. They don't deserve - nor should they be -- assaulted.

If I or my child followed your advice she and I would never leave the house without male escorts and a gun because we'd be thinking about all of the bad things that could happen!

Men and boys rape and assault and should be held accountable, but you blame the victims -- incredible.
- RR

Anonymous said...

Thanks RR for your opinion. I appreciate hearing it. My daughter does go everywhere and do whatever she wants. But looking back at my life when I was 16 to 25, I now realize the inherent dangers of some of my choices. I am not blaming ME for taking risky choices, but I did luck out when situations turned out OK and I survived. No, I am not blaming the victim in these situations, but it doesn't matter if the guy is wrong if something bad happens because the action can't be taken back.

This story is about the SPS reaction to the incident, not about the two students.

Anonymous said...

FYI--boys and girls went into each other's cabins all night long for two nights. No one stopped them. The night of the assault, the assailant told her he wanted to tell her his problems. This is documented in the investigation. How many girls think they are going to be raped in a cabin with classmates present? NPR did a program the other day about 18 year olds who don't understand the consequences of their actions owing to the brain developing that skill later. So how can we expect 15 year olds to know the outcome of an action that seems harmless? Moreover, if you read the documents you'll see that it was common knowledge that the victim wasn't interested in the assailant. He groomed her. Read his Facebook posts in the Oct. 18 2013 report on SPS leaks. The posts talk about duping girls, treating them nicely, then XXXXXXX them like animals. The point isn't his mindset, it's the fact that the teachers failed to protect girls from someone with a known history of sexual misconduct. And the District failed to hold the teachers and principals accountable. That's the real crime.


Anonymous said...

Garfield mom at 5:03. As long as you're advocating teaching students responsibility, I suggest we teach the grossly irresponsible teachers and principals who allowed this trip without proper chaperoning the meaning of responsibility. That's what we parents have been doing since Nov. 2012. Can anyone fathom the unrelenting effort we've gone to so that other families will never experience the horrible devastation that ours did?

Having said this, the teachers/principals aren't learning responsibility when they aren't disciplined. That's why the District has a culture of lawlessness--there are no consequences. Maybe this BIG STINK that grew out of a tragedy will make some impact. It's far from over. We submitted a complaint to all the ESDs in the state and asked Dr. Nyland to request a proper, independent review, not a biased, self-serving investigation by a hired insider who trivialized/distorted our prior complaint to exonerate the negligent adults who had no sense of responsibility.


Anonymous said...

Grad--It's easy to generalize about who takes what classes and for what reasons, but consider these facts:
The victim who participated in the Ecology trip was an AP Honors student and one of the youngest students admitted to an elite touring ensemble. Her entire musical career was devastated by this rape. She already took 10th grade biology and for some reason her counselor put her in Ecology, probably because she loved nature. After being raped at a nature camp, nature became a place that no longer offered peace.

We heard in 2012 that two kids were found in the same sleeping bag on a choir trip. . . .can't verify but the chaperones could.


mosfet said...

@GHS Mom, I'm going to agree and disagree with you on some points.

I agree that adults ought to demand better from students and model integrity first themselves. One of the problems here is that SPS is demanding so little of the adults.

As far as I know, none of the staff were ever disciplined for misconduct which was documented in the district's investigation. The district investigator found that they violated school policy and good judgment, and then excused them for it. To cite one example: "Did Mr. XXXX wrongfully authorize the children of Ms. XXXX and Ms. XXXX to join them on the field trip? No. There is not any evidence that Mr. XXXX knew the children were accompanying their parents even though Ms. XXXX identified her son as a participant on the roster" (pg 25, Response to Kaiser Staff Investigation). So he didn't actually read the paperwork submitted for his approval? And that's okay? For someone who's entrusted with the safety of minors?

That's not to say that some SPS employees don't model integrity and demand that their students behave -- some of them certainly do. There are many fantastic teachers (and other staff) who work hard, hold high standards for their students, and are paid peanuts for it

But I'll disagree with you when you say that a "My personal opinion as the mother of a 16 y.o. girl is that I hope she knows the inherent dangers of going into a guy's room or into a place where she might get trapped."

Caution is a good thing. I understand why you'd want your daughter to be aware of that --because you don't want her to get hurt -- but I hope that I'm misreading you and you are not blaming the 15-year old girl here for not being cautious enough. There's a difference between hoping that a child will do something and blaming them for what happens if they don't do X, Y, Z. So I hope that you meant the former, and not the latter. If I've misread your comment, please feel free to skip the rest of my comment.

I'll agree that caution is an excellent thing, but it's not a girl's responsibility to make sure that she's not raped.

It's not a minor's responsibility to constantly worry about getting raped by her classmates. Is that really a world that we want our daughters to grow up in -- one where they must constantly live in fear of all males, including their friends, after the age of 12 or 13? To constantly being checking exits for fear of being raped by someone you thought was a friend? Must girls too young to legally consent constantly dwell on the possibility of being raped? Let us not forget that the girl in the NatureBridge case didn't go into a boy's room alone -- she went into the boys' cabin with other girls, one of whom reported witnessing the (alleged) rape to her mother, who reported it to a teacher, who reported it to Ted Howard (pg 66) of Staff Complaint/Correspondence.

Besides, most 15 year-olds just don't think about their actions that way. They're mature enough to learn the school rules regarding safety, but they follow them (or not) out of fear of punishment, not because they understand or constantly think of every possible thing that might go wrong if they don't follow rules regarding safety. Teenagers are known for their impulsiveness, unfortunately.

It's a sad reality that adult women must worry about sexual violence, but it still doesn't make it their duty. It's a good thing for them to do (a necessary one, unfortunately), but it's not their duty.

MN said...

" Their lawlessness has ruined lives"

What about the actions of those that publicly displayed a photo and name of a monor?

MN said...

Correction: please replace "monor" with "minor"

mosfet said...

@GHS Mom, regarding your 7:01 comment

I'll agree with "But looking back at my life when I was 16 to 25, I now realize the inherent dangers of some of my choices. I am not blaming ME for taking risky choices, but I did luck out when situations turned out OK and I survived."

Me too. I'm told that I was a rather mature teenager, but I also think that I was pretty naive. I'll count myself lucky that nothing bad happened to me.

To comment on another one of your points, that parents should teach their kids that no means no. Yes, they should, but a lot of them don't (it's awkward to tell your son "don't be a rapist"). The kids also don't get very good education on consent in schools. They really need better education on consent.

According to a May 2013 student survey at Garfield, 7% of male students thought it was okay for one person to rape another ("to force X to have sex")if the first had spent spent a lot of money on the second. 5% of female students and 11% of male students thought rape was okay if the couple had been dating for a long time. See Survey on Attitudes....

Anonymous said...

MN, I don't see a photo of a minor. Where is/was it posted?


Considering Garfield said...

I've heard a lot over the past 2-3 years that makes me uncomfortable about high school field trips, especially overnighters. This means ALL field trips, Hawaii, Orchestra, Jazz, even POST, all of them. As someone said in another thread, everything is always great, until it isn't. Then it's too late.

sidneyd says that "Policies are in place". But whose policies? After reading through countless pages of the now-public documents related to the GHS rape, the district policies are clear as mud in some cases. If Westering couldn't even get straight answers from downtown, I don't see how a blanket statement like "Policies are in place" can fly right now. Hopefully the task force and district can get their ducks in a row by January.

Also, you said that "Kids know they will be sent home for any trouble caused". Have any kids actually been sent home in recent years? How is "trouble" defined? Certainly most kids will be responsible, but what happens when kids on these trips are not being directly supervised and end up so drunk they pass out? Is that acceptable behavior for a band trip across the country? Where were the chaperones when that happened? In fact, what exactly are the chaperone rules on trips like this? I've heard that kids are allowed to roam other cities unaccompanied, in "groups" of as little as 2 kids. That may be fine with some parents, but it doesn't sounds like chaperoning to me, and I can't imagine it would measure up to district policies and standards. If there are different rules for 18 year olds (adults) than freshmen or sophomores, so be it, but is that codified?

On hotel-based trips, are chaperones assigned "hallway" duty, to ensure kids stay in their rooms at night? If not, then are the protections really any better than they were at Nature Bridge. If so, but the only time chaperones are actually watching the kids is at night, well, are parents so out of touch to think that nighttime unaccompanied kids are that much more risk than daytime unaccompanied kids?

How many parents have gone through chaperone training in recent years? It looks like new requirements will be (or are) in place this year, and that's great news. But overall, there are a lot of details to consider, which is why comments like "Policies are in place" bother me.

Here's another question: would it be fair if one or two groups with highly motivated and organized parents gets to take trips but other groups don't get those opportunities? The SCHOOL needs to be responsible for ensuring that ALL trips are safe for ALL students. That means school-wide and district-wide policies need to be in place, not just groups with motivated parents. I hope kids can start going on these field trips again soon, but I support Mr. Howard taking steps to ensure safety and equitable treatment for all students.

throw the fat heads out said...

Considering Garfield,

But based on your logic that shouldn't be just GHS it should be all schools. This shouldn't be a school by school decision. It should be all schools.

1.) we won't have to wait a year for something that should be done already.

2.) all kids are currently at risk if this is not just a GHS issue.

3.) better safe than sorry and I really do think this is deflecting the issue away from those who should have done more including the previous Board, Carr and English. The new Board needs to wrestle this one down now as it is leading to a stampede. I would love to think that GHS is perfect for my daughter who has aspirations to be a marine biologist but... I guess that is one way to deal with capacity problems at GHS

Anonymous said...

Hang on a sec: "common knowledge that the victim was not interested in him" - "attack" - "rapist."

Was none of the sex on the night in question consensual? When was the victim "attacked" and when was the boy convicted of "rape" entitling us to refer to him as the "rapist."

From the publicly available documents, I read that the sex was consensual to a point, then consent was revoked. Am I now to understand that no sex of any kind was consented to? I don't understand how anyone has consensual sex with someone they aren't at least "interested in." Are the parents now contending that supposed "grooming" nullifies any and all expressed consent on the night in question? That's what it sounds like. Someone please clarify because this just isn't making any sense. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Considering Garfield --
YES, kids are sent home from trips for violating rules. How do I know? Because my kid was one of a handful who screwed up -- not only "out of town," but out of the COUNTRY. It was the second to the last day of the trip when we got the call saying that a group of kids -- including mine -- was being sent home. We then got a further call saying that the logistics of changing international air flights for the multiple kids involved, getting them to airports, etc. was very complicated, given that it was the next to last day of the tour, so they did not actually send my child home early. Instead, they banned the kids involved from the final trip concert, AND from the program's big GHS trip (inside the US) the following year (it may have been to complicated to send the kids home, but they did their darnedest to make sure that that didn't work out to the benefit of the kids -- which was exactly right). And the infraction involved was not a crime (in the country they were in, at least), hurt no one, etc. Didn't involve assault, didn't endanger anyone or create any victims. But it WAS something the group had specifically been told NOT to do. And the deal -- from the beginning -- has been -- break these rules, and you will be sent home. Was I happy with the child. No. Was I happy with the chaperones and the teacher? Yes! It would have been fine with ME had they sent my child home -- even though the costs of changing tickets, etc, would have been ours. And it is not that I felt that the infraction was so horrible that being sent home was necessarily right. It was that this was the rule they had announced. And like "sneaking into the boys' cabin to "just talk" to someone -- the behavior at stake was the kind of thing that isn't a problem, that happens FREQUENTLY in high school -- that kids see as "no big deal," and frankly, usually isn't -- until it IS. And the only way to keep the teeth in these rules (since kids will test them) is to hold to the deal you created. Actually, I confess, I was really glad we didn't have to spend the money on the extra air flight, since the charter ticket was nonrefundable. But I would have done it, and understood its necessity.


Anonymous said...


Chaperoning well is not rocket science. It is just hard, thankless work. And it involves backbone. It can be done. It HAS been done. It IS being done. There is no GHS-wide problem that merits cancelling all field trips. GHS just need to have rules (which it evidently does), and parents on the trips who know and enforce the rules. In the case of the NatureBridge trip, if grown-ups had been patrolling around with flashlights, checking beds (and under them) the first night -- and if 5 or 10 kids had been packed with their stuff in a car and sent home AFTER the FIRST night for violating the rules, NONE of this would have happened. The kids who were busted would have been furious at the unreasonable parent, but the remaining kids would have KNOWN to take the rules seriously.

I don't condone the sweeping under the rug that has gone on, or the school's/district's failure to support the girl who was involved after this all happened. But honestly, cancelling all field trips for the school is absurd. Also, if this girl ever comes back to the Seattle area to live and deals with any of these kids, being one of the people involved in something that -- two years later -- booted every GHS child (every uninvolved, well-behaved, hardworking, hoping-to-go-on-a choir, orchestra, Marine Science, etc. trip child in the school) from their shot at Ellington, Hawaii, Oregon, whatever, can't be helpful.

Clearly, there are people at GHS who know how to chaperone well. Have a group of staff and parents sit down and go over the existing policies. Come up with a good set of rules (no rules are foolproof -- but that isn't the issue here. The NatureBridge children were not supervised AT ALL after bed time -- even after a first night's shenanigans made it clear that serious supervision was needed). At any rate, come up with a good set of rules. Follow them. In terms of going forward -- that should be the end of the discussion. In terms of dealing with the problems that were created on the NatureBridge trip, there is obviously more to be done.

There are people who need to bear some consequences for the failures of the NatureBridge trip. Unless there are still kids at GHS who were in the boys cabin that night, NONE of them are this years' GHS students.


Lynn said...


Sounds like the document you read told only the assailant's version of the story (or one of them at least.)

Unless you include laying down on a boy's bunk and talking to him in your definition of sex, she says she did not consent to any sex.

How many 15 year old girls of your acquaintance would choose to have sex in a cabin full of her classmates?

mosfet said...


The girl was a sophomore in fall 2012, so she would have been Class of 2015.

mosfet said...

Here are the current field trip guidelines:

2320.SP.A: general field trip guidelines

2320.SP.C: Overnight field trips. It requires at least 1 chaperone for every ten students. I couldn't find the "Guidelines for Volunteer Field Trip Chaperones" that it references online.

However, I found the instructions for international field trips, which do discuss night-time supervision.

What I found really wasn't very detailed. I'm hoping that there are more detailed documents elsewhere.

Jet City mom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jet City mom said...

My child attended Garfield, because it was a school that allowed students to take AP courses while they was taking remedial courses.
Other schools didn't want students with IEPs or 504s to be advanced in one area, if they were behind in others.
I mention this to illustrate that the students who participate in the wonderful programs Garfield has offered are not limited to students coming from the Washington APP program.
Also participated in the GTA Ghana trip, so very interested in learning where the information is coming from that a student was raped?

Charlie Mas said...

There isn't much to discuss here.

Mr. Howard has cancelled field trips because he doesn't think that the district rules go far enough to keep students safe.

1. He is free to impose his own restrictions or procedures that he thinks are necessary to keep students safe.

2. This directly contradicts all of his statements and actions for the past two years during which he claimed that everything necessary to keep students safe was required and done.

Mr. Howard is making no sense at all.

MN said...

" Their lawlessness has ruined lives"

Shall we talk about Scribd? Who is the genius managing that site? Will that person be held responsible for impacting the life of a minor? Shall we talk about the fact that the name and photo of a minor is in the public domain?

passthebuck said...

I see nothing in the sexual harassment task force charter that directs them to examine overnight field trip policy. Am I missing that?

That task force is going to have their hands full dealing with Title IX compliance issues. While field trips may unfortunately end up having Title IX related issues, there are also multiple other factors to consider (drinking/drugs, consensual sex, etc.). I don't think the sexual harassment task force should be asked to deal with this issue, and it doesn't appear that they have been. I would suggest that GHS parents not wait for some policy recommendations to come from the task force if they want their kids to be able to go on overnight field trips this year. That may not happen.

(I do think the District needs to take a hard look at its overnight field trip policy, I just don't think it is within the purview of this task force.)

passthebuck said...

If you're interested, the District's Title IX website now provides the a description of school compliance procedures as well as the training administrators received (powerpoint).

I must say that the training is pretty remedial and not full of specifics. That said, even remedial training is likely an improvement at this point.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, if this girl ever comes back to the Seattle area to live and deals with any of these kids, being one of the people involved in something that -- two years later -- booted every GHS child (every uninvolved, well-behaved, hardworking, hoping-to-go-on-a choir, orchestra, Marine Science, etc. trip child in the school) from their shot at Ellington, Hawaii, Oregon, whatever, can't be helpful.

I can only say the girl did not intend to be raped and so you are blaming her being raped, telling adults about it and then her principal decided to punish everyone else at school because of it.

The one thing this girl had zero control over is the reactions of adults.

MN, all district documents are public record. Some get redacted but anyone, at any time can see them. As well, if anyone did wrong here, it was the former public disclosure officer for the district. Ask the parents of the victim.

Anonymous said...

As the parent of a soon-to-be 9th grade girl at Garfield, I find myself shaken by all that has come to light recently. Banning all school field trips is at best ineffective and at worst a deterrent to prospective GF students.

Also, this is clearly not a GF-specific problem but a school-wide problem at SPS. Sexual assault, rape, violence, and the attendant devastation of young lives occurs at many other SPS schools. Thus it seems utterly unfair and unreasonable to punish the school body at GF in particular by banning school field trips. It should be a district-wide ban or not take place at all.

Music is a big draw for us at GF and the main reason my daughter wishes to attend. Without the field trips and the once-in-a-lifetime musical experiences that they offer we must seriously reconsider our options for HS. This is so sad, but the truth.


Anonymous said...

Jazz and Orchestra families - I really think that those highly organized, parent funded and directed programs will undoubtedly be able to continue their field trips as usual. The legal responsibility will be shifted to the non-profits both those programs have (Friends of Garfield Orchestra and Garfield Jazz Foundation), and all will be well. It's a shame the more accessible field trips, like Marine Bio and POST trips, will not be able to do the same.

Been there

Anonymous said...

Lynn: I'm just asking for facts. There's been a huge amount of information posted on Scribd, including some statements, attributable to the boy, which the parents have been relying on to make their case, but which also seem to indicate that ongoing activity was happening when she said "stop." Maybe that is the assailant's version, but I haven't read the girl's version, nor am I aware any of her statements have been revealed. Everything else I've seen has come from the parents, who naturally have a vested interest in their daughter's version of events, which has to be taken into consideration as well. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

Sorry - my original post accidentally deleted some of my sentences above. I meant to say that clearly many things need to be done and very fast at a district-wide level to address the tragedy and horror of the rape and make sure nothing like that ever happens again to anyone. As a parent of a girl this is all too painfully clear. However, pinpointing Garfield by banning all school field trips (not just music ones!) is not only useless and misguided, but also has the the very unfortunate effect of trivializing the tragedy of what actually happened. Shouldn't the rapist himself, as well as the adults who were involved and supposedly responsible, be the ones whose heads need to roll? "Banning school trips" sounds like a parent threatening to cancel a sleepover.


Lynn said...


I've read the girl's account of the incident and I've seen some things on various social media that corroborate it.

The issue the parents are pressing is the negligence of the district employees that made this incident possible. Even if you don't believe her story (and I definitely do) it's clear that the poor judgement of Garfield staff put many students in danger.

On another note, let's talk about the fact that Ted Howard just told us that he (alone among our high school principals) can't manage this aspect of his job. Can we get one who can?

Anonymous said...

"Shouldn't the rapist himself..."

There it is again. Nobody has the right to call this boy a rapist without being charged, tried, and convicted. We don't just tear up the constitution because "we think he did it."

He may have committed the alleged acts, but the lynch mob mentality and rush to judgment surrounding this case is disgusting. We should know better than that, and conduct ourselves accordingly.

Forget To Kill A Mockingbird. People need to re-watch Twelve Angry Men.


Anonymous said...


<a href= ">The Crucial 120 Minutes: Recovering from an Ethical Crisis</a>

PR Lesson

Anonymous said...

@Lynn: You write: "I've read the girl's account of the incident and I've seen some things on various social media that corroborate it."

Well then, what are we waiting for? String him up!

We don't need no stinking trials!


Anonymous said...

Seriously, Lynn: Do you have the link to the girl's statement somewhere?

I'd appreciate if you could provide it or direct me to it. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

He is a rapist. He wasn't charged because they didn't think it had a chance of being found guilty because people don't understand consent. Nobody is asking that he be strung up. Thus far he has received no punishment. As of right now, the parents are not asking for him to be punished. They are asking for the school district to follow their own policies and enforce them and reprimand those who do not follow them so that this never happens again.

By the boy's own admission, he is a rapist. Lots of rapists never get charged. Doesn't make them less of a rapist.


Anonymous said...

Melissa said: "I can only say the girl did not intend to be raped and so you are blaming her being raped, telling adults about it and then her principal decided to punish everyone else at school because of it.

The one thing this girl had zero control over is the reactions of adults."

I drafted badly, then. I absolutely did NOT intend to blame the girl in any way. The one best and right thing that she did in this instance was to tell adults about what happened to her, and I in no way blame her for the actions of the boy, or for the actions or failures to act of the adults.

What DOES happen, though -- in situations where adults choose "group punishment" when it is clear that the group is not culpable, but only one or two members of the group are, is that the unfairly punished group members resent the "actors" (culpable or not) for causing their unfair punishment. To make this a much simpler case -- if you have a gym class with two or three really slow, clumsy kids -- and the deal is that if the entire group doesn't finish a task within X time -- no one in the group gets ice cream -- who bears the brunt of the kids' disappointment when the "group" fails and no ice cream is forthcoming? It SHOULD be the adults making the stupid rule. But too often, the kids, or some of them, "turn on" the slow kids, and blame THEM for the unfair treatment the adults are meting out.

The point I was trying to make was that it would behoove the adults (Mr. Howard) in this situation to try to come up with responses to the ADULTS' failures that DO NOT have the potential for creating additional problems for the girl who filed the sexual assault claim. Not only has she clearly borne way too much -- but this sort of "overreaction" by the adults tends, if anything, to make kids in the future less likely to report.

The worst part of this decision is that it fails to hold accountable or "punish" any of the people who were responsible, while simultaneously punishing a whole bunch of people (kids) who clearly were NOT responsible. Is How is it possible that Mr. Howard manages to come up with a solution that does all that AND, as a bonus, manages to make things even worse (if that is possible) for the girl who reported the assault -- PLUS makes it less likely that kids in the future will report something (if a possible outcome will be that the entire school loses field trips for a year)? How can one principal hose this up so badly with one stroke?

But -- to reiterate -- I am sorry that my words capable of being taken as further blaming the victim in this instance. That was not my intent.


dw said...

Liliput, NoName and others who have referred to this action as "punishment" for all the other kids in the building. Please think about how misguided your perception and reactions are. This is not a punishment, it's protection.

When you take your car to the shop because it's making an ugly noise and they say "I'm sorry, but there's something wrong with your cooling system, we need to get it repaired ASAP", then you go home and tell your kid that they can't take the car to homecoming, is that punishment?? No, it's taking reasonable precautions to protect your kid until you can get the problem fixed!

I agree that this is a district-wide issue, not just GHS. Other principals may have similar concerns, but it's certainly not in their best interest to start speaking out in public or attracting any attention to their buildings or programs, especially right now with all the public scrutiny. But you can bet there are conversations happening in high schools around the city.

Anonymous said...

HP, you write: "He wasn't charged because they didn't think it had a chance of being found guilty because people don't understand consent."

1. What's the source of that information? Is it on record?

2. We certainly have an excess of consent experts on this blog.

3. "Because jurors are too stupid" doesn't fly. That myth has been widely dispelled by numerous authors and investigators who've studied the issue, including Former US District Court Judge Dwyer, deceased.

4. "Because we can't overcome reasonable doubt" is the number one reason they don't prosecute. (A subjective, discretionary decision.)

It doesn't mean nothing happened or that no crime occurred. It may seem a distinction without a difference. But it means they don't possess conclusive proof (in their opinion) beyond a reasonable doubt of what actually happened and that it was a criminal act.

It is unsatisfying and unsettling that all crimes aren't proven or solved, and that guilty people often go free or get away with it. And the emotional outrage that accompanies such cases is understandable. But it doesn't change the facts, the evidence, or the lack thereof.


throw the fat heads out said...

Howard shouldn't have the say on this. it Should be coming from DT. I agree with Charlie it makes no sense for him to do this now... Unless it is coming from DT. Therefor DT should make this a priority and ban then fix this mess at all schools because GHS is not in anyway an outlier.

Anonymous said...

@dw: You're conflating. The motive may be protection, but the action is clearly punitive.

A more apt analogy would be this:

Guns are dangerous, so we are taking away your guns, to protect you.

Substitute Field Trips for Guns, and there you have it.

That the vast majority carry guns for protection, or go on field trips for educational purposes without incident does not matter.


Public Defender said...

Who is managing the Scribd account? That individual posted something from facebook. It wasn't a district document.

Anonymous said...

@dw: Barring your kid entirely from going to the homecoming dance, because you can't guarantee that any car they ride in won't break down as well, is another analogous way to look at it.

It's a choice between a club and a scalpel, and TH & SPS's default choice always seems to be the club.


mirmac1 said...

"Was none of the sex on the night in question consensual? When was the victim "attacked" and when was the boy convicted of "rape" entitling us to refer to him as the "rapist."

Sorry WSDWG but I cannot abide by these questions. Much like the new draft Title IX policies (pg 14) explicitly state that use of alcohol "...never makes the victim at fault for sexual harassment..." so neither does saying yes for some, then saying NO consign her or him to complicit status. I guess I could say yes to a drink then all bets are off.

Are we like the ivy-league frat bros who chant "NO means YES, and YES means Anal!" Is that what we want SPS to condone?

mirmac1 said...

Public Defender, whatever a member of the public sends a district official is public.

It is the agencies duty to redact according to law.

I'm not sure how you know that is not a district document. Of course the district has more resources to subpeona records including Facebook posts open to everyone. But I think we know that Facebook is not exactly behind a firewall. Nevertheless, I believe the PRA should be followed to the letter, including redacting exempt material.

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mirmac1 said...

"Nobody has the right to call this boy a rapist without being charged, tried, and convicted." Are domestic abusers given a free pass because the victim refused to press charges? Is this why we can't hold corporate criminals who discriminate against women, the elderly and minorities accountable? Maybe if their victims are white middle-aged men, could we?

There are different standards of proof in the law. For tort cases, it is the preponderance of the evidence: so OJ is not a murderer - but he was found guilty of serious crimes and justice was brought to bear. How many bosses are found guilty of sexual harassment (not enough in my mind)- they rarely get sent to prison; they maybe lose their positions of influence and power. We see everyday it seems how cops are deemed noncriminals for shooting unarmed black men. Does that make it okay for them to have carry guns and an inflated sense of power?

The fine line drawn by English and Peaslee is a false one.

Melissa Westbrook said...

WSDWG, while I don't think it legally correct to call him a rapist, no one here has said anything about punishment or "stringing him up."

I would agree with HP; if someone says in an investigation that a boy says that he was having sex with a girl and then stopped listening to anything she said (and she says she told him no and to stop), I would call that a rape.

"The worst part of this decision is that it fails to hold accountable or "punish" any of the people who were responsible, while simultaneously punishing a whole bunch of people (kids) who clearly were NOT responsible."

Exactly right.

I may have more to report about why Mr. Howard has taken this stance. There may have been some protections taken out of the new rules (for principals and teachers) and he may feel concern over that.

mosfet said...


It's my understanding that the girl's parents submitted documents to the district, then requested the redacted documents from the district, and then posted them online. In some cases, they've had to further redact the documents they got from the district. The Facebook posts were part of documentation that the parents sent to the district months ago as part of their complaints. As such, they are public documents and the district was responsible for going through them and redacting them before releasing them to the public.

The girls' parents also posted on their Facebook page about finding identifying information (such as their former address in Seattle, and if I recall correctly, their email addresses) unredacted in those documents on multiple occasions. If the district didn't redact a minor's name and photo, then the minor's parents really should file a FERPA complaint.

Regarding field trips at GHS:

Ted Howard stated that he "welcome[s] and appreciate[s] your feedback and concerns" in the letter. Please send him or the head of the GHS PTSA (PTSA contacts here) and email if you've got suggestions for running overnight field trips. The worst thing that can happen is that you'll waste ten minutes.


The girl's account from the district investigation can be found at pg 182 of the Response to Kaiser Assault Report. Excerpts of the boy's account (both district and FBI investigation) can be found starting at pg 26.

Let's focus on what SPS did wrong here and how they can fix it. The girl's parents are complaining against the district, not the boy. SPS screwed up multiple times even before the second night of the trip, when the (alleged) assault occurred.

Anonymous said...

Mirmac1: I'm not sure where you're coming from tonight. Ivy leagues? OJ? Middle-aged white males? I think you're reading way more into my questions than I asked.

It's been suggested that the consent issue and/or adult jurors not "getting it" is why the Feds didn't prosecute. If that's true, then clearly it's a murky issue in the underlying case. It's not choosing sides to try to figure it out and learn from it. And if adult jurors aren't going to get it, then how about our kids? Do you not see that?

It's great that we're talking about Title IX and that this case will likely, and finally, bring meaning to it within SPS. Huge improvement, no doubt, and the family deserves due credit for pursuing it.

But this all stems from an alleged rape, based on either lack of consent or revoked consent, either of which would have the same end result. I don't see any wisdom in sweeping that issue aside as we consider the Title IX issues, while we ask the question: What all went wrong here? I think the question of "How did we get here(?)" is still relevant.


Anonymous said...

@ WSWDG Here's an analogy: Your home is burglarized by a neighbor. You saw the neighbor steal from you so you call him a burglar. Should you wait until/if the case goes to trial to find out if the jury agrees? No, you call him a burglar.

On the other hand, if you hadn't witnessed the incident or didn't know who had burglarized your home then it might make sense to refer to the "alleged" burglar since that person's identity was in question. - Neighborhood Parent

Anonymous said...

@NP: Except the "burglar" turns out to be a friend or neighbor, claiming to retrieve items from your house that he lent you, or you gave to him.
And things get very complicated, very quickly.

Anonymous said...

WSDWG above

Anonymous said...


Look at all the domestic violence cases where there is no prosecution, but there is obvious and often severe physical injury.

There was physical injury in this case. The circumstances seemed to preclude the prosecution that the nickel-and-diming prosecuting offices are forced to make before putting limited resources into a case.

The fact that there are so many other cases similar to this one making the news (look at the mattress girl at Columbia) means that this is a huge problem, and that the justice system and other systems (including schools) have ignored the victims in favor of fearing rebuttals such as yours.

All I know is that anyone who has had first-hand knowledge of violence toward women (and other vulnerable populations) looks at this case more contextually--both in terms of the culture (see Mirmac's frat boy chant) and where the priority goes toward violence (higher penalities for animal violence than violence against women).

This case begs for context as many have done on this blog and elsewhere.

--enough already

Puffin said...

Seattle Times article this morning:
Garfield halts overnight field trips, seeks district clarification on rules

Jet City mom said...

I chaperoned 8 th graders on an overnight trip at the end of the school yr.
One adult to each cabin.
I knew to watch them,as they had already asked the teacher if they could sleep outside in the meadow. She told
them it was ok with her, but to ask me.
I had been that age before so I said no.
About 15 minutes after lights out, they all got up to primp in the bathroom.( it takes me MUCH longer than 15 minutes to fall asleep)
I followed them and ushered them back to the cabin.
Pretty non eventful, but they weren't thrilled.
Some of them thanked me later.
Much easier just to have an adult in each cabin than to get up every two hours.
( my own daughter was not in my group, she would have been mortified)

Charlie Mas said...

Can we get back on topic?

Mr. Howard's decision is irrational.

If he thinks the district procedures are inadequate to protect student safety then he is free to impose additional requirements. Why didn't he just do that?

If he thinks the current district procedures are inadequate to protect student safety then how could he claim otherwise about the procedures in place two years ago? Will he be revising his statements in the investigation?

Why is he suddenly dissatisfied with the procedures now? He appears to be responding to the media coverage of the incident rather than the incident itself. Very troubling to see what concerns him and what doesn't.

In the end the procedures don't matter if he and his staff don't follow them. The problem at NatureBridge wasn't inadequate procedures, but inadequate compliance with the procedures. No one was held accountable - not the chaperones who abandoned their responsibilities, not the assistant principal who approved a trip without a male chaperone, and not Mr. Howard who was ultimately responsible. There won't be compliance without enforcement, and Mr. Howard is responsible for enforcement. If he did his job there wouldn't have been a problem and there wouldn't be a problem now.

Anonymous said...

@Enough Already: "Rebuttals such as yours" you write. Rebuttals? Seriously? Asking questions to ascertain facts and pointing out that there are always two sides to a story is "rebutting." Hmm.

There are only, and there will only ever be two people who know exactly what happened that night in that cabin. I've read both of their "statements" (if you can call them that) and neither one of them makes much sense, both are incomplete, and neither seems forthcoming about critical details. There may be more detailed reports, statements or interviews that we haven't seen or won't see. But based on what's in the public domain right now, there is insufficient evidence to even charge the boy, let alone convict him, despite the fact circumstances suggest that he could be guilty of the crime.

And BTW, to HP who says charges weren't brought because jury's don't understand consent, the parents own list of media coverage cites a Raw Story article that plainly states the case was not brought due to "lack of evidence." Can that be reconciled with the "jury's don't understand consent" contention? You tell me.

If all of our lives are going to be impacted by this effort, as my kids' lives have been, then is it too much to request the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about what happened that night? Because up to this point, we aren't getting it. Not even close.

I don't need lectures on DV statistics, Ivy League culture or dirty old man bosses to convince me that bad things happen that go unpunished in the world. It is wrong for a group of people to brand someone a criminal - which has been done repeatedly on this blog - until they've had their day in court.

I'm not taking anyone's side except the constitution's, like it or not. The alternative is anarchy or mob rule, which apparently some are perfectly content with on this blog.

I would like to have seen the case prosecuted, or tried in civil court, so we, the public, could get an objective view of the evidence instead of relying on parental disclosures and CYA memos from the district. But we don't have that. We don't have much quality evidence at all in this case, but we certainly have lots of hearsay, spin, self-interested statements, etc., etc.

This is all happening despite the fact that a crime very well may have been committed that night. And even worse than there being no charges or trial, is foregoing all of that and saying, "Who needs a trial? We all know he's a rapist!" That is a terrifying notion in and of itself.

People can dredge up OJ Simpson and the like to highlight the difficulty in proving domestic violence cases, why people aren't forthcoming, etc. (As a man, what would I know, right?)

But what's happening in SPS right now is not about THOSE situations, it's about the "Garfield Rape Case" as we've come to call it. So analogies, anecdotes, statistics, trends, etc., are not all that helpful to crafting rules, policies and procedures, as well as educating boys and girls in an appropriate manner to reduce or eliminate the risk of a situation like this ever occurring again.

If we don't address the root causes, then any solutions we craft will fail. We can either learn the truth, or presume we already know it and go from there.


Jet City mom said...

I want to know if overnights so sports teams can participate in out of our region competitions are also canceled.
I know both the swim teams and track teams routinely compete out of the area.

How can the school and the district on the one hand say" nothing happened/ was consensual) but on the other hand say " OMG we have to shut it completely down". ?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Charlie: We should get back on track. But this thread, and this issue highlights a problem we have in with polarity on issues like this. There's no middle ground, and camps - for or against - form at breakneck speed. Perhaps it's how we get our news, or how sheep-like we've become on issues, where what we believe is based largely on what TV or radio station we watch or listen to.

To me, this situation mirrors the Michael Brown case in Ferguson. It happened while I was hiking in the Woods, and for days after I returned, I could see 24/7 coverage of talking heads advocating, choosing sides, etc. But what I couldn't find anywhere, was an official account of what happened, i.e., what law enforcement was able to say at any given point in time about what were "known" facts.

I know the Ferguson PD withheld some stuff, but what absolutely shocked me was to see dozens of TV personalities and guests "discussing" the issue without anyone mentioning the salient "facts" or even qualifying their opinions with a disclaimer acknowledging that they had very few actual facts in hand. For anyone trying to be empirical or exercise any critical thought about what happened, it was an infuriating exercise in futility. After about a week, I finally just gave up on ever being able to form an evidence-based opinion on what actually happened.

In modernity, it seems that issue after issue are covered this way, feeding red meat to those predisposed to viewing information a certain way, without anyone standing in the middle, focusing on the facts and exercising much critical thought. But everybody's got an anecdote, so they already know the truth.

They say the first casualty of war is the truth, and the more camp-like and polarized we become, picking one side or the other, the less truths I suspect we'll ever know.

From my tone and questions, people will presume I'm on the boy's side, but scrutiny doesn't require one to choose sides, even if that means being harder on one side than the other at times. Those who make statements should back them up, and in this case, one side has been doing all the "talking," so there's more to scrutinize.


Chris S. said...

What's really sad is no one got mad when a girl went to the hospital, when girl was forced out of SPS, or when a girl ended up severely traumatized. Then Mr. Principal cancels field trips and everyone is PISSED! How could he do that?!!!!

We are all not-so-innocent bystanders. I'm glad he did this because people need to be mad.

Anonymous said...

lThe context in Ferguson also called for a response.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Chris S, you have it backwards. People are not *just now* speaking up because the field trips have been cancelled. Teflon Teddy is *just now* knee-jerking because people have been relentlessly speaking up and demanding accountability from him.

open ears

Anonymous said...

Chris S. you are right in that Seattle Times spotlighted this pretty quickly with the (alleged) rape context. Shock therapy? Intentionally planned by Principal Howard? SPS admin at loggerhead with Garfield admin? Who knows. Certainly, more people will know about the issues now. That's a good thing. Off topic, noticed the tightening requirement for volunteering started last school year.


ChaperoneNoMore said...

Why did the girl go out the window? It is quite possible that the girl didn't want the chaperone to see her. Should we hold that chaperone responsible?

Even if students were sent home the night before, it is possible that an unwanted event could have happened.

Why did Howard wait 2 years to hault field trips?

ChaperoneNoMore said...

In the situation at NatureBridge, I've come to the conclusion that even if all rules were followed, there could be an unwanted event.

Even if beds were checked every two hours and a chaperone roamed the facility all night, it would just take 2 students jumping out of a window and into the woods.

To what extent should we hold individuals responsible?

An overnight trip with hotel rooms on the 6th floor would present a very different situation.

mosfet said...


I agree that it's next to impossible to completely prevent students from hurting each other or themselves on field trips. However, chaperones should make a reasonable and concerted effort to keep students safe, and I think that they ought to be judged against that standard.

For example, if a chaperone slept in each cabin/hotel room and waited until all students were fast asleep before going to bed, I think that would be considered a reasonable effort to supervise students at night. Might also be good to require that students turn over phones to chaperones before going to bed, so that students couldn't use the vibrate setting on the phone's alarm clock to wake themselves up in the middle of the night.

I'll admit that higher standards for supervision and more accountability for chaperones will mean that fewer parents will be willing to volunteer to chaperone. Since better chaperoning measures will probably require having more chaperones on trip, that's somewhat problematic.

Melissa Westbrook said...

ChaperoneNoMore, Ron English used this "things happen" excuse.

Of course, even if people try their best, things can happen.

But that is NOT the case here. Starting from the beginning with the vice-principal to the teachers to the other chaperones. No one did what they were supposed, either by district policy or by common sense.

It is ludicrous to shrug and say, things happen.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Melissa here. No doubt, even with the best oversight, a few resourceful kids, from time to time, are going to find ways to circumvent supervision and do what they want. But that is not at ALL what happened here.

From my (admittedly second hand) understanding, the girl in this instance went to a boys' cabin -- after "lights out." This was against rules and my understanding is that she left her cabin in a way that would help avoid detection (out the window?). But -- by all accounts, she was a good kid -- she was going to "talk" to someone she considered a friend, in another cabin -- with other kids in it. As adults -- do we see the potential harm she was putting herself in (given that she evidently did not know the boy-- or his cabin mates -- nearly as well as she thought she did)? We do! But I can absolutely see a "good-hearted" but naive high school girl doing something like this -- with no clue of the possibility of harm involved. I am sure she had no clue that someone she thought was a friend would do what this boy did. I am sure that she assumed that nothing like this could happen to her in a room with other awake kids in it. We don't expect our kids to see the dark possibilities -- especially in circumstances where they THINK they are surrounded by their friends (or at least friendly classmates). We "overrule" their inadequately seasoned judgment by setting up rules to protect them -- and THEN by SEEING THEY ARE FOLLOWED.

Had there been good chaperoning -- there would have been awake adults in BOTH cabins (either sleeping there, or with patrols or bed checks -- really, every situation has its variants). With good chaperoning, THIS sexual assault would simply never have happened. Now, if this had been consensual sex between two kids determined, come hell or high water, to get together somewhere -- maybe a different result. That, by the way, is how I always interpreted that odd SSD statement to the effect that some level of sexual activity was not necessarily considered to be the result of failed supervision (sorry -- that is not quite right -- but I can't find the words that I thought Melissa had reported from Mr English or someone else in SSD administration). But again -- that is not what happened here. What happened in this case is the kind of harm that good supervision is exactly and precisely able to prevent.


Anonymous said...

On dw's point --

I don't think this is a matter of protection vs punishment. For one thing, if protection were the issue, it would have happened two years ago. (How many more field trips have occurred in the interim?) For another thing -- TH knows full well that a lot of the field trips in his school do not need to be "protected" from clueless chaperones or weak policies -- he has been there for years, and he gets it. It would be relatively easy for him to ascertain from teachers whose classes are going on field trips whether they know what they are doing, whether they know what the policies are/need to be, what steps they take to get good chaperones and to set up and communicate policies to the chaperones and the kids, and the degree to which they demand adherence to those policies. If you have clueless or unconcerned teachers (neither is likely-- but it is possible, I guess) -- the trips don't happen. If the teachers can't get enough chaperones who they think will enforce policies and ride herd on kids -- the trip gets cancelled. To mosfet's point, doing this right DOES take numbers, and it takes people willing to do the work (not just put in earplugs and go to sleep). So, yes -- maybe some trips then DON'T happen -- and that IS what needs to happen. But that is no excuse for a blanket cancellation.

Cancelling everything for further policy direction might make sense if the policies HAD been followed and yet kids were winding up hurt or in dangerous situations. But that is not the case. This is not a matter of what the policies were (no girls in boys cabins after "lights out," for example, to say nothing of "no sex" on the trip" -- it is a matter of whether anyone tried hard to learn or enforce them.

The only "protection" here, as I see it -- is TH's protection of TH.

NoName Today

Anonymous said...

There is no doubt that chaperoning was inadequate and can be vastly improved. And there's no doubt Ron English blew off complaints and facts that he shouldn't have, and that the SPS Title IX compliance was practically non-existent in this case.

But we do not possess adequate facts to make statements like this: "With good chaperoning, THIS sexual assault would simply never have happened." We continue to blame chaperones as the proximate cause for what happened in this situation. They may bear some fault, but not all or none. In continuing to focus on everything but the two kids involved and exactly what happened that night, we do a disservice and injustice to everyone impacted by the event.

We can train and educate the best chaperones in the world, but some kids will still find ways around it.

We are presuming that if A then B, as though with better chaperoning, the kids behavior or attempts at that behavior would have been shut down completely, as though kids wouldn't adapt or find alternatives, like we all know they do everyday.

English's "things can still happen" comment was lazy and self-serving, but there is a grain of truth within it that we cannot overlook. It's about risk reduction and education, because we aren't embracing the alternative, which would be prison-like lock-downs and 24 hour monitoring. And nobody is going to volunteer to chaperone like that.

We need to stay within the realm of the possible and realistic when we cast blame on others for their failures. Otherwise, the new rules, policies and promises won't be worth the paper they are written and signed-off on.


Anonymous said...

WSDWG, you are not making any sense. This trip was poorly chaperoned. Period. All of the kids were breaking the rules, not a couple of extra determined kids. Yes trips can be chaperoned well and kids might still break the rules, but that isn't what happened here. The realm of the possible includes well chaperoned trips where rules are enforced. I've been on such trips. It's possible.

Gen Ed Mom

Lynn said...

Amen GEM.

Anonymous said...

GEM Amen, like Lynn.

WSDWG Someone earlier on the thread called it, in your case. You are having tantrum because you seem to fear your kid can't go on a needed field trip. This is very transparent. If you can prove the case wrong, your kid can travel. Bullocks to the issues of the case and the injustices it raises.

enough already

ChaperoneNOMore said...

Let's face it, there can be unwanted sexual activity between members of the same sex. Similarily, a male chaperone, in a cabin with boys can also be accused of an unwanted activity.

Even if all procedures are followed, bed checks are made etc. The district can keep all students safe on a field trip.

Johnny Cochran said...

"He is a rapist"

HP, Would you like to defend yourself in a court of law. The name and photo of the accused was released on this blog and there are consequences.

Anonymous said...

Chris S: The first I heard of this situation was this July or August, 2014. Yes, I'm concerned, as my kids are at Garfield. WSDWG

ChaperoneNOMore said...

I'm not shrugging and I agree that procedures were not followed. This is a problem. Principals need to take responsibility and there should be punishments for those that do not follow procedures. Children safety is at risk.

What to do about policy and procedure?

"For example, if a chaperone slept in each cabin/hotel room and waited until all students were fast asleep before going to bed, I think that would be considered a reasonable effort to supervise students at night. Might also be good to require that students turn over phones to chaperones before going to bed, so that students couldn't use the vibrate setting on the phone's alarm clock to wake themselves up in the middle of the night."

Yes, turning in cell phones is a good procedure. What if students make a plan, during the day to climb out of a window and meet in the woods? As previously mentioned, having a male chaperone in a male cabin could also lead to accusations.

What is the answer and is there a policy or procedure to guarantee safety? To what extent are students responsible for their own actions? I've chased kids from between portables. Should the district be responsible for an unwanted event that happens behind a portable building? Where are lines drawn?

Anonymous said...

GenEdMom & Others: If you actually read what I wrote, you'd see that I'm not in disagreement with you. I'm simply saying that it's not as simple as bad chaperoning, and that all options for improvements need to be on the table and under the microscope. People are focusing too narrowly on that, IMO. The focus needs to widen.

@Enough Already: If wanting effective rules and procedures that better protect as many students as possible is "throwing a [transparent] tantrum," then you got me!

Truthfully, my kids won't miss anything due to this particular cancellation. But thanks for the swipe anyways. My interest is in seeing that this kind of situation doesn't happen again, actually.

So, sorry. You blew the call.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"With good chaperoning, THIS sexual assault would simply never have happened."

I'm sorry, WSDWG, who said that?

Because I didn't and I'm not sure anyone else - even the girl's parents - would say that.

T"he name and photo of the accused was released on this blog and there are consequences."

For the last time, this BLOG did not such thing. Someone else did but did it through public disclosure documents that ANYONE can ask for and view and do whatever they want with them. It is not illegal.

For the last time, things happen. Yes, students need to learn self-control and responsibility for their behavior.

But they are CHILDREN. I don't know why people think any kid over 13 is no longer a child. They are. They will make mistakes.

But it's the job of ADULTS to be responsible especially if they put their hand up for a trip and say, "I'll be responsible" and then, to the best of their training and ability are responsible.

The district's own investigation shows that was not the case.

Anonymous said...

@MW: I don't recall off-hand, but it was in a comment on this thread I believe, and not in the post.

Either way, that seems to be a trend (or sub-trend) of thought, and I'm just suggesting people pause and think about it. Lawsuits zero in on targets in that way, which is fine in that forum, but not necessarily in crafting policy. WSDWG

Anonymous said...

It's ironic (and sad) that many of the outraged people on this blog are outraged b/c field trips are canceled. It seems like Ted Howard's decision to cancel field trips finally daylighted the Naturebridge trip and the issues surrounding it. Hey, there is finally coverage in The Seattle Times!

I wish GHS parents would have more conversations around good decision making, consent, respect etc and fewer complaints about how canceling field trips is unfair to the rest of the kids. Everyone is involved here and should be part of the conversation in making GHS safer. - NP

Charlie Mas said...

Funny how everyone sees Mr. Howard's decision in the context of the reported rape at NatureBridge in 2012.

Is there any way that you can see it outside that context?

Mr. Howard did not mention the incident in his message to the community. He only said that the District had revised the field trip procedures and that he didn't think that they went far enough to keep students safe. So why does everyone jump forward to argue that case again?

Let's try, please, to stay on topic: Mr. Howard, who has touted the district field trip procedures and contended - vigorously - that they were sufficient to keep students safe, now says that they are not adequate.

I don't understand why he doesn't just impose tighter requirements instead of stopping all overnight field trips entirely.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Right as usual, Charlie.

Does Howard not believe that parents and teachers can step up to these new requirements?

Anonymous said...

The girl said stop. The boy ignored and said as much that he wasn't paying any attention to what he said. He is a rapist. I don't understand what is so hard to understand about stopping meaning stopping and no meaning no.

People don't understand consent including GHS students as evidenced by the survey taken by the GHS student for her statistics class. This isn't just an issue at GHS. It is all over the place in high schools, colleges and in adult life. Men and boys not being taught what consent is. Yes all women.


Anonymous said...

paying attention to what she said

is what it should have said


mosfet said...

Regarding requirements for chaperones: I agree that it's impossible to prevent every injury or catastrophe that could befall students during a field trip without putting students under complete lockdown (which would make for a miserable field trip).

Likewise, schools may have a security officer, but that doesn't mean that they can always prevent school shootings. Yet schools generally make a reasonable attempt to keep students safe from violence while they are at school by having security and security protocols. Similarly, chaperones (who aren't being paid) should make a reasonable effort to keep students from injuring themselves or others on trips.

Sorry, Charlie, I'm going to go off topic here.

Regarding FERPA and public records: The Facebook posts by the boy were part of the complaint that the parents of the girl sent to SPS last year. As such, SPS is legally required by FERPA to redact them. As Melissa mentioned, Anyone can request public records by email from the district's public records office. Once the public records office sends the document out, it is public, whether it gets put online or just sits on someone's computer. It's like the public records office rubberstamped the redacted copy and said, "okay, this can go public." Members of the public are under no legal obligation to scrutinize the public redacted copy for errors (the document in question on scribd was nearly four hundred pages long) before making it more public by putting it on the web.

The problem is that the public records office apparently isn't very good at redacting stuff. According to the girl's parents, they've found their full names, former address in Seattle, information about which musical instrument their daughter played, etc, unredacted on documents requested from SPS.

Anonymous said...

@ Charlie, do you remember your comment on a thread on the APP blog where StringCheese said that a friend, a GHS parent, had said that staff at GHS implied that actually complying with field trip procedures would mean no more field trips at GHS? I guess TH's decision had been talked about for a while.

Anonymous said...

I am the person who said that, with good chaperoning, THIS assault would not have happened -- so if that is wrong, I am the one who should be brought up short on it.

Here was what I meant (if it helps, maybe it doesn't -- maybe I am just wrong).
I don't for a minute think that good adult supervision can stop all problems on field trips, whether drinkingk sexual assault or otherwise -- and certainly not all consensual sexual behavior -- although it can stop a lot of it -- and the perception by the kids that the adults won't enforce rules, or will just be absent or look the other way, tends to make things worse.

Kids who want to find opportunities for sex have been doing so under adults' noses for centuries -- but here, that is not what happened. A girl wanted an opportunity to talk to a boy after-hours, unsupervised, and under circumstances that were plainly not permitted by group rules. The boy involved evidently had much more than talking in mind -- and took advantage of the absence of adult supervision (and the complicity of silence on the part of others in the cabin) to have sex with her, against her wishes. I think that if there had been an adult in both cabins (or either cabin), and regular, periodic cabin/bed checks in any cabin where there was not a constant adult presence, this particular incident would not have occurred. I am not saying NO incident could have occurred. It just doesn't seem like this one would have.

My assumption of the behavior that caused all this was
(1)a girl who thought that a boy could be trusted in a way that he could not (i.e. -- this isn't some one who jumped out of the bushes and attacked her; she went to his cabin, specifically to see him, and events got out of hand in a way that she clearly did not anticipate;
(2) if and to the extent she might have had any qualms about meeting in a truly isolated spot, the girl must have concluded that being in a cabin with other kids would be safer. Again, if she made this assumption, it evidently wasn't true;
(3) the girl evidently thought -- possibly based on chaperone behavior the night before -- and the absence of any adults around, that she could safely leave her cabin, and go to visit him in his cabin, without much risk of being caught by adults; and
4. the boy evidently thought that no chaperones would interrupt his actions, which proved to be true.

I don't think that good chaperoning prevents everything (and I agree that many expensive lawsuits result from people who think that ANY harm to a child means someone blew it, when that may not be the case). But this case -- the assumptions by the girl AND the boy, and their actions based on those assumptions, seemed to me to be stuff that would not have occurred if there had been better supervision -- both nights.

But -- to Melissa's and WSDWG's point -- perhaps I was wrong to make the statement. I certainly didn't mean to imply that adults are somehow responsible for everything that kids do wrong.

NoName Today

Melissa Westbrook said...

As I think we have exhausted this particular aspect of this thread (for now), I'm going to close the comments.

mirmac1 said...

I do not believe the board was made aware of the Kaiser staff investigation. If they had seen the mealy-mouthed CYA excuses provided ("everyone else brought their kids along" etc) then I think they would have asked for more information on what staff did. Instead they were handed the "things happen" and "results: inconclusive" arguments, and were posed a very narrow question.

This is how the board is controlled by staff.