Let's Try This Again

In a recent
story in the Seattle P-I
about violent crime in the Seattle Public Schools, many people asked for data on individual schools. The District did not provide the data. Moreover, the President of the Seattle School Board told the newspaper that she didn't see any 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.

This answer is deeply troubling to me in three ways.

First, we don't hesitate to provide academic data on individual schools. We don't hesitate to provide discipline data, demographic data, all kinds of other data on individual schools. Why should we balk at crime data? Information wants to be free. The District is supposed to be working towards more openness, honesty, and transparency.

Second, the fact that the District doesn't have this data indicates that the District has not taken an interest in this data. They measure anything they want to manage. The fact that they haven't measured this indicates that they aren't trying to manage this. I think that the District should take a greater interest in controlling crime on their property committed by and against people to whom they owe responsibility.

Third, I am VERY troubled that the President of the School Board thinks that our children need to know and practice safety tips to avoid violent crime at school. This is an admission by the School Board President that the schools aren't already safe. Can you imagine a shopping mall that told you: "please follow these safety steps to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of violent crime while you shop with us"? It is not the students' responsibility to take extraordinary steps. It is the school's responsibility to keep the children safe from violent crime while they are on campus. There should be no need for "safety tips". To say that such tips are necessary is an admission that the space in inherently unsafe. Moreover, it is an abdication of the school's and the district's responsibility to make it safe and keep it safe. And let's remember that we're not talking about generic safety tips like look both ways before crossing the street, make sure your shoes are tied, or wear eye protection. These are safety tips specifically to avoid violent crime. To me, this is synonymous with knowing the current level of violent crime in our schools and finding it somehow acceptable.


Anonymous said…
I think we all would acknowledge that we want our schools to be safe. I think that many of us would also agree that we would like to see data on violent crime in our schools.

On the other hand (I am a Libra), I wonder what specifically a school could do to make our kids safe? Or,safer? How do you keep 1000 teenagers at Hale from ever having an incident? And, how do you handle it when one (inevitably) does occur? Do you install metal detectors? Pat kids down as they enter the building? Add more security officers? Have hallway patrols? Have a closed campus?

I actually like the way Eckstein handles safety. It is subtle but effective. Children are not allowed to carry their backpacks around, and teachers stand in the hallways during passing classes. Small things like this seem to go a long way.

On a whole I think our schools are exceptionally safe. That's not to say there are never any incidents, and no violent crime ever occurs. Clearly, they do. I just think we should keep in perspective just how many teens attend school every day, and return home safe and sound. My guess is the data may prove just how safe our kids really are.
Anonymous said…
"Can you imagine a shopping mall that told you: "please follow these safety steps to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of violent crime while you shop with us"?"

If you look around you will see signs cautioning us everywhere. At the Meadowbrook Community Center their is a sign that says "High prowl area, lock all doors and park at your own risk". They have just acknowledged that area to be unsafe.

There is no guarantee of safety ANYWHERE. I do not disagree with Chery Chow's suggestion of teaching safety tips. I teach my kids how to be safe all the time. Things like you can't go to the park without a buddy. Don't jaywalk. Don't talk to strangers. I do this because there is inherent danger all around us. Cheryl Chow, nor any other board member can possibly change that. They can not guarantee the safety of our children.

I definitely agree that data is relevant and should be provided to parents, so that we can make informed decisions regarding school choice, and advocate if necessary.
Jet City mom said…
I don't mean to be inflammatory but I wonder if the reason the district isn't releasing information about criminal incidents in the school is tied in any way to the discipline gap.

If the district is having difficulty with declining enrollment in a school, releasing information that the school has a disproportionate number of incidents, isn't going to help.

Not that I agree with it- I err on the side of providing too much information.
Eckstein, for a long while, has really had a focus on bullying. And now with the advent of cyber-bullying, it is even more important. I asked my son what they have said at Roosevelt and he said he got an anti-bullying keychain at the beginning of freshman year. This is not to criticize Roosevelt but I think that bullying has to be front and center of any "tips" to give to kids.

The two recent incidents and near-incidents of kids who were bullied and wanted revenge in Cleveland and Philadelphia serve to prove that point. Some of it seems to be that these kids are considered social outcasts and are either teased or ignored. (The near-incident in Philadelphia is striking because the troubled teen asked another one to participate in a Columbine-type assault on their high school. The other teen promptly went to parents and the police and said the school had a constant message of reporting any kind of threats. This case is also disturbing because the teen's parents bought him an assault rifle and grenade powder. Yes, they are being prosecuted.)

The Cleveland case is very troubling on a couple of fronts. One, the kid told other kids he was going to kill them or hurt them. Several of them report going to the principal who didn't seem to believe them. (It is not clear whether she ever followed up.) Two, the Cleveland student had a history of mental problems which were known to the juvenile justice system but likely not the school.

This is something I learned from attending a meeting for the NE Coalition on Teen Drinking (I may have the name slightly wrong as it was recently changed). At the meeting there were juvenile justice officers, a cop, a person from the liquor control board. The juvenile justice officer said he could access school records on a student but the school can't access juvenile justice records on a student. That seems wrong if a school is trying to figure a kid out.

From Education World:

While statistics show overall crime in schools decreasing, violent crime in schools is on the rise. Since 1992, there have been 201 homicides on school campuses nationwide, according to Ronald Stephens, director of the National School Safety Center (NSSC), which collects statistics on school violence.

Despite school violence, our schools, experts point out, are decidedly safer than our streets.


"Given the recent spate of violent acts in schools, what can administrators, teachers, and staff members do to keep their schools as safe as possible?

"First," said Ronald Stephens of NSSC, "every school should develop a safe school plan. Eighteen states require it, and developing such a plan indicates that educators are placing school safety on the education agenda. Safety is a minimum requirement for children to be properly educated."

"Next, minimize the number of entrance and exit points in a school," Stephens continued, "to gain control of access to the school. Have a policy that all visitors to the campus must be screened."

"And," Stephens said, "mandate a crime tracking and recordkeeping system within the school. Just keeping track of the number of violent incidents, including fighting between students, is an incredibly effective way to help lower violence in a school. "

One simple action parents can take to help keep a school safe, Stephens suggested, is to "invest time in talking to their children about school, in asking them about their day every day." Students who have been bullied or assaulted in school sometimes will tell an adult only if their parents ask them what's happening in school, Stephens said."

Data is important especially as kids go from school to school. Kids being aware that there is zero tolerance for bullying, that there are adults to go to for help, adults in the school being watchful for signs of bullying AND acting on it and administrators following thru on all reports would likely help.
Charlie Mas said…
Perhaps I was unclear. This safety that we are talking about is not general safety. It is specific to violent crime at school.

So when 1964 offers safety tips such as don't go to the park without a buddy - would you say "Don't travel around your school without a buddy"? Is that a safety tip you would share with your child? Does that reflect an acceptable level of risk on school grounds?

Another safety tip from 1964 was "Don't jaywalk." Would you tell your child, "Don't jaywalk lest you become the victim of violent crime"?

When you tell your children not to talk to strangers, does that include strangers they meet at school?

Am I in a wee minority because I expect my children to safe in their person and their property while at school? Should I not be disappointed if they are not? Am in a wee minority because I expect the school and the District to take responsibility for that?

No one is talking about a police state or the elimination of all assaults. That's not a reasonable expectation. These things will happen.

And when they happen, the victims are typically blameless. Has anyone suggested that the student described in the P-I story, or any of the victims in the recent stories, somehow brought these attacks onto himself? The suggestion that if only he had followed some safety tips this wouldn't have happened is callous, insulting, and just plain WRONG.

I do expect the school and the District to accept responsibility for the level of safety on their grounds. It isn't hard. As new yorker wrote, small things go a long way. Again - nobody expects absolute perfection. But a sense of safety instead of a sense of threat would be good.

To me, President Chow's response said "We don't need to do anything different - you just need to learn how to stay out of trouble's way." And that really set me off.
Charlie Mas said…
I'm still trying to think of a serious list of safety tips for children to help them avoid becoming the victim of violent crime while at school.

What are these "safety tips"?
WenG said…
I'm honestly wondering where the police fit into this picture. In another post, I talked about a Hamilton counselor telling my son to call SPD when he was off school grounds. The bullying kept going on inside the school, and it wasn't being stopped. Off school grounds, she seemed more confidence that something could be done. With a police report, she could expell the bully.

Was this wrong? I think it was, but that's what happened.

Should students call the police first when they're attacked or threatened, whether inside or outside a school?

I've read the argument that people should start reporting child abuse first to the police, secondly to DSHS, because a police report means a better investigation. Should this also apply to preludes to violence at school"
Dan Dempsey said…
In Albuquerque they have police sub-stations in most of the high schools.

The discipline gap that has been openly promoted by the failure to apply the Classroom disruption law RCW 28A 600.020 in some schools indicates a reticence to draw appropriate lines.

Is Director Chow's reluctance to provide data related to a reluctance to letting the public know what is happening in our schools?

I would first give my child's principal an opportunity to hear the problem out (along with the child's teacher) Then ask, "What will you do from here? What should my child do?" If you get a lot of platitudes and no real action and the problem continues (or if you get one whiff of "kids will be kids", then e-mail your principal and cc Carla Santorno, your school board director and Dr. G-J. Tell them about your appeal for help and detail what did or did not happen.

However, if you are talking assault, rape or any violent crime, based on the stories in the newspapers where administrators are making decisions on what is a crime that only police officers should make, then yes, I'd call the police. The comment about crime happening on or off school grounds relates to what security officers at school can do. They have no power on the sidewalks or anywhere off the grounds. If they need help, they have to call the cops.

You only need ask yourself, if a violent action had happened to an adult, wouldn't you call the police?
Anonymous said…
List of a few common sense safety tips:

Carry a cell phone (if you have the financial means).

Don't "hang out" on the campus after school is out.

Promptly report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

Report and have documented any intimidation or bullying.

Stay in pairs or small groups whenever possible. Especially when using the restroom and walking to your bus stop.

Don't brag about valuables such as jewelry or cash. Don't flash your new ipod, cell phone, etc.

If something happens off of school grounds, such as at a bus stop, call the police.

While there is no excuse for violent crime in school, and Cheryl Chow's position on the subject is obnoxious, I think that we have to be realistic in acknowledging that it will happen, and prepare our kids as best we can to use common sense to keep themselves less vulnerable. Sad as it is, I will certainly do this with my kids when they reach MS and HS
Anonymous said…
Yes, Dan, that's just what we need. Police sub stations in every high school. Ummmmm.....that should make our kids feel comforted and secure at their school. Kind of like when you arrive at an airport in a third world country where police are all over the airport armed with rifles.
Anonymous said…
"But a sense of safety instead of a sense of threat would be good.

I guess we are really really lucky, or perhaps just picked great schools, because my kids, thank goodness, have never felt a sense of threat. And, aside from a bit of back and forth ridicule on the playground, they have never been in any kind of bullying situation, physical altercation, or aggressive encounter of any kind. Is this common in some schools???
Dan Dempsey said…
Anon at 7:33PM,

I was not suggesting Police sub-stations at high schools for Seattle. In many sections of Albuquerque, students do feel safer because of the police substations. I can certainly say there is no need for a police substation at West Seattle High School.

As the SPS is reluctant to make statistics about violence in schools available, I certainly can not speak for every school in Seattle, can you?

Charlie Mas said…
THANK YOU Anonymous at 4:29!

That list of safety tips is very good and they make excellent sense - whether at school or anywhere else.

I particularly like these ones:

Don't "hang out" on the campus after school is out.

Promptly report any suspicious activity to the proper authorities.

Report and have documented any intimidation or bullying.

To tell truth, this one makes me uncomfortable:

Stay in pairs or small groups whenever possible. Especially when using the restroom and walking to your bus stop.

Although that tip is disconcerting in a number of ways, it is also the one that probably would have proven most effective in the recently publicized cases.
Anonymous said…
I'm glad to see so much attention getting paid to bullying, and especially to violent crime.

I grew up in a large urban school district (not Seattle), where bullying and fighting were common. I was bullied mercilessly as a kid, I was followed home, taunted and beat up. I don't recall anyone doing anything about it. Fights and bullying were common place and the adults generally shrugged it off. Even my parents. When kids fought (often), it generally ended when a teacher "broke it up". Both kids were told to move on, and that was the end of it. No suspensions, no expulsions, no calls to parents.

I'm glad to see Seattle taking these situations very seriously. I guess we have Columbine to thank for opening our eyes to the extent violence can lead us to.
Charlie Mas said…
Actually, anonymous at 4:17, the discussion here is focused mostly on how Seattle Public Schools has NOT put enough attention and enforcement on violent crime. The problems exposed in the newspaper stories and in various personal stories are about how the schools and the District did NOT take these events seriously enough.

When there is a crime, the school officials should call the police WITHOUT FAIL. The decision of whether it merits an arrest or not is a decision for the police - not the school officials.

Moreover, there are a number of cases in which the school officials swept the case under the rug rather than report it. Perhaps to save the guilty students from further involvement with law enforcement, perhaps to save their own school's reputation, perhaps to make their discipline numbers look better.

Finally, school officials, and, in particular, the President of the School Board, have exhibited a callous and uninterested attitude regarding crminal violence in our schools which sends students to the hospital and would be immediately recognized as felonious in any ordinary context.

I wish I could share your impression that Seattle was taking these situations very seriously - I can't.
Charlie Mas said…
What would you all think of a state law that doubles criminal penalties for crimes committed at or near a school?

The penalties for traffic violations is double in construction zones.

The penalties for drug offenses is double within 1,000 feet of a school.

I think the state legislature would be amenable to a law that doubles penalties for violent crime at a school.
Anonymous said…
What exactly do you classify as a violent crime, Charlie.

I would be all for doubling penalties for violent crimes such as rape, shootings, stabbings, gang style assaults. Things of this nature.

But, I wouldn't be in favor of doing this for a fist fight, pushing/shoving, or horse play that gets too rough. These are the more typical physical altercations at school.
Dan Dempsey said…
Anon at 10:15 AM said..

I would be all for doubling penalties for .......

But, I wouldn't be in favor of doing this for a fist fight, ....... These are the more typical physical altercations at school.

If fist fights are typical, the problems are larger than I thought and your attitude seems to perpetuate this problem.
Anonymous said…
So, let me get this straight Dan. You want criminal penalties doubled for a scuffle on school grounds? Every single scuffle.

What age would this go into effect? A second grader pushes a first grader. Do you call the police, and make sure he has double penalty? Two 4th graders are horsing around and one winds up getting hurt. Do you call the police, and double the penalty? Two 3rd graders get into a fight (physical)...do you call the police? You have to very very clear when you propose something this serious. I for one think these things are common at school.
See it all the time.
Charlie Mas said…
I think the distinction between ordinary roughhousing or even minor tussles and actual criminal activity is one which the police can be relied upon to make.

I don't think the typical physical altercations at school would rise to the criminal level.
Anonymous said…
Dan, please read things carefully. I didn't say fist fights were typical. I said they were the typical types of physical altercations that happen at school.

IE the behavior is not common or often, but when violence happens in schools it is typical that it is one of these more minor offenses, opposed to rape, stabbing, shooting, gang assault, etc.

You are so ready to argue, Dan, that you don't process information. You jump to conclusions. It is irritating.
Dan Dempsey said…
There s a big distinction between pushing and shoving and horse play in contrast to a fist fight.

This can easily be measured by blood and damage in many instances.

I've taught in high schools where fist fights are extremely rare.

I hope that is the case in most Seattle high schools. Do we have the data to know?
Anonymous said…
"I think the distinction between ordinary roughhousing or even minor tussles and actual criminal activity is one which the police can be relied upon to make"

Charlie are suggesting that the police should be involved in "ordinary roughhousing and minor tussles"???
Charlie Mas said…
Shoreline mom,

I'm suggesting that if the school administrators have any doubt they should allow the police to make the decision. In some recent cases the problem has been a failure to report cases to the police that should have been.
Roy Smith said…
dan dempsey said ... I've taught in high schools where fist fights are extremely rare.

They were extremely rare on campus when I was in high school. That didn't mean they were rare - just that they didn't happen on campus.

Carry a cell phone (if you have the financial means).

Don't "hang out" on the campus after school is out.

Stay in pairs or small groups whenever possible. Especially when using the restroom and walking to your bus stop.

These three tips should not be necessary. If our schools are so dangerous as to make them necessary, then we have a lot bigger problems than just whether or not our kids know how to look after their own personal safety. Also, if the cell phone tip is necessary, does that mean we are willing to accept a society in which safety is a privilege that you get if you can afford it?

Dan, look at your 4:46 PM post and try in the future to reduce the excessive usage of the really annoying bold!
Anonymous said…
"These three tips should not be necessary. If our schools are so dangerous as to make them necessary"

Roy, sadly, these tips are necessary. You hear about crime in schools all the time. I think Seattle does a good job making our schools a secure, safe place for our children. But, there are no guarantees. Things happen. I think it is extremely important to teach my children to use common sense and make themselves less vulnerable. I teach them to use these tips everywhere, not just at school.

We are not immune to the violence that Columbine, Cleveland and the UW (recent shooting) have had. I want my children to be cautious. I hope they never have to experience any violent activity, but I also want them to use common sense to keep themselves safe.
Anonymous said…
Roy, if I remember correctly your children go to AS1. Being part of a smaller school where teachers know every student, and parents have a strong connection to the school and with each other is an excellent deterrent of violence in schools. It explains your sense of security. However, imagine your child at Roosevelt, with 1750 students from all over the city, that you have never met. That your child does not know, and that teachers do not know. In this environment would you think it a good idea to teach your child common sense safety tips? Would you want him/her hanging out unsupervised after school, or walking alone to a bus stop after soccer practice in the dark? I know it's hard to think about, but it's better to be proactive and teach safety tips, than deal with the consequences of being the victim of a violent crime. Talk to the administrator of any large high school, I'm sure they will agree. They know what goes on in their buildings.

Melissa, why don't you ask the principal or PTA at Roosevelt (A GOOD school), what they think.

Michael Rice, you are a teacher at Rainier Beach, would you care to comment on safety or incidents at your school? Do you think kids should practice common sense safety tips? Is it necessary?
Roy Smith said…
However, imagine your child at Roosevelt, with 1750 students from all over the city, that you have never met.

I truly am not afraid of people "from all over the city" merely because I have never met them. If I was afraid of people that met this criteria, I would have a difficult time justifying why I choose to live and raise a family in a city.

I'm hoping to have my daughter attend one of the large comprehensive high schools on the north end when she is in high school. I would not send my child to a school where the expectation was that there are a significant number of students who were dangerous (because "they were from all over the city and we didn't know them"?), or where a cell phone was considered essential to personal safety, or where she would be obligated to travel in a pack with other students in order to be safe, or which had a campus that disintegrated into a no-man's land as soon as the last bell rang.

I am only modestly familiar with any of the high school campuses in Seattle, but I honestly don't see that they are as dangerous as all that.

In this environment would you think it a good idea to teach your child common sense safety tips?

It is always a good idea to teach common sense safety tips. People of all ages should know to report suspicious activity, to avoid making one's self a target for theft or bullying, and to know how and when to go for help from authorities. My question is, does the tip to "Stay in pairs or small groups whenever possible. Especially when using the restroom and walking to your bus stop." constitute common sense safety, or is it voicing an expectation that our city or our (large) schools can never be made safe for individuals? I am not of the opinion that it is unsafe for a middle or high schooler to walk alone to a bus stop in my neighborhood (or for any student to go to the restroom alone!), day or night. If I ever do come to the conclusion that these activities are unsafe, I will be relocating.
Anonymous said…
I'm sure the parents at Columbine (a high performing, nice, middle class school) did not think their school was unsafe either.
Anonymous said…
Like it or not, adolescence is the time when people learn how and when to take risks. This can be scary for parents, but healthy risk taking is essential to success in many endeavors, as well as in most meaningful social relationships. It concerns me that by apparently putting fear at the top of the agenda, many children are never learning how to responsibly judge risk and properly balance risk vs. reward.

The two students responsible for Columbine, by most accounts, were alienated and disconnected from the school and other students.

From the tone of some of the comments on this thread, it would seem that some parents would advise their children to be mistrustful of students they don't know, particularly if those students were somehow different or part of a subculture that they don't understand.

What I don't see is how that if alienation and disconnectedness are part of the cause of a tragedy like Columbine, then how do we make our own schools safer by inadvertently promoting the same sort of alienation and disconnectedness? Fear of the unknown is not helpful for overcoming alienation.

What would have happened at Columbine if, instead of being class conscious, and valuing conformity (or perhaps even safety) above all else, even a few students or teachers had reached out in friendship to the students who eventually shot up the school?

Of course, that would have involved the risk of dealing with those who are different.
Anonymous said…
It is human nature to connect with people similar to ourselves. It is what we are most comfortable with. I don't think we connect with similar people on a conscious level, but more often as a result of our environment.

I am middle class. I do not have one single friend very low income friend, on welfare. I do not have one single friend that is a felon or has a violent history. I do not have one single friend that is very very affluent. I have never consciously thought that I don't want to befriend an affluent person or a welfare family, but because of my situation, where I live, where my kids go to school, where I work, etc., I find myself making friends of similar circumstance as myself. I think kids do this too. Not purposely or maliciously, but because it is comfortable to be friends with people similar to ones self, in which you have many things in common.

This is NOT an excuse to alienate or exclude any group, but an attempt to explain why people, especially immature people (kids) do not reach out.
Anonymous said…
There is a sharp distinction between identifying and socializing with people like yourself because that is where you are comfortable (true for almost everybody) and teaching your children to fear others because they are different or unknown to you, or allowing them to think it is acceptable to be disrespectful of those who are different. I am criticizing the latter, not the former.
Charlie Mas said…
I'm not as concerned about Columbine-type violence as I am concerned about the more frequent and smaller assaults that were featured in the P-I articles - robberies and beatings.

While these may also be associated with disaffection and alienation, those are not generally regarded as the root causes of strong-arm robbery or simple assault.

Like Roy, I am saddened that these safety tips are necessary. However, I accept the world as I find it, and I find it needing these tips. I don't find these three safety tips either outrageous or onerous despite the low probability that my children will ever be the victims of violent crime. I don't think my house is going to burn down, but I have insurance.

I didn't read as much into that bit about "students from all over the city, that you have never met." Perhaps because I read it in the context of the following sentence: "That your child does not know, and that teachers do not know."

I didn't think it was voicing suspicion of people from any specific neighborhood or of the unknown. Rather, I thought it was a reference to how anonymity can give people license to treat each other poorly - a topic I ponder quite a bit. I thought it was about the paradoxical looseness (or lack of) community in such a densely populated place.

We're all a bit sensitive at times and we can occassionally take offense where none is meant. I think a more sympathetic reading is in order.
Anonymous said…
Anonymous at 8:10 writing again.

Roy said "I would not send my child to a school where the expectation was that there are a significant number of students who were dangerous"

I guess it depends on what your definition of significant means. Do you define significant as many dangerous students? I think if there were just one dangerous student at my childs school that would be significant. That's all it takes. Just one. One child, alone, can assault my child, can bully my child, can steal from my child, or worse.

Also, when I used the term "from all over the city" I wasn't targeting children from another neighborhood or culture or anything else. After all, most of the students at Roosevelt are neighborhood kids (they're the only ones who can get in anymore). I meant there are many kids I don't know. Kids that my kids don't know. Kids that teachers don't know. That leaves a lot of question marks. I want my kids to make alot of new friends, be trusting, explore their environment. But I also want my kids to be aware of their surroundings, and use caution. I want them to walk with a friend to the bus stop after soccer practice when it is dark. I want them to report suspicious activity and bullying, even if they are not the victims. I want them to be able to call me, the school or the police, immediately, on their cell phone if they feel that they or anyone else is in danger. I am optimistic that this will NEVER happen, but if it ever does, I want my kids to be prepared.

I would never send my child to a school that I felt was a dangerous place. I don't think that any of my neighborhood schools are dangerous places. But I am also not in denial, and know that there are risks. It is common sense, and in my opinion wise, to make yourself less vulnerable.

I am not trying to argue with anyone, believe me. I respect and acknowledge that their are as many different parenting styles as their are parents. I was simply sharing what I will practice with my children.
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.
Anonymous said…
We care so much about violent students and violence at school that we closed down the John Marshall school, the re-entry school that supported violent offenders. Anon 8:10, where were you thinking those students would go?
Anonymous said…
anonymous at 8:10 here again.

Though my post was not at all pointed at any group or program, I will give my opinion on the John Marshall re-entry program, since you asked. I was not an advocate of closing John Marshall at all. I didn't like the leadership or how the program was being run, but I like the concept,I like that these children were getting the support they needed, and I wanted to see the program succeed.

You validated my point though, in that many of the children from Marshall will now populate our mainstream schools. This further justifies my need to teach my kids safety tips, use reasonable caution, and make themselves less vulnerable.
Charlie Mas said…
John Marshall Alternative High School is still open. The District has not closed the school nor determined a new location for the programs there.

This was another weird illogical thing the District did under Raj Manhas. They said that the students at John Marshall would be be better served at their new location without knowing what that new location would be. A year later they still don't know what that new location will be, but they remain absolutely convinced that the new location will be better for the students.

Anonymous said…
Thanks for the clarification Charlie. I too, thought that the John Marshall program was going to be broken down, with kids dispersed in groups to other locations, which in essence translates to closing Marshall. IE the pregnant teen program would go to one location, the HS re-entry would go to another, and so on.

Do they plan to keep all of the Marshall programs intact and continue move the group as one?
Anonymous said…
Would you enroll your student at the Marshall described in the PI investigation? Come on folks, unless you have worked there or had a student there, you don't have a clue as to what was really going on there. Fixing Marshall is like saying Rainier Beach will be an easy fix....
Anonymous said…
You never just looked up the number and "enrolled your student" at John Marshall... you had to wind up there through a series of unfortunate events.
Anonymous said…
Of course I wouldn't enroll my student at Marshall. It is the last stop. The end of the road. A poorly run program on all accounts. It's like a juvinile rehab center. Who in their right mind would want their kids there????? Definately not me.

Why would you ask such an outrageous question? Do you thing anybody WANTS their kid to be at Marshall? I thin not. It is better than jail and it is better than the streets. By the time they are transferred to Marshall, it is their only option. Their LAST option.

Who would want that?

What was your point anon at 1:49?

I don't get it.
Charlie Mas said…
The District has yet to determine new homes for the various programs now at Marshall. The District has yet to determine if they will all be at a single site or if they will be disbursed among multiple sites.

Some students and families DO choose Marshall, depending on what you mean by "Marshall".

If you only mean John Marshall Alternative High School, then I believe that two students have actually chosen it over the past five or six years. The rest were assigned to Marshall either as part of the Special Education program there, following involvement with District discipline procedures, or following interaction with the justice system.

If you mean GRADS, the Teen Parent program there, then I believe all of those students choose that assignment. Teen parents can attend a comprehensive high school, but most do not provide childcare on site for students.

Marshall is also home to the Night School, which is a choice assignment.

While Marshall is not a choice that a lot of families would make, there are people who choose it and there are students who experience success there.

Let's remember that the majority of the students at Marshall are starting a long way's back when they arrive, and the usual finish line is not a good measure of their progress.
Anonymous said…
Last year, students were assigned to Marshall Alternative when there was no space in other north end high schools. That meant students who didn't necessarily want to be there were.

So while you may think no one would ever choose the school, there are students who really don't have a choice.
Anonymous said…
I would like to see proof that gen. ed. North end students received mandatory assignments to Marshall. I think this is bogus. Hale and Ingraham take many south end students because they have excess space. Why would they turn away north end students??
Charlie Mas said…
"Hale and Ingraham take many south end students because they have excess space. Why would they turn away north end students??"

This is an interesting question, and so I thought you all might be interested in the answer.

First of all, I don't think that the District can make a mandatory assignment to an alternative school, so that's the part of the story that strikes me as bogus.

But it is possible for a reference area student to be shut out of a school when out-of-area students are enrolled. It has to do with on-time enrollment vs. late enrollment.

Let's say that a school has 56 kindergarten seats. During on-time enrollment, 45 reference area students enroll along with 11 out-of-area students. The day AFTER on-time enrollment, a family moves into a home in the reference area and tries to enroll their child in the school. They are put on the waitlist. Unfortunately for them, all of assigned students accept the assignment and appear for class on opening day. Net result: out-of-area students are enrolled while a reference area student is shut out.
Anonymous said…
Charlie, is right. There is absolutely no mandatory assignment to any alternative school in the Seattle School District. Including Marshall.

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