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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Lowell Meeting Thursday Night

Important: Lowell Community Meeting this Thursday night.  To all parents, staff and other members of the Lowell community.

Do you have questions and concerns about Lowell Elementary’s future?


Please come to a community meeting with Nancy Coogan, executive director of schools for the Seattle Public Schools’ central region, which includes Lowell. She wants to hear and address our concerns about Lowell’s present and its future.


The meeting will be Thursday, Feb. 16, starting at 6:30 p.m. in the Lowell lunchroom.


This is a great opportunity to ask questions and get answers.


Parents and staff at Lowell, let us know how it goes.  

47 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Lowell means Lowell.

I wish parents at Lowell@Lincoln would understand that Mr King is NOT the principal for APP, and has nothing to do with anything regarding how it's run. This confusion has been causing a lot of tension in the Lincoln building.

Lincoln Parent - whose principal is NOT Mr King

Anonymous said...

I would like to clarify my post above. Instead of "Lincoln building" I should be more clear and say "Lincoln parent community." I am sure the teachers know who their principals is.

Lincoln Parent - whose principal is NOT Mr King

lowell parent said...

I'm tired of hearing about negative feelings regarding Gregory King. He is well liked and respected by the Lowell community. A few disgruntled teachers and parents should not dominate the conversation. He is a strong advocate for children.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"He is well liked and respected by the Lowell community."

Unless you are the PTA president or SEA rep, I'd have to wonder what you base that on. Would you care to expand on that thought?

My experience is that when you have a principal and the view of that person swings widely throughout the school, it's not a good sign.

Lori said...

Why is Lowell Parent being called out for expressing an opinion on this matter? Just because it's a positive and supportive comment?

For the last week, ostensibly numerous anonymous posters have been saying negative, accusatory things about Lowell's leadership; some of the comments may even be defamatory and libelous (and I mean that in a legal sense). Yet, they are not told that they need to be PTA leaders or SEA representatives to have a "valid" opinion.

Even though I'd rather that this entire debacle had never happened (that is, let's wait for a public report so that there is actually something to discuss besides rumor and hearsay), I would at least hope that all Lowell parents felt that their opinions were welcome here when it comes to the conversation around such an important matter.

FWIW, I have no dog in this fight, and I am not in a position to defend or attack anyone. I'm anxiously awaiting for the full story to unfold. But I can't help but feel sad and yes, sickened, that the general vibe lately is that "transparency" means that anonymous posters can publicly attack school principals with impunity. I wish there were a way to disseminate factual and balanced information to parents. Maybe that is part of the goal for Thursday night's meeting?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Asking someone what they base their opinion on is not "calling anyone" out. It's a question. Does this person have some sort of knowledge base that would cover that many people? It's fair question.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I don't claim to speak for anyone else but other Capitol Hill parents I've talked to seem to think well of Mr. King. I don't know anyone who has mentioned any issues with him. He's always professional, has put together an incredible teaching staff for this year, and really does seem to be an advocate for children. The teachers seem to enjoy working at the school.

My experience may be different from what APP parents saw. But that's how things look now.

- Another Lowell parent

Not Lori said...

Melissa, I think Lori is right-I didn't see you asking for the anonymous people trashing Mr. King to expand on their comments or proving where they were coming from, such as PTA, etc.

Like Lori, I have no dog in the hunt either, but also like Lori, I have to wonder if some of the comments that have been made are indeed libel or defamation. I've seen simlar comments about other principals and even occassionally teachers and it is really squicky for me. The principals and teachers are named, all sorts of accusations made, by people who can remain anonymous and protected. If a real newspaper printed a story with those same accusations, they would need to name their sources or risk being sued. Character assassination is really ugly, especially when it's done by people hidden behind a curtain. And I've seen those on the "wrong side" called out more than once (not only by Melissa). It smells of bias.

Anonymous said...

And from an anonymous poster on the previous Lowell thread...

Don't be fooled!!! The story is simple. A marginal, lazy, recalcitrant, set-in-their-ways Union-supported group of teachers (with a few exemptions), against a new young principal, who wanted to effect some changes.

Of COURSE the Union wins. This is all part of a smear campaign. I hope Mr King will fight it through and clear his name.

If Mr King made any mistake, he did not act harsh enough against this putrid group of so-called teachers. He should have found a way to push them out faster, and replace them with dynamic, enthusiastic, highly qualified teachers. Of COURSE the 'culture survey' was bad! You don't ask the opinion of the frogs, when you are about to drain the swamp!

What the real discussion should be about is the sorry quality of the teaching at Lowell and Hamilton, the marginal place of APP in both schools, and what can we do to improve it.


and so it goes

Anonymous said...

AH HA! Maybe "Another Lowell Parent's" comment nails why we're seeing two completely different sets of comments on Greg King!

"My experience may be different from what APP parents saw."

Could it be that the gen ed parents and teachers were in fact HAPPY with him, while it was the APP crowd that has the problem with him? That would set up a whole different dynamic.

Wondering

Melissa Westbrook said...

Again, this person stated:

"He is well liked and respected by the Lowell community."

That means Lowell Parent has knowledge that the entire community likes and respects him. I think it fair to ask how she/he knows.

The other people have put forth their (single) opinions. I'm not sure what is true but clearly, a lot of mixed feelings.

Good catch, Wondering. I didn't see that.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also,

"If a real newspaper printed a story with those same accusations, they would need to name their sources or risk being sued."

Actually it was the TIMES that wrote the initial story (not this blog) and they said,

"Gregory King, the controversial principal of Lowell Elementary School, announced this week he is taking a job in Tacoma.

The move comes as a special investigator is finishing a report about the school, Seattle Public Schools spokeswoman Lesley Rogers confirmed.

It is unclear whether King's decision is related to the investigation, which relates to personnel conflicts."

Their word - controversial. Their words: special investigation. Their words: personnel conflicts.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

To "Lowell parent" - we were part of the Lowell community (our child is now in middle school) and we did not particularly like or respect Mr. King. So, you do not speak for us. At best, I think Mr. King was ok; clearly there were issues from the time he arrived, and clearly not all of the staff was happy.

To "Lori" and "Not Lori," a blog is not a newspaper - that is a very poor comparison. People will always discuss teachers and principals by name - at the bus stop, st school events, etc - I see this as just another forum to learn about what people are feeling and what is going on. I think this blog is very fair at calling people out when they generalize their opinion on many sides of an issue. Seems to me that "Lori" is free to elaborate and try to convince readers that she is being accurate...

- former Lowell parent

Anonymous said...

A lot of families, including mine, left Lowell this year. My experience with Mr. King was that the first year after the Lowell/TT Minor merge, he did an amazing job with the very hard problem of building a community out of multipe competing programs. Last year, he spent his time trying to get rid of some teachers. One of them was my child's teacher, who we loved but who didn't always get along with some other parents in the class. The attempt to get rid of this teacher meant that our class lost its student teacher, and had subs for weeks at a time. This was not a good thing for the kids in this class. My child loved both Mr. King and this teacher, but fortunately didn't know about the tension between them.

I also thought he did a very poor job of managing the obvious capacity problems at the school last year. He left things until it was a crisis, and then made snap decisions that resulted in a lot of materials that had been created over the years getting thrown out, and tried to push the special ed students out the spaces that had been created for them. The special ed spaces were the whole reason that Lowell was kept open instead of TT Minor, which Mr. King knew perfectly well.

This year, he has a much easier management task. He's running a neighborhood school with a too-small attendance area in a neighborhood with strong populuation growth. There is no us/them competition for resources. Most of the teachers he didn't get along with, and the families that supported them, have left. Perhaps he's doing ok again, and the people who are in the building now are seeing the principal we saw that first year. I hope so.

--former lowell alo parent

Kari said...

I'm with Lori and Not Lori. We are an APP family who thinks the world of Mr. King. I think anonymous smearing is insane.

To the Former ALO Parent, my understanding is it was the district's mess-up with the capacity not Mr. King's.

dw said...

Kari said... I'm with Lori and Not Lori. We are an APP family who thinks the world of Mr. King. I think anonymous smearing is insane.

Kari, if your child's teacher was one of Greg's pet teachers, then you probably saw nothing and were oblivious to what was happening. That doesn't mean it wasn't happening. Greg had a few pets that were willing to do whatever he wanted, and they were spared.

To understand that this isn't a "smear" campaign, read this post, which shows in an unbiased, irrefutable way how the staff felt, as a whole.

To the Former ALO Parent, my understanding is it was the district's mess-up with the capacity not Mr. King's.

This is generally true. I'm not sure Greg had a lot of say in how the capacity problems were handled. That's a central admin issue.

dw said...

Unfortunately, my guess is that the report that's in-progress will have some damning things to say, but will be limited to the lack of reporting "inappropriate behavior" issue, and won't dig into the general issues of "staff abuse". Yes, I put that in quotes on purpose!

I don't think most people are going to get a satisfactory feeling from this report if they're expecting a deep dig into the overall building climate. Of course you can look at the climate survey for an overview, but unless you've spoken directly with a bunch of teachers, you're probably in the dark, and this report is unlikely to change that.

Not Lori said...

Melissa, "controversial" can mean many things. "Investigation" is a reality. "Personnel conflict" is the REASON. Those do not come close to the descriptive words being used on this blog's comments, such as the "bullying" of teachers and accusations of King favoring "pet" teachers or others that paint him as incompetent. And those are just some of the anonymous things being said. The Times was stating that there was controversy, which is true. It didn't smear King anonymously, which is what's going on here.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Not Lori, as someone pointed out, this isn't a newspaper. We are an open forum and this IS a controversial issue. Parents clearly have differing ideas as do the teachers.

I find it odd that no one has said anything about Mr. King's attempt to leave Lowell in the middle of the year. And now, he's glad to stay?

It's puzzling.

mirmac1 said...

Not Lori (if that is your real name) : )

Considering this is a thread about retaliation and alleged misconduct, do you really think all posters are going to use their real names?

I'm smart enough to read these posts and understand that, for the most part, people are speaking from their own experience: from talking to friends and coworkers, having kids in the school, etc. I suggest you take these posts the same way.

Lori said...

I didn't make the analogy to newspapers; however, bloggers can and have been sued for libel and defamation. I'm not an attorney so I can't discuss that in detail, but it's not hard to find legitimate information on the topic and then wonder whether those who have been maligned have any sort of legal recourse.

Look, I'm not interested in participating in the "he said, she said" back and forth about whatever it is that's going on or went on last year. I had a kid at Lowell last year, I went to probably all of the coffee chats, and the only teacher I had a relationship with was my child's teacher. My opinion of personnel is therefore irrelevant because I wasn't privy to any of the events people are describing. I can't and won't opine on what I think the "truth" is at this point.

But, trying to look at the situation at some sort of "meta" level, this is what I see (ie, this is my opinion, with which anyone may disagree):

Starting last spring/summer, mostly anonymous posters started discussing "issues" at Lowell specific to building leadership on this blog and the Discuss APP blog.

I suspect that this is what lead to the Times choosing the phrase "controversial principal" when writing its recent article. As someone who writes professionally (although not a journalist), I found that word choice interesting, to say the least, and I do wonder how they support it. Adding the word "controversial" changes the tone from factual to opinion. I choose my adjectives very carefully in my work, as I imagine the Times' writers do too.

I'd also like to know what the precedent is for writing stories about principals who take other jobs. Does the Times do a story every time a principal changes schools? Is it because of the ongoing investigation that they published the story? Is that what newspapers are for, to tip off employers to something they may have failed to uncover during their interview process? Basically, I'm curious what the motives were for this article; it seems unusual to me.

Anyway, the article revives the blog conversations, furthering the rumor and hearsay that began last year. Accusations are made, again by a lot of anonymous posters, and we have no way of knowing their legitimacy. We don't even know how many distinct individuals are participating in the conversation. It could be an elaborate campaign run by a few people or it could be the genuine opinion of a lot of people. Either way, the fact that we don't know shows the problems with considering a blog to be a purveyor of truth.

But back to the issue. In the meantime, there is an actual investigation going on but no one is waiting for that report before making judgments and writing things that affect other people's lives.

Of course people have always discussed school staff at the bus stop, on the playground, and so on. But we live in a new world now, where these "conversations" can be posted publicly and remain in place in perpetuity.

I don't know how this is all going to turn out or what the report will say. Maybe people will feel that the ends justified the means when the report comes out. Or maybe not. But the negative impact on the entire community will not be undone, and that is unfortunate.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

To the administrator:
I would like to know the reason behind the fact that some of the anon posts are deleted when they don't have a "name" but others are not (ie.: the reason for the inconsistency in this blog).
Thanks.

LL

Anonymous said...
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Melissa Westbrook said...

LL, we try to be consistent on eliminating anonymous posts but it's not always easy. Sometimes folks keep posting at an old post and we miss it. It happens.

Susan said...

Right on, Lori!

Mr. Bader is leaving Olympic View and I didn't see ANYTHING about that anywhere.

Susan

Anonymous said...

Lori, I totally agree with your last post, thank you. And what I found really interesting that there was a post about the Times article on the APP blog at the night before it came out:

"Lowell Principal Gregory King announced his resignation at a morning staff meeting. Brian Rosenthal, education reporter for the Seattle Times has the full story and should be publishing it soon.
February 7, 2012 8:55 PM"

LL

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anonynous at 1:45 pm should be signed

--maybe that's my mistake

Anonymous said...

This is a blog full of divergent views. As for ST being careful with adjectives and its writings, I don't know. Check Brain's article on Teacher of Color. Boy was it lacking and all the crazy comments came out. That's what happens when you miss nuance and context. Brain R. is a journalist and he should check his sources, and research his piece before calling someone, "controversial". That's his responsibility.

As far as anonymous ranters and op ed pieces on this blog, well that is where critical thinking, perspectives, and the adult in us come into play. It's work weeding out all the "info" we have at our fingertips.

Today has been a busy day for MW, given the number of threads out thus far, so I guess housekeeping will be messy as to deleting anonymous postings without nom de plume.

If I appear to be more forgiving, it's because this blog lets me in on the "transparency" SSD appears to be blinding us with (pun and sarcasm intended). Without it, I would be fumbling in the dark, lost at the front desk of downtown HQ looking for answers. This blog allows people to have a say and you can use that to check and balance each other. What you make of it is up to you.

-I'm ok, hope you are too

Anonymous said...

Just google "autism and charter" to see what some creative schools are trying in other states. Perfect? maybe not, but at least an effort is being made.

http://www.google.com/search?q=charter+school+autism&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&client=safari

-time, etc.

NESeattleMom said...

I never got an announcement that Mr. King was not still Rina G.'s boss still. I got the announcement that she was promoted to full principal rather than asst. principal, but I never got a letter saying Mr. King was just in charge of Lowell on Capitol Hill. Why does everyone say that Mr. King is not the principal of Lowell at Lincoln?

lowell parent said...

In my experience, the feelings towards any principle is going to swing widely. There are clearly feelings on both sides, but it seems from this blog alone, he has a lot of support among parents. We need to always remember that this is about our kids and kids alone.

lowell parent said...

Just so people are clear about the meeting. It is being held at Lowell in capital hill.

Anonymous said...

NE Seattle Mom-

Are you at Lincoln now? We did get an announcement that Rina is the principal at Lincoln, and Mr King it the principal at Lowell.

He has NOTHING to do with Lincoln.

Lincoln Parent - whose principal is NOT Mr King

Anonymous said...

Among the many things that bother me with the so-called conversation here (a conversation which really began last year) is the wholesale blame being piled upon Mr. King for events of LAST year.

I'm sure someone here will waste her/his time sifting through past posts and find something to refute this, but...

In all this speculation about alleged (and they are alleged) abuses, in all the accusations of teachers being targeted without warrant (though it IS possible that some of those dear, dear teachers actually sucked despite the fact that students liked her/him), of creating 'pet' teachers who did everything they were told to do for fear of reprisal (there couldn't possibly be another explanation for a teacher NOT to hate Mr. King)...no where, no where is mention made of the fact that - though he was Principal - he was actually part of an administrative team who worked together to evaluate Lowell's teacher. He was not the only individual in Lowell's administrative team LAST YEAR.

Seattle has a long history of racism (veiled and overt) within the pseudo-liberal camp. Why is it that he is the only one mentioned whenever someone writes about a teacher at Lowell who holds a grievance? Hmmmmm...

- Concerned community member who knows that there were administrators, not AN administrator

Anonymous said...

Many posters on various threads have referred to administrators (plural) and central staff.
-in agreement

Anonymous said...

In agreement:
I agree with you and the previous poster also.
So actually we should worry about Ms. R. G. also it everything is true what was Mr. King accused of. Since she was there in the school and executed what was needed on a daily basis. Actually she was there at Lowell more since Mr King went to the superintendent training one day every week for most of the year.
But somehow I haven't heard/seen/ read any concern about Ms R.G. Neither last year, nor this year. I also wondered, why?
LL

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Reposting the two previous anonymous comments in case they are deleted:

If you read the thread called "Sadly, the plot thickens," you will see that Rina's part in carrying out the abusive tactics toward teachers was talked about. Several teachers talked about what they had witnessed on that thread.



When you say that Mr. King is well liked by the Lowell community, you should break out what parts of the Lowell community that you are talking about. You can not substantiate that until the SEA/SPS gives the climate survey to staff in the Spring. That's when we will see if that is true. Last year, Mr. King had abysmal ratings from his staff. From what I know, I doubt if his ratings will be very high.

not anonymous

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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waterweim said...

Horrible principal; worked under King in Georgia; He came from Atlanta Public Schools to HE Holmes Elementary; He left APS under a cloud of inappropriate behavior toward teachers; He was released from HE Holmes due to his connection with embezzlement of school funds; I witnessed the inappropriate behavior. Examples include unfounded write ups and threats when he wanted to get rid of teachers. He preyed on the young and the old for no apparent reason. One young teacher would not date a friend of his. I can truly empathize with the staff that works under him now. I feel sure that if his resume was properly investigated, he would have never been hired by Seattle Schools.