Troubling Safety Issues Around SPS High Schools

This weekend we learned of yet another shooting in the south end right outside of Garfield High School. One boy was killed and one was wounded and made it into the Garfield Teen Life Center. The police have not yet said it is gang-related although the case has been assigned to the gang unit. Here is an article from the Times.

There are so many deeply disturbing elements to this story that overlap with other stories.
  • The wounded boy in this case will not talk to the police.
  • From the article:

    "Meanwhile, parents and neighbors are concerned about a rash of some 30 assaults and thefts that have occurred near Garfield since the school reopened this fall after a two-year renovation.

    Those incidents, not all of which have been confirmed by police, were discussed at a meeting of the East Precinct Crime Prevention Coalition on Oct. 23."

  • A girl who earlier this year attended Ingraham High School (her mother pulled her out because of gang threats) was murdered in early October and her body found in Lake Ballinger. The police suspect some sort of gang ties.
  • As I previously reported, Roosevelt had 3 assault/robberies in early October also believed to be committed by gang members.
I would say that I do not believe that any of these high schools have gang members in them. It is unlikely given that most gang members are not interested in being in school and high school administrators and teachers are very careful about observing gang behavior/dress. But, it seems apparent that gangs are interacting with each other at school sites and/or coming after students who attend those schools.

The Mayor has already proposed a $9M initiative to curb gang activity. I note that the meeting to discuss the violence around Garfield was at the police station and not at the district. There is nothing on the News and Calendars page of the district website nor anything in the Daily Bulletin at Garfield for Monday about this issue. Maybe the Garfield PTSA is discussing it.

I'm just surprised that the district isn't speaking up about joining the Mayor's effort. I'm surprised that the district isn't saying that it is tracking incidents, possibly cross-referencing incidents at high schools and sharing information with the police. I'm surprised that there isn't an announcement of high school assemblies about how teens can become more aware and street-smart.

The District may be doing some or all of these things but if they are, why don't we know about it?


Ellen said…
An email went out to the Garfield community this morning (Sunday) announcing a Student Saftey meeting that will be held Wednesday evening at Garfield with Seattle Police Department and Seattle Public Schools Security and Safety personnel in attendance.
anonymous said…
Hale, and the security guards used to come out at lunch time, and walk the perimeter of the building and keep a pretty close eye on the activity in the parking lot. I haven't seen either of the two security officers in a couple of years. SPD also had an officer in a patrol car that would park in the school parking lot after school. Haven't seen him in over a year either?
anonymous said…
Sorry my message cut off. It should have read...

We live across the street from Hale, and the security guards used to come out at lunch time, and walk the perimeter of the building and keep a pretty close eye on the activity in the parking lot. I haven't seen either of the two security officers in a couple of years. SPD also had an officer in a patrol car that would park in the school parking lot after school. Haven't seen him in over a year either?
hschinske said…
Well, the email hasn't gotten to me yet.

Helen Schinske
I am glad to know that Garfield is having a community meeting. I do hope the district does try to reach out to all the high schools.

Hale likely still does have their security officers (I'm sure all the high schools have them). i know that we lost the SPD officers several years back. I did have something going to get them back for the north end (I was only working with the North Precinct) but the head of district security (a) won't do anything unless it's district-wide and (b) there's no money (but the district was going to get a pretty good deal on 4 officers - one for Hale, Ingraham, Roosevelt and Ballard). I hope that the $9M that the Mayor is proposing might be to step up patrols at the high schools. Obvious security is the best way to keep away unwanted people and activity.
Ellen said…
The Garfield message went out through Garfield Notes this morning.
Charlie Mas said…
The whole time I was reading the Times article I was wondering why they kept referencing Garfield. They could have just as easily said that the violence was near the AM/PM, near Ezell's or just near the intersection of 25th and Cherry. The police specifically stated - emphasized even - that the shooting was NOT on school property and was NOT related to a school event. So why does the Times insist on trying to tie the violence to the school?
anonymous said…
The violence happened at the Garfield Community Center, hence the reference to Garfield.
anonymous said…
Sorry, the shooting occurred near the Garfield Community Center, not in it - one of the teens did however go into the Center for help, while the other victim lay dead in the Community Center parking lot - hence the connection.
hschinske said…
Oh, lord, yet another list to subscribe to. I thought I was already on at least one official email list for Garfield -- had completely forgotten about Garfield Notes. I can't be the only one.

Helen Schinske
Jet City mom said…
I have gone to several community meetings with the neighborhood police officers in the last few years & I appreciate Ted Howard getting information out to the community in a timely manner.

However- I am concerned about Nickels wanting to cut youth support programs at this time.

all comes at a time when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is planning to cut two key programs to help troubled youth.

The GOTS program, or Get Off The Streets, which helps people get social services, health care and jobs, and the Curb program, which uses people who have been on the streets and in jail as outreach workers to kids going down the same path.

City councilman Nick Licata says cutting those programs now is the wrong move.

“These programs, in the long run, not only do they save people's lives but from a fiscally conservative standpoint result in fewer people going through the justice system,” he said.

Nickels has promised $9 million to battle youth violence in the city, targeting hundreds of at-risk kids.

The goal is to cut the number of violent incidents in half by June of 2010. So far, though, his plan has been short on specifics.

I also agree that the lack of communication from the district regarding this lethal threat to our youth is deafening.
Jet City mom said…

Seattle Team for Youth is a dropout prevention program involving community-based agencies that work with low-income youth ages 11-21 to help keep them in school and succeed in class.

Seattle Team for Youth was launched in 1989 and is funded by Seattle’s Families and Education Levy. The 2007-2008 school year budget is $1.3 million. Funding awards to nonprofit community-based organizations providing these services are determined through a competitive process that is conducted by the department at least once every four years with the current cycle ending in 2009.

I also found this series in the p-i from Aug 2008 374899_gangkids14.html

Young Guns: Scattershot solutions and six dead teens
Common wisdom holds that kids involved with gangs are long gone from school, unseen and vanished into street life. But James, a sophomore at Cleveland High last year, would disagree. To him, they were everywhere, congregating in the halls, getting high just outside the building, urging him to step into their circle.
Jet City mom said…
Helen- you can also just join Garfield notes through Yahoo & check it online instead of filling up your mailbox.

File - NotesOnNotes.txt

Information on how to use Garfield Notes:

If you would like to send a message to the Garfield Notes Community,
send email to

with a subject line associated with the content of your message. Once
approved, your email will be sent to all of the members of the email list.

If you know of someone who would like to subscribe to the list, **please tell
them to send their name and how they are related to the Garfield Community** to

or they can go to and click on the
marked "Join This Group" to sign up. Their membership will be delayed if they do
not send this information.
BullDogger said…
This event did occur off campus so the real solution is with seattle police and their lack of visibility. More of this is coming if something isn't done soon.

I was at Ezell's thursday night where two "drug dealers" were loitering constantly. I understand that's a constant element there. Remeber, the metro 3/4 picks up right at Ezell's and probably 25% of the kids at Garfield take that bus. Mostly there's a huge crowd of other kids when school gets out but don't forget after school activities that have lonely kids in the less busy times. When dealer wars happen next time will my child be caught in the crossfire?

Greg's $9M won't do much to solve this soon. Seattle police camping out on these problem corners will solve it overnight around our school of 1700 young people.

On the issue of gangs in schools, yes they are there. Maybe less on the north end but Garfield's got plenty of this going on.
Jet City mom said…
Its my understanding- according to my spouse who is an Ingraham alum and his parents who live a block away from Ingraham, that there was significant gang presence there.

Isn't that why the IB program was needed to attract students who were more academically inclined?

I believe it has been successful, however the young woman who was found murdered recently after boarding a bus at the Northgate transfer center had been a student at Ingraham high school, until her mother who was worried about gangs, pulled her out.
Inga Manskopf said…
From my understanding, the police department simply does not have enough staff. They are having problems recruiting new officers, and I don't think this is a problem unique to Seattle.

Facing hard economic times, this situation is likely to get worse as local and county governments look to make budget cuts.
BullDogger said…

You should take that "not enough staff" argument with a grain of salt. They do have enough staff to setup speed traps on some of the most inappropriate speed limit areas in the city like the WS Bridge, Admiral east side hill and Highland hill. I see this all the time and do wonder when a focus on real crime will occur.

This is not a staffing issue it is a priority issue. Violent crime committed against young people is just not high enough on the priority list.
PurpleAndWhite said…
I'm a Garfield High School student. I agree, that these recent happenings are quite disconcerning. I do believe however, that the idea of a school district without gangs is far off base. I know many who have been affected by gangs and gang violence within schools. I do sometimes see officers out on 23rd right after school (2:15-2:30ish) but as a student who participates in many extracurriculars I'm only catching Metro when those officers are there maybe one or two times a week. It is true that Bulldogger's "drug dealers" seem to love to hang behind Ezells, so why aren't there officers there after the student rush, when the crime rush begins?
I recently took a survey given by the school district on school safety. I now wish that I had answered some of their questions about school safety differently. The recent happenings have created an atmosphere of paranoia which does not create a learning environment. It is my hope, that as a community we can protect the learning environments within our schools.
Well, Purple and White, I applaud you coming here and telling us about your concerns. Please don't believe that it's hopeless or worse, that no adults are working on it. I heard (via newsletters) that both Councilpersons Burgess and Clark have deep concerns and are working on this issue.

P.S. Who's going to win in the RHS versus GHS game on Saturday?
tlp said…
These events are really difficult and hard on the entire city, and something needs to change. Please note however that Garfield is not in the south end, it is in the central district. We south enders have enough to deal with without everyone automatically attributing violent events to our neighborhood.
reader said…
Violence near Garfield is one thing. What about the 15 yo's who beat up and murdered Seattle's iconic "Tuba Man". This is an incredibly sad story.

Where do these kids go to school?

Here's the link.
anonymous said…
And how about this incident, in which 5 Garfield HS football players were involved in two assaults and robberies, right after school. Pretty serious stuff. Here's the link.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
snaffles said…
Just catching up on some old blog spots while it is snowing...

Around Ingraham every year, at the beginning of the year the gang tags appear. They are removed relatively quick, but it seems as though it is a territory sign?

Does this happen at other schools?

Beyond the tags, there is a definite flavor to the cars and the groups off campus, hanging around at lunch, early morning or afternoon. I can't say they are gangs, but they do have an opinion. There has also been an increase in break ins this year in the neighborhood.

Bringing in IB students, still doesn't change the area is chosen for a reason, and I don't know what the area around Ingraham is, but it appears to be highly desirable...

Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools