Friday, April 04, 2008

District Being Sued Over Denny-Sealth

As reported at the West Seattle Blog, there are 12 individuals and one union suing the district over the Denny-Sealth combined campus. From the brief:

"The legal documents say the individuals are concerned about “property values, crime, and other effects” of the move, as well as the safety of a 6-12 campus; the union, which represents classified school workers, says it’s concerned about job loss. The appeal also contends, among other things, that the decision was made without “following the procedural requirements for citizen involvement required by the school closure statute.” The appeal is filed in King County Superior Court.

Hmm, it sounds like a weak case except for the procedural requirements. While they are not technically closing Denny, they are closing the building (and so it becomes extra inventory). I think there are likely rules about this which may or may not have been followed.

Stay tuned; this may not be the only lawsuit the district faces from that area.


anonymous said...

Hmmmm..... I wonder if I could sue the district for allowing Hale to continue to neglect to offer AP classes?????

Charlie Mas said...

Here's a good question: Is Denny being closed? In other words, which is the school - the program or the building?

As we learned from the recent school closure process, legally speaking, the BUILDING is the school. There was a closure hearing for the Columbia building but not for the Whitworth building. So, if the District commits to closing the Denny building, then - legally - the District is closing the school. When the District applied for state matching funds for the cost of replacing the square footage of the Denny building, the District committed to demolishing - and therefore closing - that building. They made the commitment to close the school without any of the public hearings required prior to a school closure. This was a procedural error by Facilities.

Wow. Imagine that. The Facilities department failed to follow procedure regarding public engagement. I know. It challenges belief.

Charlie Mas said...

Note that in all of the references to the new Denny building, the school is called "New Denny" with the "N" in "New" as a capital letter as if it were part of the name of the school. I think it is.

The next question, of course, is when did the District commit to "closing" Denny? After all, students will be in that building for another two years. No contract has been signed for the demolition of the building yet. Has there been a commitment to close it? Yes, there has. There was a commitment to close it as soon as the District applied for state matching funds for school construction.

It's a funny thing, but the state matching funds are for REPLACING school space. In order to get the money, the District has to demolish the existing space. So, when the District said that they would demolish Denny on the D-5 form requesting state matching funds, they committed to closing the school.

You might wonder, what could these people possibly be suing for? What do they want? I don't know. I wonder, however, what remedy could the Court impose?

It is unlikely that the Court could - or would - impose an injunction preventing the District from begining construction of New Denny on schedule.

What if the Court simply ordered the District to conduct the required public hearings - albeit after the decision? What would be the point of that? I know, I know, it wouldn't be any different than any other public hearing that comes after the decision has already been made. There is nothing that anyone could say or do at a public hearing that would change the District's pre-determined path.

However, what if the Court required the District to submit a revised D-5 form?

The rationale for moving forward with the Denny-Sealth project against the wishes of every single stakeholder group was that changing the decision would create a delay. This was, of course, a lie. The rationale was that a delay would cost crazy money. This was, of course, a lie. If the Court creates any sort of delay - delay the D-5 until after the required public hearing - then the entire rationale for the merged campuses falls completely apart.

dan dempsey said...

Melissa said:
....While they are not technically closing Denny, they are closing the building.

As one of the very few people (perhaps the only one in Western Washington) who has teaching experience in all three configurations of:
a.. Middle School of 500 to 1000 population. (common)
b.. High school of 500 to 1400 (common)
c.. The extremely rare and vanishing for a reason urban middle/high school above 1500 students. ( found at two locations in Southern California)

I assure you they are closing Denny Middle School.

Anyone who believes otherwise knows next to nothing about the above three school configurations. That would put them at the same knowledge level as former Director Stewart who got this insanity going.

If this is viewed as a technicality, it shows without a doubt that schools are viewed not as academic institutions organized for effective learning but as only tools for vendor profits and play things for administrative whims.

Again Denny Middle School is being closed; to believe otherwise ranks right up there with belief in the tooth-fairy.

While this suit even if successful will likely just drag out the time before an ill-advised expenditure of $130+ million produces a South West monstrosity. It at least puts the district on notice that the populace is really steamed at being continually discarded.

It also may serve to alert a larger number of the uninformed as to how poor regular decision making is in the SPS even when it involves sums in excess of $100 million.

We clearly are in need of lots more law suits as that is one of the very few things that gives the people in this district any voice at all.

Perhaps a more effective use of the two hours of public testimony a month, would be for the folks planning to testify to organize a planning for future law suits party. It certainly could not be less effective than testimony over the last several years and would probably be a lot more fun.

How about this for starters on 4-09-2008:
Given that the above legal action may provide additional time, planning a law suit based on Brown vs Board of Ed Topeka 1954.

Because of racial and economic disparity South West children are denied the opportunity to attend a school planned along the lines of successful schools in similar circumstance. The SPS just as in their selection of math programs is again experimenting on the children. Instead of conducting the experiment somewhat equally across all ethnic and economic groups as was the case in math, now the SPS have chosen to conduct an experiment with students from two schools with the following characteristics for % of white population and % of Free and reduced meals:

school - White - Meals

Denny ---- 24.5% - 69.1%
Sealth --- 25.1% - 57.7%
District - 42.4% - 40.5%

Guess that person who testified saying you never could have pulled this off North of the Ship Canal may have been correct.

Legislature finally authorized funding to study the achievement gaps. This could be a fine place for them to start SPS decision making. It can't get much worse than in the SPS. Pick a topic Math, Denny / Sealth, or West Seattle 6-period day mandate how will they know where to start?

Where is Thurgood Marshall?
Where is Delfino Munoz?

So Melissa what are your thoughts?
Shall we meet on Wednesday at the JSCEE say around 7:30?

Ananda said...

What happened to all of the suits over school closure? They were dismissed. The district hired a very smart litigator a few years ago (it was quite a coup that a Rising Star lawyer chose to leave a big firm to work for the district), and I can't imagine that she won't also get this case dismissed right out of the box. What a waste of more taxpayer money. If you don't like the Denny/Sealth decision, vote for different canidates come the next School Board election

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm not saying what anyone is doing is right or wrong but consider the following.

First of all, elections? A long time off. Second, those parents in QA/Magnolia fought all the way to the Supreme Court...and won. (A somewhat hollow victory as they neither got use of race thrown out for good nor do they have a high school but they hung in there and the record will reflect that they won.)
Third, all of us feel very deeply for our children and their education and if you don't fight for that, what would you fight for? These people are only standing up for what they believe in. As I said in my post, it doesn't sound like a lot of legal standing but I'm no lawyer.

Honestly, the district would love for no one to ever stand up to them but that wouldn't make them right all the time.

dan dempsey said...

Ananda said ....
.....Vote for different candidates come the next School Board election.
These elections appear to have little to do with democracy. Previously top spending candidates spent about $35,000 max. last election the four winners averaged over $100,000 per candidate. It appears you may see different bodies elected but it is doubtful you will see markedly differing positions when the board votes about anything.

I think when the district violates the law, they should not be allowed to do so.

I have a problem with an arrogance on a par with the divine right of kings. Obviously some others do not.

The idea that the general populace will be well represented by board members who are essentially unpaid, when those board members are apparently unencumbered from disposing of public assets seems somewhat unlikely.

Hopefully the "NEWS" lawsuit will produce a positive outcome, making the bizarre decisions of the SPS even more apparent to those who have difficulty recognizing educational misfeasance and malfeasance.

When the arrogant Kings and Queens of the SPS continually fail to even acknowledge that they have a duty to define what should be learned. You know things are out of control.

Instead of a plan to provide effective interventions for students having difficulty learning, the Supt. makes more plans to make plans. Why do the obvious when you can spend hundreds of thousands on consultants.

Use the most ineffective curricula and methods possible. {per PFT analysis}.

Adopt materials in contradiction to and the opposite of what an intelligent application of data would reveal. Also in defiance of common sense.

Admin complained about students lack of number sense. Then recommended the adoption of math texts with lots of words and not enough numbers, which advocate for and require calculators be used before third grade. The board's response is to approve Everyday Math with a unanimous vote of 7-0.

No, given past performance from all involved clearly we cannot expect much in the way of effective academic leadership from a required majority of this crew. [ Two sane votes appear likely to be the most you will ever see.] We can at least sue them for failing to follow the law, or we can roll over and play dead, which is clearly the option preferred by some.

Remember the Phi Delta Kappa report told us that in so many ways, this district has no idea what they are doing or how to do it. I suggest that since law suits are the only course of action that is not illegal that has even the slightest hope of getting anything corrected we use law suits.

How many election cycles do you foresee it will take to get school directors in place that will require administration to do a competent job?

Remember at the last math adoption we heard a board member praising the idea of Everyday Math "Fidelity of Implementation" and the use of a Singapore Supplement.

The definition of "Fidelity of Implementation" is the use of material without any supplements.

Phi Delta Kappa was spot on.

The board and the Supt. will take their ideas under advisement.---
NEXT consultant's report Please,--- as the neglect of responsibility goes on.