Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Updates to Garfield Report Card Conferences

The district requested that I provide these updates for clarity.

First Point
I said this (in my email to Board directors which I published here in that blog post):
NO school should be making safety decisions on its own…”

“As a former SPS parent and PTA president, I am aghast that the district is now playing fast and loose with student and staff safety.”

“And one day when something truly bad happens because schools and principals decided THEY could make the rules, you will be very unhappy with the outcomes which could include harm to both students and staff.”
The district replied:

No school made any safety decision on their own. In this case, Garfield followed district guidelines. The district is not “playing fast and loose”... The safety and security of our students is one of our top priorities.

These statements are rooted in personal opinion and assumption and should have been reflected as such.

For me, when someone says "as a former SPS parent and PTA co-president," I think that sounds like a personal opinion.  But to be clear, what I said about possible security decisions as the result of site-based decision-making at Garfield by Principal Howard are my opinions. 

Second Point
I was firm in my belief from Board policy that if non-staff adults in the building are working one-on-one with students, then they are volunteers, not visitors.

The District says Garfield made this call that the people in the building working one-on-one with students at report card conferences are visitors, not the district.

The terms "visitors" and "volunteers" are not to be used interchangeably (even though that appears to be what Garfield did.)

Third Point
After that exchange, I followed up with district Communications and this is what I said:

- Garfield, in an initial letter to parents at the website called these visitors "volunteers."  Hence, the confusion.

-  As well, the PTSA eBark and the GHS letter differ on who looks at the report card.   One GHS parent said this at the blog:
The terms of the report card conference have changed considerably in the last 24 hours. A letter to parents now states that "the student will be paired with a professional from the local community, who is not one of their teachers, and the two of them will review the report card data: grades, attendance and credits." It is totally unclear who these community members are, how they were selected, whether and how they were trained. The conference is supposed to take place "under the supervision of GHS staff." I just sent a letter to all my child's teachers and administrative staff that my child is not permitted to participate, in order to protect his safety and privacy.
As well, one parent reported this:
I asked my kid and she said that ALL students were instructed to give their report cards to the person holding the conference, she thought they were from the district, so that is pretty deceiving. I've instructed her to never hand any of her information unless they have a written permission from me.
I'm trying to understand why one thing would be said one day to parents and something different the next.  Any comment on that? 

Also, were students instructed to give their report cards to the adult holding the conference?

- The letter also said this:
The school district is sponsoring this partnership. Aki Kurose and Denny Middle School have had very successful Report Card Conferences in the past and we are planning on the same result!
Who is the partnership with?

- As well, parents at Denny say they never saw any Report Card conference like this before.  Could you tell me when it happened and how the visitors used for that Report Card conference were found?  

Here's the answer I received yesterday:

I don't know the answers to your questions... please file a Public Records Request for the most accurate information.
So if you ask too many questions, then the answer is go ask elsewhere.  However, most of the answers to my questions cannot be found in public disclosure documents and Communications knows that.  However, I can file a request for the claim that Denny and Aki did the same type of Report Card Conferences and I'll bet that Denny did no such thing.


Po3 said...

You are seeing the trickle down effect of our new "facts don't matter" world.

Been There said...

According to the “Seattle Public Schools Volunteer Handbook”, page 4, “A guest or visitor is an unsalaried person who with district approval assists at a school on a non-regular or one-time basis.”

Most normal people would think that if you are “assisting” and “unsalaried” even if on an irregular basis, you are “volunteering”. But in district speak “volunteer” the verb and “volunteer” the noun are two different things. In district speak, if you “volunteer” the verb on an irregular basis you are not a “volunteer” the noun but instead a “visitor” the noun without the need of a background check.

Principal Howard was following district procedure.


Anonymous said...

The fact that the district can't actually explain who these people were or why they were there is...

Very Troubling

ConcernedSPSParent said...

Two thoughts;
1) My child's safety is _one_ of the district's top priorities?. Mmm, so if one of the other 'top priorities' compromises my child's safety that's OK with the district?
2) Garfield reclassify volunteers as visitors so they do not follow the same background checks etc - and that's not fast and loose? So much for safety as a top priority...

Anonymous said...

Based on the volunteer handbook, it does seem that these were appropriately considered volunteers. That still doesn't address the question of what their role was in the first place and the quality of the advice they may have imparted, given that they are not trained in graduation requirements, college expectations, course options, etc. Additionally, one of the parents quoted by Melissa indicated their student thought these were district staff. Were they not wearing "Visitor" ID badges, as required in the handbook?

I'm curious to hear if any of the students thought the consults were valuable or otherwise.


Anonymous said...

Seriously folks. Get JOBS! If you're worried about this, then you have entirely too much time on your hands. Do you really want people to go through the totally onerous volunteer process to provide every tiny service to students? Do people running career day need to do that too? Lots of people do multiple career days. Get real.

Getta Life

z said...

Hey Getta Life, I notice that you're posting on this thread as well, do you have too much time on your hands, or perhaps all of us here are just interested in what's happening with our kids?

While the finer distinctions between volunteers and visitors is a good thing to get a handle on, I'm not overly worried about it. What I am worried about is the possible precedent set for for random adults (how were they screened?) to discuss and have access to very personal student information. This is not the same as when parent volunteers come to help a few kids with math problems. Clearly these are adults from the community who we hope and presume are there because they care about kids and want to help. But as someone who fits that description, I can tell you that I don't feel the least bit qualified to be looking at other kids' high school report cards and giving them individual advice. Perhaps with some training I'd feel more comfortable, but I've seen no mention of anything like that.

Also, what kind of report cards were printed out? The kind that get sent home have not only grades, but also home address, parent names, student ID#s. Did the school go through some special process to print "sanitized" report cards? Can anyone verify this?

Lastly, which kids were called out to do this? Was it only struggling kids? Kids of color? Kids somehow determined to be "at risk"? Not all kids were part of this event.

SusanH said...

z: No, not just struggling kids. My HCC 9th grader had one of these little conference. He said the man was very nice, and they chatted for a few minutes. I didn't really get a good account of what they talked about, but my son has all As so there aren't really areas of concern. I got the impression that the man did not have his own copy of my son's report card, but just looked at my son's copy together. They talked about the unexcused absence from the walk-out...

z said...

Odd, my HCC kid did not even hear about the conferences, definitely didn't attend.

Was the event only for freshmen? Does anyone know what the criteria was for choosing who got pulled out versus who didn't?

Also, did you get a look at the version of your son's report card that was shared? Did he bring it home?

SusanH said...

I'll see if I can get a little more information - I have a 14-year old who tells me as little as possible (in true teenage boy fashion). I believe this happened during Language Arts block. It was no big deal to him... he wouldn't have mentioned it if I hadn't asked.

Anonymous said...

Okay what the hell was going on with the speaker and the men thing at Garfield? Anyone know about that one?

- Just Curious

Anonymous said...

What I managed to get from my 9th grader is that the whole class went to this event. She sat with a woman who looked over her report card, congratulated her on her A's and asked if she had any problems in school. My kid said no and was done. I guess there wasn't much to discuss? Not really sure- what was the goal for a stranger to look grades?
The link that was initially provided to sign up as a community professional went to a form bearing the header of the 100 Black Parents website (the form seems to be gone now though.) So that was probably the partnership organization.


z said...

I found more information later than confirms some of the above. This was indeed an event for freshmen only. No idea why, but that explains why not all students were part of this.

The concept sound like it might be helpful for some kids, and it's difficult to only pull out kids who aren't doing great in their classes, but doing something like this without parental notification was a very bad plan. There needs to be a way for parents (and/or kids on their own?) to opt-out if they choose to do so. I hope it's managed better next year if this is to be an ongoing event.

Charlie Mas said...

In the Friday memo of December 2, the Superintendent wrote that the adults reviewing report cards with the students were volunteers.

In the Friday memo of December 9, the Superintendent wrote that the adults reviewing report cards with the students were visitors.

He wrote: "I know this event raised some questions and concerns regarding volunteers versus visitors/guests. A volunteer is an unsalaried person authorized by the School Board to perform volunteer services for the school district. Volunteers have regular schedules and ongoing roles in our schools. Volunteers are required to have a background check run. A guest or visitor is an unsalaried person who, with district approval, assists at a school on a non-regular or one-time basis or attends a school sponsored event or activity. A guest or visitor would typically be required to report their presence at the school office or other designated location, except for specific events such as athletics, performing arts, etc. Garfield High School’s Report Card event used visitors/guests so they did not need to have a background check. Hopefully this background information clears up questions in our community."

So a person who chaperones a dance or a field trip would be assisting at a school on a non-regular or one-time basis or attending a school sponsored event or activity and therefore could be classified as a visitor rather than a volunteer.

NESeattleMom said...

I think it is obvious the story is changing after the fact.