Open Thread Friday

Discuss anything.


Unknown said…
SPS employees just got an email today from Don Kennedy with two budget updates for next year:
1) no step pay increases for employees
2) details on the central office reorganizations

Melissa or Charlie, if you want the full text of the email, let me know and I’ll forward it to you.
Mr. Edelman said…
SEA would have to agree to the suspension of step increases.
Sahila said…
I'm going to do a freedom of information request for details as to how much the District is spending on legal advice/representation - internally and externally....

I have a spreadsheet here (COURTESY OF THE DISTRICT) of monies paid this year (to mid-July) to various vendors providing "personal services" to the District.

There are an astounding number of payments of $20,000 - $75,000 a shot to various private law firms, including the one Shannon McMinime has joined....

Plus there's $160,000 to the state auditors office and $100,000 to the Alliance for Education....

very interesting reading.... no detail as to what services were provided for those funds....

if anyone wants a copy of the spreadsheet to do their own investigation, email me at and I'll forward it to you...
Sahila said…

Kennedy, Donald R
Sent: Fri 7/23/2010 9:13 AM
Subject: FY 2010/2011 Budget Update #7
To all Seattle Public Schools staff:

This update to next year's budget contains two items: (1) treatment of step increases, and (2) details of central office reorganizations.

No Step Increases. First, unless required by our collective bargaining agreements, step pay increases will not be given to employees next year. This action is being taken in order to minimize the number of employees that are being laid off as a part of the budget reductions. While I realize annual step increases have been a normal part of the district's employees' annual compensation, the decision to suspend the increase for next year is driven by the significant financial and economic challenges faced by both the district and the state. In order to balance the budget we ended up having to eliminate 84 central office positions. While this is extremely bad, had I not recommended the suspension of the step increases the number of employees being laid off would have been higher than the 84 positions. As the Finance department provides me with revenue projections for the next two years I am hopeful that the economic down turn will soon turn around and we can resume our normal compensation practices.

Central Office Reorganizations. There are a number of reorganizations within central office departments that are occurring. Some are occurring as a result of central office RIFs that were implemented, some due to the need to restructure organizations to better align them with the district's strategic goals and priorities, and some due to both. I will highlight below the changes that are being finalized and mentioned ones that are still in work.

1. School Support Services. This organization was led by Ammon McWashington. Ammon retired last month and replacing him as the Director of School Support Services is Cordell Carter. The departments reporting to Cordell are Transportation, Nutrition Services, Athletics, Traffic Ed, Archives and Records, and the JSCEE Services Center. The Services Center is a new organization formed by combining Customer Services, Enrollment Services, and Bi-lingual Family Center. The JSCEE Services Center is being led by Brandon Holst.

2. Health and Safety. The Safety Office, which is led by Pegi McEvoy, is being combined with Health Services and Social/Emotional Services. Health Services include Nursing, Health Intervention, and Teen Health Centers; Social/Emotional Services include Family Support Workers, Elementary Counseling, Homelessness, and Truancy; and Safe & Civil includes Security, the School Threat and Assessment Team, and Discipline. This new organization is titled Health and Safety and will be led by Pegi, who will become a direct report to me.
Sahila said…

3. The Business Systems organization, currently led my Cordell, will be disbanded. Towanna Jones will become a part of HR, reporting to the head of HR (currently Faye Chess-Prentice is the interim HR Executive Director), and Warner Danielson will become a part of Finance, reporting to Duggan Harman.

4. In addition to the reorganizations discussed above, a realignment is being planned for the HR Analysts and the Budget Analysts positions. The purpose of this change is to support the superintendent's goal of improving the support and customer service that central office staffs provide to schools. A part of the design of this realignment is coming from the work of several focus groups that met in the spring to review the level of customer support provided by central offices. These groups highlighted organizational issues we need to address related to: identifying roles and responsibilities, better decision making processes, the significant amount of change the district is undertaking, communications, and the management of information.

5. As we look at the implementation of these organizational changes we will begin to address these issues expressed by the focus groups. And as we do so we will pay attention to improving customer service, creating leadership opportunities for employees, improving our business processes, and focusing on employee and team development.

As we work through additional details of realignments I will communicate those in subsequent emails.


It's interesting how many of these people that are up the food chain do not appear in the SPS directory. Mr. Carter has been here two years and never appeared. I've never heard of Mr. Holst so he may be new or again, just never on the roster.
Eric M said…
The SPS bargaining team is pushing very hard to link teacher evaluations to student performance on the (very suspect, if you don't know already) MAP.

Rank & file teachers have been asked to come to sessions at SEA offices next week voice their opinions on this.

Most of us teachers find this abhorrent in 57 different ways...
Anonymous said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
dan dempsey said…
Anitra Pinchback-Jones:

She was assistant Principal at WSHS from around SY 2006-2007 to June 2010.

She taught at AAA. She is great with kids and I really like her. Others opinions may vary.
Dorothy Neville said…
Just a few links to browse if you run out of things to read on the internet...

The Inconvenience of Giftedness, an interview with a researcher of giftedness and education.

The Creativity Crisis article at Newsweek.

A graduation speech by a Valedictorian reflecting on what she did and didn't learn in school.
Dorothy Neville said…
Why would the Health and Safety office report to the CFO? Why would anyone other than budget and financial drones report directly to the CFO?
dan dempsey said…
July 26: New Student Assignment Plan appeal will be heard at 9 AM Monday in K.C. Superior Court before Judge Inveen.

The district as usual has failed to produce a "Certified Correct" transcript of evidence instead preferring to bury the appellants with 68,000 pages of materials purporting to be evidence related to the appeal.

The district has admitted to the state auditor that they did not take minutes at Board Workshops and Retreats as required by law at which the New Student Assignment Plan boundaries were discussed.
B8tes said…
Sahila, I have to say "duh" about the payments to law firms. What do you think happens every time you and your friends file another lawsuit? Since Ms. McMinimee left, there is no one to handle these in the district's legal office (her replacement is just doing special ed cases). If there is no one internal to do it, they have to hire outside firms. Plus, long before the current round of cases, and long after them, the district will send out injury and employment cases to law firms, just like any other school district or business does.
dan dempsey said…

Excellent points. Perhaps the District might consider following laws instead of ignoring laws. That would cause a marked reduction in lawsuits filed.

It is quite apparent that the District did not follow the Open Public Meetings Act. They saw no point in following RCW 28A 645.020 in fact stating such in a legal interrogatory.

They have little interest in following many of their own policies.

Look at the Public Employee Relations Commission rulings against the district.
SP said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
SP said…
Does anyone know which regions the newly appointed educational directors are appointed to? We've heard Tolley, Brockman plus someone from Portland have 3 of the 5 positions, but no more details as to which area they will serve. Who are the 2 other directors?

Also- Dan-
You mentioned Anitra Pinchback-Jones but I don't see where she moved to?
Does anyone know?
Charlie Mas said…

Mr. Kennedy is the COO as well as the CFO. Health and Safety are reporting to him in his role as the Operations Officer, not Financial.
Dorothy Neville said…
Ah, Charlie. COO, that makes more sense. Thanks.
dan dempsey said…
Dear Seattle Parent,

I was responding to a comment now removed.

"Also- Dan-
You mentioned Anitra Pinchback-Jones but I don't see where she moved to?
Does anyone know?"

I believe it said : Interim Principal at Bagley Elementary.

-- Dan
dan dempsey said…
Try this:

Petitioners' reply to response by Judges Doyle, Inveen, and Middaugh

Case No. 84361-9 at the Supreme Court reply filed July 22.


This should make actions in Inveen's court at 9 AM Monday even more interesting.
Sahila said…
What I want to know is: how can a judge named in an action sit in judgment of that action?

Isnt that a case of the accused carrying out his/her own trial and judging him/herself as innocent/guilty?
dan dempsey said…
Regarding MAP testing and all of this:
The Audit
School Board Policies Violated
Performance Management policy and likely practice (per WADC example)
WA DC Performance Management
and a possible appeal of NWEA/MAP testing in KC Superior Court.

(1) School Board policies D43.00, D44.00, D45.00, and D46.00 require effective interventions and strongly discourage social promotion. Seattle Boards and Superintendents have been violating these Promotion / Non-Promotion policies which require effective interventions for many years.

(2) WA DC is firing teachers big time right now.

(3) The school board has yet to devote much time to sound plans for teaching kids content effectively. Especially if we look at all kids and math. The White - Black achievement Gaps for math when averaged for grades 4, 7, and 10 reached a whopping 51.5% in 2009 and had been rising steadily for 10 years. Essentially effective interventions are a complete illusion. Programs like k-12 math are so poorly designed nearly 100% of the kids in some schools need interventions if grade level skills are desired. Any thought about effectively serving advanced learners is lacking and the Special Ed programs under MGJ's inclusion model has become more like "Stack 'em Deep and Teach 'em Cheap". The Federal DOE is becoming very dissatisfied with this deficient model and parent complaints to DOE are now getting action. "Differentiated Instruction" coupled with "social promotion" is a catastrophe of major proportions.

(4) the School Board Adopted a performance management policy to hold teachers accountable for the performance of their students. Likely MAP growth will be the measuring tool.

(5) For performance management contrast the Board members performance under B23.00, which essentially requires little more than regular breathing with the Washington Auditor Report findings for 2010.

(6) Look carefully at the following:
a.. grade level expectations in math as in current WA math standards.
b.. requirement to assess students for their possible need for effective interventions of deficiencies in regard to the mastering of specific grade level expectations (Math Standards).
c.. The NWEA/MAP test does not do "b" as it is not analyzing performance on specific standards and reporting useful information to teachers.
d.. It seems that NWEA/MAP will be used to evaluate teachers on their ability to deliver effective instruction (as shown by MAP growth) to an impossibly wide range of students using substandard instructional materials. It is hard to miss the WA DC connection where Everyday Math is also used.

(7) The seriously deficient leaders, as described in the State Audit-(MGJ and Board), wish to hold teachers accountable for fulfillment of tasks for which the leadership refuses to properly create a situation in which such tasks can be fulfilled.

Sahila said…
Have had lots of people say they want to help with the recall signature gathering effort...

If you are another person who wants to help, can you contact me at and I'll connect you up...

we need:
* hands-on signature gathering - we're creating a coherent plan for that
* help with donations to cover photocopying costs
* help with outreach
* help with creating an information website/blog
* help with creating/printing informational flyers


dan dempsey said…
(8) For really deep Fantasy designs masquerading as policy try this package adopted on March 17, 2010
(too much green beer is the only explanation I can see for voting for this fairy-tale policy duo.)

A.. Performance Management

First two paragraphs:

The Board of Directors believes that with district-wide performance goals and adherence to our Instructional Philosophy goals (see Policy C 01.00) we will achieve continuous improvement and all of our students will achieve academic success. This will occur through close monitoring and regular reporting on progress, differentiated supports and interventions, and consistent consequences based on performance.

To do this we must have clear long-term district goals, to be outlined in the District’s scorecard based on the District’s strategic plan, and annual school performance targets, to be included in the annual school reports. These goals will inform both school improvement plans (CSIPs) and departmental improvement plans. To track and report progress toward our goals, we will use accurate, timely and relevant data, and ensure that employees are trained in the use of that data to make decisions that best support their students’ academic success. The District scorecard will track annual progress across the whole system, and annual school reports will show school progress toward key student performance outcomes; both reporting tools will be shared publicly every fall.

B.. Instructional Philosophy

Apparently this was copied from Lake Wobegon Board in the state of Garrison Keilor.

Paragraph 1:
The Board of Directors of Seattle Public Schools believes that every student can and must learn at grade level and beyond, and that all students will be afforded the opportunity to reach their potential and graduate from high school ready for college, career, and life. We recognize that in today’s global economy, college ready and career ready standards are the same and are appropriate for all students. It is the responsibility of the School Board and the Superintendent to ensure that all students receive an education that meets these goals.


So where was the SEA in protecting Teachers and Students from this?

So now comes NWEA/MAP testing at about $500,000 per year. Last chance to appeal is August 6, 2010.

Anyone expecting the SEA which extracts $70+ per month from members to appeal anything is delusional.

NWEA/MAP action report

Your thoughts?

Stay tuned as the summer progresses.

Audit for 2008-2009 stated Board fails to enforce policy.

Now for 2009-2010 we can have Board writes unreal nonsense policy disconnected from reality.
kprugman said…
"we will achieve continuous improvement and all of our students will achieve academic success. This will occur through close monitoring and regular reporting on progress, differentiated supports and interventions, and consistent consequences based on performance."

If this is sounding slightly Woebegonish, its been cloned from Denver Public Schools, your former Academic Officer's alma mantra.

How's that for puppet policy making?

Will the real Superintendent please stand up?
dan dempsey said…
Proposed National Math Standards Unteachable.

Sacramento Bee article

By Bill Evers and Ze'ev Wurman
dan dempsey said…
"Will the real Superintendent please stand up?"

Forget Superintendents will a real educational leader stand up?
Veronica said…

Your comment about SPS and their need to follow laws rather than ignore them would assist in reduction of legal fees.

That is the biggest problem in this district. Blatant and consistent ignoring of laws. ALL laws from employment to education. I have never seen anything like it in my life.

It perpetuates everything as if they are "above" the law. To get anything in accomplished, to get someone to listen to you, to resolve a conflict you must threaten or embark on a lawsuit.

In my legal dealings with the district even my Attorney was amazed at how little regard they had for simple process let alone total oblivion to what they are required to do.

They also have no respect for Attorneys and many of the staff are so poorly educated and informed they sort of operate as their own independent counsel. It is frighting when you read a communication from a District "superior" particularly HR that is fraught with misstatements, incorrect facts and contradictions it is terrifying.

And this attitude of Oligarchy is one extended to Schools who often feel they are their own castle behind the moat that must stave off any intruders as a threat. The sheer audacity of anyone questioning their authority is met with utter disdain if not derision.

Education "reform" really must begin at the head not the bottom but no one would ever do that they might lose their six figure jobs.
Anonymous said…
SPS is trying to significantly change the seniority system and the way teachers are compensated. Their proposal to link evaluations to student performance as measured by tests is part of this plan. Eliminating step increases, which are our yearly raises, seems to be an attempt to move towards performance pay.

Teachers should be held accountable for student learning. That's our job, but the systems to measure that learning are too flawed to be the single measurement tool. That is why I am opposed to this proposal.

The elimination of step increases would be easier to take if no one got a raise, but there is always enough money for the Superintendent's bonus, superfluous travel, Broad residents, and an excess of highly paid consultants.
dan dempsey said…

You are absolutely correct the level of arrogance is unbelievable. It seems that it is encouraged by the Superior Court Judges.

As I linked earlier. This reply to the response from three Superior Court Judges in Supreme Court action covers the situation quite well. The office of the General Counsel has been filled with folks who saw little reason to follow laws. The Auditor's finding that minutes were not taken at Board work sessions and retreats is typical of this pathetic outfit.

Accountability is non-existent for these oligarchs thus far. A significant legal "SmackDown" is needed.
Anonymous said…
hello everyone, just saw this editorial on how to solve the bullying problems in the NYT that some of you might be interested in. i very much agree that we need to teach children how to be kind, tolerant and compassionate; not just telling them that bullying is unacceptable. sorry about the anonymous posting, this is not my computer so i did not want to register with it.

kprugman said…
Its hard to imagine a smackdown bigger than what this board is currently facing. The bigger the brief, the larger the avoidance ratio. Reminds me of my sister's Raggedy Ann versus my neighbor's Pittbull. Wished I had it on You-Tube so you could see it. Go Shadow Board.
Sahila said…
The Occupation of U.S. Public Schools: Kids as Cannon Fodder and Consumers

In November of 2009, 90 retired U.S. military leaders, including former NATO Supreme Commander General Wesley Clark, 2 former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and 6 other 4-star generals and admirals, announced their plans to cultivate another demographic to fight future imperial wars — pre-schoolers. According to Rear Admiral Barnett, “Our national security in the year 2030 is absolutely dependent on what’s going on in pre-kindergarten today.”

If this doesn't have you in complete outrage about what's going on in the US and in education, what will?

And if you do find this morally indefensible, what are you going to do about it?
Huh ?? said…
Very interesting article in Time re: summer vacation.,8599,2005654,00.html
Maureen said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Maureen said…
Here's a link to an abridged version of the article mom2two mentioned. It says, in part:

Deprived of healthy stimulation, millions of low-income kids lose a significant amount of what they learn during the school year. Call it "summer learning loss," as the academics do, or "the summer slide," but by any name summer is among the most pernicious — if least acknowledged — causes of achievement gaps in America's schools.

Is SPS doing much of anything to address this? Should it be?
Anonymous said…
No offense Dan, but your attorney needs to proof read.
SPS mom said…
Re: Summer School

A recent article in Seattle times mentioned that Seattle Public Schools has now limited summer school to entering 1st and 6th graders and high school students not on target to meet standards.

So if the MAP test indicated poor performance for your K child (are the scores even valid at that age??), they would be offered summer school, but no summer school is offered for entering 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, or 8th graders.

It's hard to believe, but this is from the District website:


Eligibility: Students currently enrolled in a Seattle Public School who are not on target to meet reading and math standards in Kindergarten and 5th grade as measured by the WASL/HSPE or District assessments.

Middle School

Eligibility: Current Seattle School District 8th grade students who are not at standard in reading and mathematics as measured by the WASL/HSPE or District assessments.
SPS mom said…
Re: Common Core Standards

The Fordham Institute provides a comparison of State Standards and the new Common Core Standards:
BL said…
Regarding Summer School:
My son was in kindergarten last year. I had a conversation with his teacher one day about MAP and summer school. Apparently one child in the class was working at or above grade level throughout the year, as reported on his/her report cards as well as Fall and Spring MAP scores. During the Winter MAP test, this child, and the child sitting next to him or her, completed the test in just a few minutes and scored within the bottom 10th percentile. This child's parents received a letter from SPS offering summer school, clearly based on that single score.
No one bothered to look at a report card, or, God forbid, call the teacher directly. Just send off a form letter based on one test score.
I, for one, don't trust SPS to be any less lazy when it comes to assessing teacher quality.
Bird said…
So if the MAP test indicated poor performance for your K child (are the scores even valid at that age??), they would be offered summer school, but no summer school is offered for entering 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th, or 8th graders.

This just boggles my mind. Any idea why the district doesn't offer summer school to kids who need it? What's the history of summer school in the district?

It makes me think that the district is simply not serious about closing the achievement gap.
dan dempsey said…
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense Dan, but your attorney needs to proof read.

7/25/10 9:26 PM
It was an incredibly busy week. Scott chose to get a reply in on Friday for good reason, that reply was not due for weeks. As a result I had no time to proof read, here is a correction and clarification that still has a repeated word in it.

We are getting pretty tired. Last week had 2 filings (1)recall "5" and (2)appeal the Superintendent's contract extension.... Plus getting ready for New Student Assignment Plan boundaries appeal for Monday.

From page 1 of the above linked doc:
These retreats and workshops were held to discuss the budget, student assignment boundaries, school closures and strategic planning".

In Monday's oral hearing in regard to Student Assignment Plan boundaries the District's outside legal counsel told the judge she should strike the auditor's report.

I do not think that will be happening.

I may tell you more about Monday's hearing later but I am tired at the moment.
SPS mom said…
From the Seattle Times article, Students shouldn't waste summer, 6/18/2010:

It is also worth highlighting a couple of districts continuing to offer creative and efficient learning during summer. Rather than try to offer something for everyone, Seattle smartly repurposed its summer programs to target the transition years. Summer classes prepare kindergartners for first grade, fifth-graders for middle school and eighth-graders for high school.

Oh, the irony and the's maddening.
Dan, rest up, thanks. But when you do feel rested, could you let us know on what grounds the lawyer thought the audit report should be struck? Interesting that such a minor report needs to be struck (but maybe it's not so minor).
dan dempsey said…

The auditor's report is definitely not minor.

J. Freimund stated that there were in the record two submissions of evidence that had minutes from meetings that were about NSAP boundaries. ... So strike the audit.

Sure do not think that is going to work for Jeff F. because:
(1) Audit is certified correct
(2) District submission is not certified correct
(3) There were at least 11 meetings that may not have had minutes recorded.

Another District train-wreck occurs with: the RCW ... Within twenty days of service of the notice of appeal, the school board, at its expense, or the school official, at such official's expense, shall file the complete transcript of the evidence and the papers and exhibits relating to the decision for which a complaint has been filed. Such filings shall be certified to be correct.

The first submission to the court contained only favorable stuff that Holly Ferguson gave the Board to use as evidence.

Sometime ago Judge Inveen sent it back as insufficient. Then came the 50,000 Plus pages. Stafne argues that this in not acceptable as:"relating to the decision for which a complaint has been filed." Most of this stuff does not relate to the decision.

In an administrative Law review for arbitrary and capricious the appellants need the "Certified Correct" transcript of evidence related to the decision. The job is then to show that given the evidence actually considered by the Board the judgment was arbitrary and capricious.

J. Freimund is interpreting the section as relating to the topic thus the avalanche of paper.

Stafne asked Judge Inveen early on if she had "the submitted transcript of evidence with her" and she responded that those 12 boxes are elsewhere in the building.

Figuring around 5000 sheets per box gives 60,000 sheets.

Stafne points out how difficult is it to require following the law?

Six words, six unambiguous words:
"Such filings shall be certified to be correct"

To show arbitrary and capricious in regard to an administrative law appeal to even get started 2 things are needed:

(1) The complete transcript of the evidence and the papers and exhibits relating to the decision for which a complaint has been filed.

(2) Certification that the provided transcript is correct.

The district is unable to provide either.

In all areas that we audited, we found the District did not comply with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures. These conditions were significant enough to report as findings ... Audit Report, p. 2.

District just never cared about following the law:

Interrogatory No. 9 requests:
Please state whether the District had a written policy or procedure
in place relating to certifying pursuant to RCW 28A.645.020 that
the evidence and the papers and exhibits in Transcript of Evidence
relating to decisions made by the school board in 2008 and 2009
were correct and complete. If your answer is yes, please set forth the language of each policy or procedure verbatim of provide a
copy of each policy or procedure.

The District responded:

ANSWER: Subject to the foregoing objections, the District
responds that:

it does not maintain a policy or procedure in place

"relating to certifying pursuant to RCW 28A.645.020," nor is it
aware of any regulation or statute requiring the District to maintain
such a policy or procedure".
dan dempsey said…
Stafne pointed to the mess that is revealed in the state audit and said the court's repeated failure to hold the SPS accountable for repeated legal violations enabled and continues to enable illegal behavior on the part of the SPS.
dan dempsey said…
Try this line from the May 24, 2010 Financial Audit....

Our audit identified significant deficiencies in controls that adversely affect the District's ability to produce reliable financial statements.

Let me see most of the registered voters in Seattle do not have children in Seattle Schools but do pay taxes and do support the schools.

I doubt it will be very difficult to convince such voters to sign recall petitions for each of five directors based solely on Audit Findings that are certified correct.

Charlie's Mantra together with the above from p27....

"The State Auditor found that the School Board completely failed in their duty to enforce laws and policy and completely failed in their duty to oversee the superintendent."

Sign here ______________________

We are working on setting up a volunteer organization to gather signatures to for the Seattle "5" recall.
hschinske said…
Haven't seen this mentioned; apologies if a repeat.

Helen Schinske
lendlees said…
Have you seen Lynne Varner's editorial about SPS 'lack of fiscal discipline'? Probably the first time I've seen her criticize the district.
dan dempsey said…
Link to L. Varner Article in the Times

Lack of fiscal discipline in Seattle Public Schools

The Washington state auditor's scathing report on Seattle Public Schools illustrates how tough it is for the district to change from a culture too casual about spending other people's money.

By Lynne K. Varner

Seattle Times editorial columnist
wsnorth said…
.... "By Lynne K. Varner

Seattle Times editorial columnist"

Really? Dang, all this time I thought she was the Seattle Times Satirist.
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