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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Board Community Meeting reports

Directors Carr, Maier and Patu held community meetings today.

Any reports?

28 comments:

Melissa Westbrook said...

I attended Sherry's meeting; it was me and another parent.

Sherry and I were alone at first and I talked to her about the Roosevelt rape and the chain of issues that need attention. I told her I thought parents deserved an explanation from the district about how they handle juvenile sex offenders and what the procedures are.

I also talked to her about the Superintendent review. She acknowledged hearing about the votes of no-confidence. I told her that whatever the Board does would send a signal. I told her there were some who wanted the Superintendent dismissed but that I thought that despite unhappiness/frustration with many of her actions, you need a good cause to cancel her contract.

I told her that it seemed like there were many parents out there who did not understand the Strategic Plan and how all these initiatives fit together. She said she had talked to both the Superintendent and Communications about the need for ongoing dialog so that people do understand what is happening. She said the Board was in a good place to explain this but that after the first burst of information about the Strategic Plan that not much else followed.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Part Two of Sherry's meeting.

The other parent had an interesting issue which, again, speaks to larger district issues. It's about the cheerleading squad at Roosevelt. I know but don't laugh.

The issue is that the cheer coach left in December and the position hadn't been filled until recently. But, the mom at the meeting contends that the position was never posted at the district website. There's issue #1, how did these women get hired.

Issue #2, they didn't have the qualifications asked for in the job description.

Issue #3, the tryouts occurred and two girls on the squad didn't make it. That one of them didn't make it came as a shock to the entire squad so she asked why.

(Let me just break here to say that Roosevelt has some of the most convoluted rules for making these teams that I have ever heard of. They are terribly involved, from both sides, and I just don't get it. Sherry's own daughter tried to join the Sports Boosters which is basically a group that makes pep signs (so why you need to tryout is unclear). Her daughter made these great graphics and then was told hers were not good enough (when it was clear that others were not great at all). Sherry said it was not a good experience for her daughter because it's a club that makes signs - why not just have it a club you can join?)

So the girl who had been on the squad and then didn't make it this year was told one thing about why she lost. Then another. Then another which was out of her control (her grade sheet being sent to the review committee).

Issue #4, one of these new coaches has nude (from the back) photos of her boyfriend on her Facebood page which she allowed members of the team to access as "friends". She also told the girls there is a no tolerance rule for alcohol and then later told them that the practices would start after 4th of July "so don't come in hungover".

Issue #4 - there had been a long-time rule in place about selection of the team captains which the new coaches upended without discussion. This caused a massive rift on the team and two girls got exited from the team (and that happened by calling them out of class in the middle of the day to tell them). The reason they were exited? They started a petition against the new coaches and were trying to convince other members of the team to vote a certain way.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Part Three

Does it all sound petty? Somw but if you have a daughter, you know how these emotions run high.

But the bigger picture is if these procedures are in place and if they are changed, is this communicated to parents and participants? Sherry felt that there were places along the way on this narrative where the school/advisor probably didn't do the right thing. She advised the parent that since she had tried talking to the advisor and the principal, then she should go to the high school director and/or the ed director.

These issues may be peculiarities to Roosevelt. (Sherry seemed to think so and I agree.) There is a very ingrained way of thinking at Roosevelt. For example, they have been using one photo studio for years - run by an RHS alum - and yet the district's policy requires going out for bids at regular intervals. They won't consider doing the bids.

So one issue is if schools are following district policies on these clubs/activities.

Another issue is whether schools treat student participants fairly or if the system is weighed against some students.

Another issue is how they exit student participants.

Another troubling issue is the cost to participate. I had no idea that to be on the cheerleading squad at RHS, they need to raise/ask parents for about $1400 per girl. I would think there would be many girls who would simply not tryout at that kind of cost. (I'm thinking this is not the norm at all high schools.) This is also an issue for students who might want to join the jazz bands at Garfield or RHS. You need to have private tutoring probably starting in middle school to get to the level you need to be at for these bands. That takes money and again, probably cuts off many students.

While it can seem like much ado about nothing, if it is your child wanting to participate in an activity, it can be a big deal. And, it the expectations and procedures for all these extra-curricular activities should be made clear.

(Sorry so long but it's easier to understand the big picture if you see how this played out.)

seattle said...

Wow. I guess I'm glad we picked Hale after all. Cheer is open to all, no try outs, no cuts. And our cheer squad is fantastic!

Same for all clubs at Hale - they are all open to everyone. No tryouts, no exclusion (as far as I know). Even the French club welcomes everyone - even if they don't speak French and are not even taking French.

If Hale doesn't have a club a student is interested in they can start one! Anyone can start a club - it has to be approved by an administrator (which it always is as long as it is appropriate and open to all).

So, no, I don't think what Roosevelt is doing is "standard". Maybe it's a result of being such a large school and not being able to accommodate everyone???

Anonymous said...

Yes, Hale sounds more like our cup of tea as well. Cheer squad in my high school a few decades ago was a popularity contest,always was, probably is still. I kind of thought it was like that everywhere-didn't some mom in Texas try to kill a girl for getting her daughter's spot a few years back?

Sounds like some wholesale changes are needed. And I liked reading about the beginning music program in Washington Middle School (in Publicola?) where teachers are helping those who haven't got the moneny or years of private lessons get into the band program. It's not ALL exclusivity out there, I'm glad to see.

Jet City mom said...

o, no, I don't think what Roosevelt is doing is "standard". Maybe it's a result of being such a large school and not being able to accommodate everyone???


Garfield doesn't have the same issues- not that I have ever heard of anyway.

My daughter participated in the clubs she was interested in + she started another with the help of faculty .

However we think of cheerleading- it needs to have the same support and standards as any other activity/sports team.

How can they have an activity at a comprehensive high school without a staff advisor/teacher?
where did the money get put that was budgeted for the full year?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, Janice, the "no-cut" thing has its downsides (my older son went to Hale). Sure, you're on the team but you may never ever play. It's a little hard for some kids.

Emerald Kity, they do have an advisor but they lost their coach. Sorry if that was confusing but they are two different things.

And I'm talking about activities with tryouts - band, cheer, dance, athletics. You can start any club at Roosevelt as well.

seattle said...

"Well, Janice, the "no-cut" thing has its downsides (my older son went to Hale). Sure, you're on the team but you may never ever play. It's a little hard for some"

I agree Melissa, when it comes to sports the no cut thing can be problematic, but I thought we were talking about clubs, cheer, band.....

At Hale ever girl who wants to join the cheer squad can. It's not a popularity contest, and there are girls of all colors, shapes, sizes, ethnicities, etc. And they all get to cheer! Nobody is "benched"

Same for clubs. They are open to everyone.

As for band it is also open to all, and all get to play. Of course, Hale doesn't have advanced bands like Roosevelt, so I'm sure that has something to do with the welcoming of all comers no matter their skill level.

dan dempsey said...

I sure would appreciate some clarity on the Strategic Plan in regard to Mathematics ... Perhaps Sherry could explain it to Judge Spector and also those attempting to raise even more money than the initial $13,140 for the successful appeal. Now more money is needed thanks in part to Sherry's support for the Superintendent's belief in 'Excluding Evidence" in decision-making.

So go for it Board members explain the Strategic Plan's approach to Math.

Sahila said...

Melissa - how much more damage can MGJ do, before you think that she ought to be fired?

Just taking one example of incompetence, isnt putting our District at least $48M further in the hole a big enough error of judgment?

Melissa Westbrook said...

We're talking about two things here. Firing her for which there HAS to be cause or buying out her contract.

If they fired her, what could they say was the reason? The Board voted for every single thing she has done so, from a legal standpoint, there's not much to stand on. It would have to be a huge conflict of interest (and we know there appears to be some but the Board doesn't seem disturbed by it) or something like fraud, etc.

Now they could just say that they are not happy with her performance and buy her out but again, they voted for everything she has done. How would that look to the public to hand her a huge sum of money to leave based on actions the Board approved? That's a pretty big oops.

We don't know yet that the $48M is being wasted. The district claims it needs the capacity and yet early indications are that those buildings won't even be half full. If the Board pressures her to do something to make those schools more attractive (in order to make it worth spend that kind of money) and she refuses, well, then you have something to hang your hat on. The Board likely believes (and somewhat rightly so) that corrective change doesn't happen overnight.

The point is that we all can agree on various points that we think she is failing on. We each have at least one initiative that we think is not worth doing. Some might even say they think she's not competent. The point is that it matters what the Board thinks and based on their voting record so far, they don't think what she has presented to get done is wrong.

Sahila said...

I would have far more respect for the Board if they admitted their mistakes, said she isnt the superintendent for this district and bought her out, before she does more damage...

I heard in conversation last week that one former board member was supporting us (the Seattle Shadow School Board) in our actions as 'penance' for the mistake that person make in voting for MGJ to be given the job here in Seattle...

That person said that MGJ basically was the last person left standing so was really a Clayton's choice... pity that Board didnt have the guts to say: hey, no one here is suitable, lets go look again... that would have been the ethical thing to do...

Its time this Board showed some ethics and integrity... and not add to the damage already done, made a bad situation worse due to cowardice...

Takes a big person (and a big Board) to admit mistakes...

Sahila said...

And, if they dont think there is anything wrong with MGJ and they support the corporatist reform agenda she is implementing here, and they think its OK for Broad et al to shape and rape public education and they're happy to be part of that, then they ought to be honest and come right out and tell us (their constituents) that...

I can't believe they are so stupid as to not know what is going on here and nationally....

And I cant believe they're uninformed, given the contact they have with Broad and Gates; and if they do claim they're ignorant, that they're uninformed about all this, then they're guilty of dereliction of duty...

Its not like many of us havent been trying to bring all this to their attention for the last year... they dont have to go far to get the information we have been shoving under their noses on a weekly basis...

So if they're not on board with that agenda, then why are they not acting?????

If they are on board, be honest and say so...

Central Mom said...

I think it is enough not to buy her our but simply not renew her contract for 3 years hence. This vote would cost the district nothing. Any thinking, ambitious superintendent would get the message and move on. MGJ is thinking and ambitious.

I agree a "no decision" wait and see year is too timid from the governing body who is supposed to provide vision, leadership and inspection of operations. I agree that any board member voting in this manner will and should face strong election competition next year.

dan dempsey said...

MGJ fired with cause. Take a look at continuing incompetence.

If the Supreme Court actually has the courage to say that when the district continually fails to provide a "Transcript Certified correct" in appealed decisions the district loses ....Might that do it?

Or are we looking for the Washington Appellate court to tell her NO you cannot exclude evidence in decision making.

The District has outsourced legal work all over the city and now even to Olympia trying to keep up with her incompetence.

Really give me a picture of what fired with cause looks like?

School Arson is that what is needed?

dan dempsey said...

Central Mom said:
"This vote would cost the district nothing."

Looks to me like failure to do this one year ago has from the STEM perspective alone cost the District more than $2 million..... The district is going nowhere .. Leaving MGJ in place is borderline insanity.

Look for lots more lawsuits and other complaints focused in on article IX of the State Constitution.

This Superintendent and this Board is simply unbelievable.

The same can be said for any member of the public that sits back watching as Superintendent MGJ, who feels her right to exclude evidence submitted by the public in decision-making has been violated, files a legal appeal in State Appellate Court.

Really who Sits back and says..... that's OK let's go for two more years of this. ... just Unreal the level of apathy ... little wonder there is so little pressure on this board to do much of anything constructive.....

Let the "Rubber-Stamping" continue unabated.

I guess when the public gets slapped in the face long enough it is hard to notice what is happening.

MoneyPenny said...

Dan, didn't the Supreme Court rule against you?

dan dempsey said...

MoneyPenny,

Thanks for asking ...

Ruled Against well sort of...

The commissioner of the court (6-7-10) wrote "A lot of Denied" and that the court only in rare exceptions will consider review of materials that have not received a lower court case judgment. Then said this is not one of those cases.

The commissioner in the decision did affirm the requirement for a "Transcript Certified Correct".

I believe that Scott Stafne will be contacting the Supreme Court Commissioner aiming strictly that he cannot see how he can argue a case when the required "Certified Correct Transcript" does not exist from which the legal argument must be constructed.

It seems to me that only parents and children would need to put up with this type of situation. I cannot believe that a corporation or a union would be told to move on ahead when the requirements of the law for a "Certified Correct Transcript" have not been met.

Unknown said...

Dan, you just don't get litigation. To suggest this matter hangs on whether the Supreme Court has the "courage" to decide a case on your conclusion that a procedural standard hasn't been met is misplaced. Constantly, in criminal and civil cases, when the litigants are paupers or enormous corporations or joe/jane average folks, the courts face the real world when dealing with evidentiary rulings. They apply those rules in a common sense fashion, and appellate courts almost never get in the way. Heck, usually an appellate court won't even get down in the weeds on that one. Especially where (as here) the decision maker is the judge, not a jury, their actions are balanced by the fact that, as judges, they also review the sufficiency of the evidence.

If evidence exists and it's solid evidence, 99 percent of the judges will accept it into the record. And they should. Because once the evidence comes in the judge gets to the real issue, which is deciding the underlying substantive matter in the case.

The law shouldn't be about creating artificial hurdles that keep you out unless you speak the magic words or a judge interprets something the precise way you think something should be interpreted.

If your lawyer isn't telling you this then he or she is doing you a disservice.

Unknown said...

Of out curosity, Dan why do you post your lawyer's arguements but not the decisions?

It would lend you some crediability if you posted to decisions and let people see for themselves what the judges interpret the laws to mean rather than just what your lawyer is telling you.

CAn you please post the Supreme Court order?

dan dempsey said...

Rosie,

Right on in regard to school closures 68,000 pages ... of which the Feds in the Jackson building found about 5% actually had something to do with the school closure case (in analyzing a civil rights complaint over school closures).

Why should anyone be taking the time to wade through that pile when no one at the SPS will certify the record as "correct"?

Admittedly the district might have endless piles of taxpayer money to pay out-side legal the time to wade through most of the largely irrelevant documents. Sorry we do not have access to those piles of taxpayer money.

Perhaps you could encourage someone at the district to certify any of these transcripts as correct.

It could well be that perjury laws have been somewhat of a disincentive for signing as "certified correct".

Since no one even read the NTN contract for the $800,000 2-3-10 NTN decision, what are the chances anyone read 68,000 pages....

Why would anyone suggest it is appropriate to wade through dumps from the printer when there is no certification for these boxes and boxes of stuff?

dan dempsey said...

Marie,

Here you go as .pdf

Anderson here

Malone here

Ovalles here

All written on 6-7-10
I got these documents Friday Morning. I was gone all day Friday.

dan dempsey said...

It must be noted that when the district finally supplied the transcript requested in Anderson on April 22, 2010 (16,875 pages) it contained a great amount of material written after the 2-3-10 school board decision and thus could not possibly have been a correct transcript relevant to the decision to sign the contract on 2-3-10.

Little wonder that no one was willing to certify that these boxes and boxes of paper constituted a correct transcript.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Dan, so the court ruled against your group all three times, citing any number of cases to back up the rulings. In fact, in all three rulings, it implies that you folks were at best misguided.

You basically got blown out of the water all three times. Are you going to continue to tell us that it's all some kind of vast conspiracy between the district and the judges?

Unknown said...

Amen Agibean.

Sahila said...

Well sorry about that, but I cant see why a court would not rule the District has to comply with state law....

The court already made this point about all the evidence being presented and a complete record in the Math case... why that thinking isnt being applied in these other cases defies logic and a reasonable explanation...

The District has admitted in court that it cant certify the record (which is a basic necessity for any appeal of Board decisions) and it doesnt know what and what was not presented to the Board for its consideration in making each of the decisions under appeal...

I cant fathom why the courts are doing the nudge, nudge, wink, wink thingy - yes, we know you dont have a complete record, and yes we'll let you add to the record after the fact, with documents dated after the fact and we know you still cant certify it as a complete and accurate record... makes no legal or logical sense...

Charlie Mas said...

When in conflict with the District, being right doesn't help you.

The Courts have legal considerations, but they have practical considerations also. It would be impractical for every appeal of a Board decision (or non-decision because you can appeal those also) to be upheld automatically based exclusively on the absence of an administrative record.

I, for one, don't like to see legal cases determined on technicalities of the law instead of principles of justice.

The Spector decision did appear, to me, to more about pedagogy than process. Judge Spector did appear to be passing judgement on inquiry-based instruction more than on the grounds for the school board's decision. Her conclusion seems to say that since inquiry-based instruction is no good, any decision that ends by recommending inquiry-based instruction can't be very good either.

While we may share this conclusion as interested observers, that's not a proper basis for a judge to find caprice in the Board's decision.

It's a shame, because the decision really was capricious. The four Board members who approved the adoption of the textbooks claimed that they did so without regard to the quality of the materials. They claimed that they were only passing judgement on the quality of the process by which the books were selected. Play the video and listen to what they said. That's bad for two reasons. One, they had a responsibility to consider the quality of the texts and they didn't. Two, they never made much of a review of the process before approving it. The process was, itself corrupt.

A stronger decision from Judge Spector would have been decided on those grounds.

gavroche said...

Charlie Mas said...The Spector decision did appear, to me, to more about pedagogy than process. Judge Spector did appear to be passing judgement on inquiry-based instruction more than on the grounds for the school board's decision. Her conclusion seems to say that since inquiry-based instruction is no good, any decision that ends by recommending inquiry-based instruction can't be very good either.

That's not my read on the Spector decision at all. She said the board failed to consider the 300+ pages of public testimony opposing "Discovering" math, and, I believe, other data, and therefore concluded that the board did not take into consideration all the facts it should have when it made its decision, thus amounting to an "arbitrary and capricious" vote.

She did not say the texts or the use of them was arbitrary and capricious. She said the method by which SPS arrived at this choice was flawed and therefore amounted to an arbitrary and capricious act.

I did not find anything in the decision that represented the judge's own point of view on the value of the textbooks in question.

It's ironic -- the Board likes to go on and on about the importance of the "process" (especially Sundquist), and yet the point of the Spector decision is that the Board did NOT follow the process.