Nuggets from the Friday Memo

Another week, another Friday Memo.

This week's memo has some interesting bits including:

  • The District has reached a revised agreement with Seattle Parks and Recreation that works with the new bell times.
  • Some movement on Seattle Center, a "Visioning" committee, and two Board Directors will be on the Committee.
  • The plans for the growth of "Dual Language" schools. That's the new name for Language Immersion.
  • News that the District intends to place HCC elementary students in the Decatur building (formerly Thornton Creek elementary). They will not be sharing the building.
  • There are close to 100 employees with pending certificates.
  • The outcome of a complaint about discriminatory practices in the assignment of students with disabilities to Option Schools. The complaint was appealed to the Board and the Board's decision - which makes for excellent reading - is attached to the Friday Memo.
  • Recommendations from the Assessment Steering Committee. There's some pretty big stuff in here, about all kinds of assessment issues. None of them, however, seem tied to MTSS.
  • The plan for paying off the debt on the JSCEE. It was originally promised that the debt would be paid from the savings that were realized.


Watching said…
Friday memo:

" MOU with Seattle Parks: Dr. Herndon has been negotiating with Seattle Parks and Rec
over the past six months regarding joint use of after school spaces – and the changes due
to our new bell times"

It should be noted that the city's Park Director- Jesus Aguirre- has recommended opening all public spaces to support homeless individuals. Some community members are concerned about homeless individuals sharing space with school students. There are concerns about syringes and needles in park space, as well.

Anonymous said…
The link to the OCR report isn't working as of now from the Friday memo page - - it is going to localhost. Do you know who we email to get that fixed?

- MemoReader
Anonymous said…
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Charlie Mas said…
Anonymous comment directed attention to this heatmap for elementary HCC and wondered how the District will choose the 275 students to assign to the Decatur building.

Please sign comments.
Charlie Mas said…
I would contact the administrator in the Board office regarding the broken link on the Friday Memo page.

I think the complaint has a lot of merit. The Board appeared to see some merit in the complaint as well, but will need to make a change in policy to address the problem.

Fortunately, the Board can address the problem because they have taken back the authority to place programs and services from the Superintendent.

I think the solution to this complaint will also address other inequities in the student assignment process. Schools have multiple waitlists: general education, special education, advanced learning, program specific, etc. The building capacity for each of these populations is almost completely arbitrary. How can someone say that School A has space for only X advanced learners or Y Access students? Why not have just one waitlist with all of the prospective students indiscriminately and provide services for whatever students get assigned to the school?
Wow, Charlie, that's a heck of a lot of stuff.
Anonymous said…
Look at that heat map. HCC's problem with lack of socio-economic diversity is stunningly displayed. Who goes to Decatur out of the northeast? Not the main point.

Unknown said…
Charlie, I think you have mixed up two different complaints regarding students with disabilities. One was an internal discrimination complaint. It was appealed to the school board. I agree it makes very interesting reading. That letter is unique because even though the school board was not find able to find evidence of discrimination, they asked for Superintendent Nyland to no later than October 31, 2016:
a) Endeavor to place students according to their Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) which address their specific needs;
b) Provide the full Board with a report detailing the geographic allocation of special education services by type e.g., ACCESS, SM4, etc.; the number and ratios (special education to general education) of students at each location; the allocation of special education services to option schools by number and type; and, the current policies, criteria and procedures used to make decisions about the placement of such services, including the number of allocated spaces, wait-listing practices and policies during the past three years;
c) Complete and provide to the full Board your analysis of the current special education placement practices with regard to option schools and any equity issues raised by the current practices; and,
d) Schedule a presentation to the Board during a Work Session to present the above information and undertake the Board's review of addressing any systemic inequities in the current practices and policies.

The link to the OCR letter is a notice that OCR intends to investigate some discriminatory aspects of the open enrollment for students with disabilities. It was made on behalf of a large group of parents of students with disabilities. The link to the OCR letter is at

I will put the gist of that letter in the next post.
Unknown said…
The OCR has accepted a complaint alleging the following issues at SPS:

1. the district discriminates against students with disabilities by limiting the capacity of certain
special education programs at the disabled students' neighborhood schools, which prevents
some disabled students from enrolling at their neighborhood schools;
2. the district discriminates against students with disabilities by treating them differently with
regard to their ability to participate in the open enrollment process; and
3. the district did not allow parents of students with disabilities equal access to the deaf and hard
of hearing program during the February 23, 2016, open house at the TOPS Elementary school.

The following information had to be submitted to OCR by August 4, 2016.

l. Copies of the district's open enrollment policies and procedures for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 school years, including all provisions for special education students who participated in the open enrollment process.
2. Copies of all policies and procedures related to enrollment of students with disabilities, including any information related to enrollment at a student's neighborhood school and any restrictions on such enrollment (ex: explanations of"caps" in programs or services at district schools).
3. Copies of all documents related to disputes regarding students with disabilities who were not able to enroll in their neighborhood schools during the 2015-2016 school year due to limited or no access to their educational program at their neighborhood school. Include all formal and informal correspondence, including e-mail messages, letters, written complaints and decisions, and copies of any meeting agendas or minutes related to this issue.
4. Copies of all documents related to disputes regarding disabled students who were denied
participation in, or were denied their school of choice in, the open enrollment process due to the student's specialized educational program during the 2015-2016 school year. Include all formal and informal correspondence, e-mail messages, letters, written complaints and decisions, and copies of any meeting agendas or minutes related to this issue.
5. A list of students with disabilities who are placed in a self-contained educational program·and who participated in open enrollment during the 2015-16 school year. Please indicate if the student was granted or denied enrollment at their school of choice, and list their disability type or IDEA eligibility category. Please consider presenting this information in a chart format.
6. The total number of students who participated in open enrollment during the 20I5-2016 school year, with the total number of students who were granted enrollment at their school of choice and the total number of students who were denied their enrollment of choice. Include information that notes all students with IEPs or Section 504 plans who participated and who were granted enrollment at their choice school.
7. Any documents notifying students and parents about the open house held at the TOPS elementary school on February 23, 2016. Please indicate the purpose of this open house, and list any of the school's programs that did not participate in the open house (e.g., the deaf and hard of hearing.
Anonymous said…

Is it actually unbelievable that children of the most highly educated demographic in the city, near a major research university, tend to skew toward brainy?

And if those kids' achievement tests show that they can work two or more years ahead, should they sit bored in class year after year? Because most of the families already tried that. The northeast schools are generally pretty good, so when those kids leave their neighborhood schools they leave behind an affluent, academically on-target or higher population. The ones who go to HCC out of the northeast are the ones who need something different.

open ears
Unknown said…
Just to be perfectly clear, the issue of student assignment and open enrollment for students with disabilities has been an ongoing issue for at least 7 years. It has been the subject of a citizen's complaint, position papers by the SEAAC, and hundreds of emails. I believe there are other complaints that may not have been accepted yet.

One very interesting thing to note is that this letter was cc'd to Kelli Schmidt, who was listed on the website as the civil rights compliance officer at SPS. This group of parents originally went to Kelli. She has repeatedly told me that all she handled at the time was civil rights complaints related to sexual harrassment, sexual discrimination and sexual assault. I note that the civil rights website is now corrected (as of a month ago) to reflect the fact that it doesn't just handle sexual harrassment/sexual assault cases.
Charlie Mas said…
Poverty is a terrible destructive force. It has a large number of consequences, some surprising, many of them dire. I'm astonished by people who think it doesn't. It is indeed a great luxury to be ignorant of poverty's impact.

Poverty creates barriers to child development and academic achievement. Poverty impinges healthcare, nutrition, time for nurturing development, and exposure to a wider world. Poverty doesn't make it impossible for children to do well in school, but poverty does make it more difficult. It does bring disadvantages. No one who pays attention to the issue disputes this.

The people who pay attention to this issue consistently and constantly advocate for efforts to help children overcome those barriers. We - as a society - have taken some steps, but we have not adequately supported children to overcome the disadvantages of poverty. One of the consequences of our failure to overcome poverty is the under-representation of students living in poverty in highly capable programs across the state and across the nation. That's not hard to figure.

To expect students living in poverty to be proportionately represented in highly capable program is to either deny the consequences of poverty or to presume that various programs have adequately addressed the problem.

So I really want to know, @Unbelievable, which is it for you?

Do you think poverty has no consequences for child development or academic achievement? Is it no disadvantage? Is that why you think children living in poverty should be proportionately represented in HCC? In that case, do you oppose Title I, Head Start, and similar programs to provide additional support to students living in poverty?

Or do you think that thanks to Title I, Free breakfasts and lunches, clinics in schools, Head Start, and the like that we have completely mitigated the disadvantages of poverty and have overcome the barriers it creates? Is that why you think children living in poverty should be proportionately represented in HCC?

Perhaps you believe that eligibility should be based on some sort of native talent which is equitably and randomly distributed across all populations regardless of parentage (perhaps it is sprinkled randomly over the world like pixie dust) and can neither be enhanced by nurturing nor diminished by neglect. How would this native talent be measured?

This is one of those things that puts well-meaning egalitarian people into a state of cognitive dissonance. On one hand they know that poverty has a dreadful impact and we need to address its ravages but on the other hand they expect students living in poverty to be proportionately represented in advanced learning programs and they attribute (without any data or research) their under-representation to discrimination rather than to the ravages of poverty.
Anonymous said…
Thanks for the heads up, Charlie. The bullet point in the memo doesn't read as definitively to me as you put it here: "News that the District intends to place HCC elementary students in the Decatur building (formerly Thornton Creek elementary). They will not be sharing the building." But it IS the first time I've seen it formally raised by the Superintendent. I assume it's still open to debate...?

Anonymous said…
I have wondered about this for years, Charlie.

TC, I assume it is still open to debate in the way that all program placement is in SPS until the first day of school wherever the placement would be, but I have been hearing about placing HCC at Decatur for 2 years now from board members and staff, and I know the principal at TC has been aware for at least a year that the district is considering/planning on it. Cascadia has gotten much too large. As hard as it is to start a new program from scratch, which the Decatur campus would be, I hope it splits. I am worried that the neighbors will fight placement like they did with the new school, but I think the two programs could actually be great neighbors, as long as they are kept separate.

Charlie Mas said…
Here's the full text of the bullet point:

- Cascadia enrollment for Highly Capable will be going to the capacity management task force soon; with the goal of bringing a solution to the board in November. Cascadia (new) is built for 660. Decatur (being vacated by Thornton Creek) can serve 275 – making a total of 935. Current enrollment is 770 and we are growing at close to 10% per year = 840.

This news apparently came from the Capacity Management Task Force
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…

This is not an open topic. No where is the issue of identification mentioned in the Friday memo. This is about delivery. Of all the threads hijacked it is always created and biased non factual arguments about identification ... Disregarding the fact they are off topic.

CM and MW I would delete off topic post as well as those responding to those discourteous posters. I mean there really is a lot to cover in this thread, right.

Delete Me
Anonymous said…
Delete Me if you think identification and delivery aren't linked then you never studied supply and demand.

Let's spare the drama of which NE kids will be "torn away from their peers and have to go to Decatur while my neighbors don't have to go" endless threads and get to the meat of the matter, addressing both identification and delivery across two messed up models.

Use Decatur for special education. Use old Van Asselt for HCC. Both receive state bus subsidies so it's not costing us locally.

With HCC at Van Asselt SPS can continue to get students from the Southeast interested and into the program. Because, see, SE does not even register on the heat map. Whatever SPS is doing it isn't enough. At the same time some special education programs can go into the tattered but warm and loved Decatur school instead of isolated Van Asselt. HCC no longer colocated with Marshall wouldn't be the worst idea either.

Is this delivery focused enough?


Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
Open Ears SPS has a s-ton of special education programs at Van Asselt. It's a sprawling special education favela. No general education program in site. Talk to me about isolation. Decatur building allows the possibility of interaction with general education if the administrators have the will to make it happen.

A busload of HCC families are going to scratch and claw at the system to avoid a Decatur placement. Special education students often take the shorter buses. So the busload of unhappy families might only be a fraction of HCC's. At least some of the families might appreciate the placement. Beats Van Asselt. Answers the HCC families who "just want their students to be left alone to learn at their speed". If SPS shakes the trees it might even find a family or two on Beacon Hill who would be interested in joining the program and having a short commute. Maybe after a focused effort in 5 years a tiny little heat map dot of HCC kids could be located in Beach!

Is this still delivery-focused enough?

Anonymous said…
Unbelievable is exactly what you are. Sure now you are talking delivery... But it is delivery south of the ship canal and again off topic. We are discussing Cascadia not TM. Nice try and equally as rude. Your agenda just doesn't fit every thread.

Delete Offtopics
Anonymous said…
Delete Offtopics It is you whose attitude is rude. In what universe is it guaranteed that an expansion of HCC sites has to be north of the Ship Canal? It never was located there until recently. Families went to Lowell. If we are going to discuss splitting HCC again with the landing point being Decatur then we can discuss splitting it but not to that location. There is no more room on the north end for alternate HCC locations. At the same time there is an astonishing lack of HCC students on the South End.

Not for nothing was If You Build It They Will Come a catch phrase. There is no reason NE HCC families can't get on a bus headed south. It has happened before. This could happen in tandem with a tripled SPS effort to do something about the geographic and socioeconomic disparity in the current program make up.


Anonymous said…

The only guarantee that was made was to have all Cascadia in one building to make up for their 6 year exile in a HS with no play area for primary-schoolers. Now half of those kids are going to get a one hour bus ride. Right

Unbelievably bogus
I will ask for readers to take a deep breath and not escalate the conversation into rant and rave.

I'm not even sure where this topic is going but it needs a calmer airing.
Anonymous said…
Another year, another year of District Watching.

The Friday memo was fascinating. I urge Melissa or Charlie to follow the link to the Assessments Task Force findings and digest the report. At a time you feel appropriate, please open a new link on this topic. The report boils down to school administrators acknowledging that they have to perform federal and state mandated assessments. Here in Seattle, that means SBAC. But the rest of the report details how "F'd up" and not helpful to students the standardized tests are. It is couched in soothing tones, but almost every bullet point talks about taking time away from actual learning. It details how test prep is taking over rich learning. It admits to every issue we "Opt Outers" have noted: Widespread tech failures. Library closures. Highly paid administrators saddled with test administration. Unrealistic SPS test scheduling. Inequitable practices + outcomes for SPED and FRL communities. The ridiculous notion of judging computer essay writing when young kids can't even keyboard. Money down the drain. The document is damning.

As my students return to the classroom this year my hope is for a priority on teaching kids to love learning and a backseat to any time or effort wasted on SBAC. We know now we are opting out again. The report even shakes its finger at downtown for calling opting out "Refusals" and shaming families. Another bogus part of the process, it hints.

Good for these employees for signing their name to a much-needed reality check on year 3 of this waste of time energy resources and space. From past years of observation a report this damning could be political suicide. Parents and this blog need to be sure these insider voices are not silenced or shelved.

Anonymous said…
Unbelievable, FWIW, or Debbie Downer: capacity planning needs to focus on bringing buildings back into play where they are needed, that is north of the ship canal at this time for HCC. If HCC is overflowing south of the ship canal--which I hope it is within five years--then open a new site for HCC at Van Asset....

Watching said…
I watched part of the board meeting and truly appreciated Director comments.

Director Burke called attention to the word "differentiation" and what it means for a teacher to differentiate instruction for a very wide group of students.

Director Harris called attention to the fact that Chief Sealth and the fact that the board has not received data- in five years.

Very much appreciate Director Peter's comments, concern and warning not to pit groups against each other. She recalled that there was a reason IB was placed in Ingraham, and the imortance of remembering these reasons.

At one point, Director Pinkham attempted to get clarity between the word "program" and "schools".

Charlie Mas said…
Thank you, District Watcher, for the suggestion.

I will create a thread for the Assessments Task Force's findings. I did read their report and you have summarized it fairly.

We have, on one hand, District officials who want to increase the number of assessments (particularly around the implementation of MTSS), and school staff who want to reduce the number of assessments - to allow time for teaching and learning.

The conflict needs a resolution.

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