School Board Meeting, Part One

Packed room for start of meeting.  A whole contingent of neon-yellow shirted kids from Schmitz Park Elementary, questioning the funding at Central versus school-based including class size.

RBHS students opened with a spirited call-and-response, singing and cheer-a-long.  They recognized the Board especially those directors who are leaving the Board.
Nyland and other senior managers are now recognizing directors who are leaving the Board.  Bernardo Ruiz really brought it home for Director McLaren.

Now the directors are coming down to shake hands and take photos.  (I DO believe recognition was important but this part could have happened at a party.)

Due to lengthy agenda, I'm hoping the Superintendent doesn't go on long with his comments. Nope, he's going on.  The natives (the kids up front) are getting restless.  Singles out speaker Greg Wong from Schools First and their work.  That's great but there are a LOT of other people here to speak on issues THEY consider important.

Thanksgiving schedule announced.

Student assignment plan was one that we removed from agenda two weeks ago to provide for add'l comments and had "three additional meetings."  Well, what other meetings were there for community on these changes?  Oh right, the "boundary changes" meetings.

Proposing to resolve tie-breaker and adjust waitlist date to May 31st "to see if it works" but he made it sound like a pilot so there's a win there.  The rest of the Assignment Plan will be later.

Talked about SMART goals and several steps like decision-making, student achievement, etc.  Mentioned amendments, only for wording,not changing goals.

Bell times will be discussed and he mentioned Times' story and "long journey" to tonight.  Six rounds of community engagement.  (Signs go up from the audience to signal their feelings.)  Still recognize Tier Three is a "challenge" and will "work on that as we are able."

"Pleased to be of service to city I grew up in" re: his contract.  He says he has "rebuilt community trust."  Will give ENTIRE raise back to SPS (but did not say for entire length of his contract or just one year as he said previously.)

Talked about Beacon Hill,etc.  Talked about State of District speech.  I guess he just is determined to say every single thing that has happened in the last two weeks.  Either determined or oblivious; these kids are very restless and I can't blame them.  Finally, new Board members coming on.

Speaker list is again, mostly bell times.  Big applause for QAE parent Tina Podlodowski as she spoke out - "Message you send to families and it's not positive and who is responsible for teachers strike and errors in staffing and parents needing to actlike detective.  What about rat problem in John Rogers and QAE still waiting to meet on principal choice with Superintendent.

Laurelhurst parent Carin Towne gave a very funny speech, linking the vote on bell times with winning a game (see the Seahawks and Huskies.)  "Seahawks/Huskies didn't win and SPS isn't going to win w/o for all.  Using bus costs to keep Tier 3.  Mentioned small numbers on many Laurelhurst buses and "it seems we have a lot of work to do and we need to make bus more efficient.  Don't go back but keep moving work forward."  She said "Don't pass the ball (laughter) but "Marshawn Lynch" forward for Tier Three.

Carolyn Leith spoke about the staffing issues earlier this year and her group's Half-Baked bake sale.  Encourages Nyland to decline raise and what is the $13,000 question.  She had many books on display with letters about what could be done with those funds.  (Carolyn is a fierce and dedicated public ed activist and I am proud to call her friend.)

Impassioned speaking from parent Chandra Hampson on supporting Native American students.  Looks like an activist who the Board and staff will not be able to ignore..

Finishing speaker list with Kevin Baker, representing large group in support of SMART goal #2 and wants focus to be on African-American males. Said they are not "against any other groups" and spoke of other groups as needing help and not shrink from pressure.

Board Comments

Came in a different form with the Internal Audit Annual report and Ethics report given by head, Andrew Medina.  I'll try to get his presentation.

Director Carr said  this was all in response of Auditor's report in 2010 (got Andrew from Port of Seattle) and he helped implement this program. Andrew works for Board and Chair of A&F is his boss.  (She said, "People always say the Board has one employee - the Superintendent. Not so."  Good to know.)

Superintendent Evaluation Narrative/Instruments
Director Carr made some comments.  Said 2013 Bd made changes to Super eval be "more evidence-based" - moved eval from June to Nov. (didn't know that).  But Banda left before November so they didn't do that last year.  She said they believed November would better align with release of test data and future Boards can decide on timing.  (I'm not sure I'm seeing that "evidence-based" data and,as well, the Superintendent's belief that that he has "rebuilt community trust." I agree that Banda did burn this district and this City but that was him leaving on his own steam and not under a cloud.

Board remarks
Blanford - thanked RBHS students.  Thanked all exiting members.  (Oddly, Martin-Morris did not look at him for most of his remarks unlike McLaren, Carr and Peaslee.)

Patu - thanked participation of community and RBHS students.   Had Charles de Lint quote.  She said that she was hurt by rumor that she did not support AA males and she did support ALL students.  She said sometimes the mass criticism was hard to take.  Talked about why she put forth amendment to SMART goal about closing opp gap.  Said she helped open African-American Academy which was not a success and was closed (boy, she's brave - that may upset some  to hear.)   Well, I called it.  A man stood up and said something about African-American Academy.

Thank you to each exiting Board member.  Said Carr was the right leader when they needed it.  (Again, I have no idea what Martin-Morris is looking down at but it's not his computer.)

Peters mentioned her community meetings and how a community member had asked about having at least one Board community meeting a week (she said sometimes that just can't happen with their family schedules.)

Mentioned annual MLK, Jr. celebration at Garfield and making sure it happens.

Thanked departing Board members and welcomed new members coming in December.

Mentioned Ballard High incident.  Mentioned overcrowding at Ballard and that a new high school will open at Lincoln.

Student Assignment plan will be discussed but said waitlist could be expanded with some different language.  (Not sure what this means but let's see when they get to this discussion.)  Also mentioned pain of Tier Three that her children are in there as well.  Mentioned issue of class size and said State didn't give the district enough money.  There is a graph/chart that Ken Gotsch, CFO, created and she asked that it be posted out of the Friday memo as it could be helpful.

Mentioned the massacre in Paris (she lived there briefly as a young woman) and said it was important to teach kids to be independent thinkers.  Said not just "college and career" ready but to be compassionate citizens.

Harium Martin-Morris 
He thanked his mother for emphasizing education as the vehicle to get further in life.  Mentioned how hard staff works - "the people on the perimeter of this room" who work with "style and grace."  Said all urban districts have issues but Seattle has "tools, smarts and people" to solve these problems.  Said it was "hard, messy" work.  Thank colleagues and said he and Carr usually talked many days at 7 am.
Thanked his wife for her support as well as his kids.  Thanked community for opportunity to serve.

Sharon Peaslee
Thanked Board colleagues and said the Board was split and "slammed in the press almost daily."  She said they were hardly thanked and often put-down. This Board came together.  Says Nyland has played "significant role" in focus on "alignment."  But said Board itself overcame themselves and that the Board "is not elected to agree."

Says Nyland deserves the raise "we are giving him and he is giving back."  She said his leadership was "outstanding and remarkable."  Seems like raise is certainly a done deal.

Mentioned Patu's concerns over the SMART goals and that the language in goal is "tweaked" so that all students in groups are benefiting and will not impact or dilute program for AA males.  Says it is just a clarification. Cannot have "winners and losers."  All of our kids need support.

Talked about her two adopted children and their challenges and said they needed (and all kids) need emotional support and exposure to arts.  Was ruefully that her kids won't benefit from change in bell times.

Said we should be fully funding education especially for such a wealthy nation.  Said this is a "tax-adverse" state.  Said staff tries to do what Board passes and says they could use a few more people to help them.

Wished next Board the best.

Marty McLaren
Wrote out what she wanted to say.  Loved RBHS performance and all testimony.

Great privilege to work with colleagues, "incredibly fulfilling experience."  Lost to 3-1 margin and clearly many believed that we ignored popular opinion.  She said she was regretful about not understanding toll on parents and teachers.  She said she did feel attacked and "sometimes chose not to engage."  Points to need to learn how to engage and partner with families and ask for guidance/help.

Want to testify to incredible integrity of staff, "not saints, not that they don't make mistakes." Grown to love and respect senior staff but did a shout-out to Board office head, Theresa Hale.

Said it was a "privilege" to serve.

Pretty classy and pretty brave to even bring up her loss at the ballot box.

Sherry Carr
Thanked Boeing who supported both her and Director Martin-Morris.  Thanked her venues - Bethany Community Church and Hearthstone - for their help.

Thanked current and past Board directors.  "Interesting kinship" with all of them.  Offered support and help to new Board members.

Thanked the five superintendents (stumbled over the count to laughter.)

Thanked Martin-Morris and wife as well as her mother who is 89.  She let me know when "someone wasn't nice to me."  Thanked her family.

Spoke of accomplishments and says district she  is leaving now (from when she came in around 2007) is much better.  Thanked staff and say work is not done.  Said chronic turnover at the top. Listed the turnover.  (My comment is that this is not all about turnover at the top - I believe that turnover is also due to the culture of the bureaucracy at JSCEE.)

Spoke of honor to serve.


Bubba said…
No mention that the NW region met the criteria in the MOU between SPS (Special Education) and OSPI and will be awarded the $500,000 (of the $3 million) that was held back last year?
Jon said…
I'm wondering about this disconnection where Nyland says he has "rebuilt community trust."

Is it that he actually believes this, even after the strikes and protests? Or is it the big lie idea of asserting something is true despite it so obviously being false?

I mean it, I really want to know. Is this a case where he believes what he is saying? Or he doesn't care what he is saying?
mirmac1 said…
Bubba, that is nothing to write home about. I would say "the NW region screwed up fewer IEPs and evals." They got back funding that should've have been available to support students with disabilities and IEPs. I would've been at the board meeting but was down on the waitlist. Here's what I would have touched upon:

Dear Superintendent Nyland and School Directors,

We are writing to you today concerning the proposed school start time for Lowell Elementary School. As you know, Lowell is an extraordinary school that serves many of our district's most vulnerable students. The start time for Lowell next year is 7:50 a.m. This is an hour-and-forty minute difference from the start time this year, which is 9:30 a.m. This will have a disproportionate impact on students who receive special education services at Lowell, especially those who are medically fragile. Lowell has a population which is comprised of 40% special education students, over 30 of which are classified as medically-fragile. Medically fragile students, by OSPI definition, are students with complex health care needs who daily face the possibility of a life-threatening emergency requiring the skill and judgment of a professional nurse.[1] Many of these students have severe seizure disorders, mobility issues, and/or congenital/hereditary defects. They are dependent on their families for complex monitoring and administration of medications, as well as care around tracheostomies, gastric tubes and urinary catheterization. Many of these students use wheelchairs to mobilize. A morning routine for many of these students may last well over an hour and a half. This is fact.

All the bus routes for special education students who attend Lowell begin picking up students one hour and twenty minutes before the start of school.[2] If the start time is changed to 7:50 am, bus pick-up for these elementary students will start at 6:30 a.m. This means that some of the children who are picked up at Lowell will have to start their morning routine at 5:00 am. This places undue hardship on both the parents and the students, but more importantly, it is very likely that children may arrive at school either underfed, overly tired or inadequately treated, which will impact their health and their ability to learn. For the same reason, many parents may decide to keep their children home until their child is awake enough, fed enough and treated enough to be able to benefit from their schooling. This is only possible for those families with wheelchair-accessible transportation. For parents who cannot afford a specialized van, the impact of a very early school bus time may mean that their child may completely miss many more days of school. Missed school time may lead to district liability for compensatory education for these children.

mirmac1 said…
The difficulties with the proposed new start time of 7:50 am will cause parents to have to choose between keeping their very vulnerable kids healthy, or have them access their education under circumstances unconducive to learning. Bus trips of 1 hour and 20 minutes already do not conform to the spirit of the WAC. How can two rounds trips of this length be considered reasonable? Now compound that with a 5:00 am wake-up for nebulizer treatments, trach care, and enteral feeding.

The Special Education PTSA has heard from many parents of students at Lowell, who ask that the Superintendent reconsider his recommendation to place Lowell in the first tier. We are in strong support of these parents and children. This is a question of equity for our medically-fragile students. Do not harm them. Please direct staff to revise Lowell’s start time so that it allows parents to adequately care for their students and ensure they arrive at school ready to learn.

Signed by members of the Seattle SpEd PTSA Board

[1] Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission and Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, Staff Model for the Delivery of School Health Services 9 (Apr. 2000, revised Dec. 2005), available at

[2] This is in excess of the time recommended by the Washington Administrative Codes, which states that wherever reasonably possible, no student should be required to ride more than sixty minutes one way. WAC 392-172A-02095.
Bubba, I saw that press release and was going to put it out tomorrow. But yes, out of all that the Superintendent spoke about, I'm surprised that wasn't one of the items.
Anonymous said…
I put this in the category of faux good news.

NW Sped parent
I'd like Dr. Nyland to provide one fact that demonstrates he has rebuilt trust. As a parent I don't see it
mirmac1 said…
Peaslee, I'm playing a tiny violin right now.
Talkie said…
This meeting is going to go on forever. These speeches are really getting to be a bit much. What is this? The Academy Awards?
Anonymous said…
MW said "Bubba, I saw that press release and was going to put it out tomorrow. But yes, out of all that the Superintendent spoke about, I'm surprised that wasn't one of the items."

It really is meaningless. Parents in NW know it is meaningless. JSCEE knows it too. It just shows you that OSPI is going through the motions. As is SPS. Whatever the PR machine is churning out, this represent no systemic change for families in NW. None. Zero.

Zeroed out
Anonymous said…
About Lowell

Interesting that when Lowell was lead by Gregory King for three years the school was in the news almost daily and was surrounded by controversy. After, Marion Smith, Jr came along and lead the school for three years and there was nothing said about Lowell during that time. Now, with Geri Guerrero leading the school since August, it is back in the news.

Interesting Indeed
PAC Member said…
Chandra spoke as the VICE PRESIDENT of title vii Huchoosedah Parent Advisory Council although she is a parent. Her voice tonight was for the PAC.

As an aside the "Natives are restless" = insensitive.
PAC Member, I made no connection between Hampson's remarks and the restlessness of the children present.

FYI, I'm part Native American (small but yes, it's there.)
Talkie said…
Geri is doing a good job at Lowelll.
PAC Member said…
The "Natives are restless" is an insensitive comment by itself. I never made a connection to Chandra either.

Most Natives see themselves as Native or not. "Parts" was a tool of colonization. I am sorry but don't understand how your comment applies?
PAC, you make too much of an off-handed comment during a time when there was a lot of activity around me and in the room.
mirmac1 said…
Geri did a terrible job as a SpEd supervisor and was wisely removed from that role. What does the district do? Why promote her of course. As "interim" head of the most SpEd intensive school in our district. I never cease to be amazed by the illogical processes downtown.
Carol Simmons said…
Our Native students and parents should be "restless." Hopefully, they will become even more "restless" and hopefully, we will join them.

Our Native students have, once again, been marginalized. At the previous school board meeting, Native community speakers explained the issues of Native student disproportionality to the District. How many rallies, demonstrations, must be held in order to get the attention of the District. Promises have been broken over and over (historically and recently). The agenda of this last Board meeting included Amendments that pitted marginalized groups of underserved students against one another and again the Native students were tragically neglected. Director Patu stated that she was criticized in the community and Director Peaslee has been repeatedly criticized on this Forum. Both of these Board Directors have worked their hardest to positively correct the neglect, broken promises, and inequities suffered by our Native population. These two Directors have attempted to find solutions for the inequities and neglect and insensitivity of the system. I commend them. I will miss Director Pealsee's tenacity, caring, sensitivity and compassion. I am pleased that Director Patu will remain and will carry on their work of eliminating disproportionality for all of our underserved students.
Carol Simmons said…
Mirmac 1

The start times for Lowell must be changed. This is discriminatory treatment.

Thank you for posting this.

GarfieldMom said…
Carol, your statement seems at odds with the testimony heard last night as far as how the Native community viewed Director Patu and Peaslee's amendment. Maybe I'm not fully understanding what you're saying.
Carol Simmons said…
Dear Garfield Mom,

Thank you for your question and observation. I would like to know who you are if you would not mind. I would so enjoy meeting you as I have been involved with Garfield also for many, many years.

Regarding your confusion. It is understandable given what the Speaker said. I have spoken with a member of the Native community regarding these statements who did not know that the speaker was going to say what she did. The speaker's statements are confusing. I am anxious to speak with her for clarification.

Thank you for your interest. I hope to speak with you in person some day soon. We most probably have already met. or 206 3654886.
GarfieldMom said…
Hi Carol -- I'll email you.
Indian Parent said…
MS. Simmons, the speaker was speaking for the Parent Advisory Committee of Native American students in Seattle Public Schools. She said she was the vice president of the group. I looked online and all Native parents and grandparents of native students are welcome.

As a Native parent of native students in Seattle, I think there is room to get better and improve but I think there are some really good things happening too.

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