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Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Lafayette Story


 Update: the district is saying that the HR investigation of the "Lafayette issues" will be completed early next week.  That's pretty fast considering how long this has dragged out.   I'm hoping the district has really done a complete investigation along with an explanation of how it got to this point.  I also hope that Dr. Enfield will be making some kind of statement of assurance to parents about principals and their understanding of how to handle these kinds of issues.

This is a serious subject with serious allegations.  That there appears to be many witnesses and e-mail evidence to nearly everything said and done is clear. 

I lay this out as clearly as I know it from extensive input I have received.   I have a statement (at the end of this thread) from the district that I believe would cover any statement from either the principal, Jo  Lute-Ervin or Aurora Lora, Executive Director for that region.

I have known Lafayette to be a popular and high-performing school.  It is one of the many over-enrolled schools in West Seattle. 

But as I have told others, this issue is much bigger than just Lafayette. 

Once again, if staff had followed protocol, this issue could have been quietly resolved in a fair and satisfactory manner.  If the district staff had followed protocol, it could have been resolved without any outside notice.  However, it appears that did not happen either at the school or district level. 

The upshot is two-fold. 

One, we once again have a principal believing she could substitute her own judgment for what she legally was supposed to do, both from a state law view and from district procedure.  Not only that, she did an investigation in what could be viewed a highly questionable manner. 

Two, there appears to be a student who needs support and help for his behavior.  Escalating behavior does not just stop or change overnight.  My concern is that the next step would be for this student to physically engage with another student (perhaps someone younger).   The district would open itself up to a huge lawsuit if this happened and it were discovered that the district knew about this pattern of behavior and had done nothing. 

Our principals – all of them – need immediate retraining.  There is something fundamentally wrong if this keeps happening. 

I don’t know why this continues but clearly, something needs to change.

Incident
In early April, a group of students from one class was lined up on the playground.  One student, a boy, allegedly shut his eyes, then rubbed his crotch (on top of his clothes) and was moaning.  The little girl next to him was frightened by his behavior as were some other children.  They told their parents when they got home (unclear if they told the teacher).  

The parents reported it, in writing and in person to the principal.  Nothing happened.  They e-mailed her again, this time cc’ing the district.

The principal launched an investigation of her own even as the parents had used wording that should have created an investigation of sexual misconduct per district policies.   This was on or around April 13th

Allegedly, one by one, the children in question were taken to her office.  (It is unknown when or if she questioned the boy.)  The door was closed and she asked them to describe what they saw.  She then told them to act it out for her.  There was no one in the office but the principal and each student. 

The children later told their parents they were embarrassed and confused and some did not want to touch themselves in that manner and showed her on their leg.  She then allegedly demonstrated some kind of action on herself and all but one child refused to follow her lead. She told the children to NOT tell anyone about their talk and the children thought she meant their parents and only one child did tell his parents.

The parents of children interviewed were not told about the interviews either before or after them.  One parent was in the building during a child’s interview but was denied access and told it was against “district rules” to have the parent present.

When two parents confronted the principal she allegedly admitted that this was how she did the investigation and that she had asked the children to show her what happened using their own bodies.  She took no notes and had no documentation of the interviews. She closed the investigation saying the children had not demonstrated the lewd behavior.

The principal, for whatever reason, allegedly called the parents of the boy in question and told them that a couple of parents were trying to get their son expelled and named them.  The boy’s parents then called the reporting parents and made mention of hiring a lawyer.

Allegedly, one parent of the boy saw a reporting parent in the hall and yelled at that person.

No one was trying to get this child expelled but clearly there was a tremendous worry about him.  This worry was compounded by the fact that the boy apparently using foul/inflammatory language towards other students, both in the classroom and on the playground.  This behavior had been reported to teachers, school counselor and playground supervisors as well as the principal and Ex Director.  He also allegedly looked for porn on the internet at school (how I don’t know).  One parent told the technology teacher when she found he was showing other children the site.   (The child received input from school administrators for this behavior.) 

The parents believe this child is creating a negative learning environment for the class and children feel unsafe and uncomfortable around him.

Aurora Lora is the Executive Director of that region.  She wrote to the parents saying she had talked with the principal and felt she could clear up some “misunderstandings” about the issues raised.

Parents did finally meet with Lora and the principal.   The principal claimed she never heard previous reports about the boy’s behavior even though at least 4 parents from his room had reported issues to her.   In e-mails, Lora said she looked into the situation and told one parent that she would be happy to meet and discuss how things might be done differently next time. 

Lora said, “It does sound to me like everyone is ready to get this sorted out so we can all move on and let the school handle any school-related misbehavior. “  (bold mine).

A district caseworker from Safety and Security was then assigned to do a “safety assessment” of the situation.  Additionally, Lora told parents that she had consulted with both the Superintendent and “legal” about the situation.   But, because of personnel issues, nothing could be disclosed to parents about any disciplinary actions to the student but she could confirm they had been applied. 

She stated, “I hope you can understand that we have to follow the law..”

The Superintendent has a procedure for Sexual Harassment complaints and must write to both the complainant and accused within thirty days to say either the evidence isn’t there, corrective actions the district can take or the investigation is continuing.  So far that has not happened and Lora’s e-mail seems to indicate nothing else DOES have to happen.

There was also supposed to be an investigation by a compliance officer as well as a full written report.
Two parents then went to the district ombudsman to file official reports.  One was a parent of the girl who had been standing next to the boy in line and who was deeply concerned because his daughter was now fearful at school.

The parents of the children involved want assurances their children will not be questioned alone during any district investigation (or at least have a fully-qualified child investigator in the room). 

The father of the girl who stood next to the boy filed a police complaint on May 15th but it was not assigned to a detective.

At last night’s Board meeting, the parent of the girl went to the meeting and personally handed out information to the Board, both superintendents and senior staff. 

The district’s statement:

At the direction of Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Paul Apostle, we are conducting an investigation into alleged inappropriate behavior by a student at Lafayette Elementary and the principal’s response to that incident. Because it is a personnel matter, we are not able to comment further until the investigation is completed. 

Charlie and I have known about this for weeks but said nothing, hoping the district would have learned from the Lowell incident. Senior staff were alerted early on in the hope that they would see this as something important to keep on their radar and to make sure was properly handled.

 I knew that once the police report had been filed, it might have been a matter of time before another media source picked up on it. When the father of the girl handed out his information at the Board meeting, apparently some TV person heard about it. So I knew then, this was not going to be contained. I go back and forth on whether it should have been contained at all given the alleged responses by the principal and district.

158 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh. My. God. The principal had the children act out the lewd act for her/ Then demonstrated it herself????????

Oh. My. God.

Anonymous said...

"Charlie and I have known about this for weeks but said nothing, hoping the district would have learned from the Lowell incident."

Melissa, I think the district did learn from the Lowell incident, and what they learned is clearly stated in the following quote:

Lora said, “It does sound to me like everyone is ready to get this sorted out so we can all move on..."

--The Lowell parents (who were inconvenienced by that little matter with Special Education students and set-up-and-targeted- teachers) taught the district well, now didn't they?

--enough already

NESeattleMom said...

That sounds like how that alleged daycare abuse investigation many years ago was handled where the investigators tainted the evidence-collection. Why are some people in responsible positions so clueless on when their alarm bells should be ringing saying, "I need to follow procedure and not make a misstep." I can think of some great principals in Seattle who would have had the right action in response to this event. Probably people in the school should already have been getting more help for the boy and more supervision at all times prior to this event. You can bet there were prior clues if people had their eyes and ears open. Maybe not, maybe this was the first clue.

Unbelievable said...

The principal, in a position of authority, create a sexually hostile environment for each of the students that she either asked to act out or acted out in front of.

What the boy did on the playground was inappropriate horseplay. What the principal did, behind closed doors, was sexual harassment.

If I were a parent, my report to the police would be against the principal for her actions.

I would expect her to be fired by the district.

If my child has any adverse consequences, I would expect the district to pick up the tab for the counseling.

I would probably also sue the principal individually. I would argue that she was acting outside the scope of her authority when she was engaging in sexually suggestive behavior in one on one situation with the kids.

Anonymous said...

I am still in shock at the principal taking the kids into a closed room alone, and requiring them to act it out. Then demonstrating it on herself to get them to comply. That in and of itself is a traumatizing, sexualized event. NO CHILD SHOULD EVER HAVE TO ACT OUT A LEWD ACT FOR AN ADULT IN PRIVATE, NOR WITNESS AN ADULT ACTING OUT A LEWD ACT ON THEMSELVES.

Our own pediatrician will not see a young child alone in a room. Our daycare providers work in pairs. No investigator would ever require a child to act out a lewd act on themselves, alone in a room. There are clear protocols, if such an extreme demonstration is needed, using dolls and being videotaped, and with other, safe people in the room with the child. In this case, the verbal description should clearly have been more than enough. Furthermore, such behavior on the boy's part is deeply troubling, and a possible indication that he himself may be a victim of sexual abuse.

Everything else was also badly botched, but the private acting out of a lewd act takes this to a whole different realm. I hope that principal gets arrested for sexual misconduct with a child. because that is exactly what that is.


Oh. My. God.

Maureen said...

This behavior had been reported to teachers, school counselor and playground supervisors as well as the principal and Ex Director.

Does Lafayette actually have a counselor? There is none on the staff list. There is a psychologist listed, but I believe they generally spend very little time at any one school. It sounds like Lafayette (like all schools) could use one.

Anonymous said...

Oh.My.God.

I think I am in denial and hoping this is not true.

I am stunned that a principal (or anyone) did this and was not arrested already.

Seriously, Melissa? This seriously happened?

--enough already

Elizabeth W said...

NESeattleMom -- there isn't "that alleged daycare abuse investigation", but sadly many, many of them, the most famous being Little Rascals in NC and McMartin in CA. You can find a list of more with a little searching on the Frontline web site.

RosieReader said...

If 1/3 of this is true I'm pretty appalled. If all of it is true, I'm not sure I know the right verb to use.

RosieReader said...

Maybe "completely outraged." Maybe just "deeply saddened."

These are long-standing protocols. Somewhere in a 30+ year career folks didn't learn how to respond appropriately? Every single manager training I've ever been in on these topics includes the reminder at several points that "you don't have discretion here. You have to follow these rules." Now, this is in the corporate world, not in the school district, but can it be that different?

Anonymous said...

Is it time to bring in an outside agency to investigate these badly mishandled cases? How many abuse situations have been swept under the rug by the administration? Is there a state or federal agency that handles misconduct at this level? Because it is clear to me that SPS is unable or unwilling to follow the law here, much less common sense and moral codes.

OMG

Anonymous said...

RosieReader--

SPS has an ingrained culture of situational ethics, which can (and does) easily cross over into situational abiding.

These people were definitely taught what to do, probably even learned what to do, but didn't think they had to do it.

It is a combination of arrogance and lack of accountability. Nepotism is rampant, and so is ass kissing. It is a really, really good paycheck for a lot of administrators, without the demands of the real world.

That is SPS in a nutshell.

--enough already

Anonymous said...

A repost from another thread:

At Lowell, Gregory King, Rina Geoghagan and others did everything in their power to discourage staff from reporting future misconduct.

At Lafayette the principal and others did everything in their power to discourage students from reporting future misconduct.

I don't know which is worse. Both situations are beyond alarming.

Sue's in left field

Anonymous said...

correction

that is situational law abiding AKA criminal activity

--enough already

mirmac1 said...

Maureen, remember those elem school counselors were part of the "gap closure" last year (the board's reasoning: "let's leave it up to the principal to decide how to use their allocation...!")

This demonstrates the dysfunctionality of the Exec Dir of Schools model. Instructional leader my *ss, more like who's the best brown-noser.

Wonder what they'll do now that their mistress is leaving for Highline. SpEd families have countless stories where Exec Dirs have merely phoned it into their $135K jobs. Look at Marnie Campbell, getting promoted beyond her level of competence after she botched SpEd.

Personally, I have let my (admittedly wonderful) school know that my disabled child may NOT be questioned without me present.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

It is obvious that the principal used very poor judgement in this case. Luckily for Lafayette she is moving on. I believe she should be fired for her lack common sense and her inability to handle this sensitive situation in a professional manner. If all that you report is true, then it is a very sad situation for the families involved.


It won't be'front page news' unless it's a very slow news day, and I hope this blogs post about this situation doesn't hinder Lafayette's chance for hiring a better principal for the coming years.
Clementine

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It won't be'front page news' unless it's a very slow news day.."

Really? Do you read the newspaper much?

As for finding a principal because of a troubled school, well, we did it for an entire district.

ArchStanton said...

Maybe we can get a group rate on federal investigations while they're looking into the SPD and Mayor's office. Like three for the price of two?

How long can the mismanagement of people and money continue? I hesitated to apply the label "EVIL" to the SPS powers that be during Charlie's Face of 'Holiday on Ice' post a week an a half ago. But the continued culture of willful ignorance and failure to learn from the past can barely be called anything but evil.

Disgusted said...

"The children later told their parents they were embarrassed and confused and some did not want to touch themselves in that manner and showed her on their leg. She then allegedly demonstrated some kind of action on herself and all but one child refused to follow her lead. She told the children to NOT tell anyone about their talk and the children thought she meant their parents and only one child did tell his parents."

Whoa!

Anonymous said...

What is the rule for principals speaking to children privately about misbehavior? The children in my child's class last year were all questioned individually by the principal regarding their teacher's alleged misbehavior. It turned out (rumor has it), that the student made up the story (my child didn't witness any misbehavior), but I still wasn't happy that my child was questioned and the school didn't tell me about it. I think the parents should be present during questioning - these were young kids - but, at minimum, a note should be sent home telling the parents.

This story goes beyond the alleged incident last year, but I have always wondered if privately questioning kids is okay.

-curious parent

Anonymous said...

From the SPS website:

"Student complainants and witnesses may have a trusted adult with them during any district-initiated investigatory activities."

also disgusted

Anonymous said...

I can understand the principal not following sexual harassment protocol in this instance. The child's alleged behavior was a cry for help- not sexual harassment. CPS should have been called to investigate the behavior immediately, as it can be a red flag for sexual abuse and no sexual abuse indicator should ever be overlooked. CPS is trained to investigate such matters, nobody else in the school is (even guidance counselors). While awaiting the findings of a CPS report the child should have been closely monitored- at the first hint of any further sexual behavior, he should have been removed from the school.
The children who witnessed the behavior should have been offered some guidance and their parents should have been assured that the matter was being investigated by the proper authorities. And they should have been assured that possible efforts were being made to ensure the safety of their children.

The principal pulling the kids into her office and asking them to show her the act was sexual harassment- not intentional, but harassment nonetheless. It shows an extreme lack of knowledge and poor judgement. You can't train away that sort of ignorance- she should be fired.
Situations like this happen pretty frequently in public schools, I'm horrified by how poorly it was handled.

Teacher Sally

Anonymous said...

Two words.

"You're fired."

If that invisible interim superintendent has any god-forsaken clue about legal action being taken...

-Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 4:47 said: "I no longer have any trust that the district is either going to investigate this properly, or take proper action on it. There has to be a higher power, a kind of receivership, for a district that can't enforce lawful behavior either in the central office or in the schools."

Not really -- not unless you want to give up even the last bit of control you have with a vote. Go talk to the residents of Detroit, where emergency managers are being installed right and left, and much of the government is in one form of receivership or another. And tell me the difference between that and a dictatorship -- because the governed no longer have any say -- at all -- in who makes and enforces the rules. We can call in the "grown ups" if we think we can't do the job ourselves. But these grown ups are not our parents. They do not love us. They do not even like us or wish us vaguely well. Their continuance in office does not depend on whether they do a good job for us. In fact, it may depend on their doing a great bit of active harm -- if that is what their campaign donors want.

We made a start, this year, on taking back our school board from big business and corporate ed reform. For them (the four not trying actively to give the District away every day) to do much, they have to get control of a dysfunctional downtown operation (THIS is the fight that has been going on for decades -- at least 2 of them). To do THAT, they need to get a superintendent who is willing to see and acknowledge the problems, and has the skills, time, and political backing to make a difference. (THIS is what I THOUGHT we were doing when we hired MGJ -- HAH! Guess I got THAT one wrong!

To date, the board is still dealing with a Superintendent who rose under MGJ, the EDs that MGJ hired, and -- for the most part -- principals (and a toxic leadership culture for them) that MJG devised. They are also dealing with a classic "whisper campaign" impugning their motives, their base of support, and their governing style (before even the first votes took place, there were claims of "micromanagement" -- but never any examples to back them up).

Hiring Mr. Banda is STEP ONE -- on a board that BARELY has a majority of folks willing to take on the task (since Carr, DeBell, and Martin Morris seem to want nothing than to hand over the entire governance/management to someone who can and will govern and manage alone, with no oversight).

If Sahila is correct in saying we no longer have the luxury of complacency, we also do not have the luxury of throwing our hands up, walking off, and leaving the mess to be picked up by some off-stage "adult" whom we neither elect nor control.

It will take years of FORWARD motion to clean up this mess -- and for three of the last four (MGJ's years) we went backwards. For the last year, we made forward progress in some departments -- but none in C & I or with principals. Dr. E. left all that stuff in the same toxic, destroyed state she found it in.

In my opinion, the biggest, stinkiest SSD mess at this point (well, maybe no bigger than SPED -- but right up there) is principals/EDs. THAT is where I hope Mr. Banda starts, when he is done doing his evaluation time.

We will know soon enough if Mr. Banda is willing to take on this work. Even if he is -- think of how many people have to go (or be retrained to do their work in a civil, moral way). And when someone new comes in, for the first few years, they will be surrounded by superiors and reports who learned in the "bad old days."

But I see no choice. We simply must do this work. And I don't think we can hand it off, any more than we would hand off parenting to someone and relinquish control.

Jan

Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, the word I heard is that the principal is retiring but may be coming to the headquarters in some capacity. I hope not.

Anonymous said...

It is unacceptable for that principal to remain on the payroll of Seattle Public Schools in any capacity. She should be ashamed of herself. Seriously. Real. Actual. Shame.

-Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

Just so folks are aware, in the chart that outlines discipline for district offenses, the standard line of discipline for sexual harassment, inappropriate sexual conduct and inappropriate touching for grades k-4 is:
1st - school based
2nd - Short-term suspension and parent conference
3rd - Short-term suspension

For middle and high schoolers it is similar, except it says long-term suspension for 3rd incident.

Seems pretty lenient. And of course no mention of counseling or help for any students.

Of course, how the principal handled this was way out of line!
Signed,
-sad for the kids

Anonymous said...

Teacher Sally, I agree with all that you say.

Also I think we need more counselors. In fact I think it would save the district money and energy by preventing situations like this by getting early help for troubled students, and also for having the training to actually assist principals and add a check and balance in situations like this.

It would be pennywise to hire more counselors and save on lawsuits and investigative costs. But the district won't budget elementary counselors centrally, the schools have to pay from their minimal budgets and elementary counselors continue to disappear. If the district budgeted elementary counselors centrally there would actually be more money to send to schools. Plus students would have a basic support that they deserve.

my opinion

Anonymous said...

You know if this was a rare episode of SSD failure or a misstep of one principal, I can understand Clementine's view. For me this is akin to the Catholic church trying to handle their sex abuse issues quietly and within, but it doesn't work and the cycle repeats itself all over the world over many years with many, many victims.

SSD has a serious systemic problem. Lawsuits are settled with taxpayer's money so there's very little correction by the staff when there is no personal economic risk or even job risk. Mum's the word. And so the pattern and cycle of bad behavior to downright law breaking continues. SSD isn't unique as a public institute to go down this road. CPS and our police force are facing similar public scrutiny and investigation.

Will there be any real changes? I think that will depend on us, the public, to continue to scrutinize and lobby hard for things to change because I'm not sure our school board or civic leaders have the guts or political will to do so.

parent

Jan said...

Speaking of the Lowell situation, I check in from time to time on Michigan, where our dear departed MGJ is pulling down a sizeable six figure salary for "running" a school district that is accountable to no one, and won't have a single student until next fall. Tnen, they will have a grand total of 15 schools! They have recently appointed 8 of the principals for their first 15 schools. After the listing of those eight, the press report adds the following two hires, who will be principals, but who are not yet assigned:

• Gregory King, an educator for 20 years including an award for work in Atlanta, will be assigned a principal position

• Antionette Pearson, current principal at DPS’ Osborn Upper School; will be assigned as principal at an elementary school to be determined

Is this our very own "I never got the report, but am happy to encourage an investigation against those on my staff who reported it" Gregory King? How many Gregory Kings are out there floating around in principal land? We know he already tried to leave mid-year for Tacoma. Is it too much to hope, for Lowell's sake, that he has jumped ship again -- and this time into the trusting employ of MGJ, who will certainly not hold the investigation against him, and who is accountable to no one (except Governor Snyder -- who is busy)?

Disgusted said...

I find it interesting the principal will go work in headquarters. I don't think this type of transfer is uncommon.

I know there were laws that made it very difficult to get rid of principals. I can't recall the details, but Carlyle was working on something to make it easier to get rid of principals.

I'd love for this person to be taken off the state payroll and retirement system. The district is just adding one more incompetent person to headquarters.

Anonymous said...

Our Greg King came from Atlanta, so it must be him.

--amsiegel

mirmac1 said...

Disgusted, Carlyle was busy fashioning a "Principal for America" bill, requiring minimal (2?) experience teaching. Get ready for even more abuses, in my book.

Anonymous said...

If this principal had children demonstrate a masturbatory act on their own bodies behind a closed door, with no one else present, not only should she be fired, but criminal charges should be filed. And the superintendent should be the one leading the charge. End of story.

What the bloody hell is this world coming to when this is tolerated by a school administration? I am beyond disgusted, especially with Susan Enfield on this count. The buck stops with her, even if she is on er way out. How anyone in the chain of command can sleep at night is absolutely beyond comprehension.

Sickened

Lafayette Parent said...

I am a former Lafayette parent. Since I haven't seen this mentioned anywhere else, I wanted to make sure the following facts are clear:

The principal, Jo Lute-Ervin, was new at Lafayette as of the 2011-12 school year. In February 2012, she tendered her resignation effective June 30th. Her resignation letter confirms that she intends to become an SPS administrator:
http://westseattleblog.com/2012/02/west-seattle-schools-lafayette-principal-wont-stay-for-2nd-year

Prior to Lafayette, Lute-Ervin was principal at Tops K-8 for two years, and before that she was principal at Leschi Elementary for 9 years.

Lafayette used to have a counselor who worked nearly full-time, with half of her pay funded by the PTA. I do not know her status for this school year. Lafayette also has a very strong autism and special needs inclusion program, including an occupational therapist.

My heart goes out to the talented and VERY dedicated staff at Lafayette. I know an incident such as this would never have occurred under the previous principal, Virginia Turner.

Anonymous said...

I have been a long time Lafayette and this has been the most unbelievable year ever (in a bad way). While no school is 100% perfect, Lafayette has been a great school until Jo (our current principal) came along. She has no ability to deal with behavioral problems and teachers quickly learned that she wasn't a resource to help them. Since day 1, our school has been crying out for new leadership! The School District was slow to react but finally did. Many parents and most of the teachers were hoping she would have been fired a few months ago. But, clearly, the District cut a deal w/ Jo to allow her to stay and then transition into an Admin job next year. Again, the District naively assumed what more harm could she do?? If this isn't a wake up call, then I don't know what is??!!!

I feel compelled to say that this idiot principal does not reflect who Lafayette is as a community. I sincerely hope any new principal candidate will see these issues are a result of our bad principal, not our community. This is the lowest of the low - it can only get better from here. (I hope!!!)

Someone said...

If even one iota of this sad saga is true - what a clusterbleep!! Here's what I struggle with - all the rhetoric about "what about the kids", we're doing this "for the kids" and yet, we cut the very services that might prevent this kind of situation. So for all you powers that be, going on about "it's another tool in the toolkit' - cut the rhetoric and put your money where your mouth is. If you really want to help SPS, donate money for counselors, or for adequate training on handling possible sexual abuse involving young children. These are the things that shape children, not MAP tests, or teacher score cards. Step up or shut up - because there's something moumentally wrong at SPS and if you can't see that...

Eileen said...

Lori said,

This is not something that can be trained. Whet this principal did shows a complete lack of commen sense. True to form, she will be promoted rather than fired. Shame on the SSD administrators.

Lafayette Mom of 2 said...

As a Lafayette parent who has known about this incident from the beginning, I have mixed feelings about this situation.

My first reaction is anger at the parent who made public a situation that had already been dealt with. It is a well-known fact that Lute-Ervin lacks judgement; this has been recognized and resolved: she's leaving in six weeks so we can hire a competent leader. This was just another example of the very behavior that got her "fired."

Instead of recognizing it as such, the "outer" is bringing down a slew of good, capable people, like Aurora Lora and others, in the process. At the same time, s/he is tarnishing the reputation of Lafayette at a time when we're trying to attract a new leader.

From what I understand, this young man needs intervention, esp with all the class disruptions he's caused.

But that is no reason to publicize a situation that was mishandled by someone who has already been fired for her poor judgement.

Lafayette is already in a rocky place. We don't need to add any more antagonism to an already tumultuous environment.

Our school has an incredible opportunity to grow and blossom under new leadership. We need positivity and strength right now. Not this.

Someone said...

Lafayette mom - on one hand I can understand your thinking - on the other - there are lessons here for the district - things that need changing, weaknesses that need correcting. It's about more than this specific situation. And, forgive me - but being promoted into an admistrative job, as Ms. Lute-Ervin was, is NOT being fired. It's sweeping an uncomfortable and unnecessary situation under a rug. That kind of behavior - by the adminstration ABOVE Ms. Lute-Ervin is the "real" issue here. While "moving on" might be good for Lafayette - it's NOT good for the students of this district. It must stop happening. Things must change. See the bigger picture here.

Anonymous said...

The community mobilized last week on the transportation proposal. Consider doing so again, while the Board and District, and a new Superintendent are all listening. If in fact Ms. Lute-Ervin was offered a new contract and position prior to the acts in question, then the community should propose outside counsel examine the contract to see if her superseding acts give the District the legal right to set it aside. As an attorney, I would be stunned if otherwise, assuming the allegations made by the reporting parents are true. The District will spend much less in litigation defending itself against an action brought by Ms. Lute-Ervin for breach of contract, than its potential exposure if it stands behind her, against the parents and their families.

- Analytical One

Eileen said...

Lafayette mom of 2 said: "My first reaction is anger at the parent who made public a situation that had already been dealt with."

Seriously? If this was your child, would you feel OK that the person responsible for traumatizing her was still in her life day to day? And beyond that, that she will be in a position to negatively affect even more kids and staff by virtue of a promotion? She should have been fired and then arrested.

Anonymous said...

Lafayette mom of 2, I understand your mixed emotion. Our school suffered from a revolving door of less than stellar principals after stable and strong leadership. We went through some bad publicity. We had good, experienced teachers and involved active parents leave. We are recovering under new leadership, but there is still an edginess and turblence beneath our calm and stellar test scores.

The problem is (and it is A BIG PROBLEM) is how SPS passes these bad or incompetent principals (and teachers and other staff) from school to school for years. This is appalling and should not be tolerated. If the Exec Director or the Super are unable or unwilling to rehabilitate a principal with better supervison and training or if the behavior continues, cannot or won't fire the person, then we are left with public outing. It certainly shoudn't be our job, but the alternative is to inflict this person on another hapless school and on other people's kids. That is wrong!

-we deserve better

Anonymous said...

To Lafayette Mom of 2-

If this situation had been taken care of, there would have been no reason to pursue it beyond the school. Unfortunately, the local administration did not do that. The parents then went to Aurora Lora, who sought to "move on", without addressing the behaviors of the child or the investigatory methods of the principal, and duplicitously stated that the superintendent and legal had confirmed her handling/closing of the case.

In escalating this issue, the parents are not trying to harm innocent people or bring negative attention to the school. They are just trying to get accountability from the school/district/superintendent. If your child were on the receiving end of the "interview" Melissa described, I don't think you would have been satisfied to "move on" without resolution.

As far as the new principal, the parents of Lafayette are completely united in wanting a wonderful new principal. After all, this has been a tough year in a fantastic school. There's no reason that a prospective principal should think negatively about Lafayette because of this situation. This is just about an inappropriately placed principal who lacked good judgment, not about a troubled school. Lafayette is a great place with excellent teachers and strong community support. The community will undoubtedly embrace a good principal next year. Rather than spend any time criticizing other parents, let's all focus together on moving ahead together with a fresh start.

-Another West Seattle Mom

ArchStanton said...

While I understand the desire to not have one's dirty laundry aired out in public, I find it a bit unrealistic to think it could really be kept secret or even that it would be wise to do so.

Maybe a prospective principal would avoid a position based on this information, but they would eventually find out about it through water-cooler gossip. I think they might resent not being fully informed prior to taking the job. Hardly a good way to start a cooperative relationship.

Likewise, I think that prospective families can evaluate this one incident/principal against the school's reputation and make their own decision. And they would be just as likely to resent learning about the incident after enrolling.

SPS is too used to sweeping things under the carpet. Loyalty to one's school or one's boss is not enough justification to treat this or any incident as just an anomaly.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"My first reaction is anger at the parent who made public a situation that had already been dealt with."

What is your perception of "dealt with"? That's she's leaving the school. Sorry, but the process has to be honored. There has to be a real investigation of the incident AND her administrative behavior. (You have to have to first to determine the other.)

Also, if it was his child, shouldn't he be the one deciding if it has been "dealt with"?

Aurora Lora allegedly did NOT follow the protocol. Are you sure she did?

So we sweep the incompetent principal off to headquarters and that's out of sight, out of mind.

Anonymous said...

In many ways, this is a dysfunctional "seattle nice" story.

This principal was at Leschi for years and the neighborhood avoided the school completely. She was moved on to another unsuspecting school when the Montessori program was moved in to make Leschi finally attractive to the neighborhood.

TOPS worked for two years to move her on, under the guise of "not a fit for an alt school" and so she lands at Lafayette.

Something was going to happen when you play musical chairs with principals that don't have a home.

- central mom

cautious but curious said...

Elizabeth W, you may be interested to read about the epidemic of alleged abuse against kids in childcare: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_satanic_ritual_abuse_allegations

Charlie Mas said...

The choice is to be open, honest and accountable or to be secret, dishonest, and sweep it under the rug.

Anonymous said...

First Nancy Coogan and now Aurora Lora. It's not only the principals who lack training in protocols and processes (if they exist in this district anyway, which is obviously debateable). What do these people talk about when they meet with their boss? Do they give Happy Talk reports? The drain on families and on any goodwill is just awful.

Distressed reader wondering about those educational directors

Anonymous said...

The legacy of MGJ continues! Ahhhhhhhhh! Thank you reformers!
Neither Aurora Lora (this year) nor Bree Deasualt (sp) (last year) have an inkling of how to do their jobs. They are not experienced educators. Trouble follows them and we keep hiding them in the south end.
Hopefully during his year of listening, Supt. Banda will realize their incompetence and kindly ask both of them to find new employment elsewhere, like Detroit. How much longer will SPS continue to turn a blind eye to inept administrators like these two?

Disgusted said...

Mirimac,

Think back a bit further. I'm certain Carlyle tried to pass legislation that would enable the district to get rid of principals secondary to the Alex Coberly debacle. I don't recall the details or outcome. I only remember it being very difficult to get rid of principals.

I suspect there are legal reasons this woman is heading to central office.

Anonymous said...

What is the purpose of ed directors? They obviously are serving the needs of adults and not the students. We can hire some counselors and get decent math textbooks if we get rid of these positions.

-Aarghh!

Anonymous said...

Parents,

VERY IMPORTANT: Please read the school board policies on Harassment/Intimidation/Bullying (3207 and procedures just following), Sexual Harassment (3208 and following), and Anti-Retaliation (D51.00 and following procedure).

Why are these policies and procedures so important? THEY ARE THE RULES OF THE GAME. Here it seems like SPS did not follow them. If your child is harassed, you need to know to walk into the office and say, "I want to make a formal complaint. Here's my written statement." These procedures (except anti-retaliation) are BRAND NEW, just adopted, and most staff are not familiar with them. It falls on us as parents to advocate not just for our children but for all.

T

Anonymous said...

I have a serious soft spot for Detroit. So DON'T even think about sending our rejects there. Detroit has been the stuff people make fun of, but you know what if you live there even for a short time, you'll see it as a place worth saving with gritty, big hearted folks trying to eake out a decent living while searching for a small piece of the American dream just like here. The fact that they are trying to make it there speaks how much courage it takes.

-ex motown girl

Jan said...

ex motown girl: I am truly, truly sorry that Detroit gets BOTH MGJ and Gregory King inflicted upon them. Though I cannot help being happy and relieved for the besieged Lowell staff, the entire "special District" being foisted on Detroit, and the way it has been staffed, is a travesty. Hopefully, it will wither on the vine quickly, and Detroit citizens will get their schools back.

Jan said...

ex motown girl: I am truly, truly sorry that Detroit gets BOTH MGJ and Gregory King inflicted upon them. Though I cannot help being happy and relieved for the besieged Lowell staff, the entire "special District" being foisted on Detroit, and the way it has been staffed, is a travesty. Hopefully, it will wither on the vine quickly, and Detroit citizens will get their schools back.

Floor Pie said...

Ugh. My heart goes out to the all the families. If any of them happen to be reading this, please check out Amy Lang's web site for advice on how to talk to kids about such matters. birdsandbeesandkids.com

I'm also worried about the boy whose actions on the playground started it all. How old is he? Is he getting the help he needs? Isn't that sort of sexual acting out a sign that the child might be sexually abused? Is anybody looking into it or doing anything besides scapegoating the kid? I sure hope so.

Ms. Lute-Ervin was our principal when I decided to pull my son out of TOPS last year. I can't even begin to describe how sickening it felt to read about her alleged actions here.

Charlie Mas said...

For me, there are three stories of wrong-doing that need to be addressed here.

First is the child's story.

Second is the spectacular failure of the principal (and the assistant principal) to respond correctly. This includes their initial non-response as well as every aspect of the "investigation": the one-on-one interviews, denying a parent the right to be present, asking kids to "act it out", acting it out herself, directing the kids to tell no one, telling the accused child's parents that other parents want their kids expelled, and the conclusion that the act was not sufficiently lewd to merit punishment. Wow. It's almost as if she was trying to do it as wrongly as she could.

Third is the equally spectacular failure by the District to respond correctly. The District's response was not to follow the procedure - who cares about that? - nor was the District's response to take this seriously as a failure by the principal to follow the procedure because, as was earlier stated, who cares about procedure? Instead, the District responded to this as a public relations problem and a legal problem and they responded with thin lies and soothing noises and by lawyering up.

I understand that is the least sexy part of this story, but I am interested in the health of the District as an institution, and that response is incredibly unhealthy.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

OMG. I am a Lafayette parent of a kindergartner. I had No idea any of this had gone on until I read this blog today. I heard rumors of incompetence as the reason for Ms. lute Ervin leaving,, but had no idea that this was why. This is beyond incompetence. It is criminal. I feel sick to my stomach reading about it. If this had happened to my child, we would be causing a huge uproar as well. It is unacceptable and makes me sick. I am grateful to the parent who has publicized this event so that there can be light brought to the incompetence both on the part of the principal and the district with regard to this situation. With that said, I also hope the school can hire an amazing new principal and move on from this. We are trying to get into a different school next year, but Lafayette is a good school and if we don't get into out choice school, I really hope a new, strong leader can help the school get back on track when we start back there in the fall.

Shocked and horrified.

Melissa Westbrook said...

"...this is not about the Assistant Principal"

Who said anything about her? Did I miss something?

Shocked, good points. Your school and its community are not the problems and any principal candidate will clearly see that. Your principal is the problem.

As I said in my piece, Lafayette has been a strong, popular school for years and I believe this is just a sad, unpleasant blip.

Anonymous said...

"The door was closed and she asked them to describe what they saw. She then told them to act it out for her. There was no one in the office but the principal and each student."

Principal Lute-Ervin is not fit to work in an environment with children.

"The father of the girl who stood next to the boy filed a police complaint on May 15th but it was not assigned to a detective."

The police complaint should be filed against Jo Lute-Ervin for her "interviews" with children.

I know that name calling is verboten, so I'll try to be careful here. Lute-Ervin responded in an unprofessional manner on several occasions. Lute Ervin behaved in an oblivious and thoughtless manner with children. Lute-Ervin lied to her "supervisor" ED Lora. Lut-Ervin behaved in an inflammatory manner by communicating information about the reporting families to the "alleged" "misbehaving" boy's parents. Why is Lute-Ervin even on the payroll at SPS after this? Because all the way up the chain at SPS there are apparently plenty of unprofessional, oblivious, thoughtless, lying, inflammatory...behaviors tolerated and performed.

Shame. On. Them.

-Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...

Melissa, Charlie mentioned the AP.

-can't believe this story

Anonymous said...

To Lafayette Mom of 2 -

"But that is no reason to publicize a situation that was mishandled by someone who has already been fired for her poor judgement."

If Lute-Ervin is still in the building how the devil can you say she's been "fired". Being fired means you're gone, clean out your desk, hasta la vista baby, bye bye.

How about you express your frustration about Lute-Ervin, about Lora and Enfield for the fact that Lute-Ervin is still in the building? Where's your outrage?

-Sue in Zen Field

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Po3 said...

Alleged!

Please take note of this word! STOP commenting until the investigation is complete.

This is spirling out of control and only gives this blog a National Enquirer feel to it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

And yet here you are.

Disgusted said...

This is the reason counselors should be funded. But no, MGJ to focus on data and administration. Enfield followed in MGJ's footsteps.

Secondly, put this incident in context to 1620B. I know DeBell wants a hands off board, but I know a few ladies on that board have NO tolerance for this type of thing. I'd be glad to let them handle this. I guess (maybe) it will be reflected on Enfield's evaluation- the one managing principals and ex. directors.

Anonymous said...

Lafayette parents, as a TOPS parent who was astounded for two years at some of the things our principal was doing, we got a fabulous interim Principal (spelled with a capital P) who came out of retirement - BiHoa Caldwell. She - along with Sarah Morningstar - has raised the level of enthusiasm and engagement at TOPS back to the days when a parent was proud to say their kids were at TOPS.
Lafayette is still a great school and you will be able to weather this significant debacle.

randi

Anonymous said...

I was there the day this happened. I have watched as a few parents with an axe to grind have hammered on this until it has transformed from one child with behavior issues into a scandal that has poisoned the atmosphere at the school and threatens careers. This blog post is an inflammatory, sensational, exaggeration. The parent who decided to take this “public” is using this blog and all of you to personally destroy a person. Do you know, by the way, that he was using the threat to “take this public” to try to get what he wanted from the district? Of course the district couldn’t comply. Of course there is a procedure to follow in the face of serious allegations that doesn’t involve summarily dismissing a person just because a parent demands it.

Please remember, Ms. Lute-Ervin is a person. She may not be a good principal (in fact, she’s simply not), but she is not a bad person and she does not deserve this. She was trying to figure out what happened in a way that she thought was appropriate. She probably should have talked to the parents. She definitiely should have been more careful about telling one parent what other parents were involved. But she did not harass anyone.

The kids who were interviewed are not traumatized, by the way. They were confused at the time, of course, but they’re fine. I get the impression that many of you believe that if you put the word “sexual” in front of something, it automatically becomes a huge deal that will scar a person for life. This was not a big deal until it was made into a big deal. The level of vitriol is staggeringly out of proportion to actually incident.

Melissa, have you spoken with Ms. Lora? Ms. Lute-Ervin? Any of the other kids’ parents? Have you gotten any perspective at all other than that of the person who for weeks threatened to “take this public” if the district did not give him what he wanted as quickly as he wanted it, and then did so? The way this information came to the blog was a game of telephone, which included in the middle of it, a third grader with no idea what was going on. I guess you’re not a reporter, but you still should know better. You question Ms. Lute-Ervin’s judgment? How about your judgment for publishing on the internet something that so obviously should have been kept private?

I’m embarrassed for our school and our parent community. I saw Ms. Lute-Ervin in the hall today, obviously shaken. All year, parents have been awful to her behind her back and to her face. Again, I don’t think she was cut out for the job at Lafayette, and I am sure she would agree with that. That is why the decision was made for her to leave months ago, a decision by the way that was handled appropriately and privately and respectfully (point of clarity: the current controversy has nothing to do with why she’s leaving).

- Lafayette Dad

Anonymous said...

Lafayette Dad,

You're right. It's a bad situation. In my mind I don't think the prinicpal is a bad person either. I also don't think she should be a principal anywhere. Your are right from what has been posted by you and others, this situation should have not seen the front page or garner blog attention EXCEPT the situation was mishandled badly and it's not by the kids nor the parents even. Yet somehow this situation and others like it continues to fester until it boils over in public.

Even if you have an unreasonable outraged parent, as a principal (heck as an adult with a bit of common sense), there are ways to engage angry parents, ways to engage kids, ways to defuse the tension appropriately. This district has a cadre of well paid admin folks to supervise and assist principals and teachers. They need to do their job and follow their policy so that you or I shouldn't have to be here trying to figure out how to repair the damage. IF it's the CB that is restricting them, then they need to have a hard look at it. I think there are more good principals out there who want fair, professional accountabilty.

When you are placed in charge of kids and their education AND well being, you need to have good internal self check that guides your action so you DO NO HARM in trying to do right. You have said in your piece why Ms. Lute-Ervin needs to go from Lafayette. Is it right for her to even arrive there in the first place given her rocky past as principal at other schools? Is is right to shelve her downtown while paying her a salary? Wouldn't you want that money for busing, for a counselor, for better principalship selection and training?

It's fine to get angry, but think about where you want to focus it on and how you can get calm again. Maybe some parents can't get over what in your mind is a molehill matter. Have you asked them why? What if your kid is the one out of the bunch who maybe struggling with it or the child who displayed the troubling behavior? What can we do to help children coexist among their peers and thrive in the community? If you want your school to move on, there has to be real mending. If you don't want this to happen to other schools, to other children, to other parents, or to the next school your child may move on to, then we do need to fix it.

we deserve better

Anonymous said...

In your words Lafayette Dad -

"She may not be a good principal (in fact, she’s simply not), but she is not a bad person and she does not deserve this. She was trying to figure out what happened in a way that she thought was appropriate."

"Deserve" what? Having questions raised about her actions?

"..in a way that she thought was appropriate." Appropriate for whom? Did she not have the slightest clue that "interviewing" the children in the manner she did was stunningly inappropriate?

Has anyone said that she's a "bad" person? It's her actions that are being questioned. And the actions up the chain.

If she's not cut out for the job at Lafayette why is she still there? Weak and ineffective management and administration. Adults not prepared or willing to professionally and competently do their jobs.

-Sue in Zen Field

Patrick said...

How many people are at District Administration just to sweep up their failings at more public positions?

Anonymous said...

The mishandling of valid concerns (whether they stem from student, teacher, or principal misbehavior) seems systemic in SPS. It's what makes mountains out of molehills. It is not limited to the South end and after many years in multiple schools, I am aghast at what gets swept under the rug.

FP

hschinske said...

Teacher Sally wrote: The child's alleged behavior was a cry for help- not sexual harassment.

There is no contradiction between saying that his behavior indicated that he needs help and saying that it constituted sexual harassment. From what's been reported, both are very likely true.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Lafayette Dad-

Wow. You are WAY off track here.
I’ve been impressed by how many people have correctly seen that the embarrassment should be for the DISTRICT and for the PRINCIPAL, NOT for the school and NOT for the kids. With your mindset, maybe you believe that victims should not report their attackers for fear of bringing embarrassment to the institution. This is not the 1950s where blaming the victim was the norm; this is an age when we try to teach kids to report these incidents, and there are specific procedures in place to ensure that someone who values the reputation of an institution over truth and accountability, as you apparently do, gets the chance to sweep “embarrassing” incidents under the rug.

When you say “you were there the day this happened”, I’m fascinated to know of your birds-eye view.
The initial incident occurred on the playground during the school day when only students and staff were present. Are you a student or a staff member?

The “interviews” also occurred during the school day, and only the principal and each child individually were in the room; even a parent was denied entry. How could you possibly have been in the room behind that closed door or know what went on? If so, I guess you must have heard the principal instruct the kids sternly “not to tell ANYONE.”

-to be continued

Anonymous said...

I think we need more facts before we can say it is either sexual harassment or a cry for help. How old is the child? Does he have older siblings (He may be exposed to TV that he should not be exposed to, or older kids who think this behavior is funny.)? Is this a pattern of behavior (directed at a certain person)? Frankly this sounds like inappropriate horseplay (as someone mentioned above). He needs to be taught what's appropriate and what is not.

But, really, at this point the issue is not the incident, it is how the incident was handled.
-NWMom

Anonymous said...

Lafayette dad-

As far as knowing the psychological ramifications of each kid involved, how could you possibly speak to that? Are you a trained psychologist or psychiatrist? Have you interviewed these children?

At least one kid who was interviewed is scared and upset every time he/she walks into the lunchroom, because it’s necessary to walk past the stairs to the principal’s office to get there. Another child mentions the constant fear of being called to the office, and a number of parents at the school have submitted letters expressly forbidding that their children ever be behind closed doors with this principal.

Were you also in the principal’s office on April 23 when the principal explained her investigatory techniques in detail to two of the parents whose children had been subjected to them? I don’t remember any other attendees. If you had been in that meeting, you would know that the principal described in excruciating detail exactly what had occurred. She TOLD the parents that she had first asked the children to tell about what had occurred, and then asked them to ACT IT OUT. She even stood up in front of these parents and imitated masturbation to them, saying “and they all did this little dance”, as she actually swayed, making rubbing motions over her crotch about an inch off her clothes.

The parents were completely horrified on multiple counts. A) She was admitting and defending her “interviewing style”, B) They were forced to witness the principal performing mock masturbation in front of them, and C) Their CHILDREN had been forced to witness that behind closed doors, and then were asked to do it themselves?

With the principal describing and acting this out in this way to two parents in this way removes all doubt that it occurred. It’s not a case of the kids making up a story; the principal DESCRIBED and DEFENDED exactly what she did. Why would you say it didn’t occur, or say that the parents are over-reacting? You would really be fine with this occurring to your own child?

I do share your belief that the principal is not a bad person, and I feel very sorry for her right now. She’s very friendly, and I’m sure she is embarrassed, as she should be. She displayed absolutely horrendous judgment at every turn. The problem is that she is completely incompetent to run a school. She should never have been placed there, and for the safety of the children, she shouldn’t remain there. The district should be embarrassed at how they’ve handled this, Susan Enfield should feel embarrassed at placing this principal at this school, and the principal should feel embarrassed at having shown such bad judgment. On the other hand, the kids should NOT feel embarrassed. The teachers should NOT feel embarrassed. The families of Lafayette should NOT feel embarrassed, and the school should not feel that its name has been besmirched, just because of a principal with horrible judgment. The parents who publicized this did so only after exhaustive efforts to get the district to do the right thing and follow its own rules. For you to judge them and act offended at their willingness to defend their children and demand accountability from the district is way, way off-track.
-Shocked mom

Joy A. said...

My daughter, a former Cooper kid, spent her first grade year at Lafaytte. It was supposed to be her neighborhood school. It was a miserable, awful, untenable,, sad, discriminatory and frustrating year. She was marginalized, ignored, picked on. It was hell on earth for her. Some of the power elite parents their treated that school as if it were their own private property, their own country club. Since you can't legally discriminate at a public school and take federal money (per Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they made it abundantly clear that "some of those children just didn't belong." I would show up at social events and was virtually ignored. The only people who would really socialize with me were people who knew me pre-Lafayette. I did meet a lot of great parents there, but they seemed to feel embarrassed and powerless to challenge the status quo. Plus, "the test scores were so good..."

I had to get my child out of there. It was not worth her mental health and quality of life. I am just sorry she doesn't get first grade back. I was actually glad to see that they had transferred Principal Turner, and that Lisa Clayton was returning to Pathfinder. I thought that maybe they could change the culture of Lafayette for the better- to make it a more accepting place for diverse cultures.

So I was thrilled to know that their would be an African American principal at Lafayette. But if only the District could do something right. This could have been a good thing for the whole culture of Lafayette. But instead, and I think, on purpose, the District assigns an unqualified principal. And I absolutely knew, that even if this woman had been Jesus Christ, some of those parental would have had a problem with her. I can't believe how right I was so fast.

Those parents complained about her from day one. By October, I heard there was a contingency of parents who were trying to get her fired. She hadn't even done anything wrong in October! I remembered how miserable we were by October at that school. God help that woman that she put up with it as long as she did.

I am not saying she was the best principal, nor the worst, but I can well imagine the intolerance and discrimination she had to deal with at Lafayette, and not necessarily because she is black, but because she wasn't a "Lafayette kind of person."

I hope Virginia Turner never is reassigned to that school. The culture badly needs to change. All she did was enable those power elite parents. That culture will never change if they don't find a better principal who isn't a) pushed around by these power parents, and b) can integrate a little culture in this school that all kids feel welcome, not just those in the $500,000 houses. Public school.is a right for all children, not just those whose parents raise the most money.

Ps. For those parents and teachers who marginalized us and let us know in no uncertain terms, my daughter is going to private school next year. So, I guess someone does want us after all.

Melissa Westbrook said...

L Dad,
1) No one said the principal is a bad person. And you are saying she's a bad principal so I guess you would know. That's a pretty big statement in itself.

2) "This was not a big deal until it was made into a big deal." You said this about the interviews. Was it your child? No, then it is YOU who making suppositions about what is and isn't upsetting to a child. Neither Charlie or I have said any child was traumatized. But not your call to make nor mine. It is the parents'.

3) As I said, I did not talk to any district official except to tell Dr. Enfield and Ron English, early on that they might want to get out in front of this, and to get a comment from the district yesterday. As you may well know, neither Ms. Lora nor the principal are in any position to talk with me and I knew it useless to contact them.

The district had EVERY opportunity to keep this within the district. That they didn't make a good faith effort to do so is on them.

4) Yes, I did have contact/information from more than one parent. I also have seen some e-mail information from the district.

5) "She definitely should have been more careful about telling one parent what other parents were involved." Interesting you say that because the principal denies telling one parent who the other parents were that were upset. I guess you must know something about that.

Joy, I can't speak to the culture of Lafayette but I am sorry to hear you had a tough time.

Anonymous said...

Joy A.-- you post makes no sense to me. Is it about being black, not white, not living in a $500,000 home, school not diverse enough, you and your kid feeling marginalized by the powerful, elite parent, or not having a "qualified" principal who happens to be African American? I ask as one who is sincerely trying to understand your post.

I don't think the concerns shown here is over Ms.Lute-Ervin's ethnicity or race or elitist sense of entitlement. There is just as much concern about her present and former supervisors: Dr. Enfield, the Exec Directors Aurora Lora and Bree Deusseault.

The focus is on people's action and lack of accountability. Your post encompasses things that have been discusssed in previous threads so I don't doubt your perspective or even some of the elements you've described. But I think in this case, the parents who are looking for help are not doing so because of race issue or some elitist entitlement. I think they are upset and frustrated about what happend to their kids and how their concerns are being treated by administrators. They want better accounting and they deserve it.

we deserve better

Floor Pie said...

"Since you can't legally discriminate at a public school and take federal money (per Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, they made it abundantly clear that 'some of those children just didn't belong'."

OH yes. I'm no fan of Ms. Lute-Ervin and it doesn't change my opinion about these particular alleged incidents, but I know what you're talking about. It's insidious, but it happens all over this school district...not just at Lafayette. Seattle does discrimination the "Seattle nice" way.

Anonymous said...

I can't say that I am thrilled that Ms. Lute Ervin is going to wind up in administration next year, but I want to say thanks to Lafayette dad and Joy for providing a different perspective on some of this.

Other than the fact that both situations reveal incompetence by downtown management and the EDs in training, supervising, and supporting principals, this seems to be a very different situation than Lowell. Ms. Lute Ervin may have done this wrong. I agree with Melissa and Charlie that it speaks to an overall failure by the district to hire right (we have too much inexperience in the principal corps), place (we put teachers in schools where they are not a good fit), and train its staff to deal with complicated conflicts. But the description of what King and Rina did, if true, denote real malevolence. Based on what people have reported, it sounds to me like they knew they were creating, and intended to create, an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. I think they knew that they were demoralizing, and may have intended to demoralize, their staff. It sounds as though they intended to drive certain teachers out of the building, through unperformable PIPs and repressive and unfair reviews.

From this story as reported, I don't think any of those things were true of Ms. Lute-Ervin. If indeed a parent was demanding that she be instantly fired, Lafayette parent is right. That is out of bounds. If people don't like the principal contracts, we need as a community to demand that they be changed. But in the meantime, the District is bound by them. They are "the deal" our elected representatives agreed to. And we should be careful what we wish for. Just as administrators can be unreasonable bullies, there are also plenty of toxic parents out there. How would parents feel if the situation turned -- and a caring, experienced teacher or principal who clashed with a family (refused to change a grade or revoke a disciplinary action under parental threat), was dismissed due to the threats of an outrageous and unreasonable family. Remember, this isn't private school, where the principal can just toss the family out. I have known toxic, unhinged parents who stand in a headmaster's office demanding the head of a teacher. And I am aware of at least one instance where the most tolerant, wise Headmaster I ever knew finally "separated" a family from a school because of concerns that the level of abuse being heaped daily on a teacher was going to result (if it hadn't already) in PTSS. The Headmaster would have done so earlier, but had equal concerns for the mental and emotional health of the child who had to live with those parents on a daily basis, and who also showed the effects of that stress) and the Headmaster was justifiably concerned that no other private school would put up with the parents long enough to help their child.

It is hard to say what exactly went on here (on the parental pressure side of things), but I thought JoyA and Lafayette parent had valuable perspective to add to the conversation. It is meanness and bullying, more than incompetence or mistake, that rile me up. From Lafayette dad's description, there may have been some intentionally bad behavior in this case, but if so, it may not have been coming from Ms. Lute-Ervin.

Jan

Anonymous said...

One thing I can't understand is why was it so easy to fire Martin Floe at Ingraham and not other principals?

parent

Jan said...

Because there is a process -- and it doesn't line up well with reality. With Floe, they got cracking on the process (presumably in the fall) of setting a bunch of benchmarks and measurements that he then failed to reach (were they reasonable? did they provide any help or resources? who knows?). For Ms. Lute Ervin, it sounds as though she was "clean" when this happened -- no PIP, and certainly not one on these issues. So, to fire her for them, they would have to put one in place (dealing with these issues) and she would have to fail to "improve" under it. It sounds like everyone concluded that the "better" thing (arguable, I think) was to just "promote" her to downtown. The thing that frustrates me is that those jobs need the most qualified candidates too. If we keep filling them with principals who are struggling in buildings, who may or may not have any of the management skills or experience needed to "manage" stuff downtown, we will never get good downtown management.

I think we need changes in the principal contracts that address this better.

Anonymous said...

Jan, the elephant in the room in the Lafayette case is the principal asking the students to act out a masturbatory act for her, behind a closed door. Then having her do it herself in front of them. Then doing it again in front of two parents. And instructing the children to tell no one about it.

It does not matter if her intent was sexually motivated, asking a child to simulate masturbation is in and of itself has sexual overtones. This is a one-strike event. There is no way to excuse or ignore or explain away the gross impropriety and possible illegality of what she did.

No matter what else may have happened, that series of incidents should permanently bar her from being around children. Susan Enfield herself should have made sure she was personally escorted her off campus and put on leave the very minute she caught wind of this. This should never, ever have been left to a parent to shout to the rooftops to get someone, anyone, in administration to pay attention. At the very first report of something this gobsmackingly inappropriate, every single administrator that heard of this situation should have taken swift and decisive action. This should be second nature, intinct, for anyone who works with children.

The fact that a parent called for her head is irrelevant - because the administrators should have been first in line to get her out of contact with children, and to get an investigation started, and to keep the kids at the school safe from further harm. Period.

I am literally speechless at how very, very badly this was mishandled. Particularly after the Shayne Hill case seven years ago. This District has apparently learned nothing in those intervening years. Absolutely nothing. What is deeply troubling is that there may very well be even more egregious cases of sexual or physical misconduct and abuse going on by staff, teachers, or students, and a culture that tries to hide it away rather than dealing with it.

I am disgusted, absolutely disgusted by this district's handling of this and other cases. I do not feel that I can rely on the adults in charge of teaching and caring for my children to protect them from harm. I no longer have faith that my kids are safe while at school in this district.

Jane Doe

Anonymous said...

Jan, my comment was mainly addressed to your earlier one. I agree that the process for removing a principal is clearly topsy-turvy in this District. And if I understand the timeline, she announced a new downtown assignment in February (starting in the 2012/13 year), but this incident happened in April, after the announcement.

Given recent events, she should be put on leave and a formal investigation should be instigated, both within the district and with the police department. A potential crime may have occurred here.

Jane Doe

Anonymous said...

I think there is a lot of similarity to the Lowell case at the entry level, in that each incident could have been, if probably addressed, resolved very easily.

I'm assuming no malice on the part of complainants, which someone could probably question, but I'm gonna assume the parents of the witnesses wanted nothing more than feedback and support to the "gesturing" child & family as attempts to set some boundaries around behavior for the school a as a whole. (Just like the person at Lowell, had the person received some feedback, might have not taken it further.)

If it's true what the witnesses and their parents got instead, that is totally intimidation and poisining of the environment - i mean these are kids!

Signed, Google eats my posts as google account

Anonymous said...

In fact, it seems to me the principals in both schools did the EXACT best thing to make SURE it blew up in their faces.

Sometime you just gotta wonder...

Signed, Google eats my posts as google account

Melissa Westbrook said...

Google, that's what I don't get. Why do something that is not district process/protocol? Why not CYA yourself and do everything by the book so that later on you get to say, "I did everything by the book."

Anonymous said...

I just don't understand why we have these high priced ed directors. They don't seem to know how to supervise principals or prevent things from escalating. What exactly do they do to help when things are going wrong?

I will be advocating that the new Banda administration scraps this tier of middle managers. They've totally discredited themselves in so many people's eyes. That function in this district absolutely has to get onto the audit and finance committee radar, or the budget committee radar, whoever it is that oversees whether the district is spending money on central office personnel who do not contribute.

Reader

hschinske said...

http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ocrshpam.pdf is pretty clear that the kind of behavior described may constitute sexual harassment, if it's sufficient to interfere with other students' ability to benefit from the educational program. It isn't a question of there being an intent to harass, but of the effect on the victims.

Helen Schinske

Anonymous said...

Jane Doe at 2:05 is right.

Melissa, to your rhetorical questions at 3:21, the reason is quite apparent that the Principal at Lafayette, as well as RG and GK at Lowell don't even have the foggiest idea that there might be a protocol or process to follow in these situations. The stunning ignorance of these "educational leaders of the building" is breathtaking. And to have the additional layer of the ed directors sucking money out of the classroom with their fatuous management and supervision skills is baffling.

-Aaaggghhh

Jan said...

Jane Doe: I hadn't read closely enough to realize that the downtown move decision preceded this most recent incident. It does seem unbalanced that the principal with the shoebox full of cash is gone (she is gone, right?) where the Lowell and Lafayette principals are not -- and will not be (unless they choose to leave voluntarily).

I also recall vaguely from a post a long time ago that if a principal moves downtown, they still get the benefit of the principal dismissal rules (which basically means -- you can NEVER terminate them, since they will never violate THOSE standards from a desk downtown) -- whereas other downtown staff are subject to termination rules much more like that "at will" rules that govern most office/managerial staff. Am I just dreaming here? Does anyone else have a similar recollection?

Charlie Mas said...

Aaaggghhh wrote: "the Principal at Lafayette, as well as RG and GK at Lowell don't even have the foggiest idea that there might be a protocol or process to follow in these situations."

This is one critical area of dysfunction in the District. No one bothers to learn the policies, procedures, or processes. It never even occurs to them to check the policies or procedures because they don't matter. They don't matter because no one is ever held accountable for following them or violating them. That's the culture and it is the culture that is promoted by the leadership.

OMG said...

Is there a state or federal agency that we can call in? A pattern seems to be emerging. I HAVE A KID IN THIS SYSTEM!

Eileen said...

Charlie said, "No one bothers to learn the policies, procedures, or processes." Nobody? That's quite a generalization. As someone who works in the district (in the trenches, not in administration), I can assure you it's not true.

Eileen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Charlie Mas said...

No, Lori, not literally nobody. Thank you for the correction.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I have been a teacher with Seattle Schools for over 30 years. I have seen over an over principals not support teachers when they reported strong bullying. In fact I have seen teachers who reported bullying have pressure put on them for reporting it. Teachers, the reporters, were retaliated against. I have seen Enfield support principals who have bullied teachers.

All complaints sent to the office are recorded for is they were male or female, and what was the ethnic association of that student. If a student is not caucasion and a male, it increases the number of students who get sent to the office. These stastics indicate discrimination if there is a trend that more males, or other catagories, get reprimands. I have seen principals attack teachers who bring bullying and other serious misconduct to the attention of the principal.
I have reduced trust in how a principal handles many situations that get sent their way. Much is swept under the carpet that should not have been handled that way.

Parent outrage comes closer to how situations should have been seen. I am so pleased that this blog exists, as it seems like a more realistic, rational approach.

Seattle teacher of 31 years.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

As a long time teacher with Seattle Schools, I would often ask children to show me what they had witnessed. This is a common tactic to get the clear picture. In this case, that would have been innappropriate and embarrassing for children to demonstrate. As a fifth grade teacher, I do not believe that any more than one or two of my students would have been comfortable demonstrating such actions. The request was out of place. The principal's demonstration of what she was looking for was also out of place and would have been embarrassing to students. Telling the children not to tell anyone was also a common tactic for principals to request when dealing with behaviorial issues. That is a political request. It is not a reasonable request to ask of children. If they were questioned about seeing such acts, their parents should have been contacted. Again, I have seen parents left out of the loupe, and these things marginalized. The schools handle these situations in ways that defy common sense, but are designed only to control any "hype" over upsetting events.

I am glad that parents raise the issues that need to be raised. Teachers would like to do so, but can not. Administration does not condone teachers "making an issue" of these types of behaviors.

Seattle teacher

Anonymous said...

Why are the police not involved in this? It sounds like the principal needs to be arrested for child abuse.
Concerned Educator

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Melissa Westbrook..sources....a journalist checks all sources before publishing hearsay....journalists go for truth and justice, no? That means, the facts..not necessarily what someone says to you or e-mails they send you, right?? Objectivity always tells the story. No?? The best journalists are objective ones. Allegations are only that. See? I think this point is a most important part of all of this.

ethicalgirl

Anonymous said...

The truth lies with Lafayette Dad and everyone needs to read what he wrote here..

ethicalgirl

Anonymous said...

Are you claiming the principal did not do any of those things at all, or that they were not as serious as some people believe them to be?

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

I can tell you one thing for absolute certain here. The principal NEVER told anyone who the complaining parents were. They identified themselves in obvious ways way before they complained to the principal. So, that right there is a non truth..one down....

Settingrecordstraight

Anonymous said...

Are you claiming the principal did not do a demonstration of touching for the parents or ask the children to do the same?

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

I am saying read Lafayette Dad's post.this whole thing never started out with any sexual objectives and so someone put that in there...the principal was trying to figure out what happened but if the original incident had no sexual intent, then why is the "sexual" thing being peddled? That is a curious part of this isn't it? Don't forget these are 8 yr old kids.

-ethicalgirl

Anonymous said...

This is not about intent, but about the specific actions.

Are you saying that this principal did or did not demonstrate touching herself for the parents, and did or did not ask the children to do the same, regardless of intent.

Sign Here

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Your earlier post was likely deleted because you did not sign your post. I have reposted your most recent one below, but you need to add some sort of signature to the bottom of Anonymous posts.

"Anonymous said...
I see that my comment made early this morning defending the assistant principal has been removed. Why? Charlie's inclusion of her in his post is inflammatory and she doesn't deserve to get dragged into this."

Sign Here (really, nearly anything will work at the bottom of your post)

Anonymous said...

There are politics at work here to consider too. There are comments made at the school that the principal and VP do not support the accelerated learning program at Lafayette. And word is that they want to get rid of it. It is a popular program in this school and lots of parents would be upset to lose it. So, that is one thing missing in all of this hoopla.

ethicalgirl

Anonymous said...

You still have not answered the question, ethicalgirl.

Are you saying the principal did or did not demonstrate touching herself?

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

To: Sign Here,

I am saying that the original incident was not sexual in nature and so how the principal was told that is was is a mystery to all. How did this get to the principal labeled sexual and where did that come from. That is a key question. So, for example, were the parents there telling her it was sexual and so she then asked them what they were talking about?? I don't know. But things are missing here is what I am saying. There are a lot of conclusions being made against a lady and she is not here on this blog to defend herself..a lot of things have been said about her here and she is a human being and why are we trying her here. I don't believe this is appropriate or fair to her as a human being, is all.

ethicalgirl

Anonymous said...

Sign Here,

I am not saying she did the exact right thing in the situation, but she did her best in the situation. From what i have heard, she asked the kids to demonstrate what they saw of the original incident and she drew honest conclusions. Why would she be motivated to do anything else? Think about that one.

ethicalgirl

Anonymous said...

You are avoiding my question. But I'll try to explain it anyway. I am going to assume that you agree that she did in fact act out touching herself in front of at least the parents, possibly the children, and asked the children to do the same.

The principal's intent is not in question here. It is her actions that are in question, regardless of intent. Even if she did not mean for her actions to be sexual, a reasonable person could construe simulating masturbation as being sexually intimidating, and possibly harassing, *even if that was not here intent*. The person watching her do this has no idea what is going on in her mind. They only see what she is doing. They only see the actions.

This is even more likely when done in front of young children, to the point that what she did may in fact be illegal, and potentially fall under a child abuse charge.

This is not just a personal opinion. Anyone who has ever gone through any type of workplace sexual harassment training gets this drilled into them. Intent is NOT the driving factor, but the actions. There are things you simply cannot do in a school or workplace setting, no matter what you intended them to be. By any reasonable standard, simulated masturbation falls into that category. Furthermore, a person in a position of authority should never ask a child to demonstrate an action that could even remotely be construed as sexual in nature. Simulating masturbation clearly falls into that category as well.

This should have been very clearly spelled out by District training, policies, and procedures. It is reasonable to expect that every adult in a position of authority over children be familiar with these standards, and follow them.
The number of failures on this count are simply spectacular.

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I posted before I saw your second post. It seems you do agree that she asked the children to demonstrate what they reported seeing, which was a young boy touching his groin area.

By any reasonable standard, she should have never asked the children to act out such a thing, because of the inherent sexual component of touching your groin area. Even if her intent was not sexual, the act can reasonably be described as having a sexual component to it. Which was what disturbed the children int he first place, by the way.

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

Sign here: The principal did not conclude what you are saying based on her findings. That is why she could not dole out further punishment.

ethicsgirl

Charlie Mas said...

Okay. Let's consider an alternative narrative in which the child's action was not a sexual gesture but a dance.

Doesn't matter.

The original email to the principal that spurred the investigation - which I have seen - described it as sexual harassment.

At that point it should have been regarded as a sexual harassment complaint and treated as one, which means that the principal should have followed the procedure for that.

If the action was not, in fact, sexual harassment but a dance, then we can rely on the compliance officer to reach that conclusion. More to the point, the principal should have relied on the compliance officer to reach a just conclusion instead of conducting any kind of investigation herself.

The first problem here is that the principal did not recognize the complaint as a sexual harassment complaint - not as an informal one and not as a formal one. She really should have since those were the words in the email.

The second problem here, for the principal, was not allowing a parent to be present when their child is interviewed. Then comes the "don't tell anyone" admonition. Then the leak to the accused child's family, then the misleading statements about the outcomes.

I can imagine that there are all kinds of reasonable explanations for each of these. She probably didn't mean "anyone" when she instructed the children not to talk about the interview. She probably just meant "anyone at the school". The leak may or may not have come from her. The family might have figured it out on their own, but they said that they got it from the principal. The principal might also have some innocently mistaken or outdated ideas about the District's current rules for investigations into violations of the student rules. We would all hope for better, and people would give the benefit of the doubt if the relationship justified it. But the relationship isn't there and the District procedures are.

I think a single, clear, cogent explanatory communication would have gone a long way to ending this controversy early. None came.

Again, for me, nothing the principal did is as wrong as what the district staff did in their response. That's where the real Keystone Kops took over.

Anonymous said...

EGirl-
When you say that the original incident wasn't sexual in nature, you're wrong. This was not a kid arranging his underwear. This was a kid who was moaning, swaying and full-on rubbing his genital area with his eyes closed. This was definitely sexual, and the 8 and 9-year old children around him were all horrified enough to report it to their parents.

Further, the behavior was perceived as sexual harassment by the little girl standing close to the boy. She was in line, so she couldn't remove herself from the situation.

Beyond that, the Seattle Police Department detective who took the report of sexual harassment felt that the behavior met the threshold.

Sexual harassment is not only about the actions, it's about how the actions are interpreted by the victim.

Finally, regardless of all that, when the father reported in person, and then in writing that he believed his daughter had been sexually harassed, the training mandated by the district should have caused SP320 to kick in. If the principal had followed the procedures mandated by SP320, she would never have found herself in this position. The rules actually protect the district as much as any victims, because following these rules brings in trained personnel from the district security department to investigate. The principal's role should have been as reporter, not investigator, and it's her investigation that has her in hot water. Well, that and the subsequent cover up that goes all the way to the top.

I urge everyone to read the full rules of SP320. Maybe you can even pass them along to your own principals and Ex Directors, since many of them don't seem to have read them.

http://www.seattleschools.org/modules/groups/homepagefiles/cms/1583136/File/Policies/Board/series3000/3208SP_sig.pdf

-The district should follow its own policies

parent said...

If in fact the principal did the things that she is accused of, than she should be fired, but if any of you know her it is hard to believe. My main point is that it seems that Charlie and Mellssa just want to create and spur on a poisonous environment for people to live in ( much like Rush Limbaugh). They think of themselves as junior reporters who are digging at the truth, but in the end are not constructive or helpful in finding possible solutions to a problem.

Anonymous said...

Parent said-

You might find it hard to believe, but the principal herself TOLD two parents exactly what she did, and it matches what is described in Melissa's article.

It is not her personality or intent that is in question; it is her judgment. A principal needs to have good judgment, and also needs to follow district policy. In this case, she supposedly had district training on SP320 (per the statute itself), so should have easily recognized that the situation called for a compliance officer to be called in.

As for your accusations against Charlie and Melissa, I completely disagree. They are informing the community about a serious situation in their ongoing efforts to require accountability from the district.

Considering how badly the principal, the executive director and the district staff have botched this investigation (and others), I would definitely say that the district needs people to call it to accountability, or at least the public needs those people. As is true in so many cases, the cover-up may be much worse than the crime.

I find Melissa and Charlie to be extremely factual, and I appreciate their ongoing reporting. Without them, the district would be even more of a star chamber than it is.

-The district should follow its own policies

Anonymous said...

Other information to mention in relation to whether the behavior of the boy was sexual in nature, and whether it should have been readily perceived as such by the principal:

-Several weeks prior to this incident, he was caught looking up pornographic images on a school computer in technology class. This was reported to the principal prior to the incident in question here, and the teacher reported it to the parents. The boy had a website URL written on a piece of paper, searched for that website and then searched for related images. He also called other children over to see the images. Those children told their parents, who reported it to the school.

-Several reports were made by parents to the principal regarding extreme swearing on the part of this boy, including swearing directly at classmates and using hate language toward other students.

Since the principal had received these reports prior to this incident, she should have been more likely to recognize warning signs in relation to this incident than if this child had never been reported for any bad behavior before. Not only had he been reported for bad behavior, some of that bad behavior had been sexual in nature.

-More information

Inside,as well said...

Charlie's comments about the culture are right on. Part of that culture (which is too good a word for its use here) is that the institution has stocked itself with legal counsel(s) lacking any tilt toward the truth, morality and/or doing the right thing.

Instead, since MGJ/Kennedy and prior, the GC's office (NOT including the dear departed Noel Treat, who seems the wisest of all) has been repopulated with staff who only seek to twist or cover the truth in order to protect the currupt regime.

Lots of good people at JSCEE, a few bad apples in charge of covering up or equivicating wrong behavior. Clean house there (although English has fortified himself and a few croonies well) as first step toward "moral healing".

Until that happens, I fear we are destined to see these things happen over and over because they are only symptoms of the deaper disease.

Please don't delete me "administartor", I was really careful.

Charlie Mas said...

parent wrote: "My main point is that it seems that Charlie and Mellssa just want to create and spur on a poisonous environment for people to live in (much like Rush Limbaugh)."

It may seem that way, but it isn't that way really. That's why it's a bad idea to make conjecture about the motivations of others. You can't speak with any authority at all and it makes you seem to be a presumptuous and dishonest jerk.

"They think of themselves as junior reporters who are digging at the truth, but in the end are not constructive or helpful in finding possible solutions to a problem."

Again, almost always a bad idea to make conjecture about what other people think. Beyond that, I'm pretty sure that I have clearly stated on numerous occasions that I am not a journalist. In case I need to repeat it, I will.

I am not a journalist. I do not claim to be a journalist. I do not hold myself to journalistic standards and you should not expect them of me.

I hope I have brought clarity to that question.

Charlie Mas said...

I'm curious, parent. What possible solutions are there to this "problem"?

Melissa Westbrook said...

Setting the Record straight, well Lafayette Dad indicated the principal did tell those parents so clearly there is some confusion.

Ethical Girl, both you an L Dad say there was nothing sexual. Were you there? Were you there when the principal questioned the kids? Were you there when the two parents asked the principal about her interviews?

Because why would she ask the kids to demonstrate what happened, and if it was dancing, they didn't want to do it. Why did those kids all say "he was just dancing?"

We all know she's a human being and no one is saying she doesn't have feelings. But she is a public servant and in the course of her job her professional behavior has been such that it raises questions.

Parent, you can give me the rap of "junior reporter" but Charlie has never being active in the same manner as I have (attending media events, etc.)

The blog is not about being gossipy and anyone who reads nearly any post can see that. If you feel that way, don't read it. That's your solution. You can come and complain, that's your right but really, if it's that bad, then don't read it.

Bu we absolutely are about solutions and the one to this problem was the principal, Ex Dir and senior staff doing their jobs, abiding by the law and protecting kids. You keep forgetting how long we have known about this and kept hoping that the district would do what they need to do. If you think this was never going to come out publicly, you would be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Charlie, you are right about what you say, but you are also peddling things about an innocent child that are false. Do you want to be associated with such a thing. Ask yourself this question. Truly..Why would a child be such a source of discussion here for adults...look deeper. He is just a kid. Why would you want to take a leap of faith about all of this info when you don't know the truth of the matter? Wouldn't it bother your conscience if you learned the truth?

PS: The boy did not look up "porn" in school. That is made up.

Turthsayer

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa Westbrook said...

Truthsayer, I have e-mail indicating that the porn incident did happen and the boy was sanctioned administratively for it.

It will bother me if I got a detail wrong. Do I believe the investigation will show nothing at all happened and it's a tempest in a teapot? No. The actions and remarks from staff lead me to believe otherwise.

If we are wrong, we will admit it.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Truthsayer, I have e-mail indicating that the porn incident did happen and the boy was sanctioned administratively for it.

It will bother me if I got a detail wrong. Do I believe the investigation will show nothing at all happened and it's a tempest in a teapot? No. The actions and remarks from staff lead me to believe otherwise.

If we are wrong, we will admit it.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
And the swearing was sweeping though the whole school and many kids were swearing, so why this kid?? Why not the other kids who were swearing? Why not other kids who have shown inappropriate behavior there in school..ask yourself why this kid and you will start to find answers. In addition, the boy looked something up in computer lab that other boys in school brought into the building. Obviously, the boy should not have looked up the doll in the bikini (hardly porn) and he was strictly disciplined for it. So, why are these parents going on about this incident. Ask yourself the whys of this story and find the answers and then it will make sense to you.

Truthsayer

Anonymous said...

Truthsayer, I am truly curious - do you know this child personally?

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

I am all for principals following the rules. Naturally. I think everyone is, actually.

Truthsayer

Anonymous said...

Emails that the porn incident did happen? Is that evidence right there, Melissa? I mean seriously this blog is totally pushing one agenda here and so makes this whole thing suspicious. I like truth and facts and then justice is served. Nobody gets a screw job when the facts are presented in the context they belong in. I think you would all agree and this is not a made up person, this is someone's child, just like your child. If you look at it like that, would you want someone doing this to your child, Melissa? Ask yourself this question. The child was disciplined for his misdeeds and so what more is warranted and why?

Truthsayer

parent said...

I stand corrected
Charlie is biased Blogger
Melissa is the junior reporter

I have only just now become involved only to see if there was an unbiased place that can help to come up solutions to the many problems that are in the district. I find a lot of complaining by parents and clearly non parents and sometimes a solution to a problem, but a lot of complaining and critically whining with no solution.
Your right Melissa, since your blog doesn't offer much in the way of a positive place to discuss solutions, I will stop waisting my time and do something active and constructive.

Good luck in the fight.

Anonymous said...

Melissa Westbrook,

I am relieved to hear that you will be bothered if some things you are printing are wrong. You seem like a truly caring person who wants the the school environment to be a better place. I respect that more than you know. So, I feel relieved by the comments you made.

Truthsayer

Anonymous said...

"The child was disciplined for his misdeeds and so what more is warranted and why? "

By all reports, his inappropriate behavior continued. This may be an indication that he has been sexually or physically abused. The boy should be evaluated by a professional, and receive counselling.

Ignoring or dismissing his behavior after multiple reports(which is what the principal essentially did) will only make things worse for the child, not better.

Again, do you know this child personally? If so, what steps have you taken to get professional help for him?

Sign Here

Anonymous said...

The issues at Lowell last spring were complicated and involved multiple missteps (putting it mildly) on the part of several people. However, the debacle started because the assistant principal and principal did not understand and did not follow district procedures regarding reports of suspected misconduct. They did not understand or follow procedures at the time my co-worker and I made our complaints and, according to the investigation report by Cristen Kent, they still did not understand procedures nine months later, when she interviewed them. Last year was a difficult year (again, putting it mildly) for C1 and me. The only silver lining was our hope that the investigation would focus attention on the need to follow procedures when sensitive information and concerns are shared with administrators. It is disheartening to see that just a few weeks after the Kent report was issued, another administrator either was not aware of district policies or chose to ignore them. Procedures protect children by creating a climate that encourages reporting. Retaliation, lies and trauma do not create a climate that encourages reporting and, instead, put students at risk.

-Jennifer

Anonymous said...

I have heard from many in the class that this boy is doing wonderfully. So to say by all reports his inappropriate behavior continued is a false statement and can be verified to the contrary. You should watch what you say if you want to be credible with people.

Truthsayer

Anonymous said...

By continued, I mean there were at least three reported incidents - the internet issue, the swearing, and the touching himself issue. When the last one occurred, it should have set of triggers that something may possibly be wrong.

Referring a child for evaluation should have been at least considered and discussed at that point (and who knows, maybe it was). Referrals do not mean something is definitely wrong, just that there may be something wrong. An independent, trained counselor can help determine if something is, or isn't, going on in the child's life that is unhealthy or even abusive.

I am guessing you have some sort of personal connection to the boy. Though I am obviously glad to hear he is doing well today, those three incidents should be raising some concern. A professional can explain what is, and is not, typical behavior, and what should be looked at more closely. Perhaps it is nothing after all (which is what everyone hopes, obviously), or perhaps there is someone unknown to you who is harming the boy and he is acting out. A professional counselor can help assess that, and provide an independent point of view that can be very hard to get when you are so close to someone. No one wants to think that a child they know is being hurt, and it can be hard to acknowledge. But it happens, and it really can happen to any child. Once warning signs are raised, getting an evaluation is a prudent thing to do, if only to rule out abuse.

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Charlie Mas said...

Turthsayer wrote that I am "peddling things about an innocent child that are false."


Turthsayer, it's clear that you haven't noticed, but I'm not all that interested in what the kid did. I'm much more focused on the actions taken - and not taken - by the responsible adults in this story. That starts with the principal, but it certainly does not end with her.

You want me to lay off the kid - I have. I mentioned the child's (alleged) behavior only as much as necessary for the adult's actions to make sense.

PS: I never wrote that the boy looked up "porn" in school. That is made up.

Anonymous said...

Okay, Charlie. Sorry about that. However, actions were taken and these people did not like the actions. Nobody said this was sexual..and so how did it get there from the origins of this?? See? That is what I am concerned about..you writing someone's accusations...when sources close to this whole thing know this was not sexual. So, that is all I meant.

Yes, the principal could have made a mistake, but we were not there to see it in context and so hard to know just really what went wrong, and she is entitled to her side. She is entitled to more than comments on a blog trying and convicting her. See? Don't you agree?

I read somewhere on here about porn. Not from you.

-Truthsayer

Anonymous said...

Sign Here: I don't know where you are getting this information from. So it is really strange that you would promote hearsay as fact here. What I do like hearing is how much you care about kids. Kids do need help when they are doing innocent things and adults project content on them they are innocent of. So, yes, this child could need help because of what he has experienced from some adults at his school.

-Truthsayer

Melissa Westbrook said...

Truthsayer, the point is not about this boy;it's about principals not following protocol. If you miss that then nothing I say will matter to you. (The boy is a delicate subject and that is up to his parents and the district to decide about. But one than one incident is troubling. You also offer no evidence but that you talked to people. I have seen e-mails from the staff.)

Still Ed said...

We applaud Charlie and Melissa bringing these issues to the public. We need more like them.

Tough love is what I call it and we've had quite enough of a rose colored glasses view of SSD.

Btw though: this has been on the blogoshere for 4 days now.....where are the "real" media? Wasn't this story supposed to "come out" soon somewhere besides here?

I suppose KIRO is too busy waging class war on custodians who try to be role models and may break up fights by "touching" kids to pay much attention to stories such as this but shouldn't somebody else notice this story?

Ore are the Strategies 360 folks working overtime already focusing on the "new boss"?

Ed

tired said...

Maybe the real media are not picking this up because they have to apply real journalistic approaches to the issue. Just because it is reported on this blog doesn't make it true. Unlike this blog, real media can be sued for slander.
To truthsayer don't be discouraged, there many if us who agree with you and want this not tried in the court of blog opinion, but in rationale way.
I for one don't think that the higher ups in the district are all incompetent and try to what's right for the 45,000 kids in the district.

Anonymous said...

Quite a discussion and how it has morphed and what it has morphed into. I pity those who seek truths or even answers in this district. What truth there is has disappeared alongside common sense. All you are left is frustration and defensive action. I certainly would think twice at filing any formal complaint with this district given how it's handled and becomes so political.

The Lafayette story plays out similarly along side so many others in this district. And I've only been in this district for only 6 years. I've seen families left public school for other school districts and private schools because of their experinces dealing with the bureaucracy and the lack of responses and good judgement over what seems like small things. The way this district handles and adjudicates stuff is inconsistent and at times contradicts its own policies. What gets left is often parents duking it out among each other trying to coexist. I also see coalition form within school depending on the principal, teachers, and parent group that makes separate decisions and policies---sometimes that's good, but can also be bad if you are on the out. The Executive Directors are no where to be found. The board members act as if this is an internal matter and they are above such matter.

It's such a mess. My kids and I have all kinds of school policies to follow. We have to get many forms signed and delivered by such and such date just to be in school, eat lunch, ride the bus, take time off to bury my dad, etc. Yet, when it comes to asking the district to enforce or just follow the very policies it sets so much by, it becomes a looking glass world and answers come in riddles.

So here we are left mirred and bogged down duking it out. In the meantime, take a look at our busing schedule and school start times, fewer counselors in schools, differentiation with no differentiation, class size of 32+ in ES, crappy curriculum, millions of BEX/BTA dollars wasted, and another $1billion more in the asking.......

My kids are saying stop typing and go shoot some hoops with them. Good idea!

PS mom

Anonymous said...

Tired -

If the media reports what has been stated in an email or written document, and are careful with their references and with verifying sources, then they are not committing libel, at least not in the US. That applies to blog writers as well. Journalists are also usually granted qualified privilege in the US, which allows them to freedom to report on ongoing stories, even if some of the documents are later found to be untrue or even malicious, as long as the journalist has reason to believe they were valid at the time. The writer of a libelous document may be guilty of libel, but not the media reporting it in good faith.

BTW, slander is verbal defamation. Libel is written or broadcast defamation.

Personally, I have seen too many stories like this buried by the school district. Blogs such as this one are necessary when there is still so much dysfunction and opacity, and retaliation against those within the system. You need an outsider, with no job to lose or child to be affected, to dig into troubling situations.

Sad But True

Melissa Westbrook said...

Libel is written; slander is verbal.

The reason the other media haven't done a story is because they haven't known about it before. Charlie and I have know for weeks. (We have been keeping silent, remember? Hoping and waiting for the district to do the right thing and follow its own protocol, not to mention the law.)

It takes time to gather the facts and many of them may be waiting for the results of the investigation.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I'm choosing this time to close comments. I think we have all said all we need to say for the time being.