Monday, August 28, 2006

Lawsuit Documents

Thanks to Charlie Mas, anyone who wants to can read the court filings from SOCKED in their lawsuit against the district. Go to the CPPS Yahoo group Files area.

You may need to join the CPPS Yahoo group to view the files. Click Join CPPS Yahoo group.

Charlie and I have shared our opinions on this lawsuit. What do other people think?


Anonymous said...

I checked at the site and didn't find the docs - can you post here as well? Also understand that Chris Jackins has filed a lawsuit - anyone know if correct and post?


Anonymous said...

When you are at the site home page, look in the menu on the left for a link to Files.

Click on the Files link and you should see a menu in the main section with a folder titled SOCKED.

Click on the SOCKED link and you will see seven pdf documents. I recommend that you begin with NOTICE OF APPEAL TO SUPERIOR COURT, the primary document in the Court filing.

Anonymous said...


School closures prompt 2nd suit
Rainier View got late notice, claim says


For the second time in a week, Seattle Public Schools has been hit with a lawsuit challenging its decision to close seven school buildings.

Both lawsuits have been moved to federal court in Seattle and seek to block the district from closing any schools.

The latest suit focuses on Rainier View Elementary School, a Southeast Seattle school that was not named as a target until July 5, three weeks before the School Board made a final decision on school closures. Most schools on the eventual closure list were first notified in May.

The suit was filed on behalf of Rose Sanders, the legal guardian of a boy who lives near Rainier View Elementary but does not yet attend school. In court documents, Sanders contends that the district violated federal and state law, as well as School Board policy, by not providing enough notice of hearings about the closures, particularly at Rainier View.

The lawsuit also faults the district for not providing an analysis of the effects of the proposed closures and raises concerns that closures may eventually unfairly limit the boy's educational opportunities.

Dwight Van Winkle, Sanders' lawyer, said Rainier View's late inclusion on the closures list was unfair.

"State law requires school districts to give citizens a genuine opportunity to be heard before a school is closed," he said. Sanders "is asking the court to enforce state law by requiring the School Board to follow its own policy on school closures."

Seattle Public Schools spokesman Peter Daniels defended the district's process for closures and noted Monday that the district published advertisements, sent out e-mails and posted fliers about the hearings at Rainier View.

"We did meet and make every effort to go beyond the legal requirements," he said. Although some people may feel that the district didn't provide proper notification, he said, "I believe the district feels very confident that it did so."

The School Board last month approved closing a district interim site and six school buildings: Viewlands Elementary, John Marshall Alternative High School, Martin Luther King Elementary, Fairmount Park Elementary, Rainier View Elementary and the Columbia building, which houses the Orca K-8 program. Martin Luther King will not reopen this fall. The rest are scheduled to close in the fall of 2007. Despite the lawsuits, district administrators plan to keep working on a second round of school closures, which also would take effect in the fall of 2007, Daniels said.

P-I reporter Jessica Blanchard can be reached at 206-448-8322 or jessicablanchard@seattlepi.com.

Beth Bakeman said...

I was unable to post the docs on this site because it is just a blog, not a website.

I really appreciate Charlie posting them on the CPPS site so people can see them.

If you still have difficulty seeing them after following Charlie's directions, let me know.

Anonymous said...

I think the lawsuits will lose because the district lawyers are pretty good about covering their bases. Legally, I think they did what they were supposed to in order to follow the letter of the law. Frankly, I think it's just a delaying tactic and they are hoping to get an injunction to delay school closures. Even if they do get an injunction, the district can proceed with planning (they would be dumb not to)so I'm not sure what good it will do.

There is NO EASY WAY or PROCESSS to close schools. Charlie is right about the lack of emphasis on students by the district and the Board. And that's the problem. We just don't have the leadership needed to get these things done as cleanly as possible. It's one "oops" after another.

I am beginning to get to the point of believing that the city should take over the district. I just don't see any reason to place my trust in the current crop of "leaders".

Mel Westbrook

Anonymous said...

The primary problem, the failure at the root of all of the District's other failures, is that Seattle Public Schools is culturally and structurally incapable of responding to the needs of the community it purportedly serves.

Consider any problem that the District has - lack of public trust, poor market share, persistently poor academic results, litigation, charges of racism, even the financial problems - all of it grows out of the District's disconnect from what the community is telling them.

The District leadership may say that they want to bridge that gap, but their actions actually expand it. Without a change in culture and structure, they cannot help expanding it. It is all they know how to do.

Here's the thing about institutional culture: it flows down from the top.

Here's the thing about culture change: very few people can do it at a pace faster than tectonic movement. It is far easier to replace the people than to replace the culture because people don't change but populations do.

Raj Manhas, from the day that he was made Superintendent, has said that he wanted to change the culture of the District to make it more open, honest, transparent, accountable, and engaged with the community. It has been three years and you have to ask yourself: Has he made any progress?

I don't think so.

Honesty? He intentionally mislead the public about the cost overruns on BEX I in the days before the vote on BEX II. He used accounting tricks - ones that the District swore they would not use in the wake of the Moss-Adams audit - to sweep a $30 million capital deficit under the rug. He tried to pass off misleading WASL data after specifically promising that he would not. He has left broken promises all over the place: on water quality, on air quality, on principal selection, with the Spectrum community, with the alternative school community, and elsewhere. Tell us, what HAS he been honest about? He is supposed to be this man of integrity. Can anyone give me an example of his integrity?

Open? How are principals selected? How is program placement done? These processes are not open at all.

Transparent? What is the actual budget? It isn't the one that is posted on the District web site. How does public input affect decisions?

Accountability? The Superintendent put out an Accountability Plan in October of last year. Ironically, the Accountability Plan has not been implemented. Who will be held accountable for failing to fulfill the Accountability Plan? No one in Seattle Public Schools is ever held accountable for anything. From the girls basketball coaches at Sealth to the Superintendent himself.

Community Engagement? Pul-leez. Seattle Public Schools holds public hearing that are neither. They aren't public and they aren't heard. When, if ever, has public input changed a decision? The best evidence of the Superintendent's commitment to community engagement came last year as he was making plans to close schools. The District held a series of community meetings. Hundreds and hundreds of people came. Regardless of the meeting format, time or location, the people clearly and loudly told the District "No Closures, No Reduction in Choice". Then the Superintendent came out with his Preliminary Proposal for Reshaping Seattle Public Schools. It featured school closures and the end of choice. The full document included detailed descriptions of the rationale for every decision. Nowhere, not in even a single case, was public input listed as a contributing factor in any decision.

Read the CACIEE report and tell me if their first recommendation, although they didn't write it in so many words, is to replace the Superintendent. They report that he has failed in every aspect of his job, and any objective observer would have to agree.

Anonymous said...

I am hearing about BEX III all of a sudden. Does anyone know a timeline and whether the district is planning on using it to expand or build new facilities? Which would certainly be a disconnect in the wake of the Must Close Facilities message. So many pieces of the closure process are seemingly in flux that some of us are losing track of which end is up.

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