District Hires New CAO

And now, former head of Athletics, Eric McCurdy, says he was wrongly let go.

Here's the story from the Seattle Times on McCurdy.
The Seattle Public Schools athletic director accused of bullying a former district employee is appealing his firing in King County Superior Court, claiming he was the subject of a vendetta based on inaccurate information and his race.

Eric McCurdy claims the termination violated his Constitutional rights, endangered his future career opportunities and had “a stigmatizing impact upon him.”

In an appeal and complaint for damages filed in King County Superior Court Friday, McCurdy said he was fired from the school district and asked the court to reverse the district’s decision. McCurdy said in a news release from his attorney that he was fired “based upon hearsay and inaccurate information.”
He is also unhappy that his accuser didn't have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.

Below is the info about the new CAO, Dr. Diane DeBacker.  I note that the district hasn't had a CAO in a long time.  Kyle Kinoshita is Chief of Curriculum, Assessment and Instruction.
From: Superintendent Sent: Monday, December 10, 2018 3:07 PM Subject: CAO Announcement

Dear Staff:

This is an announcement to let you know that Dr. Diane DeBacker will be the district’s next Chief Academic Officer. On January 7, Dr. DeBacker will take the reins of Seattle Public Schools’ academic programs, and the shared responsibility of educating close to 53,000 students.

Diane’s passion for public education has taken her from her first high school classroom of students in Manhattan, Kansas, to advising the education system in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. She has served in nearly every educational role including high school teacher, district curriculum facilitator, high school principal, director of a statewide curriculum center, associate superintendent, adjunct university professor, and elected board of education member.

As a senior advisor to the Abu Dhabi Education Council in the United Arab Emirates, Diane led the P-12 sector consisting of curriculum and instruction, national and international assessments, special education, teacher standards and licensure, education policy, professional development and school health. She will bring this same systems level expertise to Seattle and to her work with central office staff, school leaders, and the broader community.

“I’m thrilled to join Seattle Public Schools, Superintendent Juneau and the Seattle community in the journey to excellence for each and every student. Education in Seattle and the United States is at a critical turning point. We know that a cookie-cutter approach to education does not work and we finally have the autonomy to tailor our systems to meet the individual needs of each student. I look forward to working with the talented and dedicated staff and community to put systems and programs into place to move Seattle Public Schools forward,” shared Dr. DeBacker.

Please help me welcome Dr. Diane DeBacker to Seattle Public Schools. I look forward to her joining the district and working together to ensure each and every student graduates prepared with the knowledge and skills they need to have a great life. 

Denise Juneau


Anonymous said…
Why do we need a CAO in SPS? What hasn't happened in our district as a result of not having this position filled? Scarce resources. I'd like to know exactly what this person will do and how their "success" will be defined around well defined goals that are made public to us as taxpayers and parents of SPS students.

Concerned parent
I would agree. The position hasn't existed in a long time. We have a new superintendent and if she feels this is important, it might be helpful to know why. This is a letter to staff; maybe when they have a public announcement, there will be an explanation.
Anonymous said…
Isn’t this a renaming of Michael Tolley’s position?

Fairmount Parent
Anonymous said…
I read it as a Tolley replacement, too. Let's hope she's a good fit. The Kansas school district from which she comes had ONE high school and TWO middle schools.

For any HCC parents who might be curious (since Tolley seemed so anti-HC), in Kansas gifted ed is part of special ed and identified gifted students get IEPs. The "guiding principles" for the Manhattan, KS school district's gifted ed services include these:
+ Regular classroom curricula and instruction must be adapted, modified, or replaced to meet the unique needs of gifted learners
+ Instructional pace must be flexible to allow for the accelerated learning of gifted learners as appropriate
+ Education opportunities for subject and grade skipping must be provided to gifted learners
+ Learning opportunities for gifted learners must consist of a continuum of differentiated curricular options, instructional approaches, and resource materials

Their website shows people identified as "Gifted Facilitators" and "Gifted Teachers," and they even have a document called "Celebrate the Joys" re: raising gifted children, including a 6-class series or parent discussion group (with pre-reading!) they offer re: the SENG model. I can't even begin to imagine SPS doing parent ed re: HC students--nor can I imagine them using the "joy" and any HC-related topic that wasn't about dismantling the program.

I have no idea where Ms. DeBacker stands/stood in all this, but it's nice to at least know she was exposed for several years to a more accepting and pro-gifted environment. I hope she has some level of commitment to meeting the needs of all types of learners.

all types

Anonymous said…
Correcting typos from above:

I can't even begin to imagine SPS doing parent ed re: HC students--nor can I imagine them using the word "joy" in any HC-related topic that wasn't about dismantling the program.

all types
Anonymous said…
Hmm. Diane DeBacker was the former Commissioner of Education in Kansas, which is an equivalent to our OSPI or to the State Superintendent role Denise Juneau herself held in Montana. I am guessing Juneau knows DeBacker well and sees her as a colleague who shares many of her values.

DeBacker's record in Kansas is interesting. She helped lead the development of the SBAC, but then also apparently fought the Obama Administration to prevent test scores from being the key factor in teacher evaluations. And more recently DeBacker worked in the Kansas Department of Commerce on aligning education and business needs, which sets off a bunch of red flags for me.

Hiring her is Juneau's move to put her own clear and strong stamp on the district's approach to academics. What that means, I don't exactly know. I'm excited that she's finally clearing out the place and I hope the people she's bringing in are the right ones. I'm willing to give her a chance, for sure.

Anonymous said…
Tolley is out as of 1/17/19. https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/18-19%20agendas/December%205/C02_20181205_Personnel%20Report.pdf

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