Thursday, October 01, 2015

RBHS Principal to Leave to Head City's Department of Education and Early Learning

Update:  Mayor's press release

Chappelle will seek to form stronger strategic partnerships with Seattle Public Schools, institutions of higher learning and other education stakeholders throughout the region, with an eye to improving outcomes for all Seattle children.

Well, well, it certainly looks a Trojan horse coming thru that no longer needs its cover.

From Dr. Nyland:
We are so proud of Mr. Chappelle and are thrilled that the mayor has chosen someone with such integrity, accomplishment, talent and dedication to equity. Mr. Chappelle has been a positive, transformative leader at Rainier Beach High School over the past four years. He has worked side-by-side with students, families and the dedicated Rainier Beach staff to create a college-going culture, elevating expectations for students by bringing in the International Baccalaureate Program. Under his leadership, graduation rates have soared and enrollment has almost doubled. As Director of the Department of Education and Early Learning, Mr. Chappelle will continue to be a strong advocate for the Rainier Beach community, and will now be able to advocate for equity and excellence for students across the entire city. I look forward to partnering with Mr. Chappelle in his new role in service of our 53,000 students.”

From KPLU:

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has chosen Rainier Beach High School principal Dwane Chappelle as his pick to lead the city's education department, the mayor will announce Thursday.

Chappelle will be the first non-interim director of the newly-created Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning, which opened in January to oversee the city's preschool and child care initiatives and administer programs funded by the city's Families and Education Levy.

It's not immediately clear when Chappelle would start at the department. The city council must first approve the mayor's choice.

It's also not clear what this means for long-time head of the department, Holly Miller.   But it certainly might be helpful for the City's Pre-k program to have someone who knows (kinda) Seattle schools.


mirmac1 said...

He may have proved to be a good/decent/not-so-good principal for RBHS but where the he*** are his credentials with respect to early learning? None. His original background was criminal justice. Where there 3-4 yr olds in reform school?

Looks like he's exemplifies the career/income climbers that permeate our district staff.

mirmac1 said...

Holy crap. I figured Murray would at least pick an educator like Dellino or....?? Wow, this really is mind-blowing.

Anonymous said...


So much about leadership is learning to create culture and move people in a positive direction. He may not have all the early learning knowledge but he does know what has to happen for children to be successful in high school.

You went immediately to the negative. Do you know him personally? If you don't, you should be ashamed of yoruself for assuming the worst.

Reader Who is Getting Tired of Negative Nellies

mirmac1 said...

I have heard from a very-knowledgeable, trusted friend about his "leadership" style.

My opinion, as I expressed above, is that he does not the knowledge or experience with Early Learning to lead Murray's latest foray in education.

I sincerely want to know what do you feel are his leadership and educational qualities?

He is not alone as a career-climber. They're rampant in the field of "educational leadership". Heck, look at all the TFA newbies doing that! The City pays great salaries. Expect to see more SPS flee the nest. For most I say good riddance.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, first Mirmac1 is pointing out a true - he has no early learning background at all. Maybe harshly but it doesn't make it less true.
Second, please, only two-word names. See Comments directions.

I think Chappelle is a great guy and brought new life to RBHS and I am very sorry he is leaving. I wish him well but no, I don't think he's the best person for this job. It looks a lot like the Mayor found a pretty easy person to mold to his vision of the City and the District working together.

Melissa Westbrook said...

To note, the City now has two people - who ran a charter school together (and then, apparently,ran away when it appeared to be failing) AND both worked for Michelle Rhee, the uber-ed reformer. (That would be head of Parks, Jesus Aguirre, and his wife, Monica Liang-Aguirre, who heads Early Learning in DEEL.

As I tweeted to the Mayor who said he wanted these "partnerships" with the district - "It feels more like an octopus tentacles than welcoming arms."

From Kyle Stokes at KPLU:

"Hi Melissa. Updated my initial post to reflect: Chappelle starts on January 1. Miller remains "in the meantime," though I have always seen her listed as the "interim director" or "acting director."

At the press conference, I also asked about preschool programming — was there thought to hiring someone with more of an early learning background for this top job? Murray noted there is a separate Early Learning office within the DEEL with its own director, Monica Liang-Aguirre. This is about building bridges with SPS and with higher education institutions, Murray said."

Po3 said...

Is it in the best interests of RBHS to have their principal removed two weeks into the school year?

No, it is not.

Just another example of how the focus on K-12 is diluted in favor of the city preschool program.

Melissa Westbrook said...

He isn't leaving until Jan. 1 but yes, effectively gone in many ways.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure, but I don't remember John Stanford having any education background at all before coming here. He'd been in the military. But isn't also referred to as the last decent super we had? I'd think organization and management skills would translate from one education job to another even better than military to school district.

We live in the Rainier Beach area and know many, many families with kids there. Some who would have otherwise gone off the rails have stayed in school and done well under Chapelle's watch. I assume his skills are viewed by Murray as positives.

Hoping 4best

Anonymous said...

When is Mayor Murray up for re-election or rejection?

I think managers should have expertise in what they are managing in addition to managerial skills. The Mayor thinks otherwise.

Inquiring Mind

Anonymous said...

Typical Mirmac assuming the worst and spewing vile bile around a person Mirmac likely doesn't know. The knee-jerk grows so tiring. If Chappelle was out of the Early Learning world, no doubt Mirmac would have been throwing a snit that he didn't have high school experience.

Good: Murray picked a South Ender.
Good: Someone from SPS in the Mayor's office. Better than Holly Miller who had a Parks gig.
Good: A person of color. Kids and parents need to see more than rich white business guys running education policy.
Good: Chappelle's ties to RBHS. School needs an ongoing champion from someone with power. They just got one.

Bad: Mirmac's seeming assumption that every educator getting a promotion is without merit. What a load.

Moving On

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will point out that SPS has had numerous people of color - both in the past and currently - in top leadership positions. That is not so much the case for the City (until now).

I have no idea how Mr. Chappelle can champion anything for RBHS from here on out. But maybe Moving On knows more.

Anonymous said...

Moving On,

I do not grasp the logic in your above statement.

I fail to see what South End and person of color have to do with leading "Early Learning".

How does RBHS benefit from having Mr. Chappelle in "Early Learning"?

Please explain.

Inquiring Mind

mirmac1 said...

The rest of the rats fleeing the ship will probably include:

Cashel Toner (should already be on the City payroll)
Charles Wright (our next Mayor-appointed Superintendent)
Clover Codd (Either City or Alliance)

the list goes on.

Harsh? Yes, because Murray's entire chimera is incredibly harmful to public education in our city.

mirmac1 said...

BTW, I supported Chappelle when the RBHS PTSA lobbied for his selection as principal. Does not mean that I think he is so eminently-qualified to move onto the next high-paying, upper management job.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone within the SPS hiring system care about Mirmac's 'support' or nonsupport for Chappelle's RBHS placement?

Does anyone within the Mayor's office care about Mirmac's 'support' or nonsupport for Chappelle's new position?

Does anyone think Mirmac's 5 character trash posts in one night were of value?

Guess it's time for

Moving On

Melissa Westbrook said...

Moving On, you can disagree without being disagreeable.

Miramac1, don't name call, please.

Anonymous said...

with all your bagering -moving on makes me wonder why you just don't

-Do it

Spelling said...

It's badgering. There's a d in there.

mirmac1 said...

Oops, sorry Melissa.

Anonymous said...

I would love to know more about how Mr. Chappelle accomplished these things -- sounds like his methodology could serve as a useful blueprint for other principals.

"create a college-going culture" -- Sounds like this was accomplished by bringing in IB, a great move. I'm curious about his thoughts on ongoing program funding, and also about the actual numbers here (What %age of RB grads went to college before and after his arrival).

"Under his leadership, graduation rates have soared..." -- I know he increased graduation rate by 25 points, which is huge. I would love to understand how exactly SPS is learning from his success, especially now that his departure is imminent.

"and enrollment has almost doubled." -- I know that the district has artificially limited enrollment at Cleveland in order to prevent to many RB attendance area families from accessing that option school, and that should continue to boost enrollment. But this accomplishment predates that 2015 change, and, again, wondering how the next principal can continue to use positive, not punitive, mechanisms to draw kids to the school. If it's just the IB program, then what's the long-term plan? If it's other things, what are they, and how can his successor continue his legacy?

--Southeast Mom

Anonymous said...

I don't know much about the Rainier Beach success story. Can someone who does help me out?

Did graduation rates soar because the same kind of kid that previously failed became more successful because of the culture change and/or the IB program, or did the graduation rates rise because the IB program attracted a more successful cohort of kids to the school?

If the first answer is true, Mr. Chappelle has been very successful. If the second is true, it's the usual SPS shell game.


Anonymous said...

Breaking news! Duncan quits Obama's administration this December. With luck he stays in Chicago and never ventures west of the Rockies. Learned the other day his kids are in an exclusive, expensive private school. Figures.


Anonymous said...

Put the above note in this thread as I guess there's much worse Murray could have put in his new fiefdom er education department.


OMG said...

Clearly, Nyland looks forward to a deepening relationship with the city.

Anonymous said...


I'd be happy to fill you in on all the details. I am the IB Coordinator for RBHS. Short answer is it's your first guess, and the goal of the program from the beginning has been to empower the students in the school to avoid being displaced. We have an inclusive program that has all students taking at least 1 IB class. Check out this PBS piece that came out at the beginning of the summer ( and feel free to email me at

And addressing the laughably uninformed snipes at his character and leadership, I'm likely the only person in this thread who has been present for every moment of his tenure at RBHS and worked closely with him. I can testify that he is an exceptional and diplomatic leader with an uncanny ability to smooth tensions, include all parties, and strategically surround himself with people who can supplement any gaps in his expertise/skillset. I predict he will surprise many of you, and while we're extremely sad to lose him here, I am happy for all students in Seattle who will benefit from his leadership. He is leaving behind extremely strong staff and teacher leadership at RBHS which he helped develop and which will be able to continue our successes regardless of who's at the top.

Colin Pierce

Longhouse said...

Hey Downtown Eddie -- stay out of education. It's not your job. Whether you agree with them or not, we have an elected school board who handles that. If Seattle has enough money to start creating redundant departments then you clearly have too much money to play with. Just focus on doing something about crime, roads, etc. because you're doing so great with those. Why not just do, you know, what you were elected to do.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Colin, for your information and sharing your experiences. It sounds like RBHS has been lucky to have Chapelle as a principal. I do not understand your statement that you are " happy for all students in Seattle who will benefit from his leadership." It is totally unclear to me how any student in Seattle will benefit from his leadership more then they would have as a principal/leader. Can you elaborate?

I believe that remaining at the high school, in the apparently unglamorous job as principal, would, in reality, make the most difference for kids and families. No, a principal is not high profile, and its a tough job. But leaving after only 3 years, does not show commitment to me.

Leaving a "strong staff and teacher leadership" at the school is great - for a while - as seen at other schools. But, in reality, it does make a difference who the principal is. I'm thrilled to hear about the success of RBHS, but this appointment makes no sense to me.


Anonymous said...

Welcome to Seattle Public Schools and if any school is a lab that is RBHS. Wow just wow.

Thought this the other day when I ran into a Teacher who worked there and said he was not long for the building, rising star and all. Didn't even stay in the system but went to another bureaucratic system which frankly if Murray makes another term will be a job gone as another broom and clean and all.

RBHS needs to be closed for a year, reworked and renamed like they did with Meany, and while it is closed re work all the feeder schools in the area to build students with solid skills and abilities to easily transition between grades.

But we can't do that and why? Accusations of racism or what? How about the community involved and engaged instead of shoved down their throat, and doing what they did years ago to the now closed African American Academy. RB is a great location to make that a reality.

- Good Luck

Melissa Westbrook said...

Actually Good Luck, RBHS had revamped itself and was doing well. Its enrollment is up (through some force, though, by limiting Cleveland), it has a thriving IB program and, if they had a better building, would likely grow even more.

No,the Mayor has done a selfish thing by taking a principal that parents and community help to pick AND who they trusted away from a school that needs him.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will note that Director Patu was told that Mr. Chappelle had applied for the job/she knew he was leaving. That's not the case with other directors. I asked President Carr for a comment and she didn't even know about it. She was more surprised when she was told that he didn't leave for another school but to work at the City.

There were several points during the Ex Ctm yesterday where this could have been announced (as Director McLaren didn't know either)especially during the actual discussion of the City's pre-K program (big news on that) and yet, no one said a word.

I have to wonder what else is being kept from the Board.

Anonymous said...

And so by taking away the leader who managed to do just that will enable this growth to continue? Let's see all the other ways the district failed RBHS over the years?

It looks to me that this is reminiscent of other schools who suddenly improved and the scores rose, enrollment stable, teachers stayed and then whoosh the revolving door of better opportunities casting doubt and making one wonder.

I can think of Audra Lutz at Mercer then off to KIPP, or the closers who turned out programs and then when left the program went with them.. Center School, MCHS, and Operation Skyway.

But as you work in every single school, speak to every single teacher or educator or staff you would know this right?

- Good Luck

Melissa Westbrook said...

I am saying Mr. Chappelle made a difference and was supported by the community.

Being disrespectful to me is not the way to make a point.

Anonymous said...

Another fact to remember when talking about rising South End scores: before NSAP there was a sizable cohort of South End students who travelled up to Hamilton MS and Ingraham HS for a better education. Both schools had a large percentage of students from South Seattle - I remember almost all Ingraham ASB leaders from the school tour in 2013 lived in the South End. Those types of students (I assume they were highly motivated to travel that far) are now staying in the South End, such as at Rainier Beach.


Melissa Westbrook said...

And Aki Kurose, which I think feeds to Rainier Beach, is also on a very steady upward rise.

Anonymous said...

Negative Nellies-

Get a grip. He has the right to take the job. The mayor has the right to hire him.

Public employees do not have chains around their necks. They have free choice and options. Why not make a career choice that pays more and could possibly lead to an even higher paying job? Public employees are not indentured servants.

Get a hobby or do some volunteer work but stop worrying about someone making a professional career choice.

Public Employee

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you why "Public Employee". Our district does not need more money going to your unchained. It needs people who commit long-term, who wouldn't be where they are but for the public.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Oh I'm not upset at Mr. Chappelle for leaving; I don't like the Mayor poaching him.

Anonymous said...

And Aki Kurose, which I think feeds to Rainier Beach, is also on a very steady upward rise.

Uh no... try looking at School Digger which documents every school in every area

this is the link

it talks about all the schools that feed in the area...

come on down here instead of being an "activist" north of ship canal. It's gentrifying and safe now for the precious snowflakes. We gots a PCC and overpriced apartments too..if you build it they will come! I wonder who "they" are... oh the rich, the white, the tech and the kid free.. solves that problem right there.

- Good Luck

Melissa Westbrook said...

Good Luck, not sure if that is directed to me.

But - I have advocated for the south end, many, many times. You're welcome to ask around. That most of my activism is about issues that affect all areas of our district also speaks to that. But truly, I am one person and I cannot be in all places at all times.

I will also ask again for no name-calling ("snowflakes"). I assume that is a dig to white people? Just to let you know, I am not totally white. I'm a quarter Mexican and grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border. Don't assume you know someone's background/life story from their name.