And speaking of field trips, yet again the district cannot get the smarts to head off situation. Now it's all over the news.
This morning students at Stevens protested outside their school for about an hour. They were protesting the very abrupt announcement that a long-time tradition of 5th graders going on an overnight field trip was not happening. This is two weeks before the trip was to happen.
The "official" explanation is that the paperwork didn't get to the district in time and, even with an extension, could not get done.
To note, Stevens has had some leadership issues with the principal being out on sick leave, last year the Special Ed teacher gone nearly most of the year with subs/IAs filling in, etc. It is no one's fault to be sick but that also doesn't mean the school doesn't continue to function properly.
From the Capital Hill Seattle blog:
“I’ve been looking forward to camp all year as the last experience with kids I’ve been in school with since kindergarten,” said Sofia Sevenko, an 11 –year old 5th grader at Stevens. “We don’t understand how this could be taken away two weeks before we’re headed to camp.”This poor communication and lack of accountability is just one incident in a 6-year cycle of mismanagement at the school that has resulted in urgent parent communication to the district, legal recourse over special education and heightened dissatisfaction with the school by teachers and families.
*Principal Archer was on medical leave for the last three months after several years of parents calling for her resignation and lawsuits filed over mishandling of special education dollars. The cancellation of camp is the first communication the Stevens community received that she had returned to the school on Monday, April 18.
On Tuesday, the Ex Director, Sara Pritchard and the Ombudsperson will come to speak to the school.
Backstory on this issue
I will try to be delicate here but it appears there are a couple of students in the 5th grade who have challenging behaviors. What is being reported to me are issues of bullying, foul language (to both students and teachers), alleged sexual harassment and disrespect (to teachers and students.)
The teachers were worried about what might happen in a more open-air situation with these students and asked for support. They were told no by the school and the SEA allegedly told them to decline to take the trip. The principal said at least one teacher had to go (in addition to the students.)
There is to be a meeting on Tuesday with the Ex Director and district ombudsperson.
Backstory on Special Education at Stevens
In December of 2015, a parent of a Special Education student at Stevens was sent a decision, based on hercomplaint, via her lawyer, to OSPI. Superintendent Nyland, Sped head Wyeth Jessee and other SPS staff were also sent the decision.
The Procedural History lays out how OSPI had received in October of 2015, a complaint from this parent that alleged
that the district violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or a regulation implementing the IDEA, with regard to the education of students who attend the Access program at the elementary school.Basically:
Is the District implementing the individualized education programs (IEPs) for students in the Access program?
There was a lot of back and forth in 2015 over this parent's complaint. Here's the backstory to the complaint:
During 2014-2015, this elementary had an Access program for autistic students. But, in early October, the teacher took a leave of absence and was never full-time again for the rest of the school year. During that time, they had several subs (when they could get a sub.) In Feb. 2015, a permanent sub was hired. There were also IAs who filled in when no sub was available including sub IAs.
This school also had a primary and intermediate program for students with EBD(emotional behavioral disabilities.) At the beginning of the school year, the teacher for that program was injured (off-duty from being a teacher) and was not able to work full=time for several weeks. Again, like the Access program, there were multiple subs and IAs.
In Feb. 2015, the Complaint filed a SECC (special education citizen complaint), that said the District was not providing students in either the Access or EBD programs properly to support their IEPs.In April 2015, OSPI agreed with this parent and ordered the district to provide OR pay for students to receive compensatory services. And, by August 1, 2015, the district needed to work with school staff to develop the "draft service schedule" for the next year.
So basically, it appears that most of the Special Ed kids at Stevens didn't not receive the appropriate services under their IEPs for that school year.
Now we come to 20150-2016 and the August 1st deadline came and went. OSPI looked at the district's response that those schedules had gotten done and found inconsistencies for several students.
The school year was late because of the teachers strike but when the school finally opened, the Sped parents still had concerns.
Apparently the school thought they could get the schedules done by October 2015 "but, unfortunately OSPI thought differently."
The parent then filed another complaint in Oct 2015. OSPI noted:
While teacher strikes or other unforeseen circumstances can require all parties to be adaptable to some extent, such circumstances even at the beginning of a school year, do not create an opportunity for either the District, a teacher, a principal, assistant principal, or a parent to override the IEP process, or for the school to use the first several weeks of the school year to rearrange the provision of services previously agreed to in an IEP.From the parent:
Almost two years of hard advocacy, two OSPI citizen's complaints, and here we are - they have not been compliant with IEPs, Least restrictive environments of the students are being violated, and again - no teacher. And, while there is a qualified sub available (the parents all know her - she's another Stevens parent) they are putting in this sub with no experience. Our kids our suffering, we've advocated our fingers to the bone, and it continues to be a disaster.So we end up with a school that clearly seems to have leadership issues. Question is, who will right this leaning ship? This is the kind of thing that makes other parents look askance at a school that previously had a good reputation.