Friday, November 14, 2014

John Hay Parents/Community Fighting Placement of Interagency

Update: I had bad information about Interagency at Lincoln.

Interagency was never at Lincoln.  The student incident with the plastic knife was a Sped student that is part of a Sped program based there.

My apologies.

Also, the info in italics is from a widely-sent e-mail and included the information about Ms. Powdlodowski.

End of update

The district plans to move Interagency from its somewhat secret location (until the recent incident with one of its students and a plastic knife) at Lincoln to across the street from John Hay Elementary.  Story from Queen Anne View.

There is a online petition against the placement of Interagency across from John Hay Elementary.   The authors of the petition are Christina Economou, Janelle Fowler and Carmen Hagios. Some feel the district is trying to "sneak" the program into their area.  Here are some of their reasons:

- A high school that serves 10-80 kids up to 22 years old that are recovering drug and alcohol addicts should not be located near an elementary school.
- It is also not an appropriate use of a building in a predominantly single family neighborhood
- John Hay Elementary is overcrowded and could be using the space.
- The space could possibly be used for a small specialized high school.
- This decision was made without any transparency from SPS. 
- This also impacts property values for residents in the blocks around the school. A realtor has already told me that.
I just wrote about that "circle of life" in the district?  Here's another example (albeit somewhat different than my Nutrition Services example).  
I appreciate and understand the reasons given by the John Hay community.  They absolutely should stand up for what they believe.  (I note that the majority comment at the petition is "we support the services Interagency does, we just don't want it located here.)
I will gently point out that this has been the concern for Lincoln as well.  They have multiple programs with young children in the building.  
When you do not stand up for one school community, then you might not get the support you need when something comes to affect your own.   
"Not my problem" can become YOUR problem.

One interesting facet to this particular issue is that Tina Powdlodowski, a rather heavy hitter in Seattle, is standing with the John Hay community.  Powdlodowski came out of Microsoft, sat on the City Council for four years, has served as CEO for several non-profits, was the co-chair for I-594 and was, briefly, a senior advisor for Mayor Murray.


Anonymous said...


Do you mean Lowell or Lincoln? I thought the plastic knife situation was there...

I don't know if I am confused, but wanted to double check. Thanks


Anonymous said...

'It is also not an appropriate use of a building in a predominantly single family neighborhood.'

If I'm an apartment renter, I guess I'm to expected to deal with the zombies.

Reality: One of my kids went to Interagency/YMCA at Columbia School. Lots of nice, older homes all around the block. Beautiful older school with great people. The school has a lovely garden and the option to earn a Master Gardener cert, among other offerings.


Anonymous said...

"The space could possibly be used for a small specialized high school."

Isn't that what Intergency is?

Mom of 4

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, I'll correct that - Lowell at Lincoln.

To the other comments, yes, a bit myopic in the reasoning.

Anonymous said...

I suppose these HS kids shouldn't bother to apply for tutoring positions at John Hay?

- reality check

David said...

Horrors! This could affect property values - "a realtor has already told me that."

Good grief. I can see if John Hay needs the space then they should be able to use it, but their NIMBY petition has the complete opposite affect than they intended for me.

Anonymous said...

Oh c'mon.

Yes, SPS blew it as usual on its planning/community involvement. It should have let Queen Anne residents and the John Hay Community know Interagency was coming and what measures it was taking to keep the kids in the school safe, (and the kids across the street at JH) safe too. But since SPS has lack of a sensitivity gene (a nod to Jennifer Aniston's famous quote) I am not surprised it said diddley about Interagency's location.

HOWEVER - The district has the right to put this school wherever it wants within its holdings, if the facility can legally host the students. FURTHER, guess where the most vulnerable students are? It ain't JH. It's Interagency. Those students and families need EXTRA support. Maybe those active JH volunteers could take an hour a month and walk across the street. Might be helpful to BOTH parties.

Finally, my kids gradeschool has homeless adults (multiple) often sleeping on their playground when school starts. It doesn't let kids go into the Parks Department bathroom. You know...needles. Other safety concerns too, more than anything JH will likely ever see. Know how the grade school students, families and staff handle this? As a learning opportunity around safety and more importantly as a look at the troubles and causes of those troubles of people who live right alongside them. These kids have more street smarts, and compassion, because of these lessons.

Surprisingly good things happen when NIMBYS try a different approach.

Anonymous said...

Veteran Reader above

Eric B said...

If I may vent a little, responses like this one discourage SPS from going out to the community in advance. The small high school is a fig leaf over a big pile of NIMBY. Not only is a small high school not in the plans, it's just about exactly what SPS doesn't need.

Anonymous said...

I can see how this looks NIMBY to many folks. The interagency kids also deserve support and a school.

But there are good points being made about the lack of community engagement and how the district was just hoping to open the school without any consideration of potential impact, or potential perceived impact, on the elementary school community. That does not seem right me. Yes, the community would likely still have been very upset, but perhaps there are steps that can be taken that can mitigate the community's concerns. Perhaps SPS could have come to the table earlier to discuss this in the context of how to help these kids, but also work to mitigate concerns of parents with very young children in attendance across the street. This seems like a professional approach to have taken. Now, it sounds like SPS is holding a meeting to "engage" but won't advertise the meeting. So they can check it off their list as "engagement," but hope not to have too many people show up! Bad, bad, bad, unprofessional management. But this is par for the course in SPS. It's Queen Anne's turn, that's all. Who's next....


Anonymous said...

Last poster said "SPS blew it as usual on its planning/community involvement. It should have let Queen Anne residents and the John Hay Community know Interagency was coming and what measures it was taking to keep the kids in the school safe." That is exactly right. But, folks at Lincoln are still in the dark about whether Interagency is or is not on campus.

Melissa, do you know for a fact it is?

I find it really troubling that a few weeks ago (after the plastic knife lockdown incident) the lincoln principal reported the following programs reside at Lincoln (in response to numerous parental requests for info):

Main Building: APP@ Lincoln program =687 students
North Wing: Native American Education program Its enrollment count is included in the Licton Springs below
South Wing: Licton Springs K-8 program =116 students
South Wing: Special Education Medically Fragile program =6 students,
Auditorium: CTE Nursing Program will move from the Wilson-Pacific site
Auditorium Building: Special Education 18-21 transition programs =19 students

No mention of Interagency…. which I find extremely troubling if it is in fact there. Clearly some people find it troubling to have these older, at-risk kids with their elementary kids. I'm not saying I feel that way, but I firmly believe I have the right to know if they are there.

I am tired of hearing rumors on the blogs and playground. For once and for all I would just like to know for a fact " Is Interagency currently on the Lincoln campus?"
Who can should I contact at SPS to find this out and why is it not easily verifiable?

Just the facts

Anonymous said...

Oh, and by the way - do you think there was any community engagement about putting Interagency at Lincoln (if it is actually there - which is still a mystery). Don't make me laugh.

Just the facts

Charlie Mas said...

This looks like a big stinking pile of NIMBY to me.

The complaint about the District's failure to communicate also stinks of privilege. The District doesn't communicate with any community - why should this community be any different?

I might feel differently if I had seen this community fight for community engagement for any other community, but I haven't.

I might feel differently if I didn't know that these same people advocate for a downtown elementary school. Hello? What's the difference between the proximity between elementary students and "dangerous" people downtown and "dangerous" people at an Interagency school?

Anonymous said...

I think they have some good points mixed up with some bad points. No, sps should not consider the property value of your home when they educate some of their most vulnerable students. Or any of them. For I would think obvious reasons, the interagency locations need to be a little less visible, so probably there should be less community engagement than we has for, say, opening JAMS.

But I have worked, in a previous career, with many if those students while they were in the program and shortly after they left. Many of them are in the midst of making some terrible decisions and either turning their lives around or not, but it is not a completely linear process. They need to be in a place where doing something stupid like bringing a weapon to school will not injure a small child, thus completely ruining the interagency student's life as well, instead of just getting them sent hone for the day if the site is in a moreneutral location. There is a doctrine in the law- the eggshell plaintiff rule. You take plaintiffs/victims as they come, and if these (often adult) students going through a hard time are placed in a sea of easily damaged young kids, we have set then up to fail. In many ways I think this is the most valuable program we have- when it works it very literally saves lives- but location is paramount. Not in a gang area. Not inside or next to an elementary school, probably middle either. It's not THAT hard.


Anonymous said...

Don't blame those QAers! Out of Sight, Out of Mind is their heritage!

In their families, grandmothers prob went to convents or out of state boarding schools when they had adolescent troubles. Boys shipped off to the military.

These poor people have no experience confronting teen problems. We need to treat them with tenderness so their sensitive constitutions won't be damaged.


Anonymous said...

Charlie, yes, I agree there is some privilege in this. However, this is not all it is. I think that may be an oversimplification and not 100% honest. This is more about fear of the unknown.

Honestly, ask yourself this. If you did not know more about the kids coming to the new school, and were in the early stages of parenting small children that were going to be in the playground across the street from kids with these challenges, would you not think about it? Would you not worry? Would you not want to talk with your child about this first? Would you not maybe instruct your child to walk to school using the front entrance only now, away from the older kids? Would you not maybe ask for more playground supervision?

I get that there are some privileged people on on QA. But I think alot of this is fear of the unknown. And SPS should be working on this communication piece and the community should not have found out about this because the Queen Anne View asked what was going on there....

-Missed opportunies


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

This brings to mind the following "Monthly Find" on the Seattle City Clerk website earlier this year, from residents of these same blocks 106 years ago (


Proving that NIMBYism is not a recent phenomenon, a petition was signed by over 30 Queen Anne residents in 1908 protesting a proposal to build a Children's Orthopedic Hospital in their neighborhood. Their reasons included:
•The proposed lot was "entirely too small";
•All but one of the other lots on that block contained "a valuable residence" with families who had spent "many thousands of dollars in making permanent improvements";
•The lots were "in the heart of a choice residence part of the City" and property values would "greatly depreciate" for many blocks around if the facility was built;
•The hospital was to be used "for the treatment of deformed and crippled children and especially those who are deformed because of Tubercular troubles, and...the sight of said crippled and deformed children being constantly before the residents in the vicinity of said hospital will be a constant source of annoyance and in fact may cause permanent injury to women under certain conditions of health and cause their children to be hideously deformed who are born under such conditions."

The petition stated that of course the signers believed the purpose of the hospital was "commendable" - but "under no circumstances" should it be built in their neighborhood. The City Council's Health and Sanitation Committee was apparently persuaded by their argument and recommended that the Board of Public Works reject the permit. However, the permits were eventually approved, and a facility known as Fresh Air House was built on the site. The hospital expanded nearby a few years later, and in 1953 moved to the present Laurelhurst site of what has become Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center.


-History Buff

Really Surprised said...

I am both surprised and disappointed in Powdlowski.

Kids need a place to be educated, recover and heal. There is no reason to believe that these students would be a threat.

I would have no problem welcoming these young individuals into my neighborhood school.

Holy Skipt said...

" This also impacts property values for residents in the blocks around the school. A realtor has already told me that."

Did Powdlowski sign this?!

Hard to believe we have such loving and kind people in our midst- snark.

Holy Skipt said...

Anything can happen, in any school, at any time. I don't know why the Interagency kids are being singled out.

Anonymous said...



I read it.

But whomever sent this in originally must have heard this. And isn't it obvious? Don't people have a right to know that?

But I realize in ultra PC Seattle that speaking the truth isn't liked or tolerated. I'm from the East Coast and we tell it like it is. This WILL affect property values and people have a right to know. Stop demonizing people just because they don't talk like PC Seattle Limousine Liberals.

ben said...

Personally, its weird that SPS hides the location of the interagency sites and that contributes to the impression of a stigma. But at the same time, I don't see any problem with the district placing them in any buildings at their disposal as long as there is adequate adult supervision.

RosieReader said...

You couldn't get much closer to my house than the proposed site. And while my grandmother didn't go to school in a convent, I still think it's a fine use of this resource.

NIMBY is right. If folks want to insulate themselves from all types of people other than their hand picked preferred types, they can move to a rural location.

Gads said...

Tina Podlodowski · University of Washington

"I'm a fan of the program, but we are talking 80 kids here, not 10. And, aside from a few folks having a "strong" reaction to the program itself, I suspect most parents would agree with the program being a very good one once they know the facts.

Glad Podlowski is out of office.

But no matter - that's not the real point.

What I'm not a fan of is the lack of transparency, lack of discussion and the opportunity lost for the neighborhood in utilizing that space. Jeez, SPS is literally "sneaking" the program in under cover of night, and that's a heckofa bad way to garner support and understanding. It just tears at the trust that folks have (or may not have) with SPS Admin."

Does Podlowski not understand that these students are entitled to their privacy? As for other folks -- do they feel that THEIR child's profile should be released into the public?

Anonymous said...

Ben, there are often gang and drug disputes between students, and (at least a few years ago) they needed to be able to just be separated, not incredibly easy to find. That has to be balanced against community interest and transparency, but it is a balance. On the interagency website there is a link to a times article that is very good.e.

Honestly is sps really was serious about the best location for one of the more intense programs (what exactly are we talking about here? Because there are different levels of severity and kinds of problems across the system. Some of the kids absolutely are making dangerous decisions right now. Some of them just can't find stability for attendance. Obviously often it is both. But no, the place many of these kids are in is not "just like any other school.") Jscee would be IDEAL in so many respects. Close to social services, somewhat removed from hotspots for bad decision making, plenty of school supports, not next to a school full of little kids.

I don't know what services exactly are going there. Maybe it is vocational training for kids who were pregnant and couldn't get yo enough school. Then that's a great place. And, sure,the neighborhood can complain about property values, but i can just as much find that repugnant and hope very fervently that sps does not take it into account at all when decision making, like i wish i felt like they didn't distribute othet resources according to which program is the board's darling that month, but instead only and always based on the mission to give students an education.

But all I know is I felt like a lot of the kids I worked with were set up to fail by being put in situation where either it was impossible to make good choices or where the consequences of their actions were too severe because of bad luck (this is what I am worried spa is doing.). This program does a lot of good, but it is pretty easy to do wrong.


RosieReader said...

See the thing is that there aren't any students at any of the existing schools on Queen Anne who face any troubles or challenges in their life. And every single one of their parents or guardians are equally perfect. And there isn't any crime on Queen Anne Hill currently -- that car prowl stuff the Queen Anne View reported on last week was just made up.

So under these circumstances, to let students with problems or challenges of one sort or another go to school on Queen Anne would be an absolute disaster, and completely change the character of the place. And place human life as we know it at risk.

And BTW, History Buff, that is a marvelous find!!!!!

Anonymous said...

While the neighborhood does not want to be perceived as NIMBYish in fact it is. Just own it. Should the District have met with the community? Probably, but I am not sure an informational meeting would've helped. The loaded language -evoking the M.P shooting without actually saying so- in the petition made me sick. Don't the students who will attend this school have a right to an education in a safe environment? We should be encouraging these kids as they integrate themselves back into the "real" world. As a tax payer who does not live in Q.A.,this seems an appropriate use of a District facility.


Anonymous said...

"Jscee would be IDEAL in so many respects. Close to social services, somewhat removed from hotspots for bad decision..."

JSCEE is a horrible location for recovering alcoholics/drug users. I worked down there. It is an industrial area with a sizable population of chronic alcoholics -who loiter around the building. Oh, and it is just down the street from a garbage dump which wreaks especially on days when the temp is over 65's Social services? Well I suppose Union Gospel Mission is close and there is the Salvation Army's ARC. It is NOT where I would want a recently recovered teenager attending school.

Catherine said...

My son was in a preschool that shared a building - no separating wall, only unlocked room doors, with an SPS program for violent and severely emotionally disturbed children - I believe up to age 14. This was 1996 timeframe. While these children can and did put fists, feet, and heads through plaster walls, when they met the preschoolers, they would immediately cease their rages, sit and engage in parallel play.

The interagency school, is a walk in the park compared to that program. I had no problems with the program being in the same building as the preschool. Nothing ever happened in the 6+ years the building was shared between the two groups.

Would open and transparent have been wise on the part of SPS? Yes. Is it required? probably not. Will it affect property values? not meaningfully. Would the community have gotten further asking for some planning for various scenarios and maybe to be part of a site advisory board? Yes, but that opportunity has been lost now.

syd said...

I hope anonymous at 12:56 is not deleted, despite not having signed. I think it contributes to the conversation.

I think, anonymous, that you have to remember that the QA community often does not think of others when advocating for themselves, so cannot expect a lot of support. After all, we have an a greatly more segregated system because of a QA lawsuit.

If you don't know that other communities don't have engagement, then it appears you not just uninformed, you are willfully ignoring the rest of the city.

That said, I appreciate your advocacy for a more open process. That's what we need.

While the QA community is rallied together for this issue, perhaps they might consider reaching out to other communities to work on community engagement with SPS and more. We need to work together to make this the school district we want.

Anonymous said...

John Hay parents, neighbors, petitioners: A re-entry school on Queen Anne is outrageous! Shield your children! Preserve the neighborhood! Take your outrage to the streets! Picket! Call the TV stations! Let us know when you and yours will be marching!

Très Amusant

Anonymous said...

Property values? JUST.WOW!

CCA, speechless

Anonymous said...

Syd, I thank you for your respectful discourse. The name calling and sarcasm from other posters is a real turn off.

I will come to this site more often and would be happy to support other communities in their engagement with SPS. Please know that I have not been willfully ignoring the rest of the city on purpose. But after some very bad experiences with both SPS and, ironically, parents on QA, I have withdrawn to do the bare minimum when it comes to SPS.

I have also been busy dealing with a troubled teen for the last two years, which has exacerbated my poor relationships with SPS and parents in my neighborhood (who have been anything but understanding and supportive). Maybe that's why this is a bit raw for me.

- SL

Anonymous said...

A school with teenagers and adults who have a history of violence or gun use or violent gang affiliations should not be located near ANY elementary school or playground. Char

Anonymous said...

The SPS reportcard for last year shows John Hay @ 15% free/reduced lunch. White+Asian families comprise 76% of the school. This is a community that is very affluent and culturally quite heterogeneous compared to SPS norms.

Critics of this district talk about a great North/South divide on everything from student achievement to family-school partnerships to community resources to perception of greatest school challenges. I think, with sadness, that this is a case in point. Such different perspectives!

For some in the Queen Anne community, the Interagency placement is a huge issue. They are genuinely worried and genuinely insulted by other comments on this thread.

SPS parents elsewhere have their jaws dropped that John Hay is surprised by a lack of SPS community engagement, and they are upset by the idea that at-risk students might not be welcome in the Queen Anne community.

We all want the best for our children, but viewpoints shaped by class and race make the conversation, let alone systemic solutions for great public schools, quite difficult.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that it is too late for a productive meeting between the District, Inter-agency Principal and Q.A./Hay community. However, the District needs to show-up hat in hand, the Principal needs to come prepared to answer questions about safety and enlist the community's help. An advisory group or council is one way the can lend support and be a watchdog of sorts to the school. The neighborhood really needs to temper itself just a wee bit and try to have an open mind. These are Seattle Public School students and each one of them is someone's child. Try to walk a mile in their shoes because someday your kid may need an Inter-agency program.


cmj said...

"Called the Interagency Academy, its dozen locations function as a high school for some 500 of the city's toughest to teach — students who have been jailed or expelled, homeless or pregnant, gang-involved or learning disabled" -- Seattle Times article about the Interagency program.

From the Queen Anne View article, "The Queen Anne High School Gym will house the Interagency Recovery School. It’ll move into the building this month, starting with about 10 students."

Interagency operates at multiple sites, so there would never be 500 students at the Queen Anne site, but the number would probably creep up to 50-100 eventually.

On one hand, Interagency needs a safe site for students. On the other hand, I can't blame John Hay parents for worrying about having a program potentially serving students who were expelled or returning from juvie directly across from an elementary school.

SPS needs to be a lot more transparent (a constant refrain) and disclose the exact nature of the program, plans for building security, and plans for growth. What sort of students would this specific site be serving? Homeless students, kids with minor discipline issues, pregnant teenagers? Probably workable. Students with major discipline issues, gang problems, or criminal records? No, I think that's a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least the APP program is no longer the most hated school on the planet.

(I'm joking. Sort of).

Please Hay people - this is city life. I left a QA moms bulletin board eons ago b/c of too many (=one) instance of posts about "people who didn't look like Queen Anne".

It's a city. And reaching the Interagency kids is actually one of the highest moral missions of SPS. The vast majority of the Hay kids will make it to college, get jobs, become productive citizens, whether SPS sticks its head in the sand or not. The Interagency kids need so much more - and to the extent that a small school out of their neighborhood, in a safe space, gives it to them - then that's a huge moral imperative in public education.

And they're not a threat. Not at all. Get real. Look at your statistics. People shoot people they know. First, kids who go to Interagency WANT to do better and change. Second - they don't know the precious Hay kids.

Statistics: people shoot people they know. I really don't know what the heck QA is worried about. With SPS record of moving schools, they'll only be there a couple years anyway, says cynical me.

Math Counts

Anonymous said...

Transparency - don't hold your breath. I'm still waiting for someone to confirm or deny that Lincoln is one of the current Interagency sites. District seems to have a don't ask, don't tell approach to this sort of thing. That is what freaks people out and makes them rail against the program. SPS needs to be open about what it is, who it serves, how important it is, and what measures are taken to keep the students on track and out of trouble and keep the surrounding community safe. Then people could calm down and make informed rational judgments about the pros and cons of its proposed location, any alternatives, or any issues that require mitigation or consideration going forward. Is any of this happening? Interagency Academy is not a witness protection program. It has at least some of its locations/addresses on the SPS website (not Lincoln) and there is no need for any sort of secrecy surrounding it. This indicates to me that the district does not feel confident that it is on strong footing as far as representing the program, or the measures they take to ensure the safety and security of those in the program and in close proximity. The district does not have the wherewithal to answer the questions that are bound to be asked (and rightly so) when one of the sites is located with or near a vulnerable population and so simply hopes to sneak it in without anyone realizing. That's not to say that Interagency should not rightfully be located at this site but raises questions about what the district has to hide.

Still waiting

Anonymous said...


Melissa Westbrook said...

There's room for 80 but they will start with around 8.

These are all young people who WANT to be in school and get it done. People who want to drink and do drugs don't enroll in programs like this.

I will try to find out why the district picked this spot.

My understanding is there will be community outreach at the next John Hay PTA meeting in early December.

The principal for Interagency - Kaaren Andrews - has been recognized for her leadership. She is one of the better principals in SPS.

Melissa Westbrook said...

In case you missed it, I checked (actually double-checked) and now know that Interagency was NEVER at Lincoln.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info re Lincoln, Melissa. Hopefully that rumor can finally be put to rest.

Still waiting

Ebenezer said...

As a Queen Anne resident and someone who's still gathering information about the Interagency Recovery School, I'm inclined to support it. However, I'm taken aback at the vitriol of some of these comments against Queen Anne and John Hay Elementary. Since you folks apparently know so much more than I do about Queen Anne, please tell me this:

What percentage of Queen Anne residents are for, against, or undecided about placing Interagency near John Hay?

What percentage of John Hay families?

Have the teachers and staff at John Hay come out against Interagency?

Has the PTA come out against Interagency?

I thought I was outraged at the way SPS treated other communities, as are others I know in Queen Anne, but Charlie says he hasn't seen Queen Anne support other communities, so it must not have occurred. So I guess it's just privilege to ask SPS to give some notice.

Oh, and Eric B, because the lack of advance notice by SPS has turned out badly, that means that SPS should handle it the same way in the next neighborhood?

I'm so glad we have all these enlightened comments - it's important that different neighborhoods fight amongst each other in Seattle, so SPS can always have their way. Good job!

Jet City mom said...

I agree that if you move by a school district owned building, be prepared for the district to put a program in it.
Or actually, this is a city and things we might not be dealing with if we lived outside the urban environment, pop up all the time, it's part of living here.

My daughter attended Summit k-12, some students were assigned there because the district actually thought it was a "re-entry" program. It wasn't, it was an " alternative" school.
Jane Addams also housed Pinehurst child care at the same time.
My D left after 6 yrs, but we only have great things to say about the older students in the building.

Anonymous said...


I am sorry that you feel attacked. Queen Anne parents have a reputation gained through the PICS lawsuit & strident demands during the NSAP process to gain access to Ballard High School. Both of these were at the expense of other communities. So these protests may be seen as more of the same from Queen Anne parents.

I agree that the district should have been more transparent & engaged the community. I am not sure the response from the community would have been different. Do you think it would?


Anonymous said...

Kaaren Andrews is the principal assigned to Queen Anne? This will make for even more interesting dynamics between Hay and Interagency. When Andrews was principal at Madrona she had no time at all for the local - often white and solidly middle class - families who wanted to expand the school's mission beyond helping at-risk kids of color. Those families were stymied. She's one powerful personality for both better and worse.

The "put it somewhere else" petitioners will get exactly nowhere with Andrews at the helm. She will roll right over the John Hay soccer parents.


Jet City mom said...

Economou is a real estate agent, ( any relation to the family that has owned the Smoke Shop in Ballard for 50+ years?), did she think that her neighborhood was going to be ever unchanging?

This is really offensive to me. ( the petition at I don't have a thing for QueenAnne families- my mother graduated from Queen Anne high school, and my daughter attended Matheia, before it moved to Ballard, but Interagency has a right to be there just as much as any other program.

Btw, Queen Anne already has a small high school, it's called the Center School.

Melissa Westbrook said...

No, Ms. Andrews is the principal at Interagency (as I wrote).

Yes, there is some irony in saying that building could be a small high school when Center School exists.

That said, many enrollment issues stem from QA/Magnolia not having a high school.

Anonymous said...

This gentleman signed the petition. Please read his comments:


I am a substance abuse professional. I was part of the team that established the first Drug Court in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I am a retired Chief Probation Officer and also the former Director of a methadone treatment facility. I can state without equivocation that, while a program of this nature is essential, it is also inappropriate and irresponsible to locate a program of this type in such close proximity to an elementary school. I have to wonder why this site was chosen. Beyond the danger presented to young school children, I think that it is important to understand that addiction is a chronic disease with relapse being an integral part of recovery. This being said, most states have a statutory provision by which a 'Zone' is created near a school and possession and/or sale of illicit substances carries a mandatory jail sentence. The State of Washington has enacted legislation along those lines and your statute states, "Sale or distribution of an illicit substance within 1000 feet of a school, school bus stop or in a public park, in a public housing project designated as a drug-free zone, in public transportation, and other locations is punishable by double fines and imprisonment." By locating your Recovery Program in this location you are not only endangering young children but are also setting up those suffering with the disease of addiction for increased periods of incarceration as these penalties are mandatory. QUESTION: WHERE IS THE BENEFIT IN LOCATING THE PROGRAM IN THIS PARTICULAR LOCATION VERSUS ANOTHER?

Thank you for your consideration.


I think this says it all. This is from a professional who knows what he is talking about, not a bunch of folks who have little to no experience with this kind of situation (which is the majority of people on this board).

It's very offensive to our community that many of you don't see a problem with putting a school like this next to an elementary school. Taking all this gentleman had to say in consideration, this would not serve either our community or the kids this school is trying to serve.

Common sense, people. But common sense seems to be missing with many posters so facts presented by a professional should be sufficient.


Po3 said...

I find interesting that this is a Recovery program that parents are up in arms about, but have no issue w/ a small high school across the street, where there will be drug use, just like every other high school in America.

Lynn said...

Am I the only one seeing the logic failure in this argument? Interagency is a school. These high school students are in the same danger anytime they're within 1,000 feet of their own school - no matter where it's located.

The assumption that John Hay's program should have had the right to use this facility is a clear example of the entitlement attitude behind this campaign.

If you're concerned about neighborhood safety, meet with Interagency's principal and ask her to describe her security plans.

Lynn said...

Would it be OK if the program started with the 18 Interagency students from Ballard's attendance area? How about if they added the 28 from Roosevelt, 18 from Nathan Hale and 20 from Ingraham?

As Po3 points out, there are problems in every high school. The district could save some money by moving the Center School to this facility. Would that be acceptable to the community?

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

I just want to point out two things.

First, South Lake High School is located on the same block as both Dunlap and South Shore. The South Lake population is not that different from the Interagency population, and the Dunlap and South Shore students are not that different from the Hay students. There is no record of trouble - that I know of - for either Dunlap or South Shore from South Lake.

Second, it's unclear to me how the impact of placing the Interagency site on Queen Anne is really any different from the impact of placing it in any other neighborhood. Why shouldn't Queen Anne share the same load (if it is a load) as any other neighborhood in the city?

coachkitty said...

Put it in Laurelhurst! Haha. Just kidding. Oh precious, precius seattle. It's all happening, get over yourselves. I do find it hilarious, however that boozy old Queen Anne Hill is afraid of a few recovering addicts lowering their property values and threatening their offspring. Can you imagine Crown Hill, or the CD or Greenwood getting this kind of attention or acting so entitled? Good grief.

cmj said...

Charlie wrote First, South Lake High School is located on the same block as both Dunlap and South Shore. The South Lake population is not that different from the Interagency population, and the Dunlap and South Shore students are not that different from the Hay students. There is no record of trouble - that I know of - for either Dunlap or South Shore from South Lake.

That's a good point. South Lake is "the city's only alternative-high school for at-risk teens". They have about 130 students. I'm not sure how South Lake differs from Interagency.

There is probably little danger in putting the Interagency program across from John Hay, particularly if JH and Interagency come to an agreement on school security.

Of course, plenty of JH parents are going to worry. Parents worry and I believe that wealthy/middle-class parents worry more than most. I know one Magnolia mother who wouldn't let her 11 year old child walk to the library (a 10 minute walk) in broad daylight.

Melissa Westbrook said...

BW, fair enough. But he's not from Washington State so our law may be different (and he's quote a general law about drug use/selling near schools). One expert does not an argument make.

I think the community should have been told sooner. This blog constantly advocates for transparency.

Charlie is right: South Lake is near two elementary schools with a similar population.

I would appreciate it if we keep the discussion to the issue and not make disparaging remarks about a neighborhood. You would not like it for your own.

coachkitty said...

Melissa, the neighborhood made it about the neighborhood. As in "we don't want this In Our Neighborhood" No one asked me if I objected to the 2 strip clubs, sex store, plasma center,and numerous bars a stones throw away from the high school, middle school, and elementary in my hood. I realize I live in a city. A city who's neighborhoods belong to us all. I can't imagine complaining about a the existence of a school who's mission is to provide an education and tools for sober living for children who need some help. Seems pretty nimby to me.

Liz M. said...

I don't think it's accurate to say that South Lake High School is similar to the Interagency Recovery School in population. The Recovery school will have onsite counselors to deal with substance abuse recovery. South Lake High School has a daycare onsite for kids of teen moms. Not the same.

Also, the petition and protest from the "Queen Anne community" is about it being located across the street from an elementary school - NOT about it being in Queen Anne (Perhaps some folks are saying it shouldn't be in a neighborhood of single family homes, but that's not what I'm hearing).

Queen Anne is an easy target with its high priced homes and seemingly elitist position on this issue. But that doesn't mean the kids in that elementary school deserve to be the victims of a poorly chosen location for this program.

Instead of criticizing Queen Anne residents, we should be:

1 ...acknowledging that a school for recovering drug addicts should, ideally, not be across the street from an elementary school.

2 ...asking the question: Where is the benefit in locating this program in the particular location versus another? Are there no other options? Is this location somehow more convenient for the program students? What is the benefit of this location, if any?

3 ...continuing the conversation after #2 is answered.

Anonymous said...

There are times when disparaging remarks about a neighborhood seem OK - like when residents actively oppose a program meant to give kids a 2nd chance in graduating high school and becoming productive citizens in the city we all share.

Do we have a history of rampaging re-entry students terrorizing elementary schools in Seattle? Well - do we? You know when many career criminals get their start and cause safety problems? WHEN THEY NEVER FINISH HIGH SCHOOL.

Commenters here and elsewhere have not just a right but a civic NEED to call BS on many parts of the Stop Interagency petition being circulated. More than 200 neighborhood residents have now signed it. That's 200 adults who clearly don't believe in the hope and promise of public education.

"Historian's" unearthing of similar attempts in the exact same place 100 years ago to keep Children's Hospital - for gosh sakes - out of the neighborhood shows that unless the rest of the city calls BS on one neighborhood's actions, generations of offspring in the same geographic area are doomed to repeat their intolerant and uneducated ways.

Queen Anne residents uneducated? Yes. Because if they got beyond their knees jerking they'd see both value and reason in putting Interagency in the proposed facility. Further, there is precious little room for Me and Mine attitudes in a city becoming more economically stratified and more ethnically diverse by the year. We have to figure out ways to embrace and support the WHOLE next generation.

So I say all's fair on calling out the John Hay neighbors and parents on that petition. Not for being upset about lack of SPS notification (which you'd think they'd have noticed is a pattern if they'd ever looked beyond their school) but because of remarks like these right off the petition:

The abandoned school on 28th Ave West in Magnolia could be revitalized

I don't want this school in my neighborhood.

that space should be used for John Hay since it is overcrowded.

this will go down in Seattle history as one of the most senseless decisions ever made by SPS.

You know what really would go down in Seattle history as one of the most senseless decisions ever made by SPS? SPS moving this facility due to the sturm und drang of the NIMBYs in that community.

Saturday Incensed (whose elementary kids live down the street from a homeless shelter, recovering alcoholic facility, and DSHS hub - while suffering zero safety issues for the kids just like the rest of the families in the neighborhood)

Anonymous said...

Another thing....The Interagency kids will have S-U-P-E-R-V-I-S-I-O-N at the school. If the John Hay parents want a more realistic worry about drugs and alchohol, they should look at their neighbors with money and whose kids skip high school while mom and dad are at work. Do John Hay parents not understand what NONsupervision and money mean in terms of drugs, alchohol and pregnancy in the middle of the day while elementary school is in session?

I am metaphorically shaking the petition signers by the shoulders. The attitudes of some in the community have me angrier than most of the madness of Seattle School administrative actions. That's saying a lot.

Saturday Incensed

Anonymous said...

Oh, I didn't see ALL the comments on the petition. Here is another:

We do not feel a school like this is appropriate for a single family neighborhood

And my award for MOST HEINOUS:

This facility does not belong in a residential neighborhood. Interbay, Belltown, Seattle Center area – something very close to bus lines and urban infrastructure would be much more suitable.

Saturday Incensed

Lynn said...

Liz M,

Not just teen moms.

GRADS is the in-school secondary program for pregnant and parenting students (both male and female). Classes focus on knowledge and skills related to positive self-image, as well as preparation for pregnancy, parenting and economic independence. Young parents set life and career goals and prepare for balancing work and family responsibility. An on-site South Lake Parent and Child Education center, which enrolls infants and toddlers, offers an opportunity to observe and practice human development skills while earning certifications and college credits.

parent said...

This is what happens when we have a serious capacity crisis in this district. Programs have to go literally wherever there is any room, regardless of whether the location is ideal or not. We then have to just do our best to work around any problems that a placement might create, such as safety issues. (I personally doubt there actually will be any security issues, but it doesn't hurt to talk things through with the community to address their fears.)

I will say this: Queen Anne has a pretty good transit connection to the CD in the form of the #3/4, which runs through downtown, past the county jail, public housing, a food bank, Harborview, and the juvenile detention facility. Which makes Queen Anne a pretty decent location for kids from the CD to go to school--it's a one seat bus ride for them on Metro. It actually is much easier to get to Queen Anne from the south than from the north via transit.

Lynn said...

Saturday Incensed,

How about these:

My children attend John Hay Elementary School and an Interagency Recovery High School is not the appropriate location across from one the the best Elementary schools in the city of Seattle.


My child will be in Kindergarten at John Hay next year, shortly followed by his sister, and I want to know that my kids are safe at school. We bought in this neighborhood due to the nice school system but now that is changing.


I believe there are available buildings in areas better suited for this school. It seems like a mistake to place recovering drug addicts and alcoholic teen agers within 50 feet of a pre-k and elementary. Knowing that there are many other suitable real estate options available that aren't right next to an elementary school housing loads of 4 to 11 year olds.

Liz M. said...

Thanks for the constructive responses. I haven't read the petition comments. But I agree, those are elitist comments that can potentially be generalized into criticisms of the school parents and Queen Anne community.

I am wondering if you disagree with the statement that, ideally, this program would not be located across the street from an elementary school.

I recognize that there are other elementary schools situated in less than ideal locations, and those situations are unfortunate, and likely deserving a conversation about, as well.

I think it is more interesting, at this point, to set aside our outrage about elitism and talk about whether or not there is a better location for this program. Maybe there is...maybe there isn't.

Lynn said...

I would say no there is not. The fact that Seattle Public Schools is setting up classrooms in the lobby of a gym for these students should tell you how much empty space they have.

Liz M. said...

There may not be any other place for this program, but I don't think portables on an elementary school campus is indicative of that.

I am wondering if you disagree with the statement that, ideally, this program would not be located across the street from an elementary school.

Jet City mom said...

I attended a similar program in the Lake Washington school district.
It was well supervised and students were carefully chosen.
Lake Washington still has program and it shares the site with other schools serving younger children.
It is not a re entry program because the students can graduate from the school and are not pressured to go back to the comprehensive school where they fell between the cracks.
We should be supporting the Interagency program and encouraging it's expansion to serve kids that are working hard to learn from their challenges and earn a diploma.

I expect the Queen Anne parents wouldn't have a problem if say O'Dea opened a school in their neighborhood.
When I was in school, Catholic schools like ODea and Blanchet were where kids were sent after they were kicked out of public school.
( not everyone makes it through the first Interview process at the LakeWashington school)

Anonymous said...

A location across the street from an elem. is basically irrelevant.

Elem. kids do not get off campus lunch.

And really, dealers don't come to interagency. They just don't. They get to users in their own neighborhoods or at known hot spots - dealers are not going to come up to QA to try to sell to a couple Interagency kids. Easier to sell to a whole load of office workers at lunch break in Westlake Center, by the way.

This is a bogus tempest in a teapot. The two uses do not overlap. The Interagency kids do not go into Hay, and the Hay kids do not go into IA bldg., and THERE IS NO OTHER SPACE.

The space has to be somewhere those kids can get to - b/c they're on their own. And the comment about the bus line is right on.

Frankly, I'd rather have Interagency across the street from my kids' school than a stupid green cross medical marijuana place with all its losers hanging out at all hours and the "normalization" of pot culture confronting my kids all the time. I suspect the Hay kids won't even see the HS kids - the schedules are too off - so it's all just us/them pointing.

And the Interagency kids are trying! They're trying! I went to a HS where only 10% of the graduating seniors went on to any type of higher ed, and hads LOTS of pregnant girls in the halls with me back in the 80s - I really applaud these kids for trying.

Frankly Hay parents ought to donate to Interagency with books, winter coats, lots of books, tutoring, etc. Good to show your kids how to care for others. Hay should adopt the school. I'm not saying hire them as babysitters, but give them a hand and welcome them with what these kids need - coats, tutoring, stability, breakfast, board games, sports equipment, whatever it takes. SPS surely won't provide much for them - probably not even chairs or basketballs. Hay should help them.

Reject the haters. Show that QA is a big-hearted place, not elitist. Prove the critics wrong and reject the NIMBYs. This is a small and concrete chance to replace elitism with love and caring that these kids surely need - give a hand to someone who really needs it, for whom it might quite literally be the difference between ending up a thriving citizen and ending up dead or in jail. These kids are at a turning point in their lives, and rejecting them so publicly - don't. Just be part of it.

And it doesn't hurt property values b/c the way this is going, they'll only be there a couple years - everything moves. Property values depend on the quality of Hay, not on what occurs in an unrelated gym across the street.

Math Counts

Anonymous said...

@Liz M

Ideally, we wouldn't have to geo-split kids out of their established middle schools in order to "solve" overcrowding issues.

Ideally, we would have enough high school capacity to accommodate all our kids in the coming years, without resorting to high school in shifts.

Ideally, we wouldn't have to cram more portables at over-flowing schools like Schmitz park.

Ideally, those planning the BEXIV levy would have actually PLANNED for the housing of programs displaced by BEXIV projects, such as Pinehurst/Licton Springs K-8, Cascade Parent Partnership, and SpEd transition programs, instead of resorting to bizarre "solutions," such things as cramming a K-8 into a comprehensive middle school, and cramming multiple programs, spanning multiple age ranges into Lincoln.

Lynn is right. The fact that SPS has resorted to locating a high school program in the lobby of a gymnasium speaks volumes to the state of SPS capacity management affairs.

If you can think of a more "ideal" space in the SPS portfolio to house these deserving kids, then please, enlighten us!

- North-end Mom

Anonymous said...

This petition is definitely NOT reflective of the larger community (Hay or otherwise). It's certainly not representative of the administrators & staff at Hay, who've said as much. We're seeing an uninformed knee-jerk panicked reaction of the few trying to create hysteria in the many.

Interagency IS a successful program. This Recovery School, its mandate for clean & sober recovery, has more guarantees of being "cleaner"/trouble-free than nearby McClure & BHS. The fact that these young students (& families) have taken responsibility for their addictions and are making the commitment/changes for positively moving forward is amazing, and should be encouraged/supported & commended. The disparaging claims from members of the NIMBY brigade (via other blogs/websites and petition) that I/A students could/would attempt to "deal" to 7 y/o's across the street on the LOCKED Hay playground... that unpaid debts settled, ‘dealers’ & shootings could follow, is appalling & shameful. I (and many many others) am disgusted by the fear-mongering & arrogance so publicly being presented.

Old QA Gym was not going to sit empty – that was well established. Cascade Partnership was offered the site & much dialogue happened about this last winter & spring. Cascade's size and continued growth of program nixed that from happening (they did get the NWC site near SPU). No discussion or push-back was seen then from anyone on this – despite how publicly played out the QA Gym option being presented to Cascade was (to be noted, all without a simultaneous dialogue happening with the Hay community across the street). I also seem to recall a spring (?) Board Meeting referencing that an alternative program could be housed in the Old QA Gym as Cascade would not be there... that the space would not remain vacant. I am seeking confirmation on this from (before re-watching three months of meetings on-line)...@KellieLaRue or @MelissaWestbrook maybe you recall something about this?

That being said, could better communication have been had by SPS? Yes. Does SPS have to hold community meetings to move a program into, or re-purpose, one of their own (vacant) buildings? Apparently not. Sure it would be awfully nice of them to honor "collaboration" and, my god (!), actually demonstrate efforts to align to Goal 3 of the Strategic Plan, would be miraculous – but, They. Don’t. Have. To. At the same time though, should members of the Hay community (amongst many others) be more engaged with the goings-on of SPS and not hope for silver platter communiques about things that ‘might be’ pertinent? Certainly! Attend a Board Mtg./watch a Board Mtg. (they're online); attend Board Member "Community Coffees" (they are 1X month); concerned about capacity(?)- participate on FACMAC or go to their meetings, read their Minutes; attend an Ops, C&I, Audit & Fin. Mtg -- work towards gaining knowledge, don't expect it to fall in your lap. Invite collaboration with SPS (OUTSIDE of your school, ie. the "powers" at JSCEE), as challenging as that often is. Don't think things should happen just because of perceptions of "who you are/where you live". There are 52K students in this District and ALL of them, & their families, are equally important - INCLUDING the <600 students at Hay and their families! 98109 doesn't earn anyone special privileges or voice.

Dangerous IS the fear-mongering, the subsequent misrepresentation of a larger John Hay & QA communities, and the negative aspersions & innuendos about I/A students & program.

Hoping for open minds.

Watching In the Bleachers (and John Hay parent)

Rufus X said...

Like, +1, thumbs up, smiley-face emoji for comment #75 by Watching in the Bleachers.

Gonna throw this out there in the hopes I won't need to don the flame-retardant suit: How much of the consternation expressed about the location of the Interagency Recovery school comes from exclusively elementary-school parents?

I ask this for a few reasons.

1) The elementary school experience is the longest one that a parent will participate in.
2) Thanks to the NSAP, the elementary school experience is very much neighborhood-based.
3) When entrenched in supporting a child's local elementary school for 6 years, one's focus may be very limited and only expands when A) SPS starts moving school boundaries, or B) when the elementary school student reaches 4th or 5th grade.

I'm trying really hard to not chalk this petition/reaction to NIMBY-ism and allow for the possibility that it comes from a place of fear of the unknown & an unintentional myopic view of the school district's programs & offerings. My hope is, IF the petition & objections are from parents who haven't previously had to consider the district's responsibilities to all students before, maybe this is a "teaching moment" that can open some eyes.

As for the question posed by Liz M earlier, "I am wondering if you disagree with the statement that, ideally, this program would not be located across the street from an elementary school". I don't know if the "you" was directed at a particular poster or a general "you", by my answer is I disagree with that statement.

Tina Podlodowski said...

Hey all -

So this string of comments is particularly sad to me as a Queen Anne Elementary School parent, and I really hate to see parents fighting each other or making assumptions about each other on a blog without all the information.

No matter what neighborhood you live in, I believe it's fair and right to have SPS work with the neighborhood when big changes are happening, and it's certainly a key element of the SPS strategic plan. That did not happen here.

The fact is, SPS Admin has never worked with or answered any question for the QA community about the potential use of the old QAHS gym for the Interagency Recovery School. And, to make folks feel even more confused about what was happening, despite repeated call to SPS Administration about what was going on, no one was getting answers to ANY questions. I've still not had an answer to multiple emails and calls.

Here's the thing - the Interagency Program does great work, and I think as SPS parents we should support all kids to do and be their best. But we have no sense of the program. Folks don't want to invade student privacy - they just wanted to know what the program is going to be, and how it will be resourced. That's hardly unreasonable.

At the same time ALL the QA elementary schools are overcrowded and there is no plan in place from SPS to alleviate. Neither Hay (across the street from the facility) or Queen Anne Elementary (5 blocks away) have a gym, so if your kids went to either school, would't you ask the question why a gym is not being used as, well, a gym? When there are not enough QA classrooms for kids, and SPS is reconstructing the facility for classroom space, wouldn't you ask why that facility wasn't being considered for use by the current QA schools?

Jeez, some parents have become really concerned - because of NO information from SPS - and can certainly sound a NIMBYish about the Interagency School. But I can't put the blame on them. In the absence of ANY communication from SPS, some folks are thinking the worst. SPS could have fixed that by open and honest communication, and as of this writing still has not. It's a disservice to the Interagency program.

But you know how to keep NIMBYism from happening? You communicate. I've worked with neighborhoods across the City in several past roles (as the ED At Lifelong AIDS Alliance, and as the President of Big Brothers Big Sisters) to site "controversial programs". Needle exchange. Teens in Recovery - much like the Interagency School. Feeding programs for the sick and homeless. You know how you make them non-controversial and supported by the neighborhood? Again, you communicate. You talk to folks about what is going to happen and about the opportunity to do good. And you get the neighborhood to help.

SPS has done none of that in this case - and folks are mad and confused. And that did not have to happen.

For those of you taking "potshots" at the Queen Anne neighborhood or Queen Anne parents - well, I don't think you know the people or the neighborhood very well. Yep, we have have some families of wealth, but we also have single parent families struggling. We have kids and families that we feed though QA Helpline and our churches who can't make ends meet. We have troubled kids, teens and adults. We have seniors trying hard to stay in their homes on fixed incomes. We have small business trying to "make it" against chain and big box stores. And so on.

Maybe a few folks have really had their minds closed about the Interagency program, but based on the conversations I've had, far more have not.

We just want answers to questions. And, for the programs and school that matter most to you, I'm sure you want answer to questions too.

The lack of communication is coming from SPS - and, hopefully, we can all support each other in getting SPS to communicate in a far, far better manner.

Thank you.

Tina Podlodowski

Sad said...


"I believe it's fair and right to have SPS work with the neighborhood when big changes are happening, and it's certainly a key element of the SPS strategic plan"

Please do the research. These kids are entitled to privacy.

To everyone else,

Try making a platter of cookies and bring them to Interagency. You will find a bunch of kids acting tough to hide their fear and pain.

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

Tina, the damage control attempt of your letter isn't working. It is full of political-ese and I couldn't even finish reading it.

There are plenty of people in Queen Anne, just like any other neighborhood, who have drug, alcohol and mental health problems of their own, and so do their children.

The difference is that they get treated in expensive, private facilities anonymously. The children attending Interagency are often getting later help, after they have been caught and not bailed out by their parents' money or advocacy (read connections).

Let's stop the hypocrisy, Queen Anne. How about all of you with drug and alcohol problems in your own families volunteer to help at Interagency and be good neighbors?

Sharing your own experience with the disease (which is what you call it when you get reimbursed by your health care company) will likely aid you in your own recovery.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

Thanks for engaging here. Though I agree with your point about SPS's dismal transparency and communication, I disagree with your analysis that the hue and cry on QA over Interagency is about the lack of community engagement beforehand.You are trying to make it sound as though most everyone would be on board with Interagency if they only knew ahead of time. However, the bulk of comments on the petition and on the neighborhood blogs have made it clear in writing - for many, it is about having "those kids" in the neighborhood. Helping troubled youth is a great thing apparently, just not here on the hill. So let's not try to whitewash this.

Fist bump and high five to Waiting in the Bleachers. You expressed perfectly what many of us on QA are thinking about this.

@RufusX - I think you are being generous, but you may be on to something. Most of the posters on the petition have identified themselves as elementary parents.

@Interagency - the shrill and myopic comments of a few do NOT represent the entire neighborhood.


Tina Podlodowski said...


Yes, I do believe that with information and conversation that the majority of folks on QA that might currently be opposed to the Interagency program siting at the old QAHS gym would come around. That has been my experience in siting potentially controversial programs in the past.

In this case, the space issue on QA really is the driver behind the concern, and those concerns have manifested in both positive and negative action.

Openness and honesty go a long way. Again, the QA community still has no information from SPS, and no information has certainly caused a whole pile of upset.

Compassion and empathy go a long way too - and many of the same folks on this comment string that are calling for that regarding the Interagency program don't seem willing to show that for a group of parents who are just concerned about their kids - like all of us. Or for our neighborhood. Got a couple hours? Let me tell you all the ways QA doesn't fit the stereotypes many have asserted.

@Moose - you've talked about the petition and the neighborhood blog. I think both have been ways that folks have used to try and get the attention of SPS. I know many folks don't agree with the text of the petition and have not signed, myself included. But I can understand why some parents decided to do that. They are frustrated and worried.

I spent years of my life working to people living with HIV/AIDS and turning uninformed opinions of "those people" into neighborhoods that welcomed "our people". So I suspect my perspective is different from many. But, you have to START with communication.

And let's get back to the point - this whole thing started when SPS decided to site the program for 80+ HS kids and told no one in a neighborhood desperate for additional classroom space.

SPS - not ok.

@Waiting in the Bleachers - I don't accept that SPS did not have to communicate here. Consider me a fresh set of eyes and ears to that cause. Yep, I'm the parent of newly minted kindergartener at Queen Anne Elementary so I guess I'll be around for the duration.

I think the lesson for me in this is folks are so frustrated with SPS they are quick to turn on each other in times of stress and unknowns. That helps no one. Hope I can help change that - and how SPS deals with all of us.


Jet City mom said...

This isn't really a matter of anyone " turning" on a neighborhood, but to point out to a few parents who are trying to twist the narrative and make it sound like the brouhaha is all about not being given notice.
If they knew anything about the district, they might not be surprised by that, fir many reasons.
The petition is inflammatory, but I don't think the district is going to put much weight on signatures from people who don't live in the neighborhood, the city or even the state.
Discounting two of the originators of the petition, no one has even bothered to respond in the neighborhood blog.
Sounds like for most people it's a non issue.

Anonymous said...

Ever since Obama said that a few "folks" have been tortured, it seems that we are being inundated with information about "folks".

If they didn't care that the "folks" at Interagency were moving in, then the complaint by the "folks" in QA would solely be about the lack of communication by SPS and not about the new faces of the "folks" about to spend business hours on your hill.

Good job on your prior good deeds, Tina. Attempting to use street cred to avoid the obvious NIMBY-ness of this endeavor is a nice rhetorical device, but putting lipstick on a pig doesn't change its swinehood.

--enough already

Jet City mom said...

The writers of the petition may also want to reconsider using a statement by a Massachusetts drug counseling " professional" as evidence that they are doing the right thing.
He was fired from his probation officer position for several instances of misconduct.
Not really someone whose word means very much.

Doesn't anyone in this town know how to use Google?

Anonymous said...

Would put a lot more cred in the we're just upset about lack of communication message if didn't have to hear monthly yes monthly on how much better McClure is without Those Kids anymore - the ones that the neighborhood assignment plan shipped back to areas of the city most of the JH parents have never will never visit. Areas w a lot to offer that your welcome to visit. Fine get on SPS about crap communication and no space. Not like the rest of us haven't been screaming for years. Your a hill not an island.


Anonymous said...

Would put a lot more cred in the we're just upset about lack of communication message if didn't have to hear monthly yes monthly on how much better McClure is without Those Kids anymore - the ones that the neighborhood assignment plan shipped back to areas of the city most of the JH parents have never will never visit. Areas w a lot to offer that your welcome to visit. Fine get on SPS about crap communication and no space. Not like the rest of us haven't been screaming for years. Your a hill not an island.


Anonymous said...

Would put a lot more cred in the we're just upset about lack of communication message if didn't have to hear monthly yes monthly on how much better McClure is without Those Kids anymore - the ones that the neighborhood assignment plan shipped back to areas of the city most of the JH parents have never will never visit. Areas w a lot to offer that your welcome to visit. Fine get on SPS about crap communication and no space. Not like the rest of us haven't been screaming for years. Your a hill not an island. Public schools are for all.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Watching, your moniker is too long. Please read our comment guidelines.

I do not recall a specific program mentioned for that space at a Board meeting but yes,that the space would eventually be used.

"I'm trying really hard to not chalk this petition/reaction to NIMBY-ism and allow for the possibility that it comes from a place of fear of the unknown & an unintentional myopic view of the school district's programs & offerings."

Good for you, Rufus. I take that stance as well.

Tina, you never got a call back from Kaaren Andrews? I ask because I have found her to be one of the more accessible principals and very proud of her program.

I agree if there is no gym, the space across the street might have seemed a good idea. Did any school leaders ask Capital facilities heads about this issue?

But understand your pain in overcrowding is shared everywhere. I'd have to think long and hard to say who I think has it the worst.

Obviously, this was not handled well by the district. (And it's the staff, NOT the Board.)

I'm unclear if Tina supports the petition or not but the comments don't really help their cause.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, I mean the comments at the petition site, not Tina's.

Anonymous said...

Dear Queen Anne: For many of you, aside from hearing about the well-known blunder of selling Queen Anne High School, this is the first building capacity crunch that is directly impacting your family.

Yes, John Hay, Queen Anne Elementary and other programs are bursting at the seams, so it seems completely logical to you to repurpose the gym as an adjunct to neighborhood programs. The rub is that your programs have some space, despite being crowded. This Interagency program has no permanent home and needs one. This situation is much like the Cascade Parent Partnership where SPS "forgot" to provide a new home when redeveloping Wilson Pacific. That's why they're also on Queen Anne and were originally offered the gym.

When SPS says it is out of space, it is quite literal. There are a few larger facilities that can and will need gutting and repurposing - but the money is not there right now and the line up of planned projects goes out years.

Virtually every corner of Seattle houses SPS programs that ideally do not go together. Every. Corner. The reasons are more than poor planning, although I do not underestimate the effect of decades of horrid central planning on the state of the state now. Families returning to the area, expanded enrollment in special programs, expensive construction costs, the geography of the city, economically and culturally segregated communities, SPS staff turnover - all of these play a part in facility shortage.

I doubt that Interagency is going to go anyplace but the Queen Anne gym for now. I suggest working with SPS at the upcoming meeting to address any neighborhood security and communication concerns. At the end of the day, you'll be 'taking one for the team' if you want to be that crass about the situation. The way to move forward is to get involved, in a detailed manner, with future district capacity planning. This issue is not going away. I guarantee you'll be more upset than some of you are now when your elementary students are asked to attend high school in 'shifts'. This is what is on the horizon for your neighborhood unless a whole lot more thought about enrollment and facilities happens immediately.

Capacity Wonk

Anonymous said...

Wow, those comments on the Queen Anne news site are just awful. Such entitlement, without any interest in getting involved generally. I see little evidence of these residents wanting to understand either the capacity crunch that SPS is facing ALL OVER the district or this particular interagency program. I'm really appalled.

I say (jokingly), I don't want my kids mixing with your kids at Ballard High. Your sense of entitlement might rub off on my kids. Seriously, please have some perspective.


Anonymous said...

Liz M., yesterday you asked if I and others disagreed with your statement I am wondering if you disagree with the statement that, ideally, this program would not be located across the street from an elementary school.

I do disagree with that statement. If you wrote it "ideally this program would not be located across the street from a general education HIGH SCHOOL" - that I would agree with. There would be a much higher opportunity of recidivism for the Interagency students, and a number of potential social problems.

In further answer to your question, I would be perfectly OK with the program being located across from my neighborhood's elementary school.

Here are today's excerpts from your neighbor's petition. They are every bit as appalling to me as yesterday's download. I've accented in bold in the faint hope that some of the petition signers might stop and think:

It is inevitable there will be a serious issue if they are located there.

I'm not comfortable with, what seems like troubled kids, coming to the area

I do not think this school should be located in this residential neighborhood.

Drug addicts are going to bring drugs to our elementary school. Not to mention much higher risk of violence and vandalism. Totally unacceptable to ship these risks to our school.

SPS has a duty of care to all, but especially its most vulnerable students who must surely number those at John Hay. (Author's note: Uh, no, statistically most of the kids at John Hay are NOT the city's most vulnerable. Please broaden your knowledge of the public school system.)


Having the worst of the worst kids (up to 22 years of age!) across the street from any Elementary School is nuts Author's note: Seriously? The "worst of the worst"? Not even close, buster. Who do you think you are to label kids trying to finish their education the worst of the worst? I label you Worst of the Worst of Seattle public school parents. How's that feel?

An Interagency Recovery High School is not the appropriate location across from one the the best Elementary schools in the city of Seattle. Author's note: Wish there were an emoji eyeroll.

We bought in this neighborhood due to the nice school system but now that is changing.

Sunday Incensed

Po3 said...

This argument against locating the Interagency school near Hay because SPS didn't tell Hay about their plans is thin considering that it is not the first point in the petition and also is not what is reflected in the comments.

I also find it very odd that NOW Hay parents want access to that space. why now? haven't they been overcrowded for awhile? why didn't they approach the district asking them to consider annexing Hay into this space?

Because they didn't want it. Until now.

I think this petition and the resulting comments did Hay more damage than good.

Anonymous said...

The vast majority of parents in the district do not read this blog and know nothing about the district outside of their own kid's school. To be shocked that all QA parents not up to speed on enrollment numbers around this district is not realistic for that neighborhood or any other.

I agree with other posters that there would be less upset, maybe a lot less, if the district had informed the neighborhood about future plans prior to putting them in place. I am someone who regularly reads this blog and tries to be informed, but I had never heard of the Interagency School. The district placing the program there without telling anyone was dumb.

Imagine if the district had sent out a memo and informed the public about what kinds of kids are there, how many graduate, what a success the program is, etc. Instead, they left the neighborhood to guess and imagine. I freely admit some of the residents' imagination has run away with them.

I am surprised that those who generally call for more transparency are claiming that it's not needed here.

I am a homeowner on QA, just a few blocks from the gym, but I am not at all concerned about housing prices. I am all in favor of the district providing multiple different kinds of alternative schools in order to aid the most kids possible in graduating high school. Graduating high school benefits both the kids and society as a whole.

The district just will not learn that people aren't fans of surprises. Those of us somewhat informed are not surprised that the district is incompetent, but the district has now taught a lot more people that with their handling of this situation.


Tina Podlodowski said...

@Melissa Westbrook - to directly respond, I do not agree with the wording of the petition and have "declined to sign". I think we should be talking instead and not fueling potential fears.

Good people can be make some pretty "interesting"assumptions when there is a lack of either information or response - as has happened here with SPS. Again, based on my past experiences, I think the more info that people have, and the more you discuss their concerns, the more those concerns go away and you can focus on the real issues.

That seems to be the stance of most all on this string, and, does not seem to be the stance of SPS. I guess I'm just "re-entering" the SPS wars with kids #3 after a long absence - and wow, just wow. Tensions are sure high. I do get that everyone is capacity crunched. Which means we need to be thinking differently about capacity, and perhaps not build $100M buildings anymore. Just a thought.

To date I have not had a response to my emails or calls to SPS from anyone, except Sue Peters on the Board. And that's not quite the same. I believe some Hay parents have received replies, but no QAE, Coe and McClure parents that I personally know of.

I think that @Capacity Wonk is quite right in saying QA has to engage more fully and consistently - we have some great folks that do, but given how the current situation has come to pass many folks have not - a first time for everything and I hope it keeps folks involved. I know I will be.

And yet, I do believe for the majority of the parents, it's capacity, not Interagency, that is causing the consternation.

SPS has been wrong to be on "radio silence" here and not initially engage the community, and then not respond when parents have concerns. There is a an entire Communications department, yes? Holding a 1 hour meeting on December 10th gives everyone almost one more month to imagine the worst, and fracture the chance for understanding and support, as well as considering other opportunities for "wins" here. That's poor communications strategy in my book.

Finally, and this is my personal thing, I believe nothing good come from disparaging people, or neighborhoods, or kids, or programs, anonymously. Whether you are talking about the parents on QA, or the Interagency program or whatever. If you really believe what you are saying, have the courage to stand behind it with a name and wade in and learn more.

I think we all need a strong dose of real and accurate info here - and the folks that have that info (SPS) are the ones not talking at all. Let's remember that - and perhaps we can turn our concern, displeasure and even wrath accordingly to the deafening silence from SPS.

Thanks for listening.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Jack, I can only say - it pays to keep up especially in this district. Maybe this will open more eyes.

"The district placing the program there without telling anyone was dumb."

And maybe that was by design. Again, welcome to the world of SPS where knowledge is gold and the district's motto seems to be,
"We operate on a 'need to know' basis. We'll tell you what we think you need to know."

The "entire"Communications department is maybe 3 people. And the head of it just left. Tina, you are absolutely correct in you assessment of allowing a lot of time to go by before meeting with the community. (FYI, I can tell you EXACTLY how the district will handle the meeting.)

Tina, I say to my readers all the time (especially when they get a little troll-like) - I sign my name to everything. Understand we have some teachers/staff who read who cannot sign and there are reasons. But people who like to lash out? They never sign their names.

Jet City mom said...

I agree that elementary school parents are not aware of high school issues.
When we bought our house with a toddler, all we knew was that there was an elementary school three blocks away.
But we found out a few yrs later that there were so many environmental hazards there ( from a UW study) that the building would have been condemned except that there was no where else to put the kids.
They eventually tore down and built a completely new building ( which I'm sure needs maintenance).
But now we have the Internet and we don't have to rely on the Times or the PI or word of mouth to get news, it is just a click away.
Interagency schools have been around for decades, they just are constantly being displaced so they don't have a chance to build a presence.
Then again Summit k-12 was serving students for decades and it just took a couple people who didn't see the value of alternative education to make the community disappear.
The kids who need alternatives are still out there, taking away their programs don't take away need.

Anonymous said...


What, you mean the hour long meeting on the 10th will be a 55 minute vague and pointless power point presentation read out loud, slide by slide? The last 5 minutes will be district staff congratulating and thanking each other.

I have been to some of these meetings.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Jack, apparently you have been to a few. My sympathies. (However, it is fun to make up a bingo sheet with key district phrases. It's pretty fun.)

Anonymous said...

Tina: "And yet, I do believe for the majority of the parents, it's capacity, not Interagency, that is causing the consternation."

I rarely chime in here, but this above--no way, I'm not buying that AT ALL. My gut reaction is that for the QA folks making these offensive and naive comments that this has *everything* to do with the program being Interagency, not about capacity. Capacity is a meager excuse for their fears of kids with difficult and challenging lives moving into their area. If capacity were the actual issue would we still be hearing this desperate plea if it were say, a program for high achieving math students, or extraordinary musicians moving in? I really, really doubt it. Call it what it is--NIMBY attitudes and fear. Capacity is not the main issue here, it's a disservice to the conversation to say so.

-Lift Up

Tina Podlodowski said...

@Lift Up - I'm basing my comments on conversations I've had over the last several weeks with other QA parents, with kids at QA schools.

Aside from "gut", if you've had other direct experiences on this issue with QA parents that don't support my comments, I'd love to hear about it. I really believe that capacity is driving the overall conversation, and a lack of communication or response from SPS on Interagency is making it taking a turn into fear, uncertainly and doubt. That helps no one.

I know I'd be asking the same questions of 80+ HS kids of ANY sort were moving into the building.

I'm hoping to get information and consideration in a more timely manner from SPS. I'm hoping we can move from an emotionally charged situation to one of mutual understanding. And, I'm trying to be very factual in what I'm saying, based, of course on my own personal experience. You certainly can choose to believe that or not.

Again, I would not take the time to post if I didn't think there were better outcomes to be had here, and more engaged parents.

Finally, a shout out to all the parents struggling with overcrowding - I get that QA is likely not " the worst". Happy to talk to more parent about that.

Thank you.

@Melissa - thanks for clarifying about teachers posting - I get that and appreciate the response.

Jet City mom said...

It's always interesting when folks who have their kids in private schools get involved with the district other than volunteering in the schools or donating money to them.

I wonder what their motivation is.

Anonymous said...

@ Tina P.

I looked at the petition. It's up to almost 275 signatures. A tiny fraction make the point that they theoretically support the program.

The district owes the community a dialogue but your neighborhood owes it to the rest of us SPS parents to attend a lecture by Kaaren Andrews on the topic of White Privilege.

Just Sayin'

Anonymous said...

I completely agree that SPS blew this one. Royally. And that they could have headed off some of the outcry with some basic communication. Completely agree that scheduling a meeting a month out is a terrible, terrible plan. But you lose me each time you insist this is about capacity and not "the other." The comments on the petition and the blog just don't support that analysis. I am really trying to understand what you are saying - are you arguing that the many comments disparaging the population, discussing safety of their young children and plummeting property values are about...capacity? Really? Perhaps you do have some other information, perhaps you have spoken to families all over Queen Anne and it is capacity that is dwelt upon, not the school population. But I can only go on what I am reading on the petition (skewing heavily towards fear and dislike of the IA population) and blogs to come to a different conclusion.

That said, I really hope this spurs a new generation of residents to become more engaged in the doings of SPS. If I had a kindergartener in a Queen Anne school right now, I would have a LOT of sleepless nights about where he or she will be going to high school. If you think things are tense now, wait until that capacity crisis hits. Oy.


Tina Podlodowski said...

@ Moose

I do have a K student at QAE and I do worry about that kid and all the kids on QA Hill! Yep, that capacity crisis will be a train wreck as currently managed.

I really can't speak for the petition, or folks signing the petition. As I said, I have not signed it. I don't even know if QA parents are the ones signing the petition. But I do know that the parents that I have talked to - actual QA parents with kids at SPS schools - are far more concerned about capacity.

I don't think the petition speaks for QA as a whole. But I do know that some really great people are saying some really, uh, interesting things based on fear of the unknown. We can fix that with information and discussion. I believe that too. As an out lesbian parent of three, I've had a lot of those discussions about, well, me over the last 30 years and I do think info and dialogue make a huge difference.

But I get what you are saying - thanks.

@ Just saying' Oh boy. I think you've opened a big topic that goes far beyond any one neighborhood. Our nation needs those discussions.

Again, thanks for listening.

SPS - get your act together.

Anonymous said...

@ Tina,

When you say this is about capacity, what is it you think you mean? I don't see anything in the petition re: capacity issues, and this didn't come up in the few comments I read. Does the QA community somehow feel that they should have "dibs" on the gym, to use as they see fit? Are there suggestions as to alternate SPS sites would be better suited to Interagency? People on this blog often discuss capacity issues, throwing around a lot of ideas for potential solutions (in hope that the district might, on occasion, listen up). But it's not particularly helpful to try to play the capacity card when you don't have any alternate suggestions (and describing the kind of neighborhood it "should" be in isn't enough--SPS needs actual facilities), or when people are focusing on things like fear of drugs/violence, community "fit", etc.

Can you provide some concrete examples of how you think this is being presented as a capacity issue???

Half Full

Anonymous said...

QA/Mag has sweet deal with the NSAP and should welcome the opportunity to help students with whatever life issues they are experiencing, whether it's drud addiction or mental health. The district needs to do a good job of keeping all students safe and QA/Mag families can and should volunteer at the Interagency site. Nothing like being there helping to keep an eye on the program.
Our own famous rapper Macklemore was in such a program in his youth, and has spoken out about how it saved him.
Ms. Podolowski has elevated the level of this blog to heights I never imagined and I'm very happy to see we have her and her family involved in SPS. As a parent of a McClure student, I have heard many, many times how McClure has changed and seen it myself. Is it too white and too rich now that kids aren't bused from SE?
Maybe, the diversity is substantially lower but it is doing great things with it's SpEd programs and the students there are the nicest and most compassionate kids I've ever seen. The kids are taught by staff that is very aware of the potential bubble effect of QA/Mag affluence and do a good job of helping the kids understand racism, sexism, classism, all the bad ism's.
It's overcrowde, getting more so every year, it's dirty and smelly, no performance space, tiny music room, portables that are from the sixties(old oil stoves inside). It's suffering like every school, but it's the neighborhood school now and that has made a huge difference. I don't think many NcClure parents have any problem with the Interagency school and if some of those students wanted to come to McClure to talk abput the dangers og alcohol, prescription drug abuse, hard drugs, soft drugs, whatever; it would be an asset.
There are always people fearful of the "other" and that's OK, but don't paint a community or a school with a brush dipped in such vitriol. It's unfair and inaccurate.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"Ms. Podolowski has elevated the level of this blog to heights I never imagined..."

What does that mean?

I agree, not fair to say the everyone in QA/Magnolia feels the same way.

Tina Podlodowski said...

@Half Full - as I mentioned in previous posts, all three QA elementary schools are way past full, as are McClure (middle) and Ballard (our HS). Projections have our overcrowding as becoming dire (and I hesitate to use that word now that I've looked further at what some other neighborhoods are dealing with, but I will.)

Petition aside - and that is one voice and one aspect of the concerns being raised and something I have not signed - yes, parents DO want to know why the old QAHS gym can't be used for a gym for Hay and QAE (because there is no gym at either facility) or to alleviate overcrowding, or as a small HS, or as a pre-K program or a myriad of other things. I don't think I would use the word "dibs", but I'm sure you see why parents are asking the question. It's across the street. It has space we can use. Why aren't we using it?

If I had more information about the Interagency Recovery program, I might be able to chime in with alternatives or good ideas, but I don't. No parents on QA can, really. Because SPS is not talking. It's frustrating, and has created unnecessary fear and uncertainty and it did not need to happen this way.

Thanks SPS!

I probably will make some of you "old timers" to the blog laugh by saying this, but why can't SPS just talk to the neighborhood in a timely manner, and not hide stuff?

@Cherry - I'm not sure of the sweet deal QA has with NSAP, but I do know we are out of space, and don't seem to be getting space, and don't seem to be getting answers about space. That's my motivation here. You talk about the issues at McClure.

I think the Interagency Programs are great - I would like to know more about this one before agreeing that the old QAHS gym is the best spot. It may be, and I do think that the neighborhood would be welcoming.

Again, can't SPS just stop and talk to folks? You can see all of my previous post for further commentary.

Thanks all.

Anonymous said...

@ Tina,

Thanks for trying to clarify things, but your response just reaffirms what I was thinking. If it's primarily a capacity concern for QA folks, you'd think the issue of using the gym for the elementary schools would be front and center (e.g., "We've been asking and pleading for a gym for years..."). Or that there would be stories about how Hay can't fit into the space it has and needs to create additional classrooms across the street. Something like that.

Instead, in making the capacity argument you say that parents don't see why it couldn't be used "as a small HS, or as a pre-K program or a myriad of other things." To me, the meaning seems clear--you don't like this particular use. You clearly think that, for capacity reasons, the space should be used, but that really, it should be used any way but as proposed.

I hope the district engages with the community for a positive resolution. And I hope QA parents who may not have been paying attention to all of SPS' shenanigans in the past have had their eyes opened and will now help join in fighting for what's best for all our students, wherever they reside.

Half Full

Anonymous said...

That Queen Anne petition is now up to almost 350 signatures. It's a veritable petition wildfire. Yep,'s all about a capacity concern.

SPS might be fueling a crisis, but the tinder for that crisis exists in what can only be described as jaw dropping classism - I won't claim racism but it sure is easy to make the leap - lurking in the shadows of a hella lot of Queen Anne abodes.

No, not talking about Tina...but come on! For progressive Seattleites what an embarrassing revelation about the values and attitudes in that neighborhood.

Monday Incensed

Tina Podlodowski said...

@ Half Full

Yes, capacity issues include HS slots and I think many folks are worried that the new Pre-K initiative will take current classroom spaces too.

Let's be clear - nothing was proposed or discussed. Construction just started happening. Without permits. At night. Not a great way to introduce any program to any neighborhood.

@Monday incensed - there are lots of crazy rumors out there about the Interagency program, and the kids that are a part of it. I think it can bring out the worst in some folks, but when you starting having conversations things change. At least that has been my experience in this matter. It's a petition wildfire because that's the only outlet many folks have.

I'm not going to claim anyone in this neighborhood, or any neighborhood is perfect. But I do believe the majority of parents reflect values supportive of all kids.

But one group can change that conversation and petition wildfire in a hot minute - SPS. With some info. Which has not been forthcoming. Which is driving many parents - myself included - a little nuts. Because this does not need to happen this way.

Thank you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Tina, if you ever want to talk about the district and its issues, write to me at

P.S. This is the district's fault, not the Board. I say that b/c there is a move afoot to blame the Board for issues that are solely in the hands of staff.

Anonymous said...

You need to get your facts straight. Queen Anne elem. does have a gym. Also, McClure is not at capacity. And SPS does have a plan for overcrowding, and the Recovery School using the gym is part of that plan.

You make it sound like you are an informed engaged parent, but you are talking out of your b*tt after being around for like 5 mins.

You say that you have talked with lots of QA parents. But you never say parents at your kid's school. Have you asked any PTA reps what the principal/teachers/staff/parent body thinks about Recovery School being assigned to the gym? (My neighbor, who's on their board, said there are zero plans to support the petition.).

Why do you care so much about transparency? Seriously? Do you think because you can catch them out on not being PC enough, not doing "community engagement" adequately, that they will be forced to locate the Recovery School in some other neighborhood?

What's the real agenda here? Is it capacity at Queen Anne Ele.? That you want SPS to use the gym for a STEM pre-school space? Or is it keeping the wrong sort of kids away from the innocent kids on the Queen Anne Elem. playground?

Stop grandstanding, put on your listening ears, and catch-up on the background of the capacity issue. Some of us have been working for years & years on this issue. (While your older kids went to private schools I bet)

BTW, "going to be a train wreck." It has been and is a train wreck. Kids have been having classes in the halls for years at Hay & Coe, and even longer at other NOTSC schools. Why don't you use some of your connections around the city to get developers in SLU to partner with SPS on a joint use building for a K-8 or 9-12 school? That would actually be helpful.

-McClure mom

Anonymous said...

McClure Mom,
Tina has explained her positions in a calm, rational way. She is entitled to her opinions and viewpoint.

You are obviously frustrated but your posting is nasty.

S parent

Anonymous said...

@History Buff

Perfect!!! Would love for all the parents signing that meshugana petition to read about the 1908 parents.

Thanks for lending such a great perspective on tempest in a teapot.

-McClure mom

Anonymous said...

@S parent,

yes, you are right. It was a nasty.

I wish I could apologize. But I've been reading the coments on QA view and the posts on the QA Moms listserv. The sky is falling say so many parents when they have almost no information.

And frankly, I think that Tina's comments have fueled the flames. (among others) I think that she is giving false home to panicked parents at Hay and who live in the immediate vicinity. And making odd suggestions about using the space for alternative high school programs.

If you have been around SPS and paying attention for any amount of time, you know that they are strapped for dollars, time, and buildings. I think that this entire issue is distracting and it is wasting time of staff, and well meaning parents. (FTR, I would put Tina in that category).

It will be great if that meeting in December brings some calm, or even resolves this issue. But I think that it is going to make tensions on QA worse. Tensions between schools and parents. And, at the end of the day, it just isn't good for the kids.

-McClure mom

Anonymous said...

McClure Mom,
I have been around longer than you have, since my kids have graduated from high school and college.

There were bigger tensions in SPS when our kids were bused all over town. I was part of the group that helped form The Center School.

I recently sent a letter to the School Board and facilities management suggesting they consider the Amgen building for high school space. It would certainly help with the overcrowding situation that is evident now and will get worse when your kids get to high school.

S parent

Anonymous said...

@S parent

That is an interesting idea.Would it be a lease? Does SPS have money in its operating budget? They just spent a ton of dollars exiting Everyday Math 3 years early.

How many kids are you proposing would go there? Would this be in addition to Lincoln and Center? Does that balance with other kids being served in the district? Would it take resources away from Franklin, Rainer, and Cleveland? Because as tight as it is at Roosevelt, Hale and Ballard, there is still more overall need at the SOTSC schools.

McClure mom

Tina Podlodowski said...

@ McClure mom

Couple things - QA Elementary does not have a gym. QA has a portable that is being used as a "gym". 28 kindergarten students fill the space. You can imagine how well that works for the other grades. Hay has no gym either.

Second, I have talked with parents who have kids at Hay and Coe and QAE and McClure.

Third, no matter the eventual use of the old QAHS gym, our community - every community - should have open and honest communication with the district and dialogue when facilities are sited. I can't *make* everyone feel good about what the usage actually is, but, I do feel it's important to try and get a great dialogue going and make sure everyone has answer to their questions and factual information. Myself included. That can't happen if SPS shuts down. If that's "fueling the fire", well so be it. I hope all parents fuel the fire then. But I also recognize that's difficult for many to do, time wise. Anyway, if the Interagency Recovery School ends up in that space, we should all do our best to help the school succeed for the sake of the kids going there.

Fourth, If you think small alternative HS are crazy ideas, you are certainly entitled to your opinion. But I'm not so sure that we're going to have the money for $100M+ comprehensives any more, nor do those work as well for the kind of world this next generation will grow up in. Plus, with the new pre-K initiative, every SPS space becomes even more precious. BTW - I always full of crazy ideas. Sometimes, they work.

I've lived in Seattle for 30 years - I'm well aware of the history of SPS and have helped to try and make changes over those years. I'm sad to say, many fo those efforts did not succeed. But, it doesn't mean you stop trying.

If you want to have a conversation with me about any of this, let me know how to contact you.

Finally, one thing I learned as a city councilmember is that people can assume a lot about you from one comment, or rumor, when that's hardly the real story. I'd appreciate it if you would not assume things about me.

The one commonality I certainly get from this whole string is frustration with SPS.

Thank you for listening.

Anonymous said...

It could be a lease, or a cooperative arrangement with another party. I have heard the University of Washington is also interested in that space.

Sherry Carr wrote me back and said she was interested in this type of partnership. I am hoping the head of facilities, Flip Herndon, pursues it. The space is near public transit, water and bike trails, and would be very appealing to families.

As far as funding goes, I do not know why the District does not sell its empty building on top of Magnolia. Unless they have plans for it, that view property could give them money to buy space elsewhere.

Or, they could move the SPS office spaces to the Amgen space and sell the large building they are in now. I do not know how much capacity is there, so that is a project for them to figure out.

On another subject, I was part of the Where’s The Math group that supported better instruction in SPS. You will be better served by the new textbooks instead of the Everyday Math approach that confused so many students.

S parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think on that note, we'll end this conversation. (I think we have covered all the bases.)

Let's see if we have any more discussion at the Board meeting via public testimony. (The list of speakers will be up by the end of today.)