Friday, April 22, 2016

Just a Thought

And speaking of field trips, yet again the district cannot get the smarts to head off situation. Now it's all over the news. 

This morning students at Stevens protested outside their school for about an hour.  They were protesting the very abrupt announcement that a long-time tradition of 5th graders going on an overnight field trip was not happening.  This is two weeks before the trip was to happen.

The "official" explanation is that the paperwork didn't get to the district in time and, even with an extension, could not get done.

To note, Stevens has had some leadership issues with the principal being out on sick leave, last year the Special Ed teacher gone nearly most of the year with subs/IAs filling in, etc.  It is no one's fault to be sick but that also doesn't mean the school doesn't continue to function properly.

From the Capital Hill Seattle blog:
 “I’ve been looking forward to camp all year as the last experience with kids I’ve been in school with since kindergarten,” said Sofia Sevenko, an 11 –year old 5th grader at Stevens. “We don’t understand how this could be taken away two weeks before we’re headed to camp.”
This poor communication and lack of accountability is just one incident in a 6-year cycle of mismanagement at the school that has resulted in urgent parent communication to the district, legal recourse over special education and heightened dissatisfaction with the school by teachers and families.

*Principal Archer was on medical leave for the last three months after several years of parents calling for her resignation and lawsuits filed over mishandling of special education dollars. The cancellation of camp is the first communication the Stevens community received that she had returned to the school on Monday, April 18.

On Tuesday, the Ex Director, Sara Pritchard and the Ombudsperson will come to speak to the school.  
Backstory on this issue

I will try to be delicate here but it appears there are a couple of students in the 5th grade who have challenging behaviors.  What is being reported to me are issues of bullying, foul language (to both students and teachers), alleged sexual harassment and disrespect (to teachers and students.)

The teachers were worried about what might happen in a more open-air situation with these students and asked for support.  They were told no by the school and the SEA allegedly told them to decline to take the trip.  The principal said at least one teacher had to go (in addition to the students.)  

There is to be a meeting on Tuesday with the Ex Director and district ombudsperson.

Backstory on Special Education at Stevens

In December of 2015, a parent of a Special Education student at Stevens was sent a decision, based on hercomplaint, via her lawyer, to OSPI.  Superintendent Nyland, Sped head Wyeth Jessee and other SPS staff were also sent the decision.

The Procedural History lays out how OSPI had received in October of 2015, a complaint from this parent that alleged
that the district violated the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), or a regulation implementing the IDEA, with regard to the education of students who attend the Access program at the elementary school.  

Is the District implementing the individualized education programs (IEPs) for students in the Access program?

There was a lot of back and forth in 2015 over this parent's complaint.  Here's the backstory to the complaint:
During 2014-2015, this elementary had an Access program for autistic students.  But, in early October, the teacher took a leave of absence and was never full-time again for the rest of the school year.  During that time, they had several subs (when they could get a sub.)  In Feb. 2015, a permanent sub was hired.  There were also IAs who filled in when no sub was available including sub IAs.

This school also had a primary and intermediate program for students with EBD(emotional behavioral disabilities.) At the beginning of the school year, the teacher for that program was injured (off-duty from being a teacher) and was not able to work full=time for several weeks.  Again, like the Access program, there were multiple subs and IAs. 
In Feb. 2015, the Complaint filed a SECC (special education citizen complaint), that said the District was not providing students in either the Access or EBD programs properly to support their IEPs.
 In April 2015, OSPI agreed with this parent and ordered the district to provide OR pay for students to receive compensatory services.  And, by August 1, 2015, the district needed to work with school staff to develop the "draft service schedule" for the next year.

So basically, it appears that most of the Special Ed kids at Stevens didn't not receive the appropriate services under their IEPs for that school year.

Now we come to 20150-2016 and the August 1st deadline came and went.  OSPI looked at the district's response that those schedules had gotten done and found inconsistencies for several students.
The school year was late because of the teachers strike but when the school finally opened, the Sped parents still had concerns.

Apparently the school thought they could get the schedules done by October 2015 "but, unfortunately OSPI thought differently."

The parent then filed another complaint in Oct 2015.  OSPI noted:
While teacher strikes or other unforeseen circumstances can require all parties to be adaptable to some extent, such circumstances even at the beginning of a school year, do not create an opportunity for either the District, a teacher, a principal, assistant principal, or a parent to override the IEP process, or for the school to use the first several weeks of the school year to rearrange the provision of services previously agreed to in an IEP.
From the parent:
Almost two years of hard advocacy, two OSPI citizen's complaints, and here we are - they have not been compliant with IEPs, Least restrictive environments of the students are being violated, and again - no teacher.  And, while there is a qualified sub available (the parents all know her - she's another Stevens parent) they are putting in this sub with no experience.  Our kids our suffering, we've advocated our fingers to the bone, and it continues to be a disaster.
So we end up with a school that clearly seems to have leadership issues.  Question is, who will right this leaning ship?  This is the kind of thing that makes other parents look askance at a school that previously had a good reputation.  


Anonymous said...

That is a horrible story. The 5th grade overnight was one of the most memorable events in my kid's elementary school life. This is their last chance to be together as kids. Way to go Principals and Administrators.

Maybe the parents and teachers should run the trip off the record - with the parents paying the bill and extra donations for those in need. That's how teaching and curriculum materials acquisition gets done SPS-style anyway. Right?

-SPS Parent

Parent at Stevens said...

Awesome turnout today. There must have been 100 kids chanting we want camp and tell the truth. Principal never came out to address the kids.

Anonymous said...

The Principal never came out because SHE WASN'T THERE! After a 3 month leave, she's only been on campus two days this week. Stevens has fallen hard, fast. With dedicated teachers, a supportive parental community, and stellar kids, Stevens can be GREAT, but is mediocre. I fear families will begin to jump ship if there isn't a change in administration.
-Parent of 2 at Stevens

Retiring staff said...

The truth of the situation is deeper than what's reported. A lot of this revolves around Sara Pritchard attempt to have racial equity in discipline. Her solution is to have no discipline or accountability for any kids. Some of the kids white and black have no fear of discipline because at Stevens we have no meaningful accountability. The teachers wanted to take all of the kids but some of the kids have been bullies for years and are now making unwanted sexual comments to girls ( yes in 5th grade). The administration has done nothing about this problem, so the teachers asked for help or no camp. Sara Pritchard threatened the teachers and the entire staff and union pushed back.
Sara Pritchard( who is the puppet master) has kept this line that there could be camp but if we don't it's the teachers fault. Give me a break.
Sara is a terrible administrator, she was not well liked when she was a principal and now her incompetence and meanness is carried through as an executive director. I'm tired of SPS promoting bad administrators.

Powell said...

My god how the world has changed. Schools are run now by entitled parents (and their consequently entitled children) who want to blame teachers and administrators for their own little angel's misconduct. Combine that with overzealous and overly litigious lawyers and parents and unsupportive administrators who shift the blame for student misconduct down onto teachers (e.g. Nyland who fired the Garfield teacher) and this is the consequence.

Can you possibly blame teachers for not wanting to volunteer their time to go on overnight field trips any more? There is no upside for them and the cost and threat to their livelihood is far too high.

Teach your children to be respectful and accountable (and be accountable yourselves parents) or field trips are over forever.

Privileged parent said...

do you not pay attention or are so anti-parent that your bias comes through. Where did it say that the parents did not support the teachers. We and our entitled kids were protesting in support of the teachers and how they were not getting the support they needed and should not have to be threatened by the poor maligned administrators.
You must be a administrator or someone who does not have kids.

lowell parent said...

Stevens Stevens/ Powell,
Not sure if your point is about the issues at hand or are making some general statement Maybe you believe supporting teachers and being outraged when administrators bully and lie is being a bully or privileged. If that's the case than I am a happy entitled bully.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Stevens, Stevens, not so helpful. What cause? What mob? Either be more clear or don't post.

Anonymous said...

Well actually, I would not support a teacher who bullies others. My point is, there are many view points, but lately it seems only the vocal parents view point matters.

These self righteous parents have no problem dismissing anyone who disagrees with them. It's gone on for too long and has gone too far. Many commenters here seem to promote these self righteous zealots.

Stevens Stevens

lowell parent said...

Stevens Stevens do you even realize that you make no sense at all. You add nothing to the discussion.

lowell parent said...
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lowell parent said...

Stevens Stevens,
By telling Melissa to "mind your own buisness" supports your own position about dismissing other points if view, but you probably don't realize that.
What are you talking about, bullying teachers, bullying parents, herd mentality makes no sense in regards to kids not getting camp or teachers threatened by the district. Maybe your making a point about another blog post. Please join the discussion about what happened at Stevens.

lowell parent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
lowell parent said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Lowell parent, just let it go.

Stevens Stevens

seattle citizen said...

Stevens Stevens, I was interested in hearing what you meant by mob mentality, but then you attacked Melissa for no apparent reason (she was doing what I was about to do, asking for detail) so now I'm really not interested in your thoughts anymore. Unless you can actually discuss without flaming.

Josh Hayes said...

Moreover, might I suggest that coming on someone's blog and then telling the person who pretty much runs the blog to butt out is not very productive.

The general suggestion higher in the thread about teachers feeling like sacrificial lambs in the context of field trips, however, is right on: I AM a teacher and I don't think you could talk me into an overnight field trip with my students - and they're absurdly well-behaved and cooperative! Just not taking that chance.

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

Hmmm. Does anybody know if the school administrators tried to provide extra support? Did the pta offer to provide extra support? And how much extra support did the teachers want? Were the simply trying to punt some kids onto another adult, or were they looking for ia support, where the teacher is still ultimately responsible? The answer to these questions actually does matter.


Anonymous said...

Is Colleen Stump the assistant principal? I see her listed on the website. Has she been helpful during the leave of the main principal?


seattle citizen said...

Reader, not sure all those details are available. I think I read in a comment that support was asked for but denied, but not sure of the veracity or detail of that - there could be bias in comments or details commenters aren't aware of.
That said, speculation would suggest that "support" could really only mean additional FTE, whether an admin, another cert, or an IA. Perhaps also indemnity in case of trouble?
To suggest that anyone was looking to "punt" responsibility is itself a biased statement, though.

That the teacher is "ultimately responsible" isn't so cut and dried. Their higher-ups could, in some scenarios, hold responsibility as well. And the child has responsibilies, as well.

The PTA? Why on earth would they be asked to provide additional supports? Even if they are helping pay for the trip, no one should hold them responsible for costs associated with supporting each individual student. That should be a district cost as IT is responsible for meeting IDEA or LTE or IEP, not the PTSA.

Parent at Stevens said...

The teachers asked for additional professional support on the trip to help deal with disruptive students. They truly wanted all the students to be able to go, but needed additional help. They were told no and then asked to sign a form holding them to a new level of personal liability. What teacher would sign that, the union suggested not to sign this. The teachers are heartbroken but can't be bullied by the district.
Yes, Coleen Stump is the vice principal, the teachers feel as if she is not helpful and just a lacky of the district if the Executive Director.
This is more than just our kids suffering because of lying administration and lack of support. It's about the district trying to indimidate our teachers and the students and parents supporting them.

Parent at Stevens said...

I'm intimate with what is happening and have spoken to both teachers and many others at our school.

lowell parent said...

Sorry Stevens Stevens, I and everyone else don't really care about your opinion on this subject.

Anonymous said...

As a Stevens parent of two kids one of whom is a fifth grader, I just have to say that it should not be too much to ask of a school principal to make sure that there are appropriate responses to behavior by students when that behavior is dangerous to other students or is bullying. Ms. Archer has not done that. Likewise, it is not too much to ask that the (almost all) excellent teaching staff be supported by the principal when really challenging or dangerous behavior is happening in their classes. Again, Ms. Archer has not done this. The camp trip cancellation is really just an offshoot of these very real issues. If appropriate responses to behavior that is dangerous or bullying existed at Stevens this camp trip would not have been canceled. As it stands all the kids are suffering from a lack of real leadership because it is not good for the students with challenging behaviors to loose an opportunity to gain tools to be able to integrate and be successful in a school environment. They would benefit from the camp trip too if it was appropriately run. It is not good for teachers because they can't do their job... teaching. It is not good for the vast majority of the students who are kept from a learning-rich environment. It may seem to some that this is entitlement by kids and parents when in actuality it is a social justice issue. Social justice for ALL students and all the teachers as well.
It's complicated

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed for the kids but what really gets my attention is no IEPs for TWO YEARS.

Why do we have a layer of Executive Directors in this cake? When you look at all the dysfunction from the top down, all the money spent on Ex Directors who are allegedly watching the principals, who are watching the teachers, who are watching the students, and the eye in the sky watching us all, why?


Anonymous said...

Jeez Seattle Citizen. I thought you were a teacher. By responsible - I meant, the person on site responsible for making sure that students are all doing what they're supposed to be doing, knowing where everyone is, etc... for 10 year olds. We aren't talking about hardened xcons here. Seriously? You don't think the PTA should foot the bill for this? I do. Camp isn't a district responsibility. The school decided this was part of its special curriculum, part of its extra enrichment offering. Typically, the schools all over the district ask parents to pay for camp. Typically, not all students can pay - so those who can pay (or the PTA) foot the bill for those who can't pay. In every school I know of - this works out very well. But in this case, it looks like camp really was not accurately accounted for - because not all the costs were calculated upfront. Not all students were presumed to be attending camp. Eg. Extra support was needed and not accounted for. So yes. Parents (or PTA) need to foot a little more. The school didn't count on a backlash from parents over its discipline policy.

Checkout the Stevens website. It asks parents for donations of up to $10,000. (A $10,000 donation provides a math tutor for a month - the website says) Look. When you're already asking for $10,000 donations - I think you can ask for a few hundred to support students with behavioral challenges to make camp accessible. And, by the way $1,000 will bring live professional theatre performers to a Stevens assembly... also on the website. Seriously? You're saying these same people can't pay for all kids to go to camp?

Nondiscrimination might be a federal requirement but that doesn't mean the federal government will pick up the tab for girls, minorities, or students with disabilities - for anything at all. It means the local agency must do that. It means that when schools make curriculum and extra curricular activities - you have to consider all groups and you have to determine how to use YOUR OWN money to pay for it. So, did they ask for the money or not? It's just really hard to believe that this whole flap is over a few hundred dollars. So maybe the teachers were asking for something more, or something impossible to find - so that they could avoid certain students.


Anonymous said...

Reader, The PTA has a line item for this particular event, in fact $5,000 is allocated for this camp. This has NOTHING to do with money. This trip was canceled because the teachers weren't getting the support, as in adult helping hands, that they needed. In my opinion, I understand why the teachers would not want to go. In this case, the ADMIN is on the hook for stepping in and being the necessary bodies needed to support these kids. Principal Archer was overheard asking a different grade teacher to "please go, it breaks my heart that this isn't happening." Well, it seems clear to me Ms. Archer that YOU should be packing your camp bags...
-Stevens Parent

seattle citizen said...

Reader, I was trying to respectfully discuss the issue with you. Did you really feel the need to insult me? Why?

Anonymous said...

SC. What insult? Clarification - isn't an insult, not intended to be in any case. As a school professional, I'm surprised that you don't seem to understand how schools work or where their obligations end. Maybe it's different in your district. Maybe, staff camp attendance is actually a required and paid duty. Here in SPS - it isn't. It is part of a school's discretionary activities. Discretionary school based activities MUST be equitable. Clearly - this school didn't get it together. No. It's not on the district.

Stevens Parent - yep it can be really hard to find adults, at any price, to go to camp. What about parent volunteers not related to the parties involved? Was there any request for that?

Camp has to have whole school buy in for camp - because well, basically staff is volunteering it's time. It's unreasonable to expect the "district" to pick up the slack if the school can't get buy in for camp. Teachers, IAs, staff and school admins have to come to an agreement if they're going to offer this.


Anonymous said...

Stevens Parent, you said they aren't getting enough adult helping hands. Is that teachers, parents, or both? Are they requiring more teachers/parents than before?

@ Parent at Stevens, you said teachers were asked to sign a form holding them to a new level of personal liability. What is this form? Is it a new form, created for this particular situation, or a form that all teachers participating in overnight field trips are asked to sign? If the latter, and if SEA is advising teachers not to sign, that seems to signal the end of all such fieldtrips in the district, no?


seattle citizen said...

Yeah, I guess it wasn't really an insult, Reader, but you led with "jeez, I thought you were a teacher" which was basically calling me ignorant.
I'm just cranky.

Anonymous said...

For the parents at Stevens whose kids are subject to bullying and even sexual harassment, without adequate response from the administration: I would start going over the heads of the principal and complain to Title IX director at the district and at the state. If that didn't work, I would sue - and I have never sued for anything before. For anything that could be considered criminal such as sexual harassment, I would contact the Seattle Police and insist on protection for the victim(s).

For teachers, I would contact the union and/or the Seattle police for the more egregious incidents in which you feel unsafe for yourself or other students.

It's ridiculous that the school won't protect students at the elementary level from this kind of abuse from other students. Playground trauma and drama happens, but this is way beyond that.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Clearly, a hot topic.

- I would have to know who started this tradition before I would say the arrangements are on the parents. If the school started it, then it equally should be shared. I do know that for most kids, knowing that when you are the "big" kids that you get to go to an event is something many kids hold dear.

- Certainly you can have team-building/team approval events at school. I observe from comments in other media that many parents think field trips are "vacations" for the kids. It is a vacation from the everyday but a good field trip has many uses, both educational and emotional.

- None of us can know for certain what the issues are with a few students that appear to have those issues. I find it hard to understand why there cannot be a way to work this out. Asking the parents of the students involved to come along might be one way.

- I note that the Stevens newsletter of April 4th has quite a lot in it about behaviors and what they are doing to work on that issue throughout the school and the school day. It certainly appears to be a tip-off to what was happening.

-They note that Sarah Pritchett, Ex Director, was out for two days that week,working with staff on math instruction but was coming out again April 6th to "talk with staff during the staff meeting." I'm guessing this is likely when the decision was made but the announcement was not made until students came back from spring break.

There was also this somewhat cryptic notation from Colleen Stump about speaking with families individually but:

"As per advice from District staff, I will not be calling a parent/family meeting at this time."

Wait, if you are going to make a big announcement about an entire grade level, why would the district not want that to happen in a group setting?

Anonymous said...

@ Melissa -In answer to your question "Wait, if you are going to make a big announcement about an entire grade level, why would the district not want that to happen in a group setting?" I can think of a lot of reasons ... 1) Individual parent meetings isolate parents and complaints because each problem or parent is treated individually; 2) no one knows how wide spread the problem is because information is siloed; 3) these individual meetings can be prolonged, put off, or scheduled at times that parents cannot attend or that would require taking time off from work; and 4) minutes are not taken at private meetings (as they could be at public ones) and again information is not shared or circulated. - NP

Anonymous said...

I can tell you from what I've observed SPS seems to be very slow to react and refer children for behavioral issues. I am a cert in another district and I am shocked that there are students in my child's school who seem to have had no district behavioral support staff interventions, which would happen fairly quickly in my district so that interventions can be documented. Issues with students that go on for years and interrupting other student's learning continues. Does SPS even have district behavioral staff to consult with schools or are individual schools on their own?


Melissa Westbrook said...

NP, I was being sarcastic but didn't do a good job. But, for all the reasons you pointed out, exactly so.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like some budding "super-predators" at Stevens.

I mean they're ten years old, there's no hope for them.

As Lynn said, they're on the cradle to prison pipeline and the school can't do nothing for them.

The caring for others just oozes off my screen.


Anonymous said...

How about caring for the girl who has a sexually abusive comment said to her? Does she have any rights when she goes to school? What kind of caring should be done for the students who are acting out?

Lynn said...

I am not lacking empathy. I'm pointing out that the kind of behavior that has been reported begins with a child's out of school experiences. How can the schools be blamed for that? How can the school be expected to correct it without the support of their families?

The language used is shocking. To fail to protect children from that is absolutely a failure on the school's part.

I have empathy for these children and I believe other children have a right to a safe learning environment and I believe it is wrong to blame the schools for the consequences of these children's behavior.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Lynn, I have been pondering this question of "out of school experiences" as I have seen from my reading that we are entering an odd age where that's a challenge if brought up. It'll be tricky writing but I see some movement towards almost a belief that some kids should somehow become almost wards of the state (charter boarding schools, anyone?)

Also, I echo Lynn's last sentence. All children ARE children and deserve empathy and care. But caring doesn't mean ignoring behaviors that are unsafe or inappropriate.

Anonymous said...

Has there been a charge of sexual harassment made to any law enforcement? Has there been an Title 9 report or investigation? That's something the media would be quick to pickup on. It's really easy to make claims of sexual misconduct, but where's the proof of that actually happening? Lynn, does your kid even go to Stevens? Pretty quick to write kids off from infancy - especially when you know absolutely nothing. I haven't heard anyone blame the school. Just sounds like the staff and school community do not choose to provide the support that camp requires. Clearly it's unreasonable for the district to pay for everybody's favorite pony. And some people are upset about that. I'm sure if the upset people volunteered to attend camp instead of go on strike, or join a ridiculous protest - the whole camp issue would be resolved to everyone's satisfaction.


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, Retiring teacher is the one who suggested some kind of sexual harassment. I'm not good with this "take Lynn's head off" writing. She made an observation and I don't see her writing off anyone.

If you didn't seem anyone blaming the school, you didn't read the whole thread. Administration, both district and school level seem to be the issue here in not being able to deal with the situation.

Anonymous said...

Bullying, swearing, hmmmm. Sounds familiar. Don't know the Stevens story, but can say I've seen bullying by bullies and of bullies in our ES. And the bullies are many times not elementary age ones either. I'm amazed at times how one act (not even really horrible) by an 8 yo gets repeated over and over until today at 16, that is how many parents still remember him. There are those kids who get sent out of the classrooms consistently to the hallway, principal office, or resource room. These kids are the ones whose names come up at parental playground talks. These talks have a life of their own and thus a rep is made. Sometimes justified. Other times, more exaggeration than truth. What fascinates me is how black and white and static the judgements are of these kids. It's as if they can't change. Maybe 'good kids' don't swear or drop the F bomb for shock value. I have a good kid supposedly, but by grade 5, she has heard pretty much all the R rated vocabs uttered by fellow classmates. We talked about it. There are classmates who appear ready and receptive to 'date'. Of course it's more the idea of dating and going out which makes some kid feels older and more mature than others which is the appeal behind all of this. These kids aren't sexually promiscuous. But there you have it - the playground talks begin. We had one kid who used to chase other kids to give them kisses in 4th grade. He wasn't a sexual predator. But he most definitely was looking for (adult) attention which he got. The trick by the adults was to know how much corrective and positive attention to give him and not feed the need for more (resulting in more bad behaviors and outbursts). Throw in parents who are horrified by foul language and sexual innuendo and kids with behavioral issue and yeah, you'll get a toxic mess.

It's probably best to rethink overnight outing at this point.


Anonymous said...

Melissa, when you (Lynn in this case) refer to "cradle to prison pipeline" you write off those people in the cradle. Eg. The "notorious misbehaving 5th graders". It's pretty simple isn't it? She did that.

No. The district isn't the issue. The school is the issue. But NOBODY has blamed the school for the behaviors "from the cradle". That's also simple. Lynn says, " I believe it is wrong to blame the schools for the consequences of these children's behavior." No one is doing that. And yes, I've read the thread. We can all argue about how to address behaviors until the cows come home. But the fact is, where's the school in getting the volunteers it needs for it's whole class to go to the camp? They didn't do that. Really, that consequence is on the community itself. And it's not hard to remedy. 3 strikes, we're all out. It's a true lesson in community. All means all.


Anonymous said...

"Does SPS even have district behavioral staff to consult with schools or are individual schools on their own?"

SPS principals are quick to kick the can so that is usually a stand in for a skilled workforce in the school or in the district who would be expected to apply known-to-work strategies that would allow the child the opportunity to thrive. Sure, there are behavior staff downtown. But they have to be invited by the school and the school doesn't have to listen to them. And, they have to be good at their jobs.

That's a lot of ifs.

That's Seattle Public Schools.


Anonymous said...

Actually, there are no behaviorists downtown. There are no board certified behavior analysts actually practicing it. Yes, there are some ineffective warm bodies. I believe there's 1 mediocre staff person, for the whole district. Even if he was good, it wouldn't be enough. If a student needs a Functional Behavior Analysis, FBA, then the teacher has to do it herself, even though the teacher is part of the behavioral environment. Standard practice is for an outside behavior expert to perform that function, because they are not part of the behavior. And, you can not really objectively figure out antecedents if you're part of them. The school district hasn't placed a value of that. We all know this, so behavior problems become part of the community. That said, sexual innuendo, boundary testing, exploration, cursing are developmental by the end of 5th grade. Plus there are cultural differences. From this, you can't really tell what's abnormal.


Anonymous said...

My concern is for the 5th grade and younger kids who have been the targets of bullying at this school and who the school and district does not seem to be protecting.

Sexual innuendo is developmental, but ordering someone else to perform a sex act on you using lewd language, is not acceptable at any age. And making that 5th grade girl stay in daily contact with that boy, especially if there have not been any repercussions and work to stop it from ever happening again, is child abuse. As adults we wouldn't tolerate this in the workplace, especially not a government-funded workplace, and we shouldn't tolerate it in a school.

I'm not from Stevens and I don't know for sure that the above has happened. But if it has, there are no excuses and the parents and community shouldn't accept any. I've just talked with a retired Seattle PD vice cop and he said that people could contact the SPD with serious allegations since ordering someone to perform a sex act on you is sexual assault and would be dealt with as such.

If this had happened one time and the school had dealt with it appropriately and clearly, in a way that protected the victim(s) as much as possible, further action shouldn't be taken outside the school. On the other hand...


Melissa Westbrook said...

Reader, I'm not any kind of specialist on child behavior so I'll ask (and comment on this)

"That said, sexual innuendo, boundary testing, exploration, cursing are developmental by the end of 5th grade. Plus there are cultural differences. From this, you can't really tell what's abnormal."

Could you support this? I did a brief check and while it may indeed be possible, the low end of the scale supports this behavior.

Also, there are cultural differences to children swearing at school? Again, I wasn't aware of this. I am willing to admit ignorance on this but I did put two kids thru school and never hear/read anything about this.

I'm with Momof2 on this one - if you wouldn't have this happening in your own workplace, it shouldn't be happening at school.

Lastly, who is calling anyone abnormal? I missed that and it certainly wasn't me. Kids act out and there's a spectrum for sure but I don't see these behaviors as "abnormal."

Anonymous said...

I've heard it over and over. The only thing that seems to get the district to act is hiring legal representation. SPS responds to legal threats. Whether your student is in special ed and needs services, is a victim of abuse from a fellow student or teacher, it seems to work. There are education attorneys here in town, and I believe they are quite busy.

Legal aide

Charlie Mas said...

Historically, Seattle Public Schools can be spurred to action by three things, and these three things only:

1. Money, or the threat that funding will be cut
2. Bad press, but not the threat of bad press
3. Litigation or the threat of litigation

While this holds true for the staff, the current board it much more active and responsive than previous boards which were, in turn, more active and responsive than the staff.

Anonymous said...

"I'm with Momof2 on this one - if you wouldn't have this happening in your own workplace, it shouldn't be happening at school."

That's just plain silly, Melissa. Many things kids do from K to 5th would be cause for firing or even arrest if done in an adult workplace.

Let's see, peeing in one's pants, throwing food, screaming, stealing things, tantrums, hitting, refusing to obey, damaging property, tardiness, not completing work... the list is endless.

We don't expect small children to meet the standards of an adult workplace!

Camp is for all kids who want to go, period. If a child is able to remain at a school, they have some level of control and are being helped to adjust to a community of others. Punishing them by leaving them behind is not helping them get better.

The cradle to prison comment is really beyond the palest of pale. Why not go the whole nine yards and call it womb to prison or what is really implied, "bad seed" as they used to say. The parents are bad and the kids are too.

This from someone who defends HCC and therefore presumably has a decent education.

Double shame :(

Dark Energy

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dark Energy, what I meant (and I guess I said it poorly) is that of course, these are children, pushing boundaries. But that does mean the school can't help them - with the support of parents - learn to modify behaviors for their school community to work well and their class to learn.

I never said that the kids in question shouldn't go on the trip. But the adults on the trip - who know them - believe there should be extra support. I'm not going to question those teachers on that request.