Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Seattle Schools Updates

On the Center School incident, one odd thing that I noticed yesterday when I received a press update: the principal has been replaced. 
Pending a review to ensure that all protocols were followed, Principal Oksana Britsova has been placed on paid administrative leave. BiHoa Caldwell, a retired Seattle Public Schools principal, will step in to serve as principal during the review process.

The Center School families who have questions may attend a meeting at the school at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 30, with Pegi McEvoy, Assistant Superintendent of Operations, Jon Halfaker, Executive Director of Schools for the Northwest Region and Interim Principal BiHoa Caldwell.

The district is proud of the quick action taken by both students and staff during the incident. At Seattle Public Schools, safety is a top priority, and we appreciate the care and efficiency demonstrated Monday morning at The Center School.
 
The district says this may not be permanent change in principal but cannot discuss personnel matters. 

The Bell Times Taskforce is looking for a West Seattle rep (via Director McLaren):

The district is convening a task force to study the benefits and challenges
of this change, and we need representation from the South West region. Our
region has unique characteristics and it's important that a person with some
knowledge about West Seattle and its schools has a voice on the Task Force.
Meetings will be from 4:30 to 6:30 PM on a week day, generally once per
month, with two meetings planned before winter break.

I hope you'll consider volunteering to join in this vital work. For
information, email arrivaltimes@seattleschools.org, call or email Joan
Dingfield, jodingfield@seattleschools.org or visit the website.


From the Seattle Council PTSA, an update on the WSPTA Legislative Assembly last weekend on legislative priorities:

Below is a list of the titles of our priority issues (for more detailed information on these issues, please visit the Engage page on our website at http://cqrcengage.com/npta2wa/PTAHOME​.

WSPTA’s priorities for the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions:

1. Funding McCleary

2. Create Positive School Climates Through Social Emotional Learning

3. Increasing Capital Funding

4. Increased Access to Higher Education

5. Breakfast After the Bell

Also supported (listed alphabetically):

- Access, Equity & Opportunity for Students with Disabilities and Special Needs
- Closing Opportunity Gaps
- Equal Access for ELL Students
- Family and Community Engagement
- Inclusive Special Education
- Increase Playground Safety
- Investing in Teacher Professional Learning (CTWG Implementation)
- Regulating Child Restraint and Isolation in Schools

We will soon be making updates to the website to reflect these changes. In addition, we are working to provide materials to begin working to advocate for this platform with legislators.

There were 221 members in attendance for the WSPTA Legislative Assembly and Advocacy Training to set the Top Five priorities and supported platform for the 2015-2016 legislative session. Many PTA leaders were in attendance to educate and train our members on advocacy. In addition, 50 outside presenters provided information spanning: Early Learning, Health and Human Services, Funding, Social Media and more. WSPTA advocates learned a great deal from all trainers and from the issue presenters during our first attempt at "Issue Speed Geeking."

19 comments:

David said...

Well, let's hope Oksana Britsova is permanently gone. Regardless of how she handled the incident around the molotov cocktail, she has been responsible for an atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the Center School teaching environment. Almost the entire teaching staff has turned over since she took the principal position. Odd that something like this would be her undoing after all the other shenanigans she has pulled over the years, but let's not look a gift horse in the mouth!

Charlie Mas said...

Did the Center School community have significant input in the principal choice when Ms Britsova was appointed, as is required by the board policy governing option schools?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I don't think so, Charlie. I think they just installed her (that's my memory).

David, you said it first but I had been hearing rumblings of unhappiness with her as well.

Center school Parent said...

Beyond Concerned Parent said...
This student had, in fact, made prior threats which were reported to the Principal and, because of a mental health disorder, was assigned a case manager. I brought my concerns to the attention of the Principal on Friday after my Center School student told me that the offending student had made threats to other Center School students. There is a trail of incidents that were being "documented" by the Principal of the students "inappropriate" comments. I was told today that the student was being regularly assessed as to whether he was a real danger. Someone, either the Principal, the district or the person who assessed this kid got it wrong, nearly to our children's and the entire Seattle Center communities peril. I want the policy on verbal threats in school to be made crystal clear by the district and followed through in the schools. It is untenable that our students were put in a position to tolerate threats of harm and that we parents were not notified of the situation so we could assess whether the school was in fact a safe place or support our student to manage a difficult school environment.

Center School Parent said...

I am frustrated that I went to the school yesterday hoping to meet with other parents post incident and there was no organized parent response. Someone from the district offered to talk with me but could not answer any questions I had. The more I think about it the more I realize how grossly mishandled this was by the principal and the district. When students are reporting that another student is saying they are going to shoot them, at the very least there should be a protocol in place to alert the parents of the threat as well as law enforcement. why this was not happening with this student is beyond incomprehensible.

Po3 said...

In my opinion, ANY student who threatens to kill another student should be removed from the school immediately until said student can be evaluated by mental health professionals.

It's pretty cut and dry, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

BTW, Salmon Bay is an option school and we (parents) did not have any input when they brought in the new principle this September after Jen quit on August 13th. I think the new principle is doing a great job getting control of the staff and stiff arming small group of overbearing parents making the school an unpleasant place.

SB Parent

Center school parent said...

Po3: I agree, it should be cut and dry.
The district does have a policy re threats but seems they were modifying it for this student. There is no explanation as to why. The communication re the whole situation has been poor. There are probably state and federal laws being violated

Anonymous said...

For all the talk about Principal placement without school input, please note that BiHoa Caldwell was moved from Whitman MS to South Shore MS unilaterally by John Stanford just weeks before the 97-98 school year began. This stuff has been going on for years.

Doesn't mean its right.

northwesterner

Anonymous said...

I have no connection to Center School and no knowledge of the situation except the Press and here, but my question (based on the above) is: Would the internal auditor on loan from the city been an appropriate channel for parents/teachers to address concerns about threats reported to have been made by a student if there's an apparently lacking admin safety response?

In part I ask because I know of at least one situation in which threats made by a student were dismissed along the lines of "You just don't understand that student - that's just how he talks". Most admins have responded well to student threats I've known about so I'm curious if others think this is an appropriate channel for the auditor as clearly student threats put the district at financial risk (not to mention numerous heartaches if anything is carried out).

Threat analysis

Melissa Westbrook said...

TA, first, I'd have to check but I think the district ended the relationship with the City on that basis.

Your second paragraph echoed an interview on KUOW on student violence. (I'll put it up.) The expert said that kids told VERY different stories than adults. We adults may think "we've heard it all" but we don't know every single kid's story in the same way a peer does.

mirmac1 said...

After the last two days of work sessions on the Alliance MOU and the Strategic Plan, I must say I am happy to hear the thoughtful, lively and sometimes heated discussions of very important topics relating to how our district follows the priorities set by the people, represented by the elected board.

Tonight, there was much talk about whether we have the luxury to pursue 33 different strategic plan wishlist activities versus critical, structural defects in our district. Director Carr compared it to a homeowner putting in a gourmet kitchen while the house sat on a cracked foundation and was infested with carpenter ants (I can relate :) )

Meanwhile, you may be happy to learn that the budget "gap" is only $11M versus the $18M this time last year. Ironically over $5.5M stems from the lost state transportation funds (as Chris Jackins predicted) along with unspecified transportation overruns blamed on special education (this, like years past, has no detail but is an easy scapegoat).

The Strategic Plan update was a gobblety-gook of charts and graphs provided at the last minute, mostly setting the table (again) about the overstretched, inexperienced staff downtown (churn, remember). At the same time, Charles Wright notes that this same staff had identified 33 new and innovative initiatives that checked various combos of boxes in the strat plan. He could only provide detail on those that feel under Goal 1 which is:

Ensure Educational Excellence and Equity for Every Student"

Of the dozen or so strategic plan "projects" staff is busily planning (without funding) - only one peripherally mentions special education. I thought it striking how, after getting blasted with charts at 15 seconds each, and veiled admonishments not to "shoot the messenger" and that staff was new but earnest - the replay of the spring board retreat seemed to hang in the air. And I didn't see anyone buying it (except for maybe Blanford). This was made clear when more than one director asked Wright "so....what is it you want from us?" Certainly not money (the previous work session pointed out there wasn't any). As for guidance, well no one asked their guidance when the 33 projects were conceived and advanced, right?

Anyone, I wasn't the only one to take heart at the soul-searching and resolve with which our elected representatives are taking their important work.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Thanks Mirmac1 for that report.

Again, there is too much project-making in this district and not enough doing.

Get back to the basics. Get those right. THEN, pivot off that.

Director Carr is a common sense person and that common sense is becoming more and more vocal. Good for her.

No Thanks said...

Thank you for the report. Can anyone fill us in on the MOU with the Alliance for Education?

33 items on the wish list. Forget it. Put $5M into the WSS and we can talk.

Anonymous said...

SPS needs to learn how to prioritize. I see a consistent pattern of SPS not taking care of current issues while spending endless time on future projects.

I'm not advocating a wait to fail approach, but first things first. This is an area where city administration can step in and get things done. No SPS politics no SPS good old boy BS. It's time to find out who are team players and who need to get off the buss! I would expect results in 30 days not years!

Change now

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Anonymous said...

From the Center School Blast: There is a "parent/guardian meeting scheduled for Wednesday November 5 at 6:45 p.m. in the Armory food court - near Starbucks. Recent school events and next steps will be discussed. For more information contact Laurie Becker at ljb@iinet.com."

sandi kurtz said...

From the Center School Blast -- there is a "(parent/guardian meeting scheduled for) Wednesday November 5 at 6:45 p.m. in the Armory food court - near Starbucks. Recent school events and next steps will be discussed. For more information contact Laurie Becker at ljb@iinet.com."

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