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Monday, June 24, 2019

Principals in Seattle Schools - More Troubling News

The Board is scheduled to vote on the principals' contract (PASS) at Wednesday's Board meeting.  Here's the agenda item.  I have not read it but I'm sure it's the airtight instrument it always seems to be.  Also disturbing - it's an Intro/Action BAR so very little time for any public input despite the deep and lasting effects that a principal can have at a school.


Let's take this year's worst example - Emily Butler Ginolfi - the current principal of Washington Middle School.   After her slash and burn style at WMS, which included flipping schedules at the semester break, posting in cafeteria students on detention list (which she denied being okay with but public disclosure docs show otherwise), limiting bathroom time as well as a hearing officer finding she had verbally abused a black Sped student, she is being exited at WMS.  The climate survey for staff found the numbers plummeting.  While the rest of the districts' school staffs said, by 71%, that their school had a "professional culture," just 31% of WMS staff said that.

And yet, she's being allowed to go somewhere else in the district but she has been demoted to being an assistant principal.  Superintendent Juneau sent her a letter dated April 26, 2019 that says (in part):
Your specific assignment for the 2019-2020 school year will be determined once all vacancies for Assistant Principals are known.  Although a precise Assistant Principal assignment cannot be provided at this time, you will be assigned to a position under the PASS Collective Bargaining Agreement......
It ends with:
Thank you for your services as Principal at Washington Middle School this school year and I wish you success in your new assignment.
Now, this doesn't mean Butler Ginolfi will stay in SPS; she might leave.  But if she does stay, I can think of a couple of places she could end up.

Mercer MS is losing their principal and if they promote someone at Mercer to fill that position, that could mean an open AP spot there.  Also, as I previously reported, two of West Seattle High Schools' APs have been busy created a charter high school which as approved by the Washington State Charter Commission this spring, so I suspect they will both be gone.

This is a pity for the next school community but perhaps with supervision, she'll do less damage elsewhere.

I have also heard that Bailey Gatzert Elementary is having principal issues with at at least a few parents giving up and changing schools.  The principal there is Laurie Kazanjian and, apparently, staff voted no confidence in her.  She's a novice principal that SPS chose to put at a Title One school with one of the highest rates of F/RL in the district AND she had allegedly had a previous "no confidence" vote at her prior school where she was an assistant principal.

Apparently many of the families who are unhappy are in the Somali community.  The word was that they were planning a protest but it was not clear when that might happen.

As I have been reflecting over the years I have written the blog, I can say principals and principal placement has been consistently one of the top concerns for parents. 

88 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have always believed that people should be given second chances in their lifetimes, but I have to say - just hearing the possibility of Butler Ginolfi being assigned to another administrative position in SPS (or in any school district) is unacceptable in my mind. Just my opinion.

-Let’s Talk

Anonymous said...

Graham Hill Elementary's Principal Russo is on "sick leave" for the last few weeks of school after a message of no confidence from many teachers to her boss at HQ. It seems unlikely she will return next year as many parents also supported the teachers' action.

This comes as she led the school to no longer offer the Montessori choice program after this year (some of the upper grades may still have it next year but not after). While Montessori is going away for a "One Program" setup, there is not any decision or clear plan on what the one program will be.

The school is Title One and has a highly diverse student body in terms of race, enthnicity, language, and socio-economics.

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Anonymous said...

Can we please get Ruth Medsker back at WSHS and send Brian Vance somewhere else?

Junction Parent

Anonymous said...

That whole WSHS administration needs a change up.


WS parent

Anonymous said...

WS parent, agreed!


Junction Parent

Melissa Westbrook said...

I forgot to add that Oksana Britsova, who was a principal at Center School and at World School, has been sitting out this year while still being paid.

Ed said...

By the looks of the Notice to Employees scheduled for "Superintendents Comments", things haven't been going well at Madrona either but Principal McDaniel seems to be enjoying non-accountability SSD style too!


https://www.seattleschools.org/UserFiles/Servers/Server_543/File/District/Departments/School%20Board/18-19%20agendas/June%2026/128823-U%20Formal%20Compliance%20Notice.pdf

Elsa said...

Let's not forget Dr. Drake who was similarly relieved at Emmerson several years ago and is also still a vice-principal in SPS as well. It's a rotating plate and only seems to end when they go away or retire at home.

Anonymous said...

I don't know a single RESMS parent who is happy with Marni Campbell, who has presided over a massive bullying problem, treating kids and teachers in an authoritarian way, and systematically disdained and undermined Native American education and programs.

Mr. Pilling

Anonymous said...

Wow there are a lot of problems, you would think the school board would be on top of this. Well you would be wrong. They simply don't care and now that they are all short timers I would not expect much of anything out of the lot.

President Mack are you listening? Harris you are now McLaren and need to move on.

Mr. POed

Certifiable said...

At least two recent SPS principal hires also had only 0.3 years of certificated teaching experience. Shouldn't there be a requirement that principals have teaching experience?

Anonymous said...

Please add the following to bad principal list:
-Aida Fraser-Hammmer, who has been reported to her boss Dr Pritchett several times by parents that have no confidence or have made the decision to leave Chief Sealth. Also, last time I checked she had three grievances pending.
Miss Apatos

Anonymous said...

So glad to see WS peeps active here. Word in the Junctions is that both high schools need new and visionary leadership - both Fraser-Hammer and Vance have either grievances or legal claims pending at their respective schools under their tenure. Many of us are also not happy with Harris.

Morgan Junction

not Butler Ginolfi said...

NOOOOOOO! Butler Ginolfi should be fired!!! This is the message about social studies changing at WMS - VS - JAMS. The whole idea that this makes sense is certainly open to debate but when one is talking about beautiful diversity and the other is talking about racial segregation leaders should take action.

A Message from the Social Studies Teachers: The Social Studies Department invites you to learn more about the integration of Social Studies Classes for the 2019-20 school year. We are hosting an evening event on June 20th, 6 pm to share our vision.

It has become increasingly apparent that the segregation of students in Social Studies based on the academic services they receive is neither sustainable nor the right thing to do, especially because it has racially segregated our students and school community. Social Studies teachers have committed to integrating all three grade levels for the 2019-20 school year in order to support one another in this process.

We know that there will be new and different challenges for ourselves, our students, the WMS community, and families; however, we are ready to step up to this challenge because we believe it is what is best for our students, our classes, our families, and the whole community.More information about this change will be shared at a community meeting in the WMS Library on June 20th at 6 pm. Our goal with this change is that WMS become part of a consistent experience that can address long-simmering segregation issues while providing new approaches to Social Studies rigor for everyone. Please join us on June 20th, 2019 at 6 pm in the WMS Library to learn more.

Thank you, Washington Middle School Social Studies Department

---------------------

Now how a real administrator does it.

The educators at Jane Addams are committed to take one step ahead in preparing all students for a rigorous learning experience in a diverse and inclusive setting. Currently, Social Studies classes at JAMS are offered by program with General Ed and HCC students experiencing social studies learning in separate classrooms. Beginning during the 2019-2020 school year, Social Studies classes will be fully inclusive with class makeup representing the beautiful diversity that is Jane Addams. Social Studies educators have worked this spring to create plans that include a shift in teaching, assessment, and student learning. We are looking forward to the experience that this will provide for our young people. Come to an information session at 7:00pm next Wednesday, June 12, in the JAMS library, to learn more.

NBG - 6

Anonymous said...

Imagine being a teacher in a school that has been designated as "highly capable" but mostly excludes black, Hispanic, and Pacific Islanders.

This two-tiered system within a building is actually segregation.

MW like to play it likes she's woke.

ButShe Ain't

Anonymous said...

BTW NBG-6:

A rose by any other name and all that.

They are both saying the same thing!

Segregation sucks, especially in classes like SS where students, in real time, can learn actual social studies from each other.

Who really cares which letter was more P.R. savvy? The teachers are making a plaintive plea and they're tired of being participants in immortality.

Bubble Much?

#s said...

This current school year, 174 students of color are receiving AL or HC services at Washington. And 229 students of color are not receiving AL or HC services.

Segregation is not the right word for that.

Anonymous said...
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Jet City mom said...

I’d like to see the district grow their own principals.
We should also be growing our own superintendents.
If we had a healthy culture.
My experience was that we had an interim principal who was new to the state, but moved here to be closer to an adult child.

The superintendent came to the PTA and pledged that if we allowed the interim, and it didn’t work, he would implement a national search.

Well, if we were honest we knew that wasn’t going to happen, but still we thought we could give it ago.

Fit was awful, they tried (& mostly succeeded) at removing long-standing programs that were important to the community despite being an interim.
Did not have good relationship with pta , blew off planned meetings.

We did not choose to rehire, citing it just wasn’t good fit, but even that got their back up, and they gloated to our face that the principal union would find them a position elsewhere.
I believe they were moved to administration in Stanford build.

Principals make all the difference, we should be choosing them carefully.

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Unknown said...

It is about time that principals at SPS are taken to account because otherwise not only students and their parents will suffer. Another category: volunteers are at the mercy of rogue principals. I have been a volunteer in 4 different schools over a period of 16 years with not a single complaint but a whole bunch of kudos. For the last 3 years I have been a victim of the the last two principals at Olympic View. Melissa was kind enough to respond to a public testimony I gave to the school board last year. The current principal filed a petition to the King County District Court that was full of accusations, not a single one true, claiminng I was harassing him. He withdrew it before a hearing probably due to someone in the SPS administration shocked by his audacity and malice. Its time for volunteers who really care about the students organize into a protective organization. I'm ready to lead.

Anonymous said...

With so many principle problems in the district it would be good to keep this thread on the topic of principles and the more information that can be shared in public to better off we'll be in trying to bring about some responsibility on the part of the district to deal with these matter.

Fat chance

Post McCleary said...

The new principal contract will cost taxpayers $5 MILLION dollars. Forget about programs and counselors. Some principals deserve a raise, but not all.

Anonymous said...

Too many principals are on power trips.

Too many are on a ruthless fast track and more than a few have inadequate teaching experience.

The are fronting as "instructional leaders" but often resent the actual teachers who have developed expertise through commitment and experience.

Pathetic

Anonymous said...

No 911 I was referring to the fact you don't want your wife to beat you in the polls. How sick are you? Get your head in the game man. You have your best chance to kill HCC if you get elected... of course Michael Tolley, Wyeth Jesse and Kari Hanson have been working to do that now for several years so... Guess you could just stay at home.

I also love the fact that the equity warriors like fwiw and Devin Bruckner like to forget the fact that it is not segregation when you have these numbers: "This current school year, 174 students of color are receiving AL or HC services at Washington. And 229 students of color are not receiving AL or HC services." Thanks #s. Unfortunately I haven't verified them but if it is even 10% of that the ceiling-droppers are not allowing black students to learn to keep hcc kids back so they aren't pushing the bell curve away from those struggling with life and school.

You cried wolf and

WolfpoopedINMOUTH

Anonymous said...

To be fair, leading a school is a tough job. There are so many skill sets that 1 person must possess, that it's almost set up for failure. I've worked with several principals, some OK, a few terrible (sexual harassment, misusing school funds) and 1 fantastic-Phil Brockman; but even he had flaws. This is not to defend the truly terrible leaders (Emily Butler sounds like one), but to point out that it is probably asking too much for 1 person to please all of the parties involved (parents, students, staff, etc). Is one group of primary importance? I would say staff, but others would disagree. Happy almost end of school! -TeacherMom

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, so what are the issues with Vance at WSHS? I worked with him at Roosevelt and I thought him effective (but that was a PTA/parent POV).

ButSheAin't, you are factual wrong. HCC policy does not allow excluding anyone. That program is open to all. That it has played out poorly in some schools doesn't make it the problem but those who allow that. As well, John Stanford said that it should not be placed within another school and yet no one listened.

TeacherMom, you are absolutely right; many hats for a principal to wear. Some are better than others at some tasks. I recall an early elementary principal we had who pointed this out to me. I would say instructional leader, budget guru and engager-in-chief with families are the most important ones.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Sorry, I meant "factually."

Anonymous said...

@Teacher Mom, While I agree "it is probably asking too much for 1 person to please all of the parties involved (parents, students, staff, etc)," I do not think one group is of primary importance.

To me, the job of principal is to be able to navigate the difficult job of leading a school in a way that does please all three groups--not all parties in each group, but each group, in general. Yes, there will always be some individuals who don't like your approach, but, for the most part, your job is to find a way that works best with the tools--and various groups--you have. Transparency can often do wonders, even if there are unpopular decisions to be made. If parents, students, and staff can all see that you are generally working on everyone's behalf, they'll be more accepting of decisions they might not like.

HF

Anonymous said...

https://www.kuow.org/stories/war-zone-how-bailey-gatzert-elementary-in-seattle-devolved-into-chaos

Anonymous said...

@HF, I could not agree with you more about transparency doing "wonders." My son's middle school principal isn't at a Butler Ginolfi -level of terrible, but she actively discourages parental involvement/input, eschews open communication with the school community, and hangs out in her office with the door closed most days. This lack of transparency sets everyone up for an adversarial relationship - she seems constantly defensive about her decisions, and nobody trusts her motivations. It just doesn't have to be this way. Where is the community outreach training in education leadership programs?

Also, I just heard a piece about Bailey-Gatzert on NPR. Sounds like a terrible and unsafe situation for the students. The staff voted "no confidence" in the principal this year - that's at least twice for this particular individual. Not a good track record, SPS.

Think different(ly)

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Maybe the parents could gain control of their children at Bailey-Gatzert-elementary or the staff? Oh wait it's illegal in the eyes of SJWs to discipline children of color.

Well good luck with that!

Ben S.

Anonymous said...

Right BubbleMuch, right! How much gifted handholding does the district actually need to do? There’s no such thing as “really gifted in social studies” and no reason to maintain the gifted pity party. There’s a reason the district doesn’t listen to parents. They show themselves to be bullies.

Another Reader

Anonymous said...

It is SHOCKING to me that no one is talking about how Dr. Wiley of Franklin High School was finally removed after a 16 year reign of terror at the semester and "was on medical leave" and Franklin just received the official notice that she will not be returning to Franklin or SPS because of her actions!

Signed,
FREE!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful that the gifted program I was in as a child had its own building. It drew from the entire city and was the only school I went to that had real diversity.

HP

Anonymous said...

OMG another Sarah Pritchett leadership fiasco that resulted in harm to our students. Wiley was SUPER EMPOWERED under Pritchett. It's always Pritchett, wherever you find dysfunction you find Pritchett. When will Prichett be forced on to "sick leave"?

quaker

Anonymous said...

Dr. Wiley had been Franklin's dirty little secret for years. It finally took an absolute scandal and SPS bringing in a consultant who interviewed everyone on staff before they could get her out and Pritchett just acted like she didn't even know there was a problem! We had over 10 years of staff climate survey data that showed else wise.

FHS

Melissa Westbrook said...

Okay, "reign of terror?" And yet she was there for a long time? Rather than hyperventilate, tell us what the issues were.

Ah, I see FHS had some more detail. I'm pretty surprised because I thought Franklin (and Wiley) were doing well.

Quaker, do watch out with pointing out the issues - the many,many issues - of that particular ED. (I'll note that I have criticized all of them at one time or another but SP seems to have more troubled schools than most.) If you want to criticize anyone, it should be Mike Starosky. He oversees all of them.

Anonymous said...

Agree, Melissa. Nobody really knows what Starosky does or who he answers to. Many at WMS tried to get him to help when Prichett would not, on that situation ... to no avail. It is obvious that he has no supervisory authority and that all he does is manage paperwork for the education directors, whose satisfaction with him is his job security. By now we have to wonder why Juneau is not cleaning that house.

Another Quaker

Elsa said...

Melissa

Longtime reader and supporter but still wonder how issues such as those at Franklin can get reported to you when posts that "go to" such issues get regularly deleted?

How would issues such as "dating" between administrators, administrator/teacher "dating" and even administrator/classified employee "dating" would even get past you deletions?

THAT'S how these things escape notice so long that virtually no rules, policies or laws remain unbroken.

Culture of Lawlessness has grown every year you have been doing this blog.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Elsa, I'm sure you didn't mean to infer that I have something to do with the culture of lawlessness in this district. Because I have called out a lot that otherwise no one would know about.

I prefer if people directly contact me AND give me their name. I am loath to print somethings (like dating) without that. As you say, it's not against the law or district policies. That it may make life at a school more difficult, well, that's another issue.

Elsa said...

Here's one for you: the former Franklin principal now works at Stand for Children according to her Facebbok page.

Nice, huh?

Why didn't we see THAT coming?

Elsa said...

Melissa

You "infer"/ I "imply".

But no, I was just saying it's downward descent has increased.

Sorry.

Fed up said...

Need to add the principal at Meany as barely competent. The 8th grade had to endure a full year sub in math who was accused of innapropriate touching, racial bias, refusal to grade students papers or enter grades, verbally assaulting kids. There were dozens and dozens of parents who complained to principal Oatis and she would answer no ones emails, return no ones phone calls. She had 4 or 5 parents removed from the school who finally went in to speak with her.
50 students were recieving an E in math because they all didn't do their work.
Complaints were lodged with Pritchard and the Ombudsman all year long and nothing. Parents started to take kids out of Meany and nothing was being done.
It took a meeting with Pritchards boss with attorneys present for them to offer a pass/ fail for all of the students.
No reprimand or training for Oatis. Nothing.
Again it's a Pritchard issue. Why is it she is behind at least a dozen problematic principals. I can remember Kelly Archer at Stevens and Colman Stump at Lowell. On and on and on, Pritchard needs to be removed.

Anonymous said...

Fed up proves the rotation theory once more! Principal Oatis had many issues during her short tenure at Alki Elementary as well.


Musical Chairs

Melissa Westbrook said...

Elsa, I did follow up on Wiley at Franklin from someone in the know.

Readers, it is alleged that the principal dated quite a few members of her teachers and staff which, of course, is neither illegal nor does it violate Board policy. Does it violate any PASS contract items? I don't know but best practices in business certainly suggest that anyone in leadership should not fraternize with those that work under them.

Again,I am mystified at how much power principals have AND how much they can get away with.

And, as always, still don't get the role of Executive Directors.

Anonymous said...

Has anybody gotten Juneau to speak to the issue of executive directors, what her expectations are, whether there is a vision?

Land of Oz

Anonymous said...

Melissa,
You asked about Vance. He may have done well at Roosevelt, but WSHS does not seem to be a good fit, especially after the generally positive tenure of Ruth Medsker who seemed to bring the school back from the abyss. Lacks basic people skills, is a poor public speaker and does not exude the confidence of a leader and seems awkward around students and parents. The two APs who are leaving to form a charter school do not have a good working relationship with him I have been told; many parents have complained he does not follow up and ignores their issues; some parents with students of color at the school claim he does not get the issue of institutional racism and has no idea how to address it; has not adequately supervised the athletic department, the AD or the AP who does, and we now have the issue of a coach facing criminal charges at the school, and on and on. These are some of the issues I have heard around WS after talking to folks and witnessing some it firsthand.

WS Parent

Anonymous said...

WS Parent, good list but it is incomplete: Vance's grasp of special education is quite limited. This was also the case at Roosevelt.

Junction parent

Anonymous said...

Yes, Junction Parent, a very important addition that I have heard as well.

WS Parent

Anonymous said...

I have had positive experiences with Brian Vance and have sat with him to discuss some heavy issues like drug and alcohol in and out of school as well as disciplinary action pertaining to students of color. He has always been available to speak and has followed up after our conversations. He does attend most of the PTA meetings and I appreciate that. Last year I witnessed a group of students stealing a case of beer from Safeway. I called the store Manager Alex and he said he would look into the videotapes with Mr Vance so he could ID the students and call their parents. The Safeway Manager mentioned the principal is a good partner.

This is my experience.


YEP

Anonymous said...

Vance was connected with two major issues at RSH related to special ed.

It was ruled by OSPI that RHS under Vance was parking SPED students in studies skills classes and not providing SDI.

RHS under Vance failed to provide SPED services to a student and the parent's grievance process resulted in the largest SPS FERPA violation in SPS history.

SPED Parent

Anonymous said...

"he does not get the issue of institutional racism" like what? Why do people levy these charges but lack any concrete examples of it. So SPS has "institutional racism" ? Prove it.

I'm waiting.

Anonymous said...

The UNIONS wag the dog. I don't understand why parents don't get it.

Re flux

Anonymous said...

Why would Vance leave the most successful high school in SPS?

Wondering

Alsept Teresa said...

There seems to be a lot of animus towards principals here . As far as I can see, it is a rather thankless job in Seattle where there are lots of “ high maintenance parents. Quite frankly, you couldn’t pay me to do the job.

Alsept Teresa said...

There seems to be a lot of animus towards principals here . As far as I can see, it is a rather thankless job in Seattle where there are lots of “ high maintenance parents. Quite frankly, you couldn’t pay me to do the job.

Anonymous said...

Part of the reason for the musical chairs is that being a principal is a really tough job so there isn't a deep pool of potential principals from which to draw. So, the district just recycles principals from building to building.

What training and support exists for principals to get better at what they do? What are executive directors doing to support principal excellence? Meantime, evidently SPS has said "no thanks" to a principal leadership program run by Challenge Seattle: Many other King County districts said "yes please." Why would SPS turn down an opportunity for principals to learn and improve?

Concerned parent

Elsa said...

Melissa:

The PROOF is in the harassing emails (on Franklin).

High school principals in Seattle don't get fired for violating "best practices" or "fraternizing" (culture of lawlessness).

Best idea is letting her abilities shine at Stand with Liv and Lisa M.

They must be proud.

Anonymous said...

It's not clear why Vance left RHS. The dude at Ingraham (Flow) has been there for a long time 10+ years and there is not sign of him leaving anytime soon. RHS is a much better school than WSHS so why would Vance leave RHS for WSHS? More money? $5K bonus place another $4.5K in incentives still would be only around $160k. The extra money might not be worth it unless he wanted to buy a house in WS were they tend to be much less expensive than the RHS area.

Principles make over $150K with incentives if you add-in benefits that makes it one of the primer jobs in Seattle pay wise. They also get 28 days of vacation 2 personal days, 13 holidays and 13 sick days per work year. It's interesting that SPS gives each principle $1.5 million dollars in liability protection. I wonder if that has ever been used? It seems the district always just pay out of it's emergency funds every time there's a settlement.

Just facts

Look for the label said...

I think the issue with principles is that parents expect them to control teachers and that just doesn't happen like it should. Only the union can control teachers unless of coarse there is a violation of criminal law. Both principles and teachers have a first line of defense called a union. So good luck in thinking union members really care what you think of them. They are golden.

Anonymous said...

Brian Vance has been a West Seattle resident for years.
YEP

#s said...

Public school salaries are public record. In "total final salary" the principal Just Facts is wondering about made:
2018-19: $154,875 at WSHS
2017-18: $147,242 at WSHS
2016-17: $150,877 at RHS
2015-16: $145,615 at RHS
2014-15: $137,658 at RHS
2013-14: $136,077 at RHS

The new principal at RHS
2018-19: $158,835 at RHS
2017-18: $147,893 at RHS
2016-17: $135,329 secondary vice principal at RHS
2015-16: $125,764 secondary vice principal at RHS
2014-15: $120,496 secondary vice principal at RHS
2013-14: $115,929 secondary vice principal at RHS

Easy look up here:
http://data.kitsapsun.com/projects/wa-school/district/17001/

Elsa said...

Usually, when an employee is "fired" they lose their email address.

I know someone who got an email from (former?) Franklin principal today.

Bet that comes in handy over at Stand for Children.

She may just be home cashing settlement checks after all.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Elsa, unless you have proof that the Franklin principal was “fired” please do not say that.

That said, if you have that email, I’d like to take a look at it.

Anonymous said...

Wow that's an impressive increase of $42,906 in just 5 years. Not normal in other vocations.

And it looks like they are asking for more this year.

Ouch

Anonymous said...

Is that $154K plus benefits? I know that some reports include the benefits and some don't.

Ouch

Elsa said...

Melissa

When ones Facebook page says: "Works at Stand for Children", I presume it's not just a summer job.

I am equally presuming that the recipient of the harassing emails is preparing for HER settlement.

Anonymous said...

Hey Yep - Admiral Safeway was called out by Nikkita Oliver and others for racially profiling youth of color and stalking them while they shopped. I asked them if they were racially profiling youth of color and the staff I talked to were defensive and oblivious about what that even meant. So, it does not bring me comfort to know that the principal of WSHS and Safeway staff were reviewing tapes of any youth. I wonder how often Vance asked them if they were racially profiling WSHS students of color. My guess is none. I and other parents with children of color, as well as students with IEPs at the school, have compared his written responses to issues implicating both issues and we were shocked that he is unaware that you don't look at intent with respect to issues of institutional discrimination and racism, you look at impact on students. He doesn't know that distinction, and he simply doesn't get it. I don't know what kind of SPS training is required for principals, but some were clearly absent that day.

Dig Deeper

Anonymous said...

@ Dig Deeper,
I happen to be a POC. I have sat with Vance and talk about this very issue. I am wondering how many times you have actually taken the time to go to his office and deal with this. Be part of the solution!
And I will tell you: I am working hard to get the district to make it MANDATORY for principals to take race and equity training. The materials are there. We need the principals to take their bodies there. I am persistent and IT WILL HAPPEN.

YEP

Anonymous said...

@YEP - please don't condescend to me. The work of my life has been anti-racist actions and agitation and social justice and equity work in both K-12 and higher education - I am a change agent who gets sh*t done. I have worked on these issues collaboratively with the former principal, Ruth Medsker, and I have agitated and insisted on policy changes for the Queer community at the SPS District level as well - and, have gotten real results, and change. One thing we do agree on is the mandatory race and equity training for all school leaders, teachers and staff. I can tell you that while it is not perfect in higher ed - they are making real and lasting changes in this regard, and rather deeply, authentically and quickly - not so much in K-12, the dinosaur. I have tried to move these issues at WSHS under the new principal, and I am telling you - he does not get it. Children of color, students with needs and IEPS, queer children, etc. are regularly "othered" at this school, and under this administration - much less so under the previous principal, Medsker as she embraced this work more openly and authentically. No, it is not all Vance, and many teachers and staff are just as guilty, but in the end, Vance is supposed to be the leader, and I truly do not believe he is up to the task of moving a bold race and equity agenda forward at WSHS. From what I gather in this forum, he is a long-term West Seattle resident, and perhaps he simply wanted a gig closer to home, that's OK, but he is not a good fit. I will close with some new information I gathered today while having lunch with a former RHS parent of biracial children - both are now in college. They both left and enrolled in RS as they did not feel welcome or listened to at RHS while Vance was principal. She shared that the culture was very exclusive (privileged) and that there were classroom and behavioral issues that were never addressed by Vance or other school officials. Look at the information provided by SPED Parent above: "largest FERPA violation in SPS history" under Vance at RHS. The pattern continues at WSHS, and I have heard there are other grievances and legal issues at the school as well, and more coming as a result of these new criminal allegations against a coach. All under Vance. So, please, don't disregard the comments here because you had a seemingly productive conversation with this individual. A conversation is fine, and we've all had plenty of those - the proof comes in immediate action that has lasting and creates positive impacts for our children.

Dig Deeper

Alsept Teresa said...

I find it interesting that so many people who talk about social justice seem to have no problem making accusations against others under the cover of anonymity. I don’t know any of these people however, if the statements are true then provide evidence and your name otherwise I tend to treat it like fake news

Anonymous said...

@Dig Deeper
No need to get hot under the collar, it seems to me like we are on the same team except I get you have made no attempt to sit with Brian Vance so you cannot comment on your real interaction with him because there has been none.
I am not disregarding other's experiences, good or bad. I shared my positive experience and if you cannot take that then, that is on you.
Peace.

YEP

Anonymous said...

@Alsept Teresa,

When you say there seems to be a lot of animus towards principals here. As far as I can see, it is a rather thankless job in Seattle where there are lots of 'high maintenance parents', are you intending to suggest that Seattle parents are somehow more demanding than parents elsewhere?

Or maybe the problem is that SPS principals are not as good, or, that JSCEE's procedures and shenanigans and general lawlessness put principals in exceedingly difficult positions. Or maybe it's a chicken-and-egg situation. JSCEE screws up, principals have to try to deal but can't really, so parents get frustrated. Rinse and repeat, and parents are even more frustrated. Potential principals see all this and steer clear, so the principal pool is a little weaker, then JSCEE makes bad hires, problems ensue, parents get more frustrated, etc.

I've been in other districts in other states, and we did not have these same issue. The parents I knew there had just as high expectations--it's just that those expectations were generally met. There is a level of educational bonkers-ness here that is really not typical...and parents--rightfully, in my opinion--react. I guess you could say I was a low-maintenance parent when I was in another district, but now that I'm in SPS I'm a high-maintenance parent. I don't think it's because I've fundamentally changed--I think this district has driven me to it.

For the most part, I don't thing the parents are the problem.

just me

Science Teacher said...

@just me

This is the third district I've worked for, however I will say that I was only at the first two for three years each so I have less experience to speak of.

Comparing all the principals I've worked for, most were good, some not so good, and some very good- just like teachers and other staff I've worked with and just like I imagine it is in most jobs.

I will say that in the past 24 years since I've been teaching, the public (which is of course parents) have become more demanding of what they expect schools to do. Principals are now expected to deal with issues that don't even happen on campus, like cyber-bullying, on Metro, or in the neighborhood.

My comment was really about people making accusations without having to face the person they are accusing. That just seems wrong to me.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Teresa, I agree that some parents can be difficult. But when you have many parents complaining about lack of communication, then the principal needs to step up. All principals should explain to parents when they are available or the best way to give them input.

Science Teacher, I think there are many more asks of both teachers and principals today. I think one reason that some initiative rollouts are slow may not be because teachers and principals don't want them - they just don't know where to put them and how to find time to figure it all out.

Ah the Internet where you can say truly unpleasant things or half-truths or falsehoods without revealing who you are. But I can say that many parents fear retribution from teachers or principals if they do reveal themselves. It's a problem.

In the end, it's about communication.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree that it is all about communication. Principals misbehave. They are allowed to have fiefdoms. Add in incompetent supervisors like Prichett and blase superintendents. This is a leadership problem in Seattle Public Schools.


Reader

Anonymous said...

In those two lines you said it perfectly. No doubt the majority of SPS principals are doing a competent and fair job. But just like there are rogue cops and rogue priests there are a few rogue principals (unfortunately I encountered two of them). The top level administrators at SPS are covering up rather than culling those rogue principals.

Anonymous said...

@Science Teacher,

I agree that the public--not just parents, it's the wider public, including our political system--has become more demanding of what they expect schools to do. I would go further and say that some of these expectations are simply unrealistic, but that's where we are. So yes, being a principal is a hard job, and the expectations may not be realistic.

However, it's not just principals. Teachers have to deal with more issues, too. So do parents. And students. Like the cyber-bullying issue you mentioned, there are many others--such as more diverse attitudes re: LGBTQ youth; online exposure to inappropriate content; increased stress over college admissions; widening income disparities; increased security threats; etc. The world has changed, so naturally the job of principals has changed, too. Things are more complicated for most of us--but that doesn't give principals a pass. It's just a harder job than before in many ways.

Yes, anonymous accusations can be problematic. However, it's not necessarily the case that these individuals have not already spoken with the principal (or whoever it is) that is the subject of their "accusation" (or maybe more appropriately, "criticism"). Often it's only after you feel you've hit a dead end--as an individual, as a parent group, as a school community--that you start going more public with your criticisms. Sometimes it takes that sort of daylight to get traction. And like it or not, there are definitely some parents who fear principals/teachers/staff/administrators will "retaliate" against their child(ren) if they speak out. Additionally, it's important to note that personal conversations with those in charge are often ignored because there's no official record, yet email communications that create an official record are also subject to FOIA requests that often identify families and can expose unwanted personal information. There are very legitimate reasons for a forum that allow for daylighting potential issues. People should obviously not take anonymous (or even name-linked) comments as fact, but sometimes knowing that there's a critical mass of individuals with negative experiences with a particular public servant is essential for building momentum for necessary actions. If that means principals need to be more careful and thoughtful in their conversations, so be it.

just me

Anonymous said...

I've seen three great principals in the district (hopefully there are more):

Chris Morningstar
Ed James (retired - came out of retirement after Chris Morningstar left North Beach Elem)
Martin Floe (Ingraham)

These great principals could teach new principals a lot. Especially about service to parents and students.

-WorkshopMaybe?

Anonymous said...

I would add Phil Brockman to that list (he's up in Sedro-Wooley). -TeacherMom

Ed said...

Teacher mom

I wouldn't.

Anonymous said...

Can someone explain the "biggest FERPA violation in SPS history" thing to me? I cannot find any information and would like to know more. Thank you

Curious

Anonymous said...

Here you go https://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2014/11/seattle-schools-accidental-release-of.html

Fairmount Parent