Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Middle College at High Point Gets Support from City Council Members

 Four Seattle City Council members, Nick Licata,  John Okamoto, Mike O'Brien and Kashama Sawant, signed a letter to Superintendent Nyland to keep Middle College at High Point open.

Given the impact Middle College has had on students’ lives, we think the cost of 2.2 FTE positions and $28,000 a year in rent is a worthwhile investment in the future of our children.

We are also concerned about the race and social justice impact of this school closure. The 2008 closure of five Seattle schools, all of which served a majority students of color, led to capacity problems and serious impacted many families. Around the country, public schools that predominately educate students of color have been closed down in recent years. Seattle should stand up against this national trend, not exacerbate it.

We support the teachers, students, alumni and community in requesting that you reverse the decision to close Middle College at High Point, and urge you to retain the current Middle College model for what it has always been and reinstate the teachers to their positions. 

I hope the Superintendent will listen and reconsider this closure. 

30 comments:

Charlie Mas said...

The School District should make its decisions without regard to any pressure from the City, the County, or the State. Especially independent of any elected officials who don't have direct responsibility for education.

Anonymous said...

Nice dream , but it already makes decision based on pressure from non-elected individuals and groups.
I for one am gladdened by this, and hope it works.

Under Bus

Another Name said...

It is very important to differentiate whether or not Middle College is a school or "program"- as the district asserts.

There are laws that dictate the manner in which SCHOOLS are closed.:

"Before any school closure, a school district board of directors shall adopt a policy regarding school closures which provides for citizen involvement before the school district board of directors considers the closure of any school for instructional purposes. The policy adopted shall include provisions for the development of a written summary containing an analysis as to the effects of the proposed school closure"

http://apps.leg.wa.gov/rcw/default.aspx?cite=28A.335.020

As I understand it, the district disallowed students from enrolling and showed-up with boxes to remove Middle College's belongings. If Middle College is a school, it appears the district didn't follow the law.

Legally, what is the definition of a school?

I hope there are attorneys looking at this issue.

Lynn said...

Middle College (as a whole) is a school. High Point is just one of it's locations. If that location is closed, the school will still exist.

List of public schools in Wa State: https://eds.ospi.k12.wa.us/DirectoryEDS.aspx
WA State School Report Card: http://reportcard.ospi.k12.wa.us/summary.aspx?year=2013-14&schoolId=954&reportLevel=School&yrs=2013-14

Melissa Westbrook said...

If Middle College is a school, Lynn, then it's closure is the domain of the Board, not the Superintendent. That is a key issue - program or school? I would submit the District is trying to have it both ways. When I was on the Closure and Consolidation Ctm., a school had a building.

Anonymous said...

Summit k-12 was a school and it did not get closed with proper procedure. Even though a judge ruled the district was in the wrong,the school stayed closed and there were no repercussions for the district.
Pressure from the city was needed to get the funds back to Sand Point after the principal quit. I hope everyone reading this contacts the city council and mayor to show their support for Middle College at High Point.

Under Bus

Lynn said...

It's listed by OSPI as one school (has one school code.) I don't think each location is a separate school.

Another Name said...

Under Bus, I highly suspect that Burgess/Murray will want to use High Point space for their prek project.

Robert Cruickshank said...

What this makes clear to me is that the distinction between "program" and "school" needs to be removed, at least as far as it pertains to the board's role. The board should absolutely be the final arbiter of whether a program or a school is closed. Those decisions should not be left up to the staff, as the Middle College debacle has shown.

Anonymous said...

I don't know but ...
the OSPI School Report Card for Seattle School District

lists Middle College High School
at
1330 N 90 St
SEATTLE
98125-7136

with
Enrollment
October 2013 Student Count = 168
May 2014 Student Count = 214

There are no other listings for Middle College High School in the SPS.

I am guessing that students at all Middle College locations are included in the enrollment of 214 students. If so, then it looks like one school at multiple locations and a single location was closed but not a school.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there are three issues -- one is the "program" versus "school" issue discussed above. If I read right, it looks like there may be one "school" -- with multiple locations.

The second issue is the one that Robert mentions: to the extent that "programs" such as Middle College are really important, the board may want to consider whether it permits them to be closed with no board input or oversight. It seems to me that there may be a distinction here between major programs and minor ones. If ALOs at a given school are "programs," I guess I don't care whether the board approves each one as it is born or dies. But if the international elements of JSIS and Beacon Hill are mere programs, and if IB at RB or Ingraham is just a program, I am not happy with the idea that these things can be killed, with virtually no input from anyone -- and the ONLY recourse is to fire the Superintendent (or not). Firing is too disruptive in many instances -- but rogue Superintendents are pretty disruptive on their own. It ought to be possible to have greater board input and oversight, (without the dreaded micromanagement) -- as long as the line is drawn sensibly between programs that need board input/approval (based on size, staffing, effect on school populations, etc.) and those that do not.

The third issue is the one that the City letter raises (and I disagree with Charlie). I think ANY stakeholders have a right (if not an obligation on the City's part) to point out the issues that are raised in the letter, and to advocate (publicly and above board, not sneakily and behind the scenes) for better decision-making (on Nyland's part) and a better outcome for Seattle students.

If I were the board, I would take back some control over the movement/destruction of major programs (IB, bilingual, Montessori, Middle College, -- I am sure there are others), and I would require that Mr. Nyland respond appropriately to ALL of the public's voiced concerns (including those echoed by the City Council members.)

Mr. Nyland's actions may be, in part, in furtherance (whether consciously or not) of the narrative that the schools are badly enough run that we need the mayor (and the city council) to step in and run them. Under these circumstances, it would be foolish of the board to think that these are "ordinary times" calling for "ordinary governance" procedures. I can assure you that a corporate board (though I don't support the comparison), faced with a hostile takeover and a CEO that may be abetting it, does not govern in the same way that it would in more ordinary times.

We elect board members because we want our schools governed by a democratically elected, independent school board. If we wanted state or city control, we (or at least I -- since they are regrettably MY representatives) would be contacting Mr. Pettigrew and Ms. Tomiko Santos for their help in taking school governance out of local hands. The board needs to wake up.

Jan

Anonymous said...

Jan,

You picked the right person in Ms. Tomiko Santos when it comes to taking school governance out of local hands.

Ms. Tomiko Santos is a demonstrated expert at taking school governance out of local hands. As Chair of the House Education Committee she refused to bring to the floor a bill in early 2011 to delay the implementation of CCSS and SBAC.

She is an expert in taking governance out of local hands.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Nyland's actions may be, in part, in furtherance (whether consciously or not) of the narrative that the schools are badly enough run that we need the mayor (and the city council) to step in and run them. Under these circumstances, it would be foolish of the board to think that these are "ordinary times" calling for "ordinary governance" procedures. I can assure you that a corporate board (though I don't support the comparison), faced with a hostile takeover and a CEO that may be abetting it, does not govern in the same way that it would in more ordinary times."

As the current board has shown us, directors can be elected with the best of intentions and in the beginning they do credible things. Witness math adoption. That's the only good thing Peaslee and McLaren will be remembered for. What's followed is a knife in the back. Remember how Peaslee cried "bully" and refused to transparently answer questions about rape, Garfield and Nyland.

Nyland? I was convinced after Goodloe-Johnson's dismissal that we'd have one more sup and then a take-over. Banda was a nobody but Nyland is the placeholder so it won't surprise me if he's the last. I suspect he knows it. Witness his actions or the lack of. I suspect the directors who rushed to approve him know it too and if they don't, this just proves how the tradition of being democratically elected doesn't mean sh*t. And it is this that will usher in the new tradition of an appointed board.

If all of this was not the case, if a take over wasn't already in the works, justified and abetted by one lying incompetent staff member after another, then why would High Point Middle College be so brutally shuttered. We have nothing but disrespect for the things that work. You have your democratically elected board to thank. Except for a few standouts like Peters, elected directors won't be missed. Elected. Appointed. Doesn't matter when the things and the people that work are ignored or vilified.

Westside

Anonymous said...

I second Westside's belief in an attempted coming takeover by city bureaucrats.
After all lets "play ball" with Ed Murray.

Really is the city a knowledgeable bunch with a brilliant financial grasp of issues?

"Given the impact Middle College has had on students’ lives, we think the cost of 2.2 FTE positions and $28,000 a year in rent is a worthwhile investment in the future of our children." Says the crowd planning to pay no rent for pre-k space.

Show me the data, which confirms that this "is a worthwhile investment in the future of our children."
=====

Please note that after the coming board elections, we may have the best SPS board ever beginning in December. Hopefully they can repel the coup.

-- Dan Dempsey

Anonymous said...

Let me clarify.... I am a supporter of Middle College at High Point.

I am not a supporter of city officials meddling. At this time of inadequate k-12 funding, I am not a supporter of the city's pre-k plans.

-- Dan Dempsey

Closure Vet said...

Under the bus is wrong. The district won all of the lawsuits related to the prior school and program closures, including the transition of the Jane Addams building from Summit to the K8. At the time the district argued that the school closure statute was an environmental impact statute and so long as the district was continuing to use the building for educational purposes, it wasn't a building closure that required the board process. Legally, this looks like a different situation altogether. This district doesn't own the property issue and Middle College is going to continue to exist, albeit not this location. Not saying it's the right decision, but it's a pretty different issue than school closure.

Anonymous said...

I have no position on Middle College at High Point.

However, watching the outcry over this small program closure, as well as what happened multiple times when they attempted to close Pinehurst ... it begs the question:

When is it appropriate to close a school/program?

Obviously, any closure will cause inconvenience (to put it mildly) for those involved. However, the outcry over these two schools/programs makes it seem like once something exists, it can never be closed.

northwesterner

Robert Cruickshank said...

northwesterner, this is why I believe that program closures should require board approval. Program closures are disruptive and can undermine innovative, diverse, and effective teaching. If staff want to close a program, they need to be able to justify it to the board and the public. Right now the staff can just do as they please without any public accountability or oversight. I don't think that's appropriate in and of itself, nor do I think it's the right thing for our kids.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"Banda was a nobody but Nyland is the placeholder so it won't surprise me if he's the last. I suspect he knows it. Witness his actions or the lack of."

Spot on, Westside.

Northewesterner, that's a great question. When to pull the plug? I think one issue is what you stated, NO ONE wants their program/school closed, no matter the evidence. This is true for public schools, charter schools - many parents care about the atmosphere and support a school gives their child almost as much as academics. I heard this over and over when I was on Closure and Consolidation. (Chicago, which had a slash and burn method over closing schools to the point where kids were going to have to walk thru gang areas to get to an open school, has now realized what a massive blow it is to a school community.)

But when the evidence for the closure seems either manufactured or not the"whole child" view, then there will always be suspicion.

Middle College shouldn't have high numbers - you don't want there to be high numbers of at-risk kids who are on the verge of dropping out. But for a small program, they do extraordinarily well. That's worth the $28K in rent.

Anonymous said...

@Closure Vet

" At the time the district argued that the school closure statute was an environmental impact statute and so long as the district was continuing to use the building for educational purposes, it wasn't a building closure that required the board process."

The district might have argued that the closure statute was an environmental impact statute, but that doesn't make it one.

I have it on good authority that the district did not win the suit re: Summit k-12
any documentation you can show?

@Northwesterner
When do you think it appropriate to close a school?
You must have an opinion,otherwise why pose the question?

Under Bus

Anonymous said...

"Mr. Nyland's actions may be, in part, in furtherance (whether consciously or not) of the narrative that the schools are badly enough run that we need the mayor (and the city council) to step in and run them. Under these circumstances, it would be foolish of the board to think that these are "ordinary times" calling for "ordinary governance" procedures. I can assure you that a corporate board (though I don't support the comparison), faced with a hostile takeover and a CEO that may be abetting it, does not govern in the same way that it would in more ordinary times."

I totally agree,

I had an interesting conversation with several LEV people about the school board races, the message was that they are no longer focusing on district races. They are now working at the city and state levels. They said they find they have more influence over full time paid politicians than part time home makers. They seemed very confident in big changes coming after Nov 3rd. We should keep an eye on who's funding city council candidates.

We talked a little about city control and I have to say I was very taken aback by "it's a done deal attitude" One member hinted that Nyland was their type of guy.
There wasn't much interest in splitting the district, but the move was labeled a last resort. I pressed a little about if it where to happen what would that look like...West Seattle was mentioned as an obvious split because of the geography.

It was also interesting to see how many non-Seattleites LEV members where
supporting some sort of city take-over.

Joe

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joe, who used the term "part time home makers." Because that's not who is in the Board.

That said, I'm absolutely sure that is the new tactic - to get to City and State leaders. Also, those City Council people? I've talked to many of them (but not West Seattle) and most are absolutely not on-board with taking any governance away from the District.

Yes, I get the "done deal" attitude as well. I think it's posturing.

Why? Because I think the people of Seattle - thank God - are smart and questioning people and will not aid and abet this takeover.

Someone may lose in all this and it may be the Mayor with his run-and-fun style of rushed governance. (And, as well, I have big doubts that his Transportation levy will pass. Know that if it does, I do not believe both the District's Operations and BTA will pass. I don't think it possible. I certain would not vote for both.)

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to name the person, but they are are from the east-side. I don't trust any politician they can tend to get drunk with power. One visit to Bill Gates house and they are usually hooked.

Joe

Another Name said...

"I had an interesting conversation with several LEV people about the school board races, the message was that they are no longer focusing on district races. They are now working at the city and state levels. They said they find they have more influence over full time paid politicians than part time home makers. They seemed very confident in big changes coming after Nov 3rd. We should keep an eye on who's funding city council candidates.

We talked a little about city control and I have to say I was very taken aback by "it's a done deal attitude" One member hinted that Nyland was their type of guy. "

I am in complete agreement with this statement. Nyland is absolutely representing LEV, A4E and corporate reformers. Nyland asked the board to become charter school authorizers, works with the city to promote prek and there has not been a lot of transparency around this issue. Nyland's team has brought the board documents that are in development and a shoddy roll-out. I"m beginning to find Nyland very distasteful.

The city, via prek and Family and Education Levy are gaining increasing amounts of control within SPS.

Another Name said...

"They seemed very confident in big changes coming after Nov 3rd. We should keep an eye on who's funding city council candidates"

It would only take Murray and a compliant council to lobby Olympia for Mayoral control of public education. Do NOT vote for Banks, Gonzales or Burgess.

Charlie Mas said...

The differences between "school", "program", and "services" are defined in Superintendent Procedure 2200SP, which goes with the program placement policy.

The program placement policy delegates all program placement decisions to the superintendent. That said, the Board does sometimes take them back. It did when determining APP sites, language immersion sites, and others.

The rules for school closures are, more precisely, rules for school building closures. The superintendent says that he doesn't even have to comply with the policy and procedure for program closure because he claims that Middle College at High Point is not a school, not a program, and not a service, just a location. The Board has not challenged him on that interpretation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Joe, I didn't want you to name the LEV person. I just wanted to understand if the characterization of Board members as "part time home makers" was yours or theirs.

Another name, exactly right.

Charlie, I told the Board at the last Board meeting and quoted that the Superintendent said that it was a school not a program. If they cared enough, they would have challenged him. Even if he misspoke and realizes it is a program not a school, it would be good to have that discussion out loud.

Closure Vet said...

Under the bus-

The court records are all online. Briggs v. Seattle School District. Not sure what better authority there is than the court file. There are also articles about how the district won lawsuits about closure in 1988, 2006, and 2007.





Anonymous said...

Closure Vet,
Thanks I'll go over it again, but I think one salient point that I found in skimming over it is the courts statement that-
No person has a right to have their child attend at any particular school building - See more at: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/wa-court-of-appeals/1590709.html#sthash.QDzFhKd6.dpuf

The district obviously agrees,yet it is always saying it values community building in schools.Yes, by all means, invest time/money in this community that could be dispersed next month.It's no skin off our teeth. The more money you donate the more admin we can hire downtown.

District families work under a good faith agreement that does not exist.

Under Bus

Closure Vet said...

Under Bus-

I agree that SPS says one the and then does another. My point was to warn you that others have made the same legal argument about the closure statute in the past and lost. Honestly, the only thing that ever seems to impact the JSCEE is when they think the politics of a decision will make the rich and powerful unhappy.