Saturday, June 09, 2018

News Roundup and What is Your Why

From the NW Asian Weekly:

A Seattle school principal will not return for the 2018-19 school year.

Oksana Britsova, the principal at Seattle World School (SWS), was the focus of a formal letter of complaint written by James Hong, executive director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA).

He said Britsova has taken advantage of the students’ vulnerability and targeted them based on their race, religion, national origin, or immigration status.

On June 5, Britsova released a statement: “After much reflection, I have decided not to return to Seattle World School for the 2018-19 school year. My leave begins immediately.”

Since May 12, 2018, numerous community members reported to the VFA that Britsova threatened and bullied students, creating an unsafe and unwelcome school environment by harassing and intimidating students and violating professional boundaries.
Indeed, there have been many speakers over several months at Board meetings, complaining about the principal and asking for help.

Ms. Britsova says she is leaving but I have to wonder if she was told to go on leave.   As NW Asian Weekly notes:
In 2014, she was placed on administrative leave while she was principal at Center School. A student brought a Molotov cocktail to class and Britsova was put on paid leave because of questions about whether she followed school safety rules.

The students told Britsova about the threat, but it is not clear whether she reported it to police. The district said its review of the incident prompted a review of safety protocols for principals, but no policy changes were made.
I will ask the district for comment.

Over on the Eastside, Juanita High School students are pondering whether to change their mascot, the Rebel, because of charges of racism over the years.  Even though it is a somewhat generic "rebel", it appears that through the years, students believe it is a Confederate rebel.  From KUOW:
Consider the cover of the 1990 yearbook.

In the center is the Juanita crest: a coat of arms with a bald eagle, Mount Rainier, and Lake Washington. Behind the crest are the stars and bars of the Confederate battle flag.
In the 1986 yearbook, a photo of a Juanita crowd waving the Confederate flag was used for the table of contents.

And a photo in the 1999 yearbook shows a senior having the stars and bars being painted on his face before a football game.
There's even an SPS connection:
In 1997, Juanita hosted the predominantly black Garfield High School football team. This was the first year of a new athletic league that combined city and suburban teams.

At the game, several Juanita High School students showed up with the Confederate flag painted on their faces. Students yelled racial slurs at the Garfield players, and the N-word was keyed onto a Garfield coach’s car.

The game remains etched in the memories of Garfield High School alum. They were scared and angry, and they weren’t mollified when Juanita sent an apology banner.
Apparently alums are of a mixed mind but they don't get the final say; current students voted and the vote will be revealed on Monday
Some said the school isn’t racist now, so there’s no need to get rid of the Rebel. A senior who is black said she supports keeping the Rebel – removing the name erases its history, good and bad, she said.
If we are to learn from past racist actions, she said, we should educate students about why the Rebel evokes more emotions than just patriotism and school pride.
The school isn't racist now?  Who judges that?  But I see the point about educating students on the word "rebel" in a broad context and what it means in American history context. 

What is your why?

By that question out there, I'm asking you to let me know if there are any burning questions for SPS staff before the end of the year.  Someone asked about the status of the science curriculum.  Any others?

I ask because when school ends, JSCEE becomes a ghost town and there is hardly anyone to ask. As well, their spokesperson, Kim Schmanke, has left (sad face from me - she was great) so Communications is short-handed.

So if you want to know something, I'll try to get in an ask about it.


Anonymous said...

What is the status with the high school change from 6 to a 7 or 8 period day?
-high school

Anonymous said...

Who is the acting director of Equity and Race Relations? I emailed Bernardo Ruiz, and got an auto-reply that he is out on leave with no return date specified. The auto-reply noted that Race and Equity would be handled by Abraham Rodriguez-Hernandez. But then when I emailed him, I got an auto-reply that he is no longer employed by the district.

End Inequity

Dave said...

At least you got an auto-reply, most don't bother at all.

Melissa Westbrook said...

I would write to Brent Jones ( bjones@ seattleschools.org) or Keisha Scarlett (kdscarlett@seattleschools.org).

Anonymous said...

Sadly there are other schools that also need to have principals removed and though I am very supportive of this move at Seattle World School, it is disheartening to not have other principals helped not help to move on as well. When are you really going to ask our communities and not just through a "climate survey? Ask us - parents, students, staff - we know!

Melissa Westbrook said...

Reprinting for Anonymous (but next time, give yourself a name - no anonymous comments allowed):

"Anonymous said...

Sadly there are other schools that also need to have principals removed and though I am very supportive of this move at Seattle World School, it is disheartening to not have other principals helped not help to move on as well. When are you really going to ask our communities and not just through a "climate survey? Ask us - parents, students, staff - we know!"

I actually think that the district should do a survey of parents and students about their principal. It would be useful to know what principals are both liked and respected and what makes them good principals versus those that are less effective.

Anonymous said...

Is Britsova gone from the district or simply on leave until she is placed in another school?

She is a horrible principal! How she survived the Center School incident baffled us all. But was not surprised when they moved her to the World School--district thought they could hide her away from the public eye.

I am grateful that the complaint filed by a community leader FINALLY got the districts attention. But I also know that many teachers, students and parents complained about her over the years and went unheard...and students (as well as little kids) almost paid they price for her gross negligence when the student brought the molotov cocktail to school.
Would like to say, maybe this is a wake-up call for the district to pay attention to massive complaints. But I've been around long enough to know it's not.

I will always be thankful for the quick acting students at Center that stopped the student with the molotov cocktail.

Center Alum

mkb said...

I agree with the unsigned comment and MW's response that the district should survey parents. The World School is not the only school that is in a world of hurt due to principal's mismanagment. But I believe that the district willfully ignores these issues unless parents or community act very publicly to force the issue. It's really shameful, because it harms students, as well as teachers.

Anonymous said...

Some of my whats and whys:

- What are the evaluation results of Garfield's "Honors for All" approach? What percentage of non-HC students have elected to the take honors classes next year, compared to prior years? What percentage of HC 9th grade students found the courses challenging? What percentage of HC students coming from HCC middle schools found their HFA classes to be at least as challenging as their MS classes?
- What are the results of the TM one-size-fits-all social studies experiment?
- What options are currently being considered by the group working on a new 24-credit plan, and will there be an opportunity for public engagement aside from just telling us how it will be?
- What is the status of MTSS planning and implementation for all tiers, including students above and below grade level?
- Why are Booard meeting documents-including those for committee meetings--not posted for community review?
- Why does the district keep asking us about communications, when they don't seem to do anything that would result in improved results?

And SoOn

Anonymous said...

And let’s keep going.

- What are the SBA differences in HC students who took honors for all vs honors from the previous year? Non HC students?
- What are the test scores of HC qualified students remaining in regular ed, compared to HC students in self contained classes in HC schools?

Soso On