Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lafayette Investigation; Missing Some Pieces?

A very carefully worded investigation "report" from Paul Apostle to Susan Enfield about the Lafayette incident  and investigation report from Safety and Security was released today.  Also, a letter was sent to parents, also carefully worded, from Ex Director, Aurora Lora.  (I can't seem to create a link but I will get it up as soon as I can.) 

 A story is also in the Times and it, too, is carefully written and leaves out a lot.  No link to the investigation at all.  You have to wonder why all this tiptoeing is happening.  (And thanks to the Times for leaving out that we here broke the story - something to keep in mind in the future.) 

Clearly, this is story many people don't want to tell.

The Times leaves out that while the investigation didn't violate school district policy (i.e. Board policy), it left out the Superintendent's own procedures which are very clear on what is to happen if there is a sexual complaint.  Mum's the word on those both in the Times and the HR document.

 All that is said is that what the principal did, behind closed doors and alone with each child, wasn't "best practice when interviewing students about sensitive matters.  Best practice would also recommend that all of the students' parents be informed of the interviews."  Oh.

Also, the porn incident - it happened and the student's internet privileges were suspended for the rest of the year.  Not made up, folks.

After the incident in the line, "According to staff#1, Student #1( the boy in question) admitted that the claims were true and apologized to students after a discussion about appropriate behavior between classmates."  Staff #1 is, I believe, the child's teacher.


"Principal Lute-Ervin stated the culture at Lafayette Elementary has been that teachers tend to deal with Student misconduct at the classroom level and do not properly report misconduct to administrators." 

Really?  I wonder who they learned that from.

Lute-Ervin is now claiming that the parent who wanted to sit in on the meeting with her child was a person she didn't know and had a different last name from the child, so she said no.  (Raise your hand if you have a different last name than your child's?   I rest my case.)  She also claims that the parent did not identify herself as the student's mother.  (I'm going to assume she said this to the investigator with a straight face because what parent wouldn't have said, "I'm his/her mother" when making the request?)

Also with a straight face, she denies telling the children not to tell anyone about the interview.  Really?  So all these kids went to their separate homes and told their parents the same thing and ALL of them made it up?  So it's the principal's word against the kids.  Principal trumps kids.

There were "gaps in communication." 

Aurora Lora's statement (partial):

To ensure a positive learning environment is maintained between now and the end of the school year, on Monday, Bob Boesche and Paul Apostle and I visited Lafayette and on Tuesday, spoke to the entire staff.  To help finish the school year, the school district is providing Principal Jo Lute-Ervin with additional administrative assistance."

You mean someone is babysitting the principal.

And now I am hearing reports that this child acted out physically against another child yesterday.

I hope the district understands that this will all be evidence in any lawsuit if this child hurts someone.

And so with this investigation, we close the books on yet another incident that was pretty much brushed off.  The district never learns. 


Anonymous said...

Voters learn.


Charlie Mas said...

Okay. There it is. The District has formally reviewed the principals actions. They have decided how to address it and have done so. Some discrepancies remain regarding the admonition to the students not to discuss the interview and regarding the parent's request to be present during the interview, but everyone knows what the rules are now.

I'm not sure what the "gaps in communication" were, but clearly one of them had to do with the proper procedures for such complaints.

Jan said...

Melissa said: "And now I am hearing reports that this child acted out physically against another child yesterday. I hope the district understands that this will all be evidence in any lawsuit if this child hurts someone."

I am troubled. I had thought that virtually all of the comments earlier involved the principal's "methods" of interrogating other children [alone, asking them to act it out, acting it out herself in front of them, refusing to allow parents, telling them not to tell, etc., etc., etc.,]. But your comment above (about litigation) and the earlier comment in the last post which I understood as worrying about whether he would next escalate to some sort of physical action against someone) makes it sound like what you really want is for the child to be gone -- or disciplined more harshly or otherwise differently. Do we have any idea what the follow up with the child has been? I feel badly for the kids who were questioned. I am starting to feel even more alarmed for the sake of the child at the center of all this.

Eileen said...

Jan, Well stated. My thoughts EXACTLY!

Eileen said...

Jan, Well stated. My thoughts EXACTLY!

Melissa Westbrook said...

I feel for the child as well. At some point, someone has to want to help him because he continues to have issues.

No child should be verbally or physically aggressive with other students. I don't want him to be gone or disciplined more harshly - I want him to get help.

Anonymous said...

This district is going to be sued. Again. They have learned nothing about dealing with sexual harassment and potential abuse, and some kid out there is going to suffer for all this covering up.


Casey said...

Like Eileen and Jan I am troubled, but not for the same reasons, I think. I'm sure that sadly, there are troubled kids in many schools across Seattle. There are probably incidents every week. Just recalling my own child's elementary days, there was one in 1st grade and there was one in 3rd as well. No one here knows about either of them because they got help and it was handled in-house by the teachers and the principals.

*No one was emailing a public blog about these kids.* THAT is what troubles me. Whatever this boy did or didn't do, it appears that the parents have chosen to use Melissa as a conduit to publicize their problems with this one, troubled *8* year old. That's horrifying to me. What chance is he going to have at that school, ever? How will he ever, even with help, be able to fit in there? I'm not surprised at all that he is physically acting out. Being treated like a monster will do that to you.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Whoa! NO ONE, in any e-mail or conversation or blog post, has called this child a name (no less "monster"). Have some compassion.

I continue to stress my main point - this is about the district.

Anonymous said...

"Principal Lute-Ervin stated the culture at Lafayette Elementary has been that teachers tend to deal with Student misconduct at the classroom level and do not properly report misconduct to administrators." 

I am disgusted by this comment... Especially that the staff do not properly report misconduct to the administrators... This women has been an absolute disaster for our community from day one.... Shame on her for trying to blame ANY of this on the staff... This entire situation is reflective of HER crippled decision making skills, HER lazy approach to documentation, and HER dismal ability to communicate with children or adults...
You are correct that there must be missing pieces.... The staff is left wondering why she is still sitting in her office while all of this is supposedly being investigated..... If it were a teacher, they would be removed immediately, placed on administrative leave, and not returned to the classroom until completely cleared...... Yet the district does not hold principals to the same accountability....

Is it possible that the district cares more about their principals than they do teachers..... And perhaps, the kids they are supposed to serve?

Just fixit

Anonymous said...

Bravo SSCF for bringing this incident to us with thoughtfulness, facts, and follow-through.

I am completely disgusted. There is not disciplinary action taken against the principal? What other job can you break the rules (read "gaps in communication") and have no consequence? Truly. This is not a mistake made by a principal, but the demonstration of incompetence by a principal, and further, incompetence by administration.

My follow-up question is this? What do I do to make sure this doesn't happen at my kindergartner's school? Do I call a meeting with the principal and ask what the procedures are if something like this happens? Does she have gaps in communication too? Apparently you can't assume they have training, and if they do have training, apparently you can't assume they understood the training. I'm being completely serious. What can I do?

Signed, a VERY concerned NE parent of young children

Jet City mom said...

I don't see that the boy is being treated like a monster, but he is signaling for help & when "rescuers" don't listen, the behavior either escalates or they give up.

Escalating the behavior seems like the healthier thing to do in the long run, because now he has been noticed, although it appears to take a little bit more to get some help.

Anonymous said...

"Ex Director, Aurora Lora"


When did that happen?

West Sider

Melissa Westbrook said...

West Sider, laziness on my part - I abbreviated Executive Director, not ex-director. sorry.

Anonymous said...

Very Concerned, I strongly suspect that the real reason that no disciplinary action was taken is that the district is anticipating a lawsuit, filed by at least the parents of one or more of the children who were asked to demonstrate a lewd act to an adult in a closed room.

By not admitting any fault, and by claiming that no policies or procedures were violated, they are attempting to bolster their case.

You have every reason to be concerned, IMHO.


Jet City mom said...

Aren't we all.

Jet City mom said...

Well now mine doesn't make sense and I can't edit. I was just responding to Mellisas comment.

Anonymous said...

I have the following opinions:

1) I am irritated by the line in this post which reads
"(And thanks to the Times for leaving out that we here broke the story - something to keep in mind in the future.)" What does this mean? Who is being asked to hold onto this tidbit for the future--Melissa? Readers? The Seattle Times? To me, this reads as somewhat grandiose, or a threat, or I'm not sure what.

2) I feel very troubled by the haste with which the story was publicized. I cannot, of course, know the reasons for the eagerness to "scoop" the Times, but is that this blog's role? Who benefits from this blog being seen as "in the know"? Did it help any of the families at the center of the story to have a version of the tale published on this blog before it was in the Times? Did it help the District to resolve the case more effectively?

3) I share Jan's, Eileen's, and Casey's concern that Melissa continues to add details from unnamed sources about a child's behavior in school. Whatever her intent, she should recognize that she is more likely to stigmatize the boy than help him by doing so.

--That is all

Anonymous said...

There's a kid here that probably needs help and a bunch of grown-ups who can't let go of their agendas long enough to do what's right. Parents, administrators, and "journalists".

It seems like the only reason why this wasn't handled in private without humiliating the boy or his family is that there's a parent (who is a complete tool) who has a axe to grind with an unpopular principal and the boy's parents.



Anonymous said...


If by "axe to grind" you mean "royally pissed that their child was asked to demonstrate masturbation for the principal", then I might agree.

Methinks You Have An Agenda Yourself

Melissa Westbrook said...

That is all, sorry, I was irritated at the Times saying nothing about the blog breaking this story (I've been told that of course they would give us credit).

No, the only reason this was NOT handled in private is because school and district adminstrators did not handle it properly. No parent would have been as upset if it had.

Melissa Westbrook said...

That is all, sorry, I was irritated at the Times saying nothing about the blog breaking this story (I've been told that of course they would give us credit).

No, the only reason this was NOT handled in private is because school and district adminstrators did not handle it properly. No parent would have been as upset if it had.

Hippy Goodwife said...

I don't know "H" but it were my child who had been in that closed room I think keeping it quiet would be the least of my worries. If it took holding signs on the freeway to see the situation rectified that is what I would do. If procedure had been followed there would be nothing her beyond a troubled child getting appropriate help.

On the bright side this incident has inspired several chats with my children about their rights and how and when to demand that their parent is present for any closed door meeting.

alxdark said...

The posters complaining about the fact that this incident was brought forward in this blog are out of line. The fact is, parents in Seattle have the right to know when principals are acting in inappropriate ways, and the district is failing to hold them accountable. You will not get this information from the district, or the school. In fact, you didn't. (You didn't get it from your Pulitzer-prize winning city newspaper, either.) It's tough that the child in question has problems, but that's a separate issue. I am thankful this blog exists!

Anonymous said...

If I was a parent of a girl in this boy's class - or younger - I would be very concerned about her safety if that boy had not been given the help and/or extra supervision that he obviously needs. Little girls shouldn't be subjected to this kind of harassment in school - or anywhere else.
When my daughter was a 1st grader, there was a special needs boy in her school who was quite large and acted out violently, such that female teachers could hardly keep from being injured by him. I was very relieved when he was transferred to another school. I would hope children like this get help and do not put other children at risk.
North Seattle Mom

Parent4Kids said...

This is shocking! What can we do to ensure that Principal Lute-Ervin is not in Central Administration next year?

Anonymous said...

I don't think anything Melissa has posted implies the identity of this child. If SPS didn't have a history of ignoring adult "monsters" this issue wouldn't loom as large as it does. Nobody said this child is a monster. The child needs help. I agree with emeraldkitty. If his behavior escalates it's up to the adults to intercede, do their jobs and help. I'd be interested in hearing from Lafayette parents on how all the kids are doing. Not reading much defense of Ervin from Lafayette parents.

Statistically is this the tip of the iceberg? How many other incidents in schools are mishandled in the same way that you don't hear about? It has to be bad for an investigation to take place. Do you really want all of this swept under the rug and hear "it's been handled" as the prevailing excuse?

Does anyone still believe that teachers are the core problem in SPS?

Mr White

Jan said...

I agree with Melissa that, IF the school had handled things properly, there is a reasonable possibility that this could all have been handled without any city-wide publicity of the child at the center of things.

For administrators who had maybe thought (if indeed that IS what they thought) that they were making things better by "handling it at the classroom/school level" rather than escalating to downtown (a reasonable assumption, given how bad and anti-child much of downtown's thinking seems to be) it bears noting that THAT plan plainly backfired!

I am curious, Melissa. You were at the board meeting where this situation sort of got "outed." Is it your impression that this "investigation' (whatever one thinks of it) would have concluded about now, and with about these results if the parent had not "gone public," or is it your opinion that this is one of those situations where someone had to basically pitch a fit publically to get the District to take any action to investigate and follow through?

Michael H said...

"And thanks to the Times for leaving out that we here broke the story - something to keep in mind in the future.)"

What did you expect?? Rosenthal is a hard-charging, opportunistic ladder-climber. Why would he even entertain the idea of giving you credit?

Why did they leave out all the necessary details like the contents of emails? Because their main purpose is to churn out stories, not get every detail right.

Charlie Mas said...

Parent4Kids asked "What can we do to ensure that Principal Lute-Ervin is not in Central Administration next year?"

Not a thing.

Anonymous said...

Read the newest posting of the Seattle Times story as of this morning. It talks about discussion on this blog, Melissa, etc.


Anonymous said...

I was a Lafayette parent when my daughter, a former Cooper kid, attended that school for her first grade year. I had posted a lengthy comment on the other thread about my experiences there, and I had written a follow-up, since someone said "my post didn't make.sense to him" but Google Blogger (or my phone) ate the comment.But to continue my point...

Lafaytte's culture is a tough, inbred one. There is a faction of power elite parents who run that school. It doesn't matter if you are black or white or blue, if you are not "Lafayette material," you are silently pushed out. Those parents LOVED principal Turner. They were like Ying and Yang, They made her job a whole lot easier and she let them practically run the sxhool. I have my own opinion about her, but I found that she did not put the good of the students as a whole above the needs of power for that certain group of parents. With the integration of more students of color, and lower performing students thanks to the NSAP, it was probably best that the District assigned a different principal to Lafayette.

But even if the District had assigned the absolute best principal of color on planet Earth to that school, with an impeccable record, it would not have mattered. I am.convinced that if President Barak Obama haved been assigned to that school,. those parents would have run him out. This District fails in its ability to hire and retain competent employees of color. They can manage cafeteria workers and crossing guards, but other than that, it is hell to be an employee of color on this District. I have only met one bad teacher in the years with the District, and at least 5 terrible principals. The few African American principals I know just keep their heads down and hope not to catch any shrapnel.

Speaking of which, I also watched Principal Turner ("allegedly") run off the African American gym teacher the year I was there.

This post isn't about race. but then again, it knd of is.

I don't know how qualified the principal.of Lafayette is. She probably followed the culture of the District, which is to not react to anything.unless it gets out. A friend of mine witnessed abuse of a special ed student being dragged across the floor by her arm by her IA. He reported it and was heavily retaliated against by the District and subsequently fired. For following the law as a mandatory reporter.

I am not saying that this principal handled this situation in the best way possible, but I will bet if Principal Turner had handled It identically, there wouldn't' be this backlash. I will bet that the new principal.was set up to fail from the start.

One last thing. our first and only year there was the first year of the overcapacity. Most of the kids would wait at the front doors until the bell rang , the doors would open, and they would stampede in. Everyday looked like the running of the bills. It was noisy and dangerous. Well, apparently, this new principal made the kids line upon the playground and file in by class, as they do in most schools. Immediately, I heard the backlash from the parents, "It takes too long, she is taking away from learning time!" Seriously? I thought about trying to give the new principal a heads-up, but honestly, I won't set foot in that building anymore.

I occasionally post on this blog and I always use my real name. I am always willing to talk about race and culture. I feel that, as liberal as Seattlites want to be, they cannot fully stare the race debate in the eye. It's there people. Just because of is not YOUR experience, doesnt mean it doesn't exist. It is a huge problem in this District. Maybe if they ignore it long enough, all of the people of color and their cultural problems will go away. I have been fully engaged with the District for the past 4 years and that is exactly what if feels like to me.

joy Anderson

Anonymous said...

Sorry, somehow Blogger signed me out of gmail. I could only post anonymously, but I signed my name.

Joy A.

Anonymous said...

Running of the bulls, sorry. I am typing on my phone.
Joy a

Anonymous said...

When my daughter was a 1st grader, there was a special needs boy in her school ....

I was very relieved when he was transferred to another school. I would hope children like this get help and do not put other children at risk.

This is the worst sort of nimbyism. There seems to be some sort of entitlement people feel NOT to go to school with some kids. Where do you think these kids wind up? In school with some other kids, just not YOUR kid. If the kid happens to have a disability, then you seem to think it's OK that other kids with a disability get to experience the "bad behavior". Anything, or anybody else, just not YOUR kid. And guess what? The "bad behavior" will be classified by somebody as a disability so that the kid can and will be isolated with students with disabilities.

It's public school. Everyone gets to go.


Anonymous said...

Can we now STOP talking about the child and focus exclusively on how the district handled this. I think it is inappropriate for Melissa to write that she hears that the child acted out physically against another child. We have no idea what is going on with the child. He is in 3rd grade and still learning and developing his social and emotional skills. Maybe he IS getting help! I would feel awful if I were the parent of that child and he was being talked about on a blog! Maybe they are doing everything they can to help him. We don't know, so let's stop talking about him.

-Move on

ArchStanton said...

This is the worst sort of nimbyism.

Oh please. She hardly advocated for sticking the kid somewhere else. She said that she hoped that the kid got help and expressed her relief that a kid who made the class feel unsafe was no longer in her child's class. Regardless of whether it's fair; we all feel relieved when something that interferes with our kids' education is no longer doing so. Just as a disruptive child has a right to an education, so do the other children whose education is being disrupted. Is the burden on families to just deal with it or on the system to handle the disruptive child appropriately?

Jet City mom said...

I am concerned about how the district handled this for the families in the building.
Children need to feel safe to learn.
Whether the principal is just ignorant or actually was abusive ( which I lean toward), is not a big an issue as, the district has not behaved in a way that indicates these kids will be safe. In fact, by saying that the principal will not even be disciplined, is like telling all potential child abusers who want a job w easy access to kids, that Seattle is the place to be.

Anonymous said...

Is it possible that the district cares more about their principals than they do teachers..... And perhaps, the kids they are supposed to serve?

Yup...that's probably the number ONE reason our family fled the District 6 years ago. I knew that any school would only be as good as its principal—creating an absolute crapshoot as far as school quality. In our 8 years with the District, we saw NINE principals in one school. There were a couple of really good ones (inc. one fantastic asst. principal who has since gone on to be an incredible leader), a few mediocre ones and two very problematic ones (one newbie and one with a long history of issues).

I realized that the school my family loved today could be the one we hated tomorrow in the blink of an eye (I saw a principal yanked with no warning). These principals came in a variety of colors and genders—there was no correlation to either for quality.

We wanted stability and quality and are paying through the nose to get it—and we are. Since SPS, my child's education experience (and our family's experience as volunteers, etc.) has been exceptional. Her talents and skills have been nurtured and strengthened. But we have paid a high price, and most people can't do that (we were lucky to have able and generous extended family to help financially).

I read this blog because I care very much about the quality of public education, but my heart sinks most days when I see how little has changed in the culture downtown and the direction the country is headed (ed reform). I still contribute to and even occasionally volunteer at my daughter's neighborhood public elementary—that finally got a good principal.

I wish I had the answers and the ability to "make it so."

Solvay Girl (blogger never lets me sign in anymore—sigh)

Charlie Mas said...

Ms Lute-Ervin really started to go wrong on this episode when she didn't recognize the offense as sexual harassment. Had she done so, who knows, maybe she would have followed the procedure.

The District isn't holding her accountable for following the sexual harassment procedure because she didn't recognize it. Outside of that procedure, there isn't much direction for her. Outside of that procedure she is free to follow her best judgement.

So they are criticizing her judgement, but they are not saying that she violated procedure because they are excusing her from following the procedure.

Melissa Westbrook said...

What's funny about the Board meeting is that I was so focused on Banda that I didn't note the parent handing out his information. I learned this after the fact.

I think that this could have been handled professionally and in-house had several people listened to parents' concerns and acted on them.

I think the principal and Executive Director full well knew how upset at least 2 parents were. That they tried to shake them off rather than address their concerns head-on is troubling.

Yes, I think these parents had to "pitch a fit" to get attention. Clearly, the principal wasn't going to listen. And, that she chose to somewhat throw the teachers in her building under the bus should tell you something.

Thank you Skeptical for the heads up on the rewriting of the story.

"Westbrook wrote Tuesday night that she thinks the district should change its policy to prohibit principals from asking students to demonstrate inappropriate behaviors they have witnessed."

Yesterday Rosenthal tweeted:
"What do you think: Should principals be allowed to ask students to demonstrate inappropriate behaviors they witnessed?"

I wrote in a tweet to
"No, I don't think principals should ask kids to touch themselves alone in an office with the principal."

He then wrote:

"Westbrook wrote Tuesday night that she thinks the district should change its policy to prohibit principals from asking students to demonstrate inappropriate behaviors they have witnessed."

Not the same thing. I didn't say change the policy.

Very nice. Again, he shows his youth and inexperience as a journalist.

Again, if you follow the existing protocol (and the Board policies AND superintendent procedures), then parents have faith in the system. When an administrator substitutes their own judgment, then you'll have problems.

Anonymous said...

But Charlie, do I recall reading in another post that the original incident was specifically reported to Lute-Ervin as sexual harassment? I seem to recall a statement from someone that one of the parents emailed her indicating, specifically, "sexual harassment". Please correct me if I am wrong.

Her responsibilities, if I have understood things correctly, are to report alleged sexual harassment rather than carry out an investigation herself. Doesn't matter if she "recognizes" the incident as sexual harassment or not, it's not her job nor responsibility to make that determination, is it?

As far as her being "free to follow her best judgement"...What a sad, sad exhibit of her best judgement, regardless of whether she violated any policy or procedure. I cannot believe that she is not being fired, not for her ignorance of policy and procedure and the ensuing neglect to act within those bounds, but for her horrible, horrible judgement in this episode.

The same goes for ED Lora.


Charlie Mas said...

Yes, there was an email sent to her that described the incident as sexual harassment, in those words. But it was along the lines of "if this happened in a business it would be regarded as sexual harassment".

Ms Lute-Ervin should have known that it should also be regarded as sexual harassment when it happens in a school. She didn't.

Anonymous said...

Plus, since the principal wasn't investigating properly, the father filed an official report of sexual harassment with the district safety and security office. He was told that this was the way to ensure that the district would investigate per the protocol of SP 320. That would have required the district to have a trained compliance officer interview the children again. The district did not do that. Is there any penalty for the district not following SP 320?

-very concerned

Anonymous said...

@very concerned -

Refer back to the post "The Face of Holiday on Ice".


Anonymous said...

The principal is very foolish not to have another adult present while questioning the children. Every major youth organization now requires two deep whenever there are kids around. The Boy Scouts now require two adults to be with the boys at all times. It is to protect the adult from false accusations and to protect the kids from abuse.

Maureen said...

I think it would be ridiculous to expect a principal to always have another adult with them when they speak with a child. But for any incident where the principal feels they have to close their office door, I think another adult should be in the room.

If Lafayette had a counselor, would any of this have happened? The Board and superintendent might want to ask themselves that question.

Carol Simmons said...

Dear Joy A.

Thank you for your comments. An excellent reminder.

Anonymous said...

Joy, I do appreciate your post, and your willingness to sign your own name. But I can definitively state that if this had been my child asked to mimic a lewd act for a principal behind a closed door, I would have a very similar reaction as the parents here. Even if the principal were Barack Obama himself.

This does not discount your observations. I am just pointing out that in this case, I believe the principal's actions were well outside the range of normal behavior for any adult, and should have been acted upon. I am glad a parent spoke up, even if they are "troublemakers" in real life. Too many times this sort of thing gets ignored, or the district retaliates (such as in the case you mentioned yourself about your friend).

I think it is a mistake to focus on the parents in this specific case, given the facts of this specific case. This does not mean that the parents have been angels in the past. It only means that perhaps, in this specific case, we are all the better for it having come to light, regardless of who sounded the warning bell.

SPS parent, too

Tim said...

I have spent time as a principal in the Seattle Public Schools and head teacher at Lafayette many years ago. The actions of the principal do not even conform to standards regarding student abuse and discipline that were in place twenty years ago. Little common sense was shown by the principal. In cases like this parent involvement in critical.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, it looks like Brian Rosenthal corrected his story to reflect your comment correctly, as of this afternoon. It looks to be an honest error on his part, that he took pains to fix.

There is hope yet for unbiased reporting in this town.

Anonymous said...

I think that though there are policies, rules, and even RCWs in place regarding governing these situations, the District's attitude is and has always been, "the rules are meant for you, not me." We have tries several times to sue the District, and even the judicial system seems to let them get away with breaking the law. Charlie Mas has been absolutely right about this. I wish the long hand of the Greek Gods would come down and smack them around sometimes, I am so frustrated. They do nothing from start to finish. If theybattempt something, they mess it up.

I advocate just going over the do-nothing District's proverbial head. If I were these parents, I would file a complaint with the Department of Education's Office of Civil rights. If a child even calls another child a racist name, they will take and investigate your claim. You have 180 days from the incident. The form can be found online.

Nothing gets the District's attention like the DOE.

joy Anderson

SeattleSped said...

Joy, you must not have submitted an OCR complaint on behalf of a disabled child. It's ho-hum.

BamBam said...

what follows is an excerpt from an article published in the Seattle Times, June 4, 2008...I wonder how much a lawsuit will cost the district this time...how many more kids will be left in the wake of the district's inability to stand for kids, to follow policy and the law, to take responsibility...and who is hurt? the kids...bless the girls who suffered at the hands of Shayne Hill...the youngest of the victims graduates from high school this year...I hope the settlement was able to buy the services the girls needed, deserved....the last two sentences of the article, of this post says it all.....

"In April, the school district settled a lawsuit filed on behalf of Elise and one other victim. Of the $3 million, Elise will get $2.5million.

In an interview this week, Elise's mother said: "I hold the teachers blameless. At Broadview-Thomson, if you saw something, you went to the administration."

Evidence in the lawsuit showed that Skjei's predecessor had twice warned Hill verbally, but didn't document either instance. He's now a principal in San Francisco.

Stewart Estes, an attorney who defended the district, said incidents reported to Skjei did not rise to the level that required reports to CPS. "Hand holding or rubbing the bald spot on your head is not sexual abuse and need not be reported," Estes said.

A principal can document troubling incidents that don't equate to child abuse. But under the current teachers' contract, schools must destroy personnel files at the end of each year and start anew. Only records forwarded to the central office remain.

Anne Bremner, Elise's attorney, said: "You could basically have a pedophile in your midst and not know it. How are you going to get rid of somebody if you don't know what they did in the past?"

Last spring — in part, because of Hill — the school district expanded its training to help teachers spot grooming behavior and to clarify their duty to call CPS or police. Shannon McMinimee, the district's assistant general counsel, said teachers alarmed about a colleague should both report their concerns to their principal and call CPS or police.

Mollie Boswell, one of the Broadview teachers, said in a deposition that training received since Hill's arrest left her as confused as ever.

"I don't know what my obligation is," Boswell said, "and neither does Seattle Public Schools."

Anonymous said...

I find it troubling that SPS administrators are willing to spend extraordinary time and effort forcing out great teachers. Yet when it comes to their own henchmen (women)-principals- the same administrators are willing to spend time and effort to cover up grossly inappropriate conduct.
Urban Legend

Anonymous said...


Call the Department of Education's Civil Rights Office in downtown Seattle office directly and ask to speak to an investigator.

Do not stop.until.an investigator takes.your complaint.

joy Anderson

Melissa Westbrook said...

BamBam, exactly the point.

mirmac1 said...

Lafayette Elementary’s new principal announced: Shauna Heath