Friday, November 28, 2014

Rise Up, Seattle Schools Parents and Community - It's YOUR District

This is a turning point before us.  We either fight back and let the Board know, in huge numbers, that this is terrible mistake to just appoint Dr. Larry Nyland the permanent superintendent of Seattle Schools or the district will take the most major turn we have ever witnessed.

Here's the KIRO-tv news story from Thanksgiving Day.

If you watch the story, you will see me being more than fair.  Frankly, that was a mistake on my part.  I am vehemently against this action, no matter Nyland's qualifications.  His experience and qualifications are NOT the only considerations for a superintendent for this district.

This is wrong for so many reasons.  Read the agenda item (and note who sponsored it).
1) Even if he was the best person, why the secrecy?

2) Even if he was the best person, why have the vote take place on Wednesday with no real public discussion?  (It's an Intro/Action item in one which is generally ONLY for emergencies).  What's the emergency?

3) The Board had an Executive Session on Monday that carried over to Tuesday.  That Tuesday they had been scheduled to have a Committee of the Whole meeting but it was cancelled.  So there was no effort to even allow notification to parents or the public.

4) The district does NOT have to do a large national search; they could do a smaller regional one.  Again, just like Susan Enfield, if Nyland is the right person for the job, they'll pick him. 

5)   I've been in committee meetings with extensive discussion on attributes, etc.  Something has changed because the Board has been steadily moving forward on a search.
Here's a very aware comment from one reader that nails the main point of why this appointment should not happen. 
The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior and this issue must be explored before hiring Nyland.
Nyland has done very little in his short time but there are already two major incidents on his watch.

One is the Gates Foundation preschool grant that the Superintendent "accidentally" signed.

The other is the massive student data breach of over 7500 Special Education students' records in early November. 

Here's the problem.  It's all good and well that Nyland apologized for both.  But neither was just some faux pas.  Both have real consequences to this district and its students.

It's what he left out of those apologies that is the real question of his leadership.

In the case of the Gates Foundation grant, he said this:

To senior staff:

We also have a protocol for recognizing and correcting errors such as these. General Counsel for the District will make you aware of those steps.

Wait?  If you have an established protocol, whose job was it to go over it with the Superintendent?  He says he didn't know about it; whose job was it to go over this kind of information with him?  Whose job was it to track grants?  What about the role of Ron English, Legal Counsel, on both issues?  What about the role of Ken Gotsch, in Finance, for the Gates Foundation grant? 

In the case of over 7500+ student records being given out, here's his leadership:

We apologize once more for this error and are taking steps to prevent such an event from occurring again.

Not one specific.  Who was the person in Special Education responsible for sending those files to the Legal department?  Who in Legal sent them onto the law firm that ultimately delivered them to the guardian of the student in question? Twice? 

I'm sure staff is very happy about a boss who will not hold them accountable for gross errors. 

It's baffling that the Board would want this, though.  

And, you do realize that he has been lying or mistaken that ALL parents whose had a student affected by the data breach have been notified.  The Superintendent said (and Communications confirmed to me) that notification has only been electronic (via e-mail).

Do we all honestly believe all Sped parents have e-mail and/or read the district website?  How would you feel if it were your child?

The whole thing stinks on ice and it's appalling.

If this follows thru, this is the start of the takeover of the district.  If anyone thinks they have little traction now as parents, just wait to see what will come.

I ask you to consider sending a message of concern (or even outright dissension) over this action.  If you can, attend the Board meeting with signs.  (I'll try to have some props to help.)

This is one time when you absolutely should rise up.  

Please take the time this weekend to make your voice heard:


Lynn said...

I read the agenda item again. It authorizes the board president to negotiate a contract with Nyland. It does not require the president to do so.

The first action item on the agenda is the election of officers. Who is likely to be elected president? I would hope that after her comments on the Garfield field trip incident her fellow board members won't re-elect Peaslee.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Still not going to help. I predict Sherry Carr will be elected.

Normally I think of Sherry as the voice of reason but lately, I do not get her reasoning at all.

chunga said...

Thanks again Melissa for providing the reporting that our local news orgs fail to do!

Lots of great info here that raise serious questions about why Peaslee is pushing this. I'm curious though why you think taking this action will lead to city take over of the district. Can you clarify?

Is it because Nyland is too close to the Alliance and business interests?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I see groundwork being laid.

I see most of the Board virtually ignoring issues - Gates Foundation grant and student data breach - that I do not think would be overlooked for other superintendents.

These are two serious issues that happened under his leadership in less than 6 months.

A seasoned experienced administrator and this is the best he can do for responses?

That he has repeatedly expressed so much happiness and enthusiasm for the City's preschool plan - which is not the main mandate of this district - is troubling. Why is this so important to him? Why are so many in top leadership devoting so much time to this when there are other major issues?

They take their lead from him.

I told Dr. Nyland in public testimony at his first Board meeting (after welcoming him as I do all new superintendents), "You can be a leader, a follower or a figurehead."

I believe he is choosing to be the figurehead.

I believe that choice works out well for some who want to gain power in our district.

Anonymous said...


Chicago was first :


DennisseTiu said...

This is a great way of pursuing officers to do the right thing :)

Customer recommendations for Montessori Bellevue

Anonymous said...

So why don't people get the students to walk out over this? The student walkouts seem to get attention. Let the students know what the players are up to.


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


I hope you organize a walk out.

One should pay attention to "mission creep" and it will be done between the city's preschool program and the district.

We will see the city want to "loop" prek teachers into K. This will allow the city to insert themselves into the district's hiring practices.

The city wants to align prek-5th grade professional development. Frankly, this does not make sense. Is it the intention of the city to hire Teach for America and use the district to create a taxpayer funded pipeline for Teach for America? My bet: Yes.

The manner in which Peaslee is acting is beyond reproach.

Will there be attempts to insert prek charter schools into SPS buildings? With the majority of the board being asleep at the wheel...why not?

Didn't McLaren run on the campaign promise of Truth, Trust, Transparency and "OUR House"?

Thank you for working on this issue, Melissa.

Sam said...

Lastly, We're watching the board president (with the help of Ron English) put forth a fake emergency.

We're watching a board vote on a superintendent that signed a $750K contract with the Gates Foundation and City of Seattle with board approval. Where is the oversight?

Has Peaslee become a pawn for the Alliance??

The votes on this will be interesting. One word: Oversight.

Nyland has proven himself capable of disregarding the board.

Ron English+ Larry Nyland= Dream Come True for Gates, City, LEV and Alliance for Education.

Anonymous said...

I can think of a number of valid reasons to name Nyland superintendent.

I can think of only ONE reason to introduce the idea and vote on it in the same meeting. For a board majority (Patu, Peaslee, McLaren, Peters) who ran with the insistence that the Board needs to take public input early and often in making District decisions, this seems a shocking move, bordering on public betrayal.

The ONE reason I can think this is being pushed is if Nyland privately told the board 'either I'm your guy or not - I'm not going to sit through a multi-month search process.' Didn't Enfield supposedly do that behind the scenes? (I honestly can't remember.) The problem is that if Nyland used that strong arm tactic, the reasons I can think to keep him would be invalidated by that style of power play.

I am also troubled by the timing of this move. Anyone with a little PR savvy knows the time to push a controversial move through is when the public isn't looking. And for sure the public isn't looking for something like this at the beginning of the holiday season. Is the timing random happenstance? Could be, but boy it sure doesn't come off that way. Appears very deliberate.

In short, even if the Board votes are there behind the scenes to annoint Nyland, the Board really needs to do the right thing and allow public comment. Not to do so will undermine Nyland from the get-go, which would be yet another unhealthy chapter in the troubled history of Downtown SPS.


Melissa Westbrook said...

EdVoter, good points all.

As well, the Board ALWAYS wants a united vote for superintendent.

So if Peters, Patu and McLaren stand by their campaigns (as Peaslee isn't), then it will be an unhealthy split vote.

View Website Securities Lawyer said...

nice to know.