Seattle Schools Updates

Dear families,
The Seattle School District is reviewing whether it should apply to the State Board of Education for a waiver, to allow the three full-day parent teacher conference schedule to continue for elementary and K-8 schools. The waiver also seeks one day for middle and high schools.
Your input is valuable to us as we consider this decision. Parent-teacher conferences are important to ensuring direct communications between classroom teachers and families, and we want to make sure that we gather input from as many families as possible about these meetings. We have prepared a brief survey that should take 5-10 minutes to complete. The survey will close on Friday, January 11th at 5:00 p.m. 

The survey is available at:
We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your feedback.
Michael Tolley
Interim Assistant Superintendent for Teaching & Learning
Seattle Public Schools

Also from the Superintendent:

Dear Seattle Public Schools community,

As we head into winter break, I know many of us are still reflecting on the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut and how we can work together to ensure our schools are a safe place for our students.

I want to take a moment to let you know how important safety is at Seattle Public Schools, what steps we’ve taken since last Friday and what we plan to do in the future to protect our students.

We take the safety of our students very seriously. Once a month, each school conducts at least one safety-related drill. Every school has a safety plan that outlines procedures for prevention, mitigation, response and recovery in the event of a crisis. We have a team of security specialists divided by region who are in schools and able to respond quickly in times of a crisis. 

After hearing of the news last Friday, we asked our principals to be extra vigilant in their schools. This week our schools have continued this vigilance, monitoring entrances, hallways and any visitors to our buildings. Additionally, we are continuing to work with the Seattle Police Department. Officers provided extra support to our schools and coordinated additional patrols in our school zones this past week. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership.  

In the New Year, we will continue our increased focus on school safety. In the weeks to come, our security team will meet with principals to review safety plans and ensure each building is equipped to handle potential incidents. 

While we already have a strong partnership with the Seattle Police Department, we are jointly forming a working group to look at ways to improve our school safety. As more information becomes available from Connecticut and as our nation continues to have discussions about school safety, this working group will review recommendations from the Department of Education and law enforcement. Together, we will work on sustainable plans for implementing improved safety measures across the District. 

I know many of you are asking how you can best help. If you have suggestions or ideas specifically for your school, please contact your principal. If you have a suggestion to improve the safety across the District, please email us at

Our hearts continue to mourn for the students and staff in Newtown and for the loss of innocence so many of our young children across the nation have suffered. Seattle Public Schools staff will work hard in the New Year to continue making safety our top concern. 

I hope you all are able to spend time with loved ones over the next two weeks. Although my children are grown, I am looking forward to giving them an extra hug when I see them during the winter break.


Jose Banda


Anonymous said…
Regarding safety, how is it not a huge legal liability for high schools to allow students to roam off campus during lunch? The probability of a Columbine or Sandy Hook is low, but the odds of an earthquake or other regional emergency happening isn't. With their open campus policies, high schools have no clue where kids are during lunch - aren't they accountable for whereabouts of students during school hours? What would happen if a kid were to go missing, for whatever reason, during lunch hours? (The term "in loco parentis" springs to mind, but I am not sure that tv legal dramas have prepared me to argue this well.)

I am curious to hear what other parents think.

Jet City mom said…
Good point, but schools dont seem to have enough space for students to eat in the cafeteria.
I attended school in Lake Washington & even though we had three different lunch shifts in jr high, there still wasnt enough room. I sometimes ate in the bathroom or while walking the halls.
My elementary school didnt have a cafeteria so we ate at our desks.
Jan said…
Moose: at my child's high school, kids come and go for all kinds of reasons -- the biggest (but not only) one being Running Start classes at community colleges. I think it is wrong for parents to think (or demand) that high schools be able to account for every body of every child for 7 hours a day. By their senior year, you are looking at young adults who, the next year, may be living alone, thousands of miles from home, in dorms with hundreds of other strangers, and with no one "keeping track" of them for any hours at all. In my opinion, if you want 18 year olds in college to handle themselves well, you have to start taking off the training wheels earlier -- when they are in high school.
Anonymous said…
@ Jan - well, I absolutely expect that in the event of an emergency, the school could account for my minor child.

But what I or you believe is really besides the point. The point is that in our litigious society, how is this not recognized as a huge liability on the part of the district? Kids signing in and out from school for Running Start, etc., is much different.


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