Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Seattle Schools Updates

Further Update:  I asked about Seattle School District's request for a district waiver for NCLB.  (Banda did this back in early July.)  I hadn't heard anything and Communications says time is running out for waivers so an answer will likely come in the next week or so.  I doubt if the district will get it but if they did, that would be good news.)


- also Dr Nyland is working this week.  It is unclear to me whether there is any contract in place (despite me asking the question.)

- info on the Source from the district:

SOURCE is normally down during the summer, this is not unique to this year.  SOURCE is taken down because schools are not in session, and work is going on behinds the scenes to 1) complete end of year processing, 2) implement and update student/academic schedules (which change right up until the final day) for FY15, and 3) complete software upgrades to PowerSchool and related applications.  As a result, we take SOURCE down over the summer.   The notice that it will be down for this period of time has been up since before classes ended, and we always try to leave it up for at least 2 weeks after classes end.  

End of Update.

A few quick updates:

- long-time Communications person, Teresa Wippel, is leaving the district on Friday.  I have to say a huge thank-you to her for keeping her sunny disposition and for the patience she has for my many questions throughout the years.

- following up on that departure, with Wippel gone, the person who runs many of the outreach items (calendar, homepage, etc.) is out on medical leave.  So that leaves Communications head, Lesley Rogers and BEX Communications head, Tom Redman, to cover communications.

- I did find out that SPS did sponsor the downtown school meeting on Monday; it just didn't make the calendar.  (To note: there is another downtown school meeting on August 12th from 6-7:30 pm at the Belltown community Center at 415 Bell Street/5th Ave.  It will not include a tour of the Federal Reserve building as did Monday's meeting.) 

- About Dr. Nyland, his salary agreement will be posted with the agenda for the Executive Committee  meeting on August 13th and voted on at the School Board meeting on August 20th.


Lynn said...

Does that mean he won't begin working until the end of August? I'm not thrilled with the thought of Charles Wright as interim for those few weeks.

Anonymous said...

I just called the office, and Dr. Nyland is currently working. Mr. Banda's last day was last Friday. Dr. Nyland was at the meeting for the Downtown school on Monday as well.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Well, he's either working for free or without a contract. Confusing.

Anonymous said...

Time to take count.

So, we have a new supe, almost no communications people, the loss of the only person who understood SPS enrollment and demographics, and an online system (Source) that may or may not be ready to go next month.

Add to it a board that doesn't like each other, a central staff that loathes the board "majority", a city staff that loathes the board "majority" and may or may not loathe the SPS staff. Who knows? It certainly seems a tenuous relationship at best.

We have a high school enrollment crisis about to smack us, the usual mess of advanced learning and SPED and a potential national embarrassment around Title IX which is before the chaperone discussion and the safety discussion and the rape discussion which will no doubt continue to play out in the coming months. (As they should.)

SPS is supposed to start providing preschool for all, when even supplying preschool for what it has seems a stretch.

This is neatly packaged by the need for increased state funds which it looks like legislature will only supply if their butts get legally put into a vise grip.

Then comes the news that we achieved only 1 in 23 student learning goals? (Can someone cite the source of that stat? Is it real?)

The point being that September is a month away and this district looks the same as usual - possibly worse. Oh, no embezzled funds that we know of. One point for SPS.

We talk a lot on this blog but for all the talk and some positive news here and there is the district really getting stronger? Yes, we have more kids. Great. But that doesn't equate to a sign of strength. That is happening despite SPS not because of SPS.

In the past decade has the district improved internally (staff, planning, teaching, projects) or in meeting its mission of providing a solid education to all its kids?

Persuade me otherwise but I come down on no right now. 2014-15 Here We Come.


Anonymous said...

Don't leave out 2 Federal Investigations.

1. Civil rights violations across the district.

2. Misappropriation of Federal funds.

These are not being reported on locally, but soon will be national stories.

cooking books

Melissa Westbrook said...

DistrictWatcher, all you say is true.

For someone who has been around a long time and advocated for some basic changes, it is puzzling, tiring, maddening and very upsetting.

I have always said our schools do well in spite of the district. But they have many challenges in our buildings like capacity, Common Core implementation, etc. that may be incredibly stressful.

I personally don't care what City staff think of the Board or the district staff. They don't have a real role in SPS (beyond the F&E levy).

Every time we get a new superintendent, I write to that person and offer some insights and suggestions. Number one would be follow Board policies and your own superintendent procedures and enforce them.

Number two, work on that dysfunctional at JSCEE and you'll go far.

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

So Surprised, you'll have to explain this e-mail or I will have to delete it. Without knowing any background or who it was to/from, I'm not leaving it up.

Anonymous said...

Regarding Ms. Wippel’s Departure: “FLIP” Something lurks beneath every stone, it seems.

The District's media dept. provided false talking points to pretend chaperoning was proper when a student was raped.

Date: 16 Mar 2014
To: Tolley,

Please include Nancy Coogan and Teresa Wippel in our complaint. We strongly object to the false information they prepared in the district's November 7, 2012 talking points for the news media and others (see below). For example, "The field trip was chaperoned by both teachers and parent chaperones."

None of the students' parents acted as chaperones. The district knew that perfectly well from the chaperone roster. Moreover, there were no park chaperones as Nancy Coogan stated below. The NatureBridge contract with the school stated that Garfield High School chaperones were required to chaperone their students according to the camp's rules. The chaperones failed to do so.

We strongly object to the District's plan to tell the media that the school had chaperoned appropriately when the school's records showed that no such parents were listed as chaperones and that chaperone list did not even include a single male chaperone for the boys' cabin.

The talking points place all responsibility for the investigation on the FBI. The school district has a federally mandated Title IX obligation to promptly conduct its own investigation whether or not a criminal investigation is underway. OSPI has repeatedly told the district that it was to have conducted its own independent investigation without relying on the FBI.

We see from the talking points and Ted Howard's email of November 8, 2012 falsifying the information about the identity and number of chaperones that the district has been covering up the facts from the inception of the assault.

From: Coogan,
To: Wippel,

Subject: RE: more needed
Date: November 07, 2012
I would change "where the alleged assault occurred."
There were also "park chaperones" but not sure who they were.
The students have not left yet to my knowledge because they may be interviewing. How about the students are scheduled to return today (broader) Thanks Teresa.

From: Wippel,
Sent: November 07, 2012
To: Coogan,

Subject: RE: more needed
Here are some talking points
- A 10 thth grade Garfield High School student reported she was sexually assaulted Tuesday night while participating in an overnight ecology program field trip at NatureBridge at Olympic Park on the Olympic Peninsula.

- The students were staying in cabins in the Olympic National Forest as part of a school field trip when the alleged assault occurred. The field trip was chaperoned by both teachers and parent chaperones.
- The students returned to school on schedule Wednesday afternoon.
- The safety and security of our students is our highest priority and we immediately notified law enforcement when we learned of this incident.
- Because the alleged assault occurred on federal park property, the FBI is the agency responsible, and they are now conducting an investigation.

From: Coogan,
Sent: November 07, 2012
To: Wippel,

Subject: FW: more needed
Teresa, Since the feds are involved I believe changes what we can and cannot communicate. We cannot compromise their investigation. Having said that, can you provide Ted some talking points? I will go over there after my interviews at Coe, but won't arrive until 7:30 or so.


mirmac1 said...

Thank you Parents. OMG, it just gets stinkier.

Makes news I have re: downtown school look comical in comparison.

I"ll pass it on some other time.

Stay Strong! I admire your fortitude. Best wishes for you and your daughter.

Anonymous said...

A request for casual talking points about a rape.

Truly sickening.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Because the alleged assault occurred on federal park property, the FBI is the agency responsible, and they are now conducting an investigation.

Two points.

One, "responsible" means responsible for an investigation into whether a crime occurred (I would guess).

Two, however the district, I believe, in any such case involving SPS students on an SPS-sponsored trip, is responsible for its own investigation.

I note that the writer does not say that the FBI asked the district NOT to investigate as the district has alleged.

And, good point made that there were neither parent or park chaperones. Maybe this was just an error but it would seem that the school would have told the district exactly who was on the trip.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I could not post any more information out of fear for my job.

I hope others read the post and can investigate the issue. The clues are there in the dollar amount and a single source contract.


Lynn said...


You could email Melissa to provide more information on the situation.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I don't have a secure email that could not be traced back to me.

Someone leaked claimed lawyer client privileged information to the Feds and the hunt is on.

I can say this, I'm very sad and these are running down my face.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, you deleted the post, but it looks as though Surprised was trying to give you a lead to continue investigation on more questionable purchasing conduct downtown. Not a new issue.

The last thing Surprised said is "these are running down my face". Which of course is tears. Which I guess I take as TIERS.

Was there an issue with the TIERS contract? Who knows. But would anyone be surprised at yet another issue in special education? I haven't read the full TIERS report yet, but I wasn't impressed with much of what I saw. A lot about filing paperwork. Not much about actually fixing the classroom services and programs. Isn't that where the rubber hits the road with all education?


Melissa Westbrook said...

I appreciate what Surprised might have been trying to tell me but I don't operate off rumor and shadows. He/she needs to contact me and help understand. I appreciate that someone might want me to investigate something but that doesn't mean I will.

Anonymous said...

I've added this site to wayback machine it will automatically make archives of all the changes.

It would be nice to see posting being referenced, but you deleted it. Why? rumors and what's that you said "shadows" Come on man, I've read a lot of your post and you inject your options many times as facts.

What was the post? We want to see it. What was the post. Dont look at the post!

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