Thursday, September 18, 2014

Operations/Executive Committee of the Whole

Update:  the Discipline Appeals Council has been set with a couple of issues.

One big one is that they did not get any volunteers to represent Sped.  It was stated they asked internally but it was unclear to me if any Sped parent organizations were contacted.  They would like a Sped teacher.  Peaslee wants SPed in there.  Peters said SPed is important because of disproportionality and Sped issues in discipline cases.

Two is that Director Carr is on this council.  I was confused when I saw the name as she is listed as "community."  I asked and according to the policy, she can be on the committee as a community member.

I personally think it is strange that a sitting board member could be on this council (or even want to).

Also, Memorial Stadium got new turf and Richard Best, head of Capital Projects, casually said that they are considering putting a new high school there AND it could be on BTA IV (which is becoming quite large just with this project and below, the downtown school).

End of update

Well, I hadn't thought the Operations Committee would be so interesting vis a vis the agenda but now I'm glad I came.

-one update - the district appears to be going to go ahead with applying to takeover the former Federal Reserve building for a downtown school.  They have a lengthy review of  three other schools - Bailey-Gatzert, Lowell and John Hay that might be considered for expansion for this purpose.  They have quite a list of consultants so it appears they have done their due diligence.

Hey, no surprise, they appear to think it makes the MOST sense to get the Federal Reserve building.

How to fund this?  Either through non-voted bonds (which I thought Director Carr said absolutely no) or put it in with BTA IV.  That means that at least $48M (of the likely $50-53M) in BTA IV would be for one new building.

I have said before and I'll say it again - BTA was NEVER created for new buildings.  This blurring of lines, mixing of capital dollars is wrong and I cannot believe it is now going to continue on.

Apparently so.

Update on downtown school.  No time to put in the complete conversation but President Peaslee is pressing on hard on the "need" and costs.  Joe Wolf explained that the entire north section of the district is worse off than Central and that really, they need more high school space.

Peaslee, again pushing hard, is asking questions on funding this downtown school.  Staff says there BTA IV is too far out so they likely would have to get a loan for the funds and pay it back via the BTA IV.

Peaslee thinks this sounds pretty unfocused and wanted to know about the BTA IV planning.

So a $100M for a new high school plus $53M for the Federal Reserve bldg- there's $150M and the last BTA was $270M.   (It was noted that the Education Department was asked if the Fed Reserve building could be used for any type of school, K-5, K-8 or 6-12.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Joe Wolf!!!

Please, please continue to emphasize the need for additional high school capacity, particularly in the North end, and sooner rather than later.

7th/9thgrade parent

Po3 said...

I would love to see a larger high school based at the Seattle Center, either by growing the Center school or co-housing it with a traditional high school. In any case the central location is great - lots of metro service.

mirmac1 said...

I agree Po3. The Seattle Center is just a RapidRide C (which transitions directly to D) line from West Seattle.

Chief Sealth is packed to the gills, with half its campus occupied by a middle school. Of course the genius who came up with this idea, and handing Boren over to K-5 soon to be K-8 is long gone. Oh wait, no, there are board members who championed this move.

WS is at least as screwed as the North end.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mirmac1, Joe allowed that after BEX IV, WS would be "okay." But it seemed - from my reading - that Joe meant high school was an issue everywhere.

mirmac1 said...

Sorry. I read "entire north section" and wanted to clarify that fallacy.

Watching said...

What is the status of the lawsuit related to the Federal building?

Idk...Queen Anne and Magnolia don't have a high school and enrollment is growing. Seems, if the dt bld is would meet the needs of this community.

Mary Griffin said...
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Mary Griffin said...

I don't think it is odd that Sherry Carr is on the DAC. I think it's great. They have a very hard time getting people to be on the DAC in the first place, so it is not surprising that they can't get a SpEd teacher or supervisor to volunteer. (It's a volunteer job.) The last I heard the SpEd teacher wouldn't be on the committee, they would just serve as a consultant, which makes sense as then they would be available to all teams. I hope they can find a SpEd teacher or supervisor to serve on this important position.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Mary I disagree, Carr should not be on a committee that would likely include staff or her constituents. Would a parent feel OK with disagreeing with her and then needing her help in the future?. No, just a bad mix.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That question - about the homeless coalition lawsuit - was raised but apparently there has been nothing new happening.

Mary, the district lawyer mentioned finding a Sped teacher to serve on Spec-specific cases so that there is representation there.

I'm with Concerned, I think Carr should not be on this committee. It seems like many conflicts there.

Mary Griffin said...

ConcernedSPS Parent,

I can understand your concern, but in many instances, the school board would be the normal endpoint of a disciplinary appeal. In fact, the WAC referring to student disciplinary appeals refers to school boards or disciplinary appeals councils. In this instance, the DAC serves in the stead of the board. Please see WAC 392-400-315.
Agency filings affecting this section
Appeals—Hearing before school board or disciplinary appeal council—Procedures.

Based on the purpose of a DAC and the WAC pertaining to the DAC, I believe it is quite proper for Sherry Carr to serve in this capacity.

Mary Griffin said...
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Mary Griffin said...

Here is a better link to the WAC which contains the verbiage related to the school board delegating its authority related to disciplinary appeals to disciplinary appeals councils.

I think what most people don't get is that usually the disciplinary appeals council is used to appeal whether the district is following its own policies and procedures, NOT the facts of the case. So in most ordinary cases, the council is looking to see if the staff is following the playbook of the school board and the superintendent not whether the kid did the deed. This is just one reason why I think it is good to have school board members on the DAC.

This is also one of the reasons you would want someone from SPED there: to make sure that the rules regarding implementation of support plans and specific rules related to federal law were being followed by the staff.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well then, I guess I am totally wrong about Sherry Carr.

mirmac1 said...

Carr had always surprised me with her swings from caring parent and steward, to corporate shill.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

No Mary, I disagree. The presence of Carr could very easily be intimidating - the last thing we want. If she has time on her hands she should be tring to fill the DAC positions. Considering her record of enforcing policy it is both laughable and troublesome she should insert herself into this process.

mirmac1 said...

I can't see how ANY board member wants to insert her/himself into this hot mess. Only someone who wants to take proactive action and avoid major improprieties regarding the behavioral needs of some students (some with IEPs, for instance). Based on my many years of advocacy, I don't see Carr trying to subvert fairness and justice regarding an appeal. But, hey, maybe.

Mary Griffin said...

My comments aren't about anyone's personal suitability. The question was raised whether Carr sitting on the DAC as a board member was "strange." My interpretation of the word strange was whether this was proper. I don't think it is strange or improper. The policy itself refers to board members as community members, and the board itself is delegating its authority to hear appeals itself to the DAC. Because the WAC and the policy both refer to board members, I believe it is not strange or improper for a board member to sit on the DAC. Sherry Carr is a board member. It is not strange or improper for her be a board member because she was elected to be a board member. Therefore, it is not strange or improper for her to be on the DAC.

ConcernedSPSParent said...

And my concern here Mary is if a Board member for district X and a parent for district X are on the same council does that alter the dynamic of the council?. I believe it is possible and I would err on the side of caution. Carr should step aside.

Anonymous said...

To me, the over-arching issue with the DAC is that it screws students. There is tremendous de facto pressure in that context to protect and support building administrators no matter what the evidence is of flawed decision making. It is all about face saving for the admins.

I have asked the Office of Student Discipline manager for statistics to shed light on how many instances a DAC might have found in favor of the student making the appeal overriding the building administrator. My guess is that the answer is "practically never" but it's not a bad idea to see what the numbers really show. Unfortunately, that information is not available.


Mary Griffin said...

There are very few discipline appeals every year related to the number of incidents. And the DAC is the not the first appeal level that a case will hit. I don't have the number of DAC meetings from last year, but I would guess that it is very low, probably less than a dozen. The number of step II grievances (with an administrative judge) is usually around two dozen. I requested the statistics for the last 10 years and only got partial statistics for the 2012-2013 school year, and received information that totaled 44 cases at the step I level, 18 cases at the step II grievance level for Sept through May. The public records officer could not provide information about disability status, but it is probably lower than the total. The number of DAC level cases (step II) could not be provided by the Public Records Officer, but my understanding from conversations with Ruth McFadden is that the number of DAC appeals (step III grievances) is less than 10 every year and only a few if any of these are for students with disabilities. But like I said, no statistics were available. I did receive information the number of hearings which resulted in the results being upheld, modified, mediated or overturned. Of the 62 step I and step II hearings in the 2012-2013 school year, 35 were upheld, 6 were modified, 16 were mediated, and 3 were overturned. Keep in mind that in the 2012-2013 school year that there were 3,596 total discipline incidents, and of these, 2,245 resulted in suspension or expulsion. Of that total number of discipline incidents, 1,550 were to students with disabilities and of these 785 were for suspensions and expulsions.

Considering the fact that anyone who has reached the step II grievance level, and using only the suspension and expulsion statistics, only 2% of suspension/expulsion cases are appealed even to the step I level (the step I level is only a meeting with the principal.)

So even though it is highly recommended that there be a SpEd staff person at a DAC meeting, and even if this person was able to convince all the DAC members that procedures were not followed, that might amount to 3 overturned findings, which would not make a significant dent in the number of cases, but would make a dent in the fairness of hearings for those individuals.

Mary Griffin said...

My last comment using the term administrative judge at a step II grievance hearing was wrong. What I meant was "Hearing Officer."

Anonymous said...

Thank you Mary for this information.

It is a reminder how intense and intimidating it can be for families to initiate an appeals process. In my experience, a combination of intimidation, shame, not having access to the information in their own languages, and not knowing or understanding the process or their rights, keeps families from initiating an appeals process.

In my opinion, the system is pretty corrupt with few checks and balances. It would be better if any suspension or expulsion of a student with a disability would automatically trigger the same for the building administrator and staff and a performance improvement plan for those individuals.