Yet Another Reason that Washington Middle School's Principal Needed to be Exited

I print this email to show the extent of what was happening this year at Washington Middle Schools.  I also print it to show that this business of saying it was just HCC parents complaining is just bunk.  The principal was an equal opportunity offender and this was a grievous offense.

I also - again - point out that the Executive Directors seemingly cannot handle issues arising in their schools.  (bold mine)

I suspect this complaint was the final straw in exiting Principal Ginolfi as principal at Washington Middle School.

Subject: Complaints against Emily Butler Ginolfi
Date: April 23, 2019

Dear Superintendent Juneau, Ms. Codd, Mr. Medina, Office of Student Civil Rights, and School Board Members,

We are writing to lodge complaints against Washington Middle School (WMS) Principal Emily Butler Ginolfi pursuant to School Board Policy No. 2162 Education of Student with Disabilities Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Policy Nos. 3210 and Policy No. 5010 Nondiscrimination, Policy No. 4220 Complaints Concerning Staff or Programs, and School Board Policy No. 5250 and Board Procedure 5250BP Reporting Improper Governmental Actions and Protecting Whistleblowers Against Retaliation.

The basis for these complaints are two-fold.

We represented an African American male student with a disability who was subject to unjust discipline at WMS earlier this year. Attached is the hearing officer decision overturning the discipline that was issued. 

Of critical note, you will see that the hearing officer agreed that Ms. Butler Ginolfi inappropriately substituted sexually charged language into a Notice of Disciplinary Action after failing to conduct a reasonable investigation of allegations against our client. 

Our client was suspended from school for essentially being tall, dark-skinned African American boy who was were he was based upon his status as being a special education student, while trying to defuse a situation created by others. Ms. Butler Ginolfi painted our client as hyper-sexualized and, therefore, a threat to others. She also utterly failed to consider our client’s known learning disabilities when electing to have a security guard take a written statement from him instead of conducting interviews. 

We left both of our grievance meetings with Ms. Butler Ginolfi stunned with the way she spoke about not just our client, but about African American boys and students with disabilities generally. We have a combined over 20 years’ experience as government attorneys, including both being former Seattle Public Schools Senior Assistant General Counsels. We had never heard an administrator speak this way, nor had we encountered such an unjust disciplinary action.

This caused us to question if our client was alone in his experience with Ms. Butler Ginolfi. We made Public Records Act requests of the Seattle Public Schools, some of which have yet to be fulfilled. However, what we have learned to date is stunning. According to the data provided to us, every single suspension that has been issued at WMS this school year has been issued to students of color. This extreme disproportionality is not consistent with prior year's discipline at WMS, when it was not under Ms. Butler Ginolfi’s supervision and is reflected in multiple other areas of protected class status.

This is what we have learned so far from the data provided to us:

• Not a single white student has been suspended this year, in spite of the fact that they are the largest racial/ethnic group represented at WMS (39.2%)

• African American youth are significantly disproportionately represented. They make up about 3 times more of the suspension cases than expected based on their representation in the WMS school population.

• American Indian and/or Pacific Islander youth (the only 2 groups that have less than 10 cases and are thus designated FERPA) are also significantly disproportionately represented. They make up about 28 times more of the suspension cases than expected based on their representation in the WMS school population.

• Male youth are significantly disproportionately represented. They make up about 1.4 times more of the suspension cases than expected base on their representation in the WMS school population.

• Special education youth are significantly disproportionately represented. They make up about 3.6 times more of the suspension cases than expected based on their representation in the WMS school population.

• Just under one out of every three suspension cases involved a black male youth designated special education.

We ask you to take swift action to investigate these complaints. We believe that with receipt of this email and the attached, Superintendent Juneau has sufficient reliable information to believe that Ms. Butler Ginolfi has committed an act of unprofessional conduct and should make a report to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction pursuant to WAC 181-86-110 and we ask her to do the same.

We also ask you to consider placing Ms. Butler Ginolfi on administrative leave while investigating these complaints, as every single day that passes is another day where Ms. Butler Ginolfi's actions and inactions are harming WMS students because of their status as protected class members.

Best regards, --

Shannon M. McMinimee and Chris Williams

Partners, Cedar Law PLLC


Anonymous said…
Good to see McMinimee and Williams on the side of the angels, as their time in SPS was a reign of terror for our students and families, whom they treated with arrogance and disdain out of hand. That was SPS Legal.

And so sad for this vulnerable student whose exploitation at WMS was not immediately rectified when Pritchett and others were first notified. When is this ever going to result in action against this do nothing Executive Director. Take note SPS Board. Take note CAO and Superintendent. You have a lot of managers doing nothing but giving you reassuring powerpoints.

Pissed off reader

Anonymous said…
@ Pissed off
Remember 10 years ago or so when 30 students of color were suspended from McClure middle? That was under Pritchett. This behavior at Washington was 100% out of her playbook when she was principal at McClure. I feel like I could have written this letter for any number of students that attended McClure under her.
Outta Seattle
Civil Rights said…
Thank you to the student who stood up against this treatment. And thank you to the participants of the 504 Sit-In who helped make Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act happen.
Anonymous said…
504 violations just don't happen to black students. Are there open investigations by the USDE OCR into SPS? Yes there are.

Remember Ms.Schmidt, how is her replacement handling this case and the other open cases?

504 MA
Anonymous said…
Maybe we could see the facts and just not focus on color. This is one of the reasons we need cameras in every classroom. Teachers always get blamed when black students get out of control then get suspended. Were there the same amount of white students exhibiting the same behavior that led to the black student suspensions?

Just facts
Anonymous said…
Another day another south end uproar. I would vote to split this district into 2.

--Split NOW
Anonymous said…
@Just facts, are you really suggesting that white kids never do the sort of thing that black kids do to get suspended? I find that hard to believe, and according to the letter, that's not consistent with disciplinary stats for prior years at WMS, either.

You said: Teachers always get blamed when black students get out of control then get suspended. Were there the same amount of white students exhibiting the same behavior that led to the black student suspensions?

Even if the "same behaviors" are not happening at the "same amount," it's pretty hard to imagine that they aren't happening at all, which is what the current year's data would lead one to believe.

As evidenced by many of her publicly known decisions this year, Ms. Butler Ginolfi clearly has no problem making sweeping changes based on her biases and notions of what broad categories of students, in her mind, need. It would not surprise me at all if her approach to discipline were also influenced by stereotypes. It's also possible that her interactions within the school community may have created an environment in which students of color feel more targeted and thus act our more; and/or an environment in which teachers' conscious/unconscious biases go more unchecked. I have no direct knowledge of what's going on there, but if there's a significant increase in disparities from what's happened in prior years re: disciplinary statistics, it would seem much more likely that it stems from the administration, rather than that white kids have suddenly started all behaving better than ever.

Anonymous said…
agreed onlooker.

no caps
Anonymous said…
So what did the current school board due to stop this type of suspensions? Zero!

No thanks to Leslie Harris SPS board president.She's a big big NO!

Clean slate
Anonymous said…
At WMS: What did Juneau know and when did she know it?

On Amplify: What did Juneau know and when did she know it?

Our superintendent may still harbor dreams of becoming Education Secretary in 2021 if Democrats defeat Trump. But she may want to focus more on keeping her job as the scandals pile up.

Carl B.
Clean Slate (who I suspect is one person using different names), the Board cannot tell the Superintendent how to handle this kind of action. They can tell the Superintendent their understanding about suspensions. They can tell the Superintendent this kind of treatment of a student by a principal is not desirable. The Superintendent has to act.

Carl B., I would say that Juneau might not be the first superintendent to find how hard it is to turn the tanker that is SPS. But she certainly will be trying with a smile and cheery tweet as it seems to be her style.
Anonymous said…
...on splitting the District, here's what is happening in Baton Rouge.

Racist intent.

Mississippi said…
Baton Rouge just isn't very comparable to Seattle. Their median household income is about $60k less than ours. Over 90% of their students speak English only. Both East and West Baton Rouge school districts are essentially all black and white students with almost no students who are hispanic, asian, native american, pacific islander or more than two races. There's only 1% mixed race kids in both East and West Baton Rouge! Both East and West Baton Rouge school districts are essentially all black and white kids. No matter how you divided SPS up that would never be the case. We're way, way more diverse and less poor.

The only school districts in King County that have more than 75% nonwhite students are Green Dot Public Schools Rainier Valley, Tukwila Public Schools, Rainier Prep Charter School District, and Highline Public Schools.

Is there a racist intent with Green Dot Rainier Valley and Rainier Prep Charter School District? They split from SPS and don't have the same demographics that we do, so maybe? But maybe it's just targeted marketing. Or a reflection of families feeling frustrated that the schools aren't listening to them.

If we want to look at just black and white here (like Baton Rouge), just for example, here are the top 15 school districts with the highest percentages of black students in the whole state:
1. Green Dot Public Schools Rainier Valley
2. Green Dot Public Schools Excel
3. Summit Public School: Sierra
4. Rainier Prep Charter School District
5. SOAR Academy Charter District
6. Summit Public School: Atlas
7. Green Dot Public Schools Destiny
8. Tukwila School District
9. Summit Public School: Olympus
10. Tacoma School District
11. Renton School District
12. Seattle Public Schools
13. Highline School District
14. Federal Way School District
15. Clover Park School District

Seattle's not even in the top 10. So many other districts in the state just seem less corrupt and inept than ours and they're all smaller than ours. People aren't crazy to wonder if maybe our size feeds our district's corruption and dysfunction and inability to obey laws. Maybe a smaller district wouldn't make people FOIA every last thing. Maybe a smaller district would hold meetings closer to where people live. Maybe it would prepare students for the kinds of jobs that are going to be plentiful in 10 years or 20 years. Maybe meeting agenda materials could be less than 800 pages long in a smaller district.

Mississippi, you are conflating a lot of things that don't really go together.

While charter schools in WA state are their own districts, to call them "districts' is a stretch. Even with Green Dot's three, it's not a big district.

Also, I'm not sure that anyone is saying that Seattle Schools has mostly majority minority schools; it's not a surprise that Highline would have many more minority students.

Why are more families of color choosing charters? There are many reasons. One is that charters are heavily marketed to families of color because charters know there is likely more dissatisfaction in those communities. Two, it makes people feel empowered when they get to make a choice. That said, Seattle does have some degree of choice in every single region.

The size of the district isn't really related to its dysfunction, in my opinion. I think it is the north/south divide on the populations of schools in the north and in the south (although the northern border of Seattle creates many more schools with larger minority populations). I don't think smaller districts create more opportunities.

It's all in who runs them, how they run them, their transparency and their family engagement.
Anonymous said…
? Who tells the board what they can do and what they can't do? What you're tell us is it's that rigged against the students!!!! Why have a board if they can't invoke authority when a student's civil rights are being violated. We don't need more civil rights law suits that cost they district class room funding!

We do not need another rubber stamping board, we need direct action in cases like violating students civil rights.

You call it micro managing I call it oversight!

OMG, I never use the term "micro-managing" - that would be the Seattle Times.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said…
Who hired this principal? Any accountability for their negligent actions? The
job history of Ginolfi should have revealed the b.s. and worse.

Dull Moment
Anonymous said…
As a reminder, this principal is STILL AT WMS leading the planning process for the coming year. How can the district not step in?
--WMS parent
Anonymous said…
Holy smokes!!

Literally as in smokes, as in scorched earth policy, as in bonfire! As in burning down the last vestiges of a shot of WMS going into recovery mode. Instead of damage containment— SPS wants to actively EXTEND the maximum amount of damage possible in the shortest amount of time???

Did Sarah Pritchett think this was a great idea: have a fired, oops I mean resigned, employee in charge of planning the next year and ride this one out?

Hands up, how many people running a business would have a separating employee, separated for gross misconduct or incompetence (pick your favorite performance adjective), who has been nothing but destructive and toxic to the enterprise, KEEP THEM ON to KEEP running the show and do the entire strategic plan for the whole next year while her personal countdown clock is ticking loudly?

Does Sarah Pritchett truly hate the students at Washington middle school?

What did they ever do to her?


Popular posts from this blog

Tuesday Open Thread

Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals

COVID Issues Heating up for Seattle Public Schools