Friday, October 17, 2014

Board Discussion of Garfield Settlement

Update:  I viewed the footage this morning.  Beyond fascinating.

Here's what I take away from what was said:

- For whatever reason, there were only two Board members who even seemed concerned around the central issue for the district to consider (at this point, I'll let Charlie take over):

The District wasn't sued for a rape, but for the utter failure of the chaperones, the utter failure of the field trip approval, and the utter failure of the District's response to the report.

That's all the Board should have been considering and that's all that would have been in the court case.  The girl's lawyers might gone to court contending there was an assault but it would have been predicated on the belief that it would not have happened (or been far, far less likely to have happened) if the district had done its job.

Sherry Carr came the closest when she said they should not ever be talking about whether two students had or didn't have consensual sex while in the district's care. 

- As has been said, over and over, no one but the two parties truly know what happened and where it went wrong.  I believe that no matter what the girl's intent was in going to the boy's cabin, it did not turn out as she might have thought.  And the boy says he just tuned her out at some point. Something did go wrong.

- Since the Superintendent created a Title IX Taskforce, I don't think this issue of how the district watches over and protects students on field trips is done.  I do think this particular case is.

Highlights and thoughts:

- all the female Board members gave comments/questions but neither male Board member said anything.  I don't know that this means anything in particular but it was noticeable.  Perhaps it was about concern for future elections.  I found it troubling that some Board members seemed to be focused on "justice" rather than the district's own accountability while others remained silent.

- Carr asked about both students and English said that both got something and the boy "received substantial protection from this settlement."  It is unclear to me if the boy or his parents ever asked for anything from the district in terms of help/protection.

- Carr asked about "expectations for a standard of care" that should have been exercised in this "particular situation."  English said a school district is "obligated to exercise reasonable care in the chaperoning of its students."  He went on to say the district's investigator, in the report, identified a "number of problems that the district had in meeting that standard of care."

- Carr asked about the view of the outside lawyers - there were three - on this issue of standard of care and English said they all - including him - agreed on the conclusions and advice to settle the case.

- Peaslee asked "What are we avoiding by settling?"  English said three things.  One, costs of lawyers and experts.  Two, a lengthy prep/waiting to go to trial with depositions, public attention, etc. Three, a possible "7 figure loss" to the district.

- Peaslee went on and on about "facts"and "that no one truly knows what happened" and if they settle, "what does it imply in relations to what occurred?"  This is a mixed-up question because, as she says, no one truly knows so there is no implication, just what needs to be done in the best interests of the district.

I also believe she stated a few things improperly.  First, she said the boy had no opportunity to tell his story.  He did.  He told the FBI, he told the district investigator and, like the girl's family, he and his family could have gone to the media.  English said the boy, in his testimony to the investigator, was quite clear in what he did and didn't do.

If Peaslee is implying he didn't get his day in court, she's right.  He may have wanted that, we don't know.  But the district surely did not want that.   He and his family are free to sue anyone they like to get their story out.

She also said that the "information would be sealed from public view."  No, it's not.  All the documentation is available for public viewing.  Cutting the girl's family off from public disclosure (as the settlement does) doesn't cut off anyone else.

- Patu said the "outcome is not what I wanted" but then failed to say what that was.  She said "it doesn't serve justice but it is what it is."

- Peters, calm and determined, gave a set of very precise remarks.  She allude to "recently revealed confidential facts."  She said they make the "matter more complicated than I realized."  Okay, the Board and district counsel have more information than the public.  It seems that it has led several of them to not believe the girl (this is my impression).

But again, since the district screwed up so mightily, those facts don't matter at this point.  They might if the district had followed their own processes and procedures but the district didn't.

She went onto say that she feels the Board is owed an explanation of how they came to this time and place.  She said she would like an internal review "for some understanding and accountability"and asked for the support of the rest of the Board.  No one raised a voice in support of that.  Either they believe what the Superintendent is enacting is enough or they want it behind them or both.

But that won't happen for the same reason that the court case isn't happening.  The district does not want to hold anyone accountable.  Because they would then be back in court if any teacher/administrator sued and it would all start up again.

- Marty McLaren said she was reluctant to agree to the settlement because it was "not just" and "not warranted by the evidence presented."  Whatever this new information is, it seems it highly influenced the Board.  She said two students "experienced harm" and one was "getting a generous settlement." In the end, though, she said she was "respectful of the expert opinions given to the Board that contradict my own instincts."

- Carr also said she looked forward to the "work to do" and "input from the public."

- Peaslee said she was not intending to support the settlement but had been persuaded by lawyers.  I think she almost wanted this to go to court which would not have served the district well.  She said she hoped "the public" would put this behind us.  She also said there was "mass hysteria" and it was caused by "a few individuals who did not have access to all the facts."  

I concur with several commenters here who said that it seemed the main and overwhelming focus on this case seemed to be on how did this happen on a field trip and not on the boy and girl.  

Peaslee did not say a single word about the issue of district accountability.

end of update

I have not yet viewed this footage but this is from the Executive Session of the Board meeting on Wednesday. I think the Board needs to be alone with legal counsel to openly talk and THEN the public can hear the discussion that took place.

I note that this was sent to me from SPS and I did not ask for it.  As I said about the news about the destruction of the student data previously in the hands of ConnectEdu, it's a wished-for faith-restoring moment.  


mirmac1 said...

Thank you Sue Peters for saying this is NOT acceptable; to just sweep it under the rug as a "business decision". If SPS does not correct itself after this, then I feel there really is NO hope.

I still have hope and I have you to thank.

mirmac1 said...

Thank you Sherry Carr for committing to improving SPS processes and compliance so that our students are safe under the district's care.

mirmac1 said...

Marty and Dr. Nyland, I think you have the safety of our students at heart and will do what is NECESSARY to do more than follow the law. Shield our students from the rape culture prevalent in our society.

Sharon, I am very saddened by your comments.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Director Peters for your statement. It was the most intelligent, most thorough one at the Board Meeting that showed your understanding of the whole situation. I hope you will get the other board members on your side to fight with the district to get to know all the facts that led to this really sad situation and hopefully that will prevent similar incidences from happening in the future.
Please keep up the good fight.
Mag mom

mosfet said...

Carr: Could you maybe speak to the record for the expectation of standard of care that maybe should have been exercised in this particular situation?
English: One of the allegations that they will make and I am not an expert in tort law, but one of the allegations they will make is that a school district is obligated to exercise reasonable care in the chaperoning of its student and certainly the report that was done by the district's own investigator identified a number of problems that the district had in meeting that standard of care.

Part of Director Peters' comments
Peters: While this settlement may end this claim, and though we may want to put this behind us, I don't believe this is where our responsibilities as the Board end. If the board votes to accept this settlement tonight, we must fully acknowledge the fact that it is a large amount of money. If the board approves such a significant settlement, in which no further questions will be asked, nor answers obtained, then I believe that we have a duty to ask what brought us here. I also believe that we, members of the board, are owed an explanation. For we are the ones who are ultimately held accountable in matters such as these, even if we had little to no involvement in what led us here. I accept that responsibility, but I demand an explanation: how did we get to this point? To that end, I propose an internal review of this matter to establish some understanding and measure of accountability of this measure.... For I believe that we cannot simply approve a nearly three-quarter million dollar legal settlement without asking why, what failures led to this outcome, and how can we ensure that any district actions and inaction related to this matter will not happen again.

Peters makes an excellent point here: the Board gets punished at the voting booth for a lot of things that happen in SPS that they had little to nothing to do with. I feel like a lot of people are taking their frustration over NatureBridge out on Peaslee for her comments because they can't take it out on district staff who were responsible for what went wrong but aren't publicly elected. I'm glad that Peters called for an internal review.

Anonymous said...

Dear Board,
"Putting this behind us" is less important than preventing this from happening in the future. Plus I really feel the actual facts of the incident do not make sense unless it was non-consensual. So Peaslee's big comment about the boy is really hard to believe. The confidential stuff that Director Peaslee referred to is disturbing. She did not refer to the boy's admission of having done the deed with the girl having said NO. I really don't get why some people think the boy is a victim. Let's hope he has learned to behave himself and that he will graduate from HS and be an upstanding human being.

Second half of my thinking is we should teach our girls to protect themselves through self-defense classes, and to teach our boys and girls to speak up or get help if someone is doing a bad thing.


mirmac1 said...

There is strong evidence that the public, in fact, knew more than the board. That is probably what Peters alludes to.

mosfet said...

Director Carr said that SPS take better care of its students so that they don't get this point. Yes. Prevention is the best cure.

Some of Director Peaslee's statements
- no one knew what really happened
- public outrage was focused on the boy*
- called public outrage "hateful" and "mass hysteria"
- boy was a victim of the media attention

*From what've seen of the public response, I believe that Peaslee is missing the point. Again. I've seen a few vicious comments on some news articles about the boy, but most of the outrage I've seen has been about the school district's actions and inaction.

The boy's identity, as far I know, has been kept anonymous outside of Garfield. That is a very good thing. However, I don't know everything that's been going on, and that doesn't mean that all the students at GHS don't know who he is. I've not seen any news about the boy being harassed at school or receiving any sort of threats (but maybe it was on a blog on the 10th page of search results and I missed it).

I do believe that SPS, particularly Director Peaslee, would have told the public if the boy were being harassed (assuming that they knew about it and the boy's family consented to that info being released). I think that it would have swayed public opinion towards the boy and SPS and taken a lot of heat off SPS.

mosfet said...


I'd love to see better consent education for students in SPS, particularly at Garfield. They get an hour or so through their single semester of Health in high school (and a little in middle school), but I looked at the lessons and don't have much faith in their efficacy.

I think self-defense classes are good. I also think that it's better to teach kids not to rape than to teach girls how not to get raped, because the latter puts the burden of not being assaulted on the girls rather than on the rapists. However, I think that self-defense are still a fantastic idea as long as they're used as a supplement, rather than a substitute to teaching people not to rape. If nothing else, I think that they can be a good confidence booster for girls.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, mosfet, I agree it would be a supplement.

I don't think someone needs to be a grownup to know what is wrong. My 6th grade boy would know that it is wrong to do that on a field trip and to not stop when someone says no.

I don't think the name of the boy is widely known at GHS. My 11th grader didn't know anything about this until it hit the web this summer. I don't think she knows who he is now.

Howdy said...

The boy's first and last name with his face was disclosed in one of the girl's family's document disclosures. That is how I learned who he was.

mosfet said...


Thanks for the info! That's quite disturbing.

I'd heard from some comments on this blog that one of the public records documents previously posted online had the name/photo of a minor, but didn't know which minor it referred to. There were multiple students who had Facebook conversation/posts that were part of documents that the girl's parents submitted to the district.

SPS desperately needs to fix its (alleged) problems with redacting public records before releasing them.

Howdy said...

SPS did not release them. The girl's family did.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Howdy, I am unsure about what you are saying.

Are you saying the family had unredacted records (via SPS) or the family released info on the boy?

If it's the latter, that's the first I've heard (and I think the district would have made it clear that happened).

mirmac1 said...

Where do you think the family got them? I've received many poorly redacted docs in my day. I've seen all the released docs. Still don't know his name and don't care. But let's make him out as the victim. Helps the district's narrative.

mosfet said...

We'll note that I am, for the large part, taking the girl's family at their word in the following comment.

According to what I know, the girl's parents sent documents to SPS as part of their appeals during the past few years, making them public records. The Facebook posts were part of documentation that they submitted to the district back in 2013 as a response to the Kaiser report.

Then they requested them from the SPS public records office before sharing them. According to them, they found FERPA violations, reported them to the district, and eventually started further redacting SPS-redacted documents before they posted them online. Ron English made a note of the girl's family's many public records requests in the video for this post. The girl's family also said that they filed a FERPA complaint regarding the poorly redacted material they found in those "FERPA-compliant" documents.

The girl's mother forwarded me one of her requests for documents (documents which they submitted to SPS) from the Public Records Office. I assume that the girl's parents requested all documents from the Public Records Office so that the PRO (who is supposed to know FERPA and PRA) could properly redact them first before the family posted them. The girl's family requested a bunch of other documents from the PRO over the past two years (such as the permission slips for students on the field trip), so they appear to be very familiar with the PRO.

It's also possible that the person running the online account at SPS Leaks on Scridb could have requested the documents directly from the PRO. From the documents posted at the account, it looks the account owner is very familiar with the SPS Public Records Office. If the family were posting records online without getting them from the PRO first, I think that the district would have been pretty quick to lodge a counter-suit against them on behalf of the boy and any other students accidentally identified in them.

Charlie Mas said...

If the Gates Foundation had offered the District a $700,000 grant to improve their Title IX and sexual harassment/assault policies, procedures, and compliance, I'm pretty sure they would have taken it. Of course they would have.

This settlement is identical to the District staff choosing to reject that grant. They will still improve their Title IX and sexual harassment/assault policies, procedures, and compliance, but they will do it with $700,000 less.

mirmac1 said...

Thanks mosfet. The PRO is a knowledgable hardworking person. She and past PROs have made mistakes, but she has been the most forthright in my book. Plus knowing how Legal works, I'm sure English went through them for exempt records etc.

As I've said, the inadvertent release was wrong and I'm glad it was corrected. But if someone is talking smack on their public Facebook page, I'm not losing sleep about their PII or privacy rights. And no one could sue the parents but the kid's parents. FERPA covers ed agencies and ed records.

Charlie Mas said...

Here's what Directors Peaslee and McLaren aren't getting:

Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that the sexual contact was entirely consensual. Let's assume as nefarious a scenario as you like - assume that the girl seduced an innocent boy, assume she thoroughly enjoyed the encounter, and assume that she concocted a completely false rape allegation with the intent of suing the District. Presume as extreme a case as you would like.

It still wouldn't matter because the District's vulnerability wasn't related to the sexual encounter. The District wasn't sued for a rape, but for the utter failure of the chaperones, the utter failure of the field trip approval, and the utter failure of the District's response to the report. Even if the sex were consensual - hell, even if she forced him into it with a knife to his throat - it still doesn't change the fact that the District utterly failed. And it is that failure for which the District was in trouble - not for the outcome.

The District wasn't in trouble for the girl's actions or the boy's actions. The District was in trouble for the District's actions. Assigning blame elsewhere for other things won't change that fact.

Howdy said...

Why is it a FERPA violation to pass on a Facebook page? If a person has a copy of someone's Facebook page, why can't they share it?

Does a Facebook page become confidential simply because a school district has a copy of it?

Anonymous said...

Actually I believe it does Howdy - once it became part of SPS's public record for this case any inclusion of it in response to a public records request should have been redacted.

What the parents may or may not have submitted to the District as "evidence" is one thing. What the District sent in response to a records request is another.

And Charlie - that is the most succinct description of why SPS failed in their mission that I've seen yet. Bravo.


Anonymous said...

What a scam! They played every card in the book. $700,000 theft.
I watched the same video as most of you and Peters said she only voted for the settlement based on the legal team recommendation. She mentioned new evidence that changed her mind? We need to see every bit of evidence if they are giving away tax payers money.
She knows there wasn't a rape and the parents played up the race card.

There is noway a jury would have given the parents a penny. Perhaps the south end schools should be required to buy special insurance, those school generate lots of risk.

Can't wait for the law suit by the boys parents.

stupid board

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stupid Board, the Board had to determine what was in the best interest of the district. They did that.

I doubt the boy's parents will file a lawsuit.

I find your comment about "south end schools" disturbing and unwarranted. For the record, Garfield is NOT a south end school; it is in the Central district.

Howdy 2 said...

Howdy is absolutely correct. The name and face of the accused - a minor-was posted on this blog.

It doesn't matter whether or not the district redacted the information. The fact remains, the name and face of the accused was made public. It is also possible that the family or another, just posted the accused's facebook page.

Melissa and Charlie are not responsible for the postings of others.

Anonymous said...

Howdy 2 - I'm guessing you mean that that a link to documents containing the name/face was posted - because there's no way either Melissa or Charlie would have let the actual info stay here.

You are entirely correct - they are not responsible for what others post or more importantly perhaps. link to.

Either way, there is a distinction between what a private party does/can do and what a public entity like SPS does/can do.


mosfet said...

@Howdy 2

The face of a minor were not posted on this blog by a commenter. You can't post a photo in a blogspot comment. If someone posted the name, it would have been quickly deleted by Melissa or Charlie. Someone did, however, say on this blog that an external document (the Response to Kaiser Assault on Scribd) had an unredacted photo/name of a student. I believe that the document on Scribd came from a public records request (meaning that it became public once the PRO sent it out, not when it was posted online) and that SPS was responsible for redacting it.

FERPA applies to record under the school's control. Let's say that a student's Facebook is public, someone takes a screenshot, and then emails it to a school official. That screenshot (not the original post) is a public record under the district's control. Someone could conceivably file a public records request and obtain the screenshot, as long as the name and picture of student were redacted (even if the student's Facebook was still public at the time of the records request).

The Facebook post/account itself isn't under the school's control, so FERPA doesn't apply to it. The screenshot sent to the school is under the school's control and would be subject to FERPA.

More info: FERPA online library, white paper explaining FERPA history and some legal cases

mosfet said...


Thanks for the correction and for the comments about the SPS Public Records Office. I thought that there were more people working there (more than 1 person and maybe a secretary).

mosfet said...

@Howdy 2

Okay, I take what I said about photos in Blogspot comments back. It is possible to post a photo in a blogspot comment. However, I don't believe that anyone posted the boy's photo here. I did a Google search and the first reference on this blog that I could find to any photo of the accused was by "MN" on this post, and that poster said that the photo was posted on Scribd (9/26/2014 8:09 AM), not this blog.

mirmac1 said...

There are now two, partly because of the massive PRRS. But the senior one was handling these PRRs.

The new hire has been very diligent.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I have been told by a highly placed source that the girl's parents put up the boy's name/image online (either at Facebook or Scribed). It was not SPS' failure to redact. Apparently, at some point, the family took it down. It was posted here at some point. I may have been out of town and missed it.

mirmac1 said...

It's highly possible that the parents response to the Kaiser report did not go through the SPS PRO. I think someone brought the photos to their attention and they redacted objectionable content.

The documents that SPS initially released to the media were slanted in their favor. You've read those "investigations". Ultimately both sides were working to get the upper hand. Seems the parents beat English at his own game.

For every 700K settlement, there are 50 wronged families who've been told "so sue me"

I believe there were documents that Legal did not provide the board and that they only got through the parents.

Lynn said...

stupid board,

What race card? Do you have information about the victim and the accused rapist that isn't public knowledge?

Anonymous said...


I recall both blog administrators labeling the male student as a "Rapist" The boy's family should sue MW, CM and mirmac1 aka CM for defamation of character.


Anonymous said...

It looks like several posters are going back and deleting past post...a little CYA to avoid accountability.
If you think you can post defamatory comments then remove them without traceability or accountability you might be surprise.


howdy. said...

There is no question Charlie sees the boy as a rapist.

I found the boy's identity from some documents linked from his website.

He (and Melissa) try to read everything posted.

Will Charlie be held accountable?

Charlie Mas said...

It's always so weird to be told what I think by someone else. I often don't know what I think myself, so it amazes me when other people do.

I don't care if the boy is a rapist or not just as I don't care if OJ Simpson killed his ex-wife. These people are strangers to me. Horrible crimes happen every day all around the globe; I don't take a personal interest in any of them. I can't. How could I choose to be concerned about one and not all of the others.

I am, however, concerned about the culture of lawlessness in Seattle Public Schools. For me, that's what this story has always been about.

Anyone who tries to make this story about anything else is simply trying to distract our attention away from what really should be the focus: the District's actions.

To be clear, I don't try to read everything that is posted here. I read the comments that interest me. I certainly don't check every link made from this site. The documents on Scribd are often hundreds of pages long. I'm not interested in the bulk of them and - ready for this? - I'm not responsible for any of them.

As for whether someone can sue me for defamation or whatever, good luck.

First, I'm judgement proof because I have no money.

Second, for there to be defamation there would have to be proof of damages. The person bringing the suit would have to show some economic loss. What economic loss does this kid have? None. Was he denied a job at McDonalds or something because the hiring manager read his name here? I don't think so.

Third, there would have to be proof that the economic loss was due to a lie. Did I tell a lie? I don't think so. Even if I espoused the assertion that the boy's actions were - to my reckoning - rape, I don't see how that's untrue. Under the "Yes Means Yes" rules they were. Are people relying on me as an authority on sex crime in Washington State? I don't think so.

Fourth, I would have to be found responsible for putting the name and face out there, and I'm not. The name and face were not on this blog. Were they on Scribd? People say that they were, but that had nothing to do with me. Let the Scribd people be worried. Even if they were put on this blog, I did not put them there and I'm not responsible for statements made by others. If so, then it wouldn't be necessary to show that I said that the boy's actions were rape; it would be enough to show that that was stated in a comment.

So, yeah, go ahead and worry about my getting sued over this, but excuse me if I don't worry about it along with you.

mirmac1 said...

Justice and howdy

I don't know what you're talking about. I suppose some are more risk-averse than others. I don't count myself among them. Where would this country be if the founding fathers did not take risks, and if Abraham Lincoln did not finally decide to quit being a weasel.

But everyone decides whether the greater good outweighs their personal risk. I have always seen myself as the Good Samaritan helping those that need help. That is still my dream.

Anonymous said...

Come on Charlie, you did call the boy a "rapist" and there is no proof that he rapped anyone.
I think a board member was referring to you in the board meeting as running a smear campaign or something to the effect.
It is clear who you meant when you identified him as the student from Garfield involved in a investigation. You don't need to use names. You are wrong about someone having to suffer a financial loss in order to recover and that you wouldn't be sued because you have no money.
You have no idea what he has suffered or his family has suffered. It's unlikely a for profit lawyer wold take this case on contingency unless you have deep pockets. However it not out of the realm off possibilities.
I know if ran your smear campaign against one of my children you and I would be having a face to face. Maybe the boys family plans on paying you a visit? Do you have your apology ready?


mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It's clear that a small group of posters here have a grudge against the district administration. I think the administration deserves most of it. The problem is the line was crossed between the district and a innocent until proven guilty male student. It's also clear one or more of the blog administrators promoted the idea of him as a rapist.It also clear blog administrators controlled the discussion and even deleted comments post by people defending the male student. This is an open blog by the choice of the blog owner/administrator and was used to influence and intimidate district board members and district staff. If the boys parents did sue, their lawyer would easily convince a jury that you used this boy to further your anti board anti administration agenda.


Charlie Mas said...


I never identified the boy and, to this day, I don't know his name. I know almost nothing that would identify him and I have made no effort to identify him. I have no interest in his identity. I have, in fact, avoided receiving any information that would identify him.

That's because I don't care who he his. The boy and his actions are not relevant to my concerns, which are the district's actions and the district's inactions.

So if you think I have identified the boy, then you have the wrong guy.

I don't mind so much, but I think by your standards you have done a terrible wrong. Maybe you should apologize.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Good enough, I can only go by what you posted. Maybe you should review your post and your comments. If I misinterpreted your intent then absolutely I would owe you an apology.


Charlie Mas said...

@ Justice,

You have just a thin connection to the truth, don't you?

"It's clear that a small group of posters here have a grudge against the district administration."

A grudge? I don't know if I would characterize it like that. That makes it sounds so capricious. I do want district officials to be truthful, to comply with policies, procedures, and laws, and to fulfill their commitments. I name the ones who don't and I describe how they fail. I wouldn't call that a grudge, but you can if you like.

"The problem is the line was crossed between the district and a innocent until proven guilty male student."

What line? There's no relationship between seeking good administration of the school district and being conscientious about using the word "alleged" in every reference to a crime report. They are not on opposite sides of any line.

Also, I'm not a journalist. I have never claimed to be one. I am not constrained by journalism's protocols or ethics. If I write more casually than the rules of journalism allow, then so be it. In conversation people talk about rapists, not alleged rapists. So that's how I write.

I have very high standards for consent. I know that other people don't share my standards. If, by my standards, consent was not given, then, by my standards, that's rape. I don't claim to speak for the law. I don't claim that my standards are the only standards. I find it very strange that you give more credence to my perspective than I do myself.

"It's also clear one or more of the blog administrators promoted the idea of him as a rapist."

If it is so clear then just say who. No need to be cryptic. You can openly accuse me - oh wait, no you can't. You can't openly accuse me because I haven't been convicted of anything in a Court of law. So, by your own standards I am innocent until proven guilty. You really painted yourself into a corner with that one, justice. I guess I'm just an "alleged defamer".

"It also clear blog administrators controlled the discussion and even deleted comments post by people defending the male student."

That's not true. We only delete comments that are unsigned or otherwise violate the commenting rules. We do not delete comments because we disagree with them. I care about people knowing this truth and I care about correcting this lie. See, it's not an alleged lie - it's a lie.

"This is an open blog by the choice of the blog owner/administrator and was used to influence and intimidate district board members and district staff."

I'd be very surprised to learn that anyone was intimidated by this blog. In fact, I used the blog to actively discourage people from taking a certain intimidating action - an action that was contemplated off the blog. And if the blog actually did influence anyone in the district administration I haven't seen it. So I don't see any truth in this statement either.

You want to know what online intimidation looks like? Look into #gamergate. That's intimidation. There's nothing like that here. We would delete that. If none of that vile stuff results in any kind of legal action against Twitter or Facebook then I feel pretty safe here.


Charlie Mas said...


You can pretend that I was really focused on calling this kid a rapist, but the boy has never been my focus, he is not my focus now, and your efforts to make him the focus are counterproductive not only to my intent but to your own stated intent.

If you really want people to stop talking about him you should start with yourself. If you don't want people to see his name and face then you shouldn't call attention to the web page where it can be found. Which, by the way, is not this web site or any that I control in any way.

If you're really upset that I or someone else wrote that the boy is a "rapist" instead of writing that he is an "accused rapist" or an "alleged rapist", that's an interesting area of focus for you, but it has never been a point of focus for me. I don't think the modifiers offer much protection. The word "alleged" doesn't do much to save someone's reputation. I never hear anyone say "It's okay, he's just an alleged rapist, not a proven rapist."

For what it's worth, I have made an effort to refer to the "reported rape" instead of the "rape" for a couple weeks now, but that clearly didn't do anything to improve your mood. Since there is no pleasing you, I'm not going to make any effort to do so. You're not making an effective complaint because you're not asking for any corrective action. All you want is for me to worry about some phantom potential litigation. Well, forget it. I'm not worried and I'm not going to worry.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Howdy, you said:

"I found the boy's identity from some documents linked from his website."

What website? This one?

To this day, I have no idea who the boy is. Nor do I know who the girl is.

Justice, a person can have an opinion. It doesn't matter if anyone was charged or convicted. It's called the First Amendment.

"You have no idea what he has suffered or his family has suffered."

Do you? Does anyone - for certain - know what either family is thinking or feeling? I don't.

Justice, you seem to be implying that someone should attack Charlie, verbally or physically. You might want to dial back that tone.

Our guidelines are clear for comment deletion: no outing anyone's identity, no swearing or name-calling and no anonymous comments.

If a post got deleted, it was not because we didn't like it. This would be a very bare blog if deleted every comment we didn't like.

Howdy. said...


Yes, this website.

I don't read it that much. I find Charlie's rants rather tedious. (I know, there's a policy...the district didn't follow the policy...when will someone be held accountable...never) get's rather old reading that.

Now I see that Charlie makes his long winded attacks without looking to gather all the facts (or has many has he can).

Maybe he should have taken the time to get to know and understand what happened.

Anyway, I came by this blog and there was a long comment by someone that appeared very close to the situation. They had a link to several cherry picked documents. I clicked on that link and several pages in there was the boy's name and picture.

From there I just googled his name.

Given Charlie's vast knowledge of this whole matter, I would have assumed that he read all these documents too.

Apparently not.

Howdy said...

Oh, you're wrong about the First Amendment.

That would apply to political speech and laws by the government.

The First Amendment does not protect someone from claims of liable, slander or defamation.

waiting said...

"Since the Superintendent created a Title IX Taskforce..."

To be clear, the taskforce has actually not been created yet. I applied to be on it. On the application form, it said we would be notified by September 30th if we were chosen to serve. Charles Wright sent an email to applicants early in October informing us that we would be notified by October 17. I have yet to receive anything from the district regarding whether or not I have been chosen to serve. I will be interested to see how long it actually takes.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Howdy, yes, I understand about the First Amendment but you would have to prove malicious intent to liable, slander or defame. I know this because I got sued last year. And won.

Waiting, I will have news on the Taskforce tomorrow.

Charlie Mas said...

Howdy, let me inform you on "Given Charlie's vast knowledge of this whole matter"

Charlie, unlike you, isn't interested in knowing either the boy's name or the girl's name. Those don't matter to Charlie.

Charlie, unlike you, isn't interested in every sordid detail of what happened between the boy and the girl that night.

That's because Charlie's focus is not the boy or the girl or what went on between them. Charlie's focus is entirely on what the chaperones did or did not do, what the school officials did or did not do, and what the district officials did or did not do.

If you had not been pursuing your prurient interest you would be as blissfully ignorant of the boy's name as I am.

mosfet said...

Regarding libel:

Since the boy would be a private figure, it would only be necessary to prove negligence occurred in a defamation suit, if statements were false. I am not sure whether the burden to prove the falsity of statements is on the defendant or plaintiff in a libel suit.

However, I believe that it would also be necessary for anyone accused of libel to have named the boy, unless his identity were widely known (e.g. named in a news article) and that person knew that at the time that they wrote their statements. I'm not entirely sure about that, though, since I haven't found a legit legal source on that.

I've read through pretty much all the documents, and I don't know who the boy is is (nor do I care). I must have gotten to the documents after Howdy did. I did, however, figure out who the girl is last month because one of the PRO-issued FERPA-compliant documents left one of her parent's names on. It took a very quick Google search. I let her parents know, and the document has since been redacted further and SPS was alerted. Melissa and Charlie, I can email you to confirm, if you want, since I know that I'm asking you to take me at my word here.

Negligence is defined as "Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care in determining whether a statement is
true or false. Negligence may consist of action or inaction. Negligence is the failure to act
as a reasonably careful person would act under the circumstances."
I've been trying to find more detail on exactly that would mean, but haven't had much luck. I read one article that, IIRC, said that a private individual would be expected to read a trustworthy news article and that would count as reasonable care, but I can't find that article again so I can't verify that.

Some people are concerned about whether field trip procedures and Title IX were ignored. Some people are concerned about SPS's ruling that there wasn't enough evidence that an assault didn't occur, because they suspect that the district may have ignored the information that they had about the assault to avoid liability. These things do happen. Those people do have ask whether the girl was raped -- and hence whether someone raped her (rape without a rapist doesn't exist). Most of them probably have no clue who either of the students are. Now, whether or not a public school district ignored evidence to avoid liability is a serious question of public importance. If no one can say that an unnamed girl was raped by an unnamed boy, then we can't ask a serious question about SPS that affects thousands of students. That doesn't seem right to me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Mosfet, I can only say that something did happen. Everyone is in agreement with that. The Board, legal counsel, the hospital, everyone.

What it means legally is murky.

But four lawyers - three of them experts in tort law - told the Board that the district's chances in court would likely not be good.

Again, that's because the girl's lawyers could likely prove that murkiness and in that, prove the district did not exercise the care they should have nor follow their own procedures for field trips.

Howdy2 said...

Howdy is correct and Mirimac did NOT post the said documents.

There are several individual on this blog that have attempted to paint the boy in a particular manor. In addition to calling the boy a rapist, they used an incident that predates NatureBridge to do so. The name and photo of the boy has been made public and I believe he has been defamed.

Early on, President Peaslee asked the public not to create victims. For this, she was dragged through the mud via this blog and in the media. With the release of the boy's name and photo, President Peaslee's concern has come to fruition.

Fred said...

Materials released were cherry picked. We never saw the FBI report. In hospital settings, a physician, nurse and social worker would have evaluated the situation and we have not seen those documents.

IMO the public attention brought to this issue contributed to a $700K settlement and we don't know what happened. I am not saying a rape did not happen, either.

Goose/Gander said...

"Charlie, unlike you, isn't interested in every sordid detail of what happened between the boy and the girl that night."

Really, you called the boy a rapist. Will YOU take responsibility for such an accusation? Will YOU also take responsibility for making veiled suggestions for the public to find a board director's home?

mirmac1 said...

I am curious how the points raised in this article apply in this case:

Komo News: Hoquiam football player accused of rape leaves team

I wonder if he is being called a victim. I wonder if the "many parents'" anger was labelled hysteria by their school board president. Is KOMO concerned about being sued?

Charged said...

Mirimac's article indicates the boy was charged with rape.

Sorry said...

Wasn't a big reason for the settlement a consideration of the costs of defense? Not the potential trial outcome.

mirmac1 said...

But I thought the whole second victim thing was "innocent until proven guilty". He is innocent, yet he is on the news? Can he sue? Doubt it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Howdy2, don't use a similar name, okay? Too confusing. You said:

..they used an incident that predates NatureBridge to do so."

This was in the report that I saw. That this boy started sexual activity at an early age is something that they had to consider. It doesn't make him a rapist.

Dragged President Peaslee thru the mud? Not me and I'm struggling to think of what was said that would be in that category. I know a lot of people disagree with her stance. Her latest words were mostly about the boy and not about the district. It's worth asking why not?

I'm sure a good lawyer with an investigator could figure out who released the photo/name. But it was not this blog.

Fred, you would never get to see the hospital report. Those are confidential.

Sorry, no, if you listen to the tape, Mr. English cites three factors and one of them is court costs.

mosfet said...


"Will YOU also take responsibility for making veiled suggestions for the public to find a board director's home?"

Actually, Charlie specifically told people not to do that and explained why protesting a board member's house would be a bad idea, and explicitly said that he would delete any comment that listed a board member's address.

Anonymous said...

I have diligently read all the comments on multiple threads about this incident. I am very interested because I have often been a chaperone on overnight school trips for middle school & high school. I have participated in various systems of bed checks, room checks, night-time rounds. Never were chaperones allowed to sleep in the room with students except their own kid. I understood this is because of possible sexual harassment from a chaperone. I have never heard any policy from the district dictating a system of night supervision. It seemed to be a case of "this is what previous chaperones have done."

In all the comments on this blog, I haven't seen the names of any students. I don't believe they were posted here. I did not follow links to documents on scribd because I am not really interested in learning about the specifics of what went on in the cabin. I believe it must have been something horrible for a student to have ended up in an in-patient mental health facility. But really just the case that something horrible could have happened should be enough to to scare the daylights out of us.

As a chaperone I believe that we really do need to talk about this and other incidents that have been quickly hidden by the district.(One hears rumors.) Because we need to learn from them. No student needs to be named because of that. I am furious that we chaperones have gone 2 years without improved district guidance because the district was too busy protecting itself and was willing to continue to have students at risk. It seems obvious to me that we needed to be very loud about this if there is to be any change.

-HS Parent

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

So that was a bit of a dilemma on deleting that last comment.

The blog guidelines are that we do NOT out people. Not you, not Charlie or me.

That it was videotape makes it worse.

Look, if you suspect someone uses multiple names here, you can say that without naming names. If you think you know who people are, fine but don't share it here.

We need everyone to feel comfortable is what they say. They won't if they feel others are trying to out them to silence or harm them.

Howdy said...

Mr. Mas,

You say you are not interested in every sordid detail from that night.

On September 8th, on this blog, you described what happened that night as "forced sodomy."

Is that a detail you were interested in? Do you think there might be other "sordid details"?

What did you read and/or who did you talk to that led you to conclude that what occurred was "forced sodomy"?

Or did you just guess that is what occurred?

None of us will ever know the full story. That would only have come to light through the course of litigation. When the parties and witnesses could be subjected to cross examination.

It's a shame that we won't have the opportunity.

In any event, Mr. Mas, climb down off your high horse. The district is not nearly has "lawless" as you think it is.

I read "forced sodomy" on this blog. I found the boy's name on documents that were linked to from this blog.

That's on you.

Howdy said...

Mr. Mas,

You say you are not interested in every sordid detail from that night.

On September 8th, on this blog, you described what happened that night as "forced sodomy."

Is that a detail you were interested in? Do you think there might be other "sordid details"?

What did you read and/or who did you talk to that led you to conclude that what occurred was "forced sodomy"?

Or did you just guess that is what occurred?

None of us will ever know the full story. That would only have come to light through the course of litigation. When the parties and witnesses could be subjected to cross examination. When all the documents (FBI Reports, Medical reports, diaries, notes, emails...all of it) would be disclosed.

It's a shame that we won't have the opportunity.

In any event, Mr. Mas, climb down off your high horse. The district is not nearly has "lawless" as you think it is.

I read "forced sodomy" on this blog. I found the boy's name on documents that were linked to from this blog.

That's on you.

Lynn said...

Washington has a relatively new law the Uniform Correction or Clarification of Defamation Act. Before a person can sue for defamation, they must have made a request for correction or clarification of the allegedly defamatory statement. The request must be made in writing, identify the person making the request and state that the defamatory statement is false. It's possible that the male student has made such a request but no one is claiming that happened.

If the male student were to sue one of the many people who referred to him as a rapist, his attorney would tell him that in a defamation case truth is an absolute defense. A plaintiff has to provide convincing evidence of a defamatory statement's falsity in order to prove defamation.

In mirmac1's example, if the news organization were sued for defamation, both the truthfulness defense and the fair report privilege would apply.

Lynn said...

Howdy, Howdy2, Goose/Gander, Justice, et al.,

We get it. You are very unhappy that various people (and I was one of them) referred to the male student in the NatureBridge incident as a rapist rather than an alleged rapist. You feel those people need scolding. You wish they'd get in legal trouble for this (or at least be frightened by that possibility.)

You've scolded, you've given (unreliable) warnings about legal repercussions. You're unlikely to convince anyone here to agree with you if they do not already. What are you hoping to accomplish by continuing to comment?

mosfet said...


Thanks for letting us know about the Uniform Correction or Clarification of Defamation Act!


Do you expect Charlie and Melissa to carefully read through every single document linked to by a commenter? Particularly given that the information in the links may change over time? Also, from my reading of the Communications Decency Act, I'm pretty sure that they are protected from any liability for comments on this blog.

I still don't know who the boy is.

mirmac1 said...

Good point mosfet. BTW I have scanned every Garfield doc I posted and did not see that a photo was posted of the male student. Various versions had been posted on the family's Facebook page - perhaps it was there. Either way I'm glad docs were posted otherwise all we would know is the English/Kaiser version of events and I would be blithely signing away the district's duty to keep my student safe. That's worth it to me. And if I was afraid of being sued I wouldn't be such a pain in the ass, I guess.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"None of us will ever know the full story. That would only have come to light through the course of litigation."

No, you are wrong. We would have heard both stories. That does NOT mean we know the full story. We would know the story that each person would tell. The jury (or judge) would have to figure out which story they believed. But the truth? No, no one will ever know.

Charlie can answer for himself but I had seen documentation that the hospital felt, after examining the girl, that what she was accusing the boy of was possible but, of course, that's not definitive.

Look, you can keep going on with these questions but it seems clear that you have not read everything. Why keep asking Charlie if he has?

"I found the boy's name on documents that were linked to from this blog."

Could you tell me the date and name of that thread? Because no one else seems to know and I don't either.

Charlie Mas said...

I am not interested in every sordid detail from that night. That's correct. I do not regard the words "forced sodomy" to be particularly detailed. "Forced sodomy" was the accusation and it was widely available from other sources before I wrote it.

None of us will ever know the full story. Moreover, none of us has any business knowing the full story and it's creepy that anyone wants to know the full story. I certainly don't. It is by no means a shame that we won't have the opportunity to know it. It would shameful if we did.

If anyone found the boy's name they did it by looking for the boy's name. If anyone has any details about what happened that night they learned them by seeking them out. This is like a peeping tom accusing their victim of flashing. You go looking for information and then you dare to be shocked - shocked! - that you found it? Well, you didn't find it here.

That's on you.

Wow said...


At what point did you decide to call a minor rapist? Why would you call a minor a rapist without seeing the Federal Investigative report etc.? Do you think your actions did not impact the community? Why would you cast individuals wanting to read investigative reports as peeping Toms? Perhaps to deflect attention away from yourself?

We can agree that an event happened on a field trip that should have never happened, and I'm not defending anyone.

You consistently want the district to take responsibility and there is truth to that. However, it appears you do not have the ability to take responsibility for yourself and you have lost a lot of credibility.

This blog consistently called the NatureBridge incident a rape. It appears you are comfortable calling an incident a rape without having confidential information.

Your arguments ring hollow and your attempts to cast individuals in a certain light is beyond unattractive. In addition to calling an individual a rapist, you've moved on to call readers names.

Signing off.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Signing Off, are you sayingif we had consistently said "alleged rape," you would have been fine or just using the word "rape?"

No, Charlie did not call anyone names- he used an analogy to make a point.

Last time, this blog did NOT link to any document that outed either victim or accused. A reader did.

Charlie Mas said...

Okay, let's clear this up once and for all.

By my standards for consent, there is no consent when one of the parties says "No" or "Stop".

The fact that the girl said "No" and said "Stop" is not disputed. Got that? She said "Stop" and he acknowledged that she said "Stop".

So - by my standards for consent - it was withdrawn. He proceeded without consent, which is rape.

Like it or not, that's what rape is: sexual contact that includes penetration without consent.

So, for clarity's sake: yes, I am saying that the boy is a rapist. I say that based on his own account of the event.

I acknowledge that he's not been charged and certainly not been convicted. That doesn't change the fact that, by my standards, he is a self-confessed rapist.

Others may have different standards for consent. That's their choice. Others may have different standards for evidence. That's their choice as well. For me, I'm comfortable with my standard of consent and I'm comfortable with taking the boy's word for what happened.

So I'll acknowledge that I have said that what the boy attests to have done is rape. There. Now that's settled. So what? Who cares?

Let's move on from that trivia to what's important. What's important is not whether I think it was rape or not or whether I say it was rape or not. What's important is how the school district responded to a report of rape. What's important is how the rules and procedures were not followed at any point in this episode. What's important is that no one has been held accountable for all of those broken rules and violated procedures.

The idea that anyone can read all of the material on this blog about the event and come away with nothing but the concern that I wrote that there was a rape reflects a myopia beyond belief. The concern that such statements somehow harm the anonymous boy is beyond absurd. Seriously, if that's your concern then our priorities are irreconcilably different.

Lawnotopinion said...


Your definition of both consent and rape are consistent with Washington State Law.

Under RCW 9A.44.010, "Consent means that at the time of the act of sexual intercourse or sexual contact there are actual words or conduct indicating freely given agreement to have sexual intercourse or sexual contact."

Under RCW 9A.44.060, "A person is guilty of rape in the third degree when, under circumstances not constituting rape in the first or second degrees, such person engages in sexual intercourse with another person where the victim did not consent as defined in RCW 9A.44.010 to sexual intercourse with the perpetrator and such lack of consent was clearly expressed by the victim's words or conduct."

Let's not undermine the importance of this by pretending that Charlie's standards of consent are somehow different than the law - they aren't.

Anonymous said...

Sure let's not acknowledge your smear campaign to the detriment of the male student.

I can usually gauge the guilt of a person by the effort they put into trying to twist and explain away their actions.

Charlie you are surpassing 2500 words, most after you said you where DONE talking about it.

Jury finds for the plaintiff!


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, I think we have covered this issue. People may have differing opinions.

I do find it interesting that people who get the loudest, the angriest and the least clear in their rationale, are always the ones who won't sign their names.