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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Follow-Up on Violence in Schools

This article (on the front page, unfortunately for SPS) appeared in the PI today about the efforts by parents of a Hale student who had been attacked last spring by some other students because he reported being robbed by them earlier in the year.

I had actually heard about this case from a friend with a student at Hale. My friend said what the parents reported in the newspaper; namely, that the previous principal (now gone, thank goodness) had not been helpful to the parents. It's troubling that the kid got robbed in the first place but to get beaten up for being a "snitch" brings it to another level of fear for that student and any others who know about it.

A good perspective from the article:

"Hale's Principal Marni Campbell, who took over the post this fall, is sensitive to the Sheas' case. She's developed a safety plan with the family, and the district has agreed to her request to assign extra security specialists to the school in the short term.

When the boy accused of masterminding the assault on the Sheas' son tried to slip into the school one day this fall, he was promptly caught by security specialists, who called police, she said.

The Sheas allowed their son to decide whether to stay enrolled at Hale, and they've been fairly satisfied with Campbell's efforts. The family has taken other precautions, too -- the parents notified their son's teachers of the assault and pending trial, and their son has dropped a swimming class because he would have had to leave the main school building and cross the parking lot to get to the pool.

Campbell notes potential safety concerns should be taken seriously, but added that they need to be kept in perspective.

"If you look at the data, at Hale the incidents of violence are pretty low, considering we have (more than 1,000) students on campus every day. It's a pretty safe place," she said."

The upside is that Hale got a more responsive principal who took steps to (1) make these parents feel good about the decision to keep their son at Hale (2) made sure that security officers knew the kids involved and promptly caught the mastermind coming back on campus (thereby showing these thugs that they were on top of the situation). It is sad that he had to give up the swimming (given how close the pool is), though.

The downside:

"To School Board President Cheryl Chow, it's not just a matter of timing -- she doesn't really see the point in providing crime data on individual schools. "I don't know if that would be helpful," she said, adding that it would be more beneficial to provide parents with safety tips to share with their children."

Safety tips. Okay, how about Safety Tip #1, if your child gets robbed, be aware that the robbers don't like being turned in and may come after you if you do. Victim beware.

Seriously, what safety tips does Cheryl suggest that aren't already given out in SPS handbooks?

More pro-actively:

"Board member Sally Soriano, who represents Hale and other schools in North Seattle, said she believes more needs to be done. She was surprised at the number of people who have approached her recently to discuss security concerns, including assaults, thefts and gang violence.

She urged the Sheas and other concerned parents to create a rough proposal for updating the district's security policy and helped arrange a meeting between the parents and several senior staff members to discuss it. "Parents are asking to daylight this so they can deal with it, and I think that's legitimate," she said.

The group of parents, many of whom joined the Sheas for their parking-lot vigil Friday, plans to lobby high school PTSAs and principals to line up their support. Later this year, the families hope to present their final draft to the Seattle School Board for adoption."

I hope to join these parents as Roosevelt, as I may have mentioned before, would like to have its police officer back.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

More bad publicity for Hale. It's a shame. I hope Marni Campbell is a strong principal and can turn the school and it's reputation around.

Does anybody know if the boys that participated in the assault were local north end kids, or were they from South Seattle????

Charlie Mas said...

Odd reaction from anonymous.

I thought "Good that Hale has this new principal. This is being taken seriously and things are going to be made right." If the Sheas are satisfied with her actions, then so am I.

Of course I wish that the Shea's had been offered that the perp be re-assigned to another school rather the offer to have their son re-assigned, but that may not be on the menu.

Second, what difference does it make where the assailants live? Aren't they all part of the Hale community?

As for Cheryl Chow's response ("here's a helpful handbook of safety tips for the beaten and abused"), I can only be glad that she isn't on the City Council anymore. Individual school crime statistics aren't any more meaningful than individual neighborhood crime statistics, which form the data foundation for BlockWatch. Would Cheryl not provide this data to Neighborhood Blockwatch saying "I don't know if that would be helpful. It would be more beneficial to provide citizens with safety tips to share with their children."

How can anyone make data-based decisions without data. To refuse to collect data needed to drive decisions, to refuse to collate or distribute that data, is to take stand against data-based decision-making.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And why does that matter where they are from?

Anonymous said...

To Melissa and Charlie's questioning anon 3:49's question about where the perpetrators live/come from - why is that not "data"?

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:49 here...
What I was trying to say is that Hale is already having a hard time competing with Roosevelt. They didn't need this terrible event to add to their declining reputation. I 100% agree that data should be out there and public information. Especially data about crime and safety. I just think it's a shame that Hale is dealing with the negative publicity of it all. I'm sure these things happen at all high schools, and probably go without all of the media attention, and so nobody hears about it.

As for where the participants are from, it does matter. It's part of the data that should be available, don't you think?? Hale attracts a lot of South end kids. I would like to know if this contributed to the hostile situation in any way. I want ALL of the facts, as my child may very well attend Hale. Don't you think I am entitled to that? If the school has many south end kids and that creates a negative situation in any way, I have the right to consider that.

Anonymous said...

"Shea's had been offered that the perp be re-assigned to another school rather the offer to have their son re-assigned"

I bet the other students are special education students. That is the circumstance under which the alleged attackers would have a federal right to return to Hale.

And, as for anon 3:49, check again, the south end students (read black) are more likely to enroll in Ingraham, not Hale. The blantant racisim to "those south end kids" is what scares me most about this thread.

Anonymous said...

Stop reading race into everything, and look at statistics.

There is much much more violence in south end schools than in north end schools. Much much more violence in south end neighborhoods than in north end neighborhoods. Many south end kids go to Hale, that's a fact. They go to Ingraham too.

If having a large population of south end kids brings violence to a north end school that I am considering I want to know about it. That is not racist.

By the way...we are a mixed race family black/white, I am not concerned with skin color. I am concerned about violence.

Melissa Westbrook said...

The data might be their age, their race, their previous discipline problems. Not what part of town they live in.

Anonymous said...

"I bet the other students are special education students. That is the circumstance under which the alleged attackers would have a federal right to return to Hale."

... only if their disability caused the attack. And even then, it would be a lengthy process to prove it. That seems highly unlikely (and hasn't been reported). Wow. Racist and anti-IDEA. Any other groups you'd care to attack?

Anonymous said...

Disabled students are overwhelming the VICTIMS of attacks like this. I bet the VICTIM, not the perpetrator, was in special education. (But, you'd probably be all in favor of that, anon at 8:40). Too bad so many people have so many preconceived notions about people with disabilities.

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I disagree - everything about the incident is data and the only way we ever understand a problem is to review the data.

If anything is racist or classist, it's anticipating in advance where the alleged perpetrator lived and, based on that supposition, suppressing the discussion because of the conclusions it seems to be drawing.

What people DO with that information is something else again - if you found that the alleged perpetrator were a wealthy Irish boy, and thus decided that every wealthy Irish boy you saw was likely to rob and assault you - THAT is racist, classist, bigoted, not to mention unintelligent.

We serve no one by censoring the discussion by calling it racist before it's even begun - or even because you suspect that's where anon 3:49 was going when s/he asked the question.

Anonymous said...

The district thinks that where students come from is data. Check out this link for Nathan Hale.

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/maps/nhale_near.pdf

Anonymous said...

Sorry, use this link for the data on where students live who attend Hale. (

http://www.seattleschools.org/area/
newassign/maps/nhale_near.pdf

Melissa Westbrook said...

I did not call anyone racist. I did not make any call on where I thought the perpetrator came from. I did not suppress any discussion. And I certainly would draw no conclusions about a person based on where he/she lives.

Charlie Mas said...

Where pools of students live and attend school is data relevent to the design of a new school assignment plan. Where specific students live is not.

I don't think it matters whether the student lives in the south-end, the north-end or the west-end. The student - actually the students because there was a group of them - is a member of the Hale community. The data should be available for people considering joining that community so they can make an informed decision about whether to join or how closely they should read Director Chow's Safety Tips Handbook before venturing forward.

The question doesn't have to be racist or classist. The question could have been an innocent one, even an insightful (as opposed to inciteful) one, about the challenges of blending cultures within an institution. Could it be that Hale isn't forming a single cohesive community? Is the diversity in the classrooms but not in the halls or the lunchrooms? Is this a consequence of inclusive classes at the high school level? Given the right context, this could have been a very thoughtful question. Of course, it wasn't given that context originally.

Anonymous said...

Anon at 3:49 back again...

Charlie you are exactly right, and the points you mentioned were exactly what I was thinking about, I just didn't articulate it as clearly as you did. I grew up in NY during the time of bussing. I saw first hand the reprecussions of busing, and it wasn't pretty. Our school did nothing to blend cultures, or make us a cohesive group. We were very segregated, and the situation was volitile sometimes. There were a lot of racial fights instigated by several groups (no one group to blame), and it was tense to say the least.

Of course, the situation at Hale is different. Nobody is forced to attend Hale, but the melding of cultures can be tricky to say the least. A school has to be on top of the situation and work hard to form a cohesive community. Even with a lot of effort it doesn't always work. If this causes violence or negativity in a school, it is my right to know about it. I can make a decision based on facts, and not be surprised afterward when it's to late. Having bi-racial children, I welcome diversity, and am over joyed to see a north end school with a fair amount of it. In fact a school rich in diversity is one of my criteria when choosing a school. I do not welcome violence.

Melissa you posted just a week or so ago about another friend of yours whose child was assaulted?? or harrassed at the bus stop by a group of Summit students. This was also troublesome to me, and leads me to wonder why all of the violence?

Now, my guess is there is violence at all high schools, and that the lack of media, keeps it from ever reaching our ears. I would love to hear from other families out there what their schools are like.

Anonymous said...

"only if their disability caused the attack. And even then, it would be a lengthy process to prove it. That seems highly unlikely (and hasn't been reported)."

Try again. The law is was the behavior a manifestation of the student's disability. Fights are almost always deemed to be a manifestation of an emotionally behaviorally disturbed student's disability.

Anonymous said...

We must have had tons of emotionally behaviorally challenged students when I was a kid. We just didn't have this label for them. We called them bullies.

Anonymous said...

"Fights are almost always deemed to be a manifestation of an emotionally behaviorally disturbed student's disability." ...


And that's only true if it says so in their BIP (behavior intervention plan)... and if so, they're in a self-contained EBD program. Get a clue. If they were EBD, prove it. I'm sure they were not.

Anonymous said...

You are so off base on so many counts. BIPs are interventions adults are supposed to take, not what the behaviors of the students are. And you certianly don't have to be in a self-contained class to have an EBD. Aren't you currious that the alleged perpetrators came back to Hale 45 days later?. Anyone who knows anything about special education knows that 45 days is the maximum for temporary special education placement.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the young people who perpetuated the attacks at Hale, were not students there. Do you have different information?

Anonymous said...

Good point, Wendy. The article states "Twice this fall, boys involved in the attacks have come onto the campus to try to intimidate the Sheas' son, according to court documents and interviews with the family and school officials." That doesn't sound as if they had any right to be on campus at all, and I can't see anything else in the article that suggests that they ever did. Yet somehow I missed that completely on first reading, as most of those on this thread obviously did, too. Is there other information out there? Should the reporter have been more clear?

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

I have a friend whose children are at Hale and know the Shea's son. She told me that the attackers are not students at Hale.

I found that point confusing in the article & I think that it should have been made clear.

I don't know if they are SPS students at all.

Anonymous said...

In todays news:

At Evergreen State College a predator broke into a students apartment and raped her.

At MT Si HS in Snoqualmie 4 boys waited for 2 girls to get off their school bus, followed them and shot them with pellet guns. They wore ski masks. One had been expelled from school for bringing a gun to school.

This violence is real. It is local. It is sad.