Mystery Solved of Where Washington Middle School Principal Ended Up

Update: As I can't always keep track of every detail, I am grateful to have sharp readers to remind me.

Butler Ginolfi was supposed to be demoted to an assistant principal.  I have the letter from Juneau that was hand-delivered to her and it clearly states that and makes clear that she will see a smaller paycheck.

Now I have to believe that going from a principal of a middle school to a principal of an elementary school would see a smaller paycheck but the point is, she isn't in the position that the letter states she will be.

Very troubling.

end of update

Dear Licton Springs K-8 community,
I am pleased to announce that Mrs. Emily Butler Ginolfi has been appointed as the new principal of Licton Springs K-8, replacing Principal Allphin who has chosen to return to classroom teaching this fall. 

Mrs. Butler Ginolfi brings a deep commitment to serving students and families furthest from educational justice.  She was chosen for her love of students, her passion and career-long commitment to being an advocate for social and racial justice, her ability as an instructional leader to get results for students, and her strong building management skills.  

Mrs. Butler Ginolfi brings her experience of working with teachers to improve access and results for students, and is an advocate for her students, staff, and community.  She is excited to engage with families, staff, students, and the community of Licton Springs as the work continues to clarify your vision and mission.

Principal Butler Ginolfi most recently served as the principal of Washington Middle School, which experienced a 49% reduction in out of school suspensions under her leadership, including a 50% reduction for African American students and a 23% reduction for students receiving special education services. She also worked collaboratively with the school community to develop a master schedule for 2019-20 that, for the first time, ensured all incoming students may participate in the school’s storied music program and that provides 90%+ of eighth graders with a world language high school credit attempt.  Prior to serving at Washington, she was the principal at George Washington Community High School, a turnaround, title I, middle/high school in Indianapolis Public Schools. Mrs. Butler Ginolfi previously served in Baltimore City Public Schools as an assistant principal, building literacy leader, teacher, and central office administrator, and as the director of planning and performance in the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in the District of Columbia. Mrs. Butler Ginolfi’s experience has centered around developing staff and school environments to improve academic outcomes for all students.

Mrs. Butler Ginolfi holds a Bachelor of Science with a double major in Social Policy and English from Northwestern University; Master of Science in Education from Johns Hopkins University; and Master of Science in Education with a concentration on Organization and Leadership from Columbia University.

Thank you to Principal Allphin for her leadership at Licton Springs. Principal Butler Ginolfi is committed to building on the strong improvements that have been made the last two years. Principal Butler Ginolfi’s first day is today and is looking forward to seeing students and families at the start of the school year.

Please join me in welcoming Principal Butler Ginolfi to Licton Springs K-8!


Bye, bye Licton Springs K-8.
Anonymous said…
SPS is deploying their weaponized principal to destroy a school and its students. Heartbreaking, stomach turning, deplorable, tragic and evil.

Anon today
Anonymous said…
This is insane. What do you have to do to get fired as a principal in this district?!?!?!

Outta here
Anonymous said…
I'll bet she could shoot someone in the middle of Rainier Avenue and still not be fired.

This is just incredible to me. We are relative newbies, two years in now, and I want to support SPS I really do, but even a booster like me is losing heart in the face of so much gross malpractice.

Superintendent Juneau is certainly setting many things in motion. How many plates can she balance at one time? Time will tell.

It certainly does feel like change is coming - wide-spread, vast change.
Anonymous said…
Wow. They failed to mention the public humiliation of African American students during lunch. So much for educational justice. That strategic plan is a joke.

Sorry LSK8
Watching said…
We are heading into a very dark period. The district hasn't been in this bad of shape for many years.

Committee Meetings said…
Committee reports haven't been updated since May.

Melissa's blog is the source of the best information. No one can take Melissa's history and knowledge of the district away.
suep. said…
This is unconscionable. It amounts to malpractice on the part of the superintendent and whichever staff arranged this assignment. Butler Ginolfi nearly destroyed Washington Middle School with her dysfunctional ways, and had a similar record at her previous school in Indianapolis.

A third of George Washington High School's teachers won't return

Typically, when an SPS principal fails this seriously, s/he is at minimum demoted to assistant principal at another school, and under a more able principal. Or else the principal is parked in central admin, out of schools entirely. But to reward such destructive behavior by putting this person in charge of another school, a vulnerable one at that, can only mean sabotage and/or a total disregard for families, students and teachers at Licton Springs.

This looks like the district's poison pill to kill Licton Springs/AS-1/Pinehurst once and for all. That in turn is likely the district's way of 'solving' the capacity issues in the Eagle Staff/Licton Springs building, making more room for REMS.

The Board should not permit this disastrous assignment to happen.

In case anyone has forgotten, some examples of Ginolfi Butler's 'leadership' at WMS:

‘Up there to humiliate:’ Seattle school’s detention list sparks debate about shaming

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

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.
suep. said…

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
Ed said…

Bravo, you hit it RIGHT ON THE HEAD.

Can Silas Potter be far behind?

Absolutely outrageous and by careless design.
Anonymous said…
Just another piece of evidence that leadership in this district is incompetent and out of touch with what families, students and staff need.
I had hoped Juneau would hit the reset button and clear out Starosky, Joung and Pritchett, who are grossly incompetent and destructive, but she hasn't. Look back at their climate surveys as principals and you'll understand why this crew is tearing down communities with their inability to hire great principals or coach them toward success once they're leading a school.
Allphin is a talented educator and leader who worked to build relationships with her families, staff and students. And she's yet another talented leader who has been burned out by SPS leadership. She is the second great, emotionally intelligent principal I've heard of who is leaving her post - a true loss for our educators and kids. SPS leadership made every single thing more difficult for that school.
Big shuffle of weak principals at Thornton Creek and Cedar Park, too. Despite my optimism and high hopes, Juneau's proving she isn't up to the task of holding her highest staff accountable to do good work in schools. SPS will just continue to recycle the flotsam and jetsam floating around and lacks the courage to clean house and bring in some new talent.
I agree, good bye Licton Springs.

Anonymous said…
This is a declaration of war against not only Licton Springs K-8, not just an escalation of Juneau‘s war against Native American education (started by her attack on UNEA) but a huge fuck you to the entire district - parents, teachers, and students. It shows Juneau really does not care at all what the public thinks or believes. She is operating without accountability or oversight. We need our school board members and candidates to step up and make it clear this is unacceptable and tell us what they will do not only to get this principal out of SPS but to rein in Juneau and take this district back from her misrule.

Near Aurora
Anonymous said…
This is infuriating. When I told a teacher friend in Montana about Juneau, she said "You're so lucky. She's fantastic." I had high hopes, but I have not been impressed. Can the community do anything at this point? And, Melissa, not to make you feel guilty, but PLEASE don't walk away from writing about Seattle Schools-we need you! -TeacherMom
Anonymous said…
Disillusioned... as a Cedar Park parent I was frustrated to see a strong leader like Ouellette reassigned...Not sure where you get your label "weak".

During his tenure Cedar Park steadily grew and tripled in size while remaining stable (operationally and climate), maintained a diverse student population for an option school through intentional outreach, and produced strong student outcomes comparable with many established SPS neighborhood schools. He supported and co-designed with families an art docent program that focused on elevating artists of color and diverse perspectives for students, an enrichment for all program embedded in the school day, and brought a laser focus to literacy outcomes for all students through strong implantation of the new CCC curriculum.

He wasn't perfect (but what principal is)... But as a parent I will miss his leadership, transparent communicatoion, and vision.

- CP Parent
Anonymous said…
ugh. juneau is terrible. and the propaganda email. any decrease in discipline rates are probably due to decreased students.

juneau reminds me of dewlof and geary with a constant gaze to what is their next position superceding what needs to be done.

no caps
Anonymous said…
I should have been clear that Juneau reassigned Ouellette to Thornton Creek. I wanted to join in on the petition to return him to CP... Don't know what happened with that?

-CP Parent
Anonymous said…
CP Parent, I appreciate your perspective as a parent and am sorry you're losing a building leader you feel was a good fit for the school. I stand corrected. My information on Oullette is from staff and parents at Blaine and Wedgewood, so perhaps Ouelette has found the right match in CP. All the more reason to be frustrated he was reassigned because the Thornton Creek principal was a complete misfit for that community and should have served as an AP somewhere to bolster his leadership skills instead of being moved to CP. Good luck with him.

- Disillusioned
Watching said…
Thanks for noticing, Ed.

I'll add the new science scope and sequence to my list of concerns. Feels like Every Day math-all over- again.
"We need our school board members and candidates to step up and make it clear this is unacceptable and tell us what they will do not only to get this principal out of SPS but to rein in Juneau and take this district back from her misrule."

So I agree with part of this. The current Board needs to not only talk to Juneau about all this change (still waiting for that org chart)but about the WMS principal. Juneau picks what? The smallest school population on the theory of least damage to fewest kids? Still not acceptable. (And boy, I want to see the clash of the Titans with her and Marni Campbell at RESMS.)

The Board should tell the Superintendent - and I hate doing it but yes, it should be done for the good of the district - to buy out the principal's contract and sent her packing. It'll cost but the damage she did to kids at WMS should be the red flag that makes this move necessary. The Board can't tell the Superintendent how to manage but they can say the evidence shows this principal is not someone that should be in SPS. The district should have some standards.

The current Board needs to - in their final months together - be a united front in demanding explanations on the direction of the district. No, "look at the Strategic Plan" because I think there's some secret strategic plan in a locked drawer in Juneau's desk that problem five people at JSCEE have seen.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, I don't really understand what the Board thinks is their job. Are they Juneau's employees? They act like her employees. If they were doing their job and letting her know the bottom line, this principal assignment would have been a nonstarter.

Anonymous said…
Well, this was probably intentional. Right, a clash of Titans. Ginolfi successfully dismantled big chunks of HCC, which got her high marks downtown despite a few ruffled feathers. Now she’s poised to fix the same problem at LS. HCC is the pariah at that complex, hogging resources, demanding their fair share no matter what it costs any other kid. The previous LS principal was a confused absent nonactor. Ginolfi can probably work wonders where the last one failed.

Disillusioned said…
Is this incompetence or malice? The district is being so passive aggressive and with almost no transparency where there should be complete transparency. This is a public school district we're talking about.

Both Washington MS and Licton Springs K8 educate some of the most vulnerable kids in the district. Whatever the plan is... to close the schools or drastically change their boundaries or redesign them, why is this the way of going about it?????

Meanwhile, you have families like the one featured in this KUOW story:
getting counseling paid for by the Gates Foundation and housing vouchers paid for by the federal government and deciding to move across town and send a child to Licton Springs???!!! Really? This mom is the one who has to deal with this principal? Shame on you, Denise Juneau.

You know where this principal should be going? For equity's sake, if we're going to keep employing her in Seattle, this principal ought to be going to Alki or Coe or Hay or Bryant or View Ridge or Lawton. Juneau, look at the Great Schools rating, and send this principal to one of the highest scoring schools. That would be equity.
Anonymous said…
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Anonymous said…
And here we thought there was no institutional memory down at the JSC.

But it looks like they have the playbook from 2007. Let’s see “undermine then close Summit K-12”, “adopt EDM with fidelity of implementation to protect from bad teachers”, “ Give student data to corporate ed companies like to use as assets without parental permission”.

Punishing UNEA & Licton Springs is heartless and inequitable.

-HS Parent
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Anonymous said…
Licton Springs k-8 has 30% students with IEPs & majority students of color. Where are our equity warriors who have been so active this summer attacking people on social media? Why aren't they going to bat for Licton Springs?

Here is a school that desperately needs someone to defend it from a principal who is on record for discrimination against a black special ed student. Falsely branding the student for sexual motivations & punishing the student for a disability.

Licton Springs has 12% native population. This principal has a record of excluding native students for discipline at 28 times the average rate at WMS.

Where are the voices for equity now? Crickets.

-sped parent
Readers, please stay on topic. Comments were deleted for not doing so.
Anonymous said…
There are two "Disillusioned" readers here - I'm the first one and will sign at the bottom of my comment.

Melissa, she will earn less as an elementary principal, but you're right, that's not the point. The principal has the power to make decisions that impact program, schedule and staffing. Being an AP with a strong principal would allow B-G to strengthen some of her glaring weaknesses- how she disciplines students, how she works with families and staff, how she executes a vision in a school.
I think SPS is struggling to hire right now. It pays admin far less than surrounding districts and has a regional (Northwest, not Puget Sound) reputation for toxic, incompetent leadership at central office and zero support for building administrators to do what's best for their school community. The recent efforts to eradicate unique programs and top-down force a scripted, mind-numbing literacy curriculum like CCC are just part of the misguided program to serve children of color by making everything equally bad in every school. Stronger central leadership would have a creative vision of excellence that met the needs of kids in collaboration with educators and families instead of this beligerent tendency to identify what works for strong students and then tear it down because it's "inequitable."
Either B-G threatened to sue and they had to make a lateral move or they're scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of admin staff. With low pay, poor district leadership, building level staff fighting heroically to afford the cost of living and take care of each other and their students and families and the looming threat of another strike, my hunch is they needed a warm body in that principal seat. The likelihood she'll drive families away and allow them to close down an expensive k-8 option school and free up that space for neighboring programs is just a bonus.

- Disillusioned
Anonymous said…
So this principal is in a position in which she has no options, as no other are districts will hire her. If she wants to keep her job, she needs to follow commands and do exactly what she's told. She is in no position to advocate or agitate for her school. She's just what Juneau needs in this obvious attempt to remove the Native focus, upend the school, create enough drama to scare families away, and set it up for failure so in a few years they can blame the school's poor performance and low enrollment as the reason for its inevitable closure.

Make no mistake that SPS is taking a strategy right out of Big Politics playbook: Just hit them over and over with overwhelm. In just 2 short months here's what Juneau has done:
- Confirm intent to move LSK8
- Confirm intention to remove Native focus from LSK8
- End the UNEA partnership after more than a decade of publicly acknowledged success
- Falsely accuse UNEA of a gazillion different provably false things to put them on the defensive and obfuscate the illegality of the termination.
- Announce a paternalizing "solution" for UNEA that was made by power brokers without any input or knowledge by UNEA (and conveniently keeps UNEA far away from SPS)
- Put a controllable puppet with a track record of poor leadership in the principal position to hammer the nails in the coffin of LSK8 and native-focused schooling once and for all.

It's no accident that this onslaught keeps coming so fast and furious. Amazing how blatantly and unapologetically she keeps launching these outrageous injustices, all the while smiling and proclaiming how anti-racist she is.

She needs to either wake up to integrity, or she needs to go.

(And, Sped Parent, let's please not criticize the POC community the morning immediately following an afternoon announcement for "crickets." I don't expect the Native or other POC communities to have any kind of organized and unified response to this so soon. Especially when they are already overwhelemed fighting their "termination" (SPS's words) and eviction from SPS & the Robert Eagle Staff building.)

Sees Reality
Anonymous said…
Sees Reality,

My apologies, I was not clear. My criticism is not of the POC community at Licton Springs or generally or UNEA. I understand that it is not their battle alone & that just fighting the battles that already exist takes so much energy. It is the same with sped issues.

My criticism is of the district's employee and the couple of people who chime in with her on social media about posts made on this blog & the soup for teachers facebook page that they consider racially biased. They have been responding decisively, confidently, and very quickly with their indictments all summer. It is clear that they want to do battle on behalf of SOC on social media. Yet now, when their advocacy is really needed. We do not hear from them. I hope it is in fact just that they were busy this weekend & will be making waves about this principal placement soon.

-sped parent
Keeping Tabs said…
Licton Springs is the 5th most expensive school in the entire district in terms of money spent per student (this is not including SPED or ELL funds). Here are the top 5 most expensive-
1. Middle College
2. South Lake
3. Interagency
4. Cedar Park (expensive because it's small and not full yet)
5. Licton Springs

The district pays significantly more for each Licton Springs student than other title one students. If you set the per student funding for LS to 100% (not including SPED or ELL $), here's how it compares to what the district is paying per student at other title one schools:
Licton Springs 100%
Bailey Gatzert 92%
South Shore 92%
Roxhill 90%
Sanislo 90%
MLK Jr. 88%
Madrona 87%
Emerson 86%
Highland Park 85%
Northgate 84%
Wing Luke 83%
West Seattle 82%
Graham Hill 81%
Dearborn Park 80%
Concord 79%
Broadview-Thomson 78%
Dunlap 78%
Olympic Hills 78%
John Muir 77%
Beacon Hill 75%
Rainier View 75%
Van Asselt 75%
Leschi 72%
Hawthorne 70%
Maple 70%
Viewlands 68%
Aki 67%
Kimball 66%
Denny 63%
Anonymous said…
Keeping Tabs Where did you find this information? I would be interested in where all the schools in the district fall in the amount of money they get from the district.

Keeping Tabs, so I understand, you are saying the data shows that the district pays for 100% of Licton Springs' costs? But it's a Title One school? I'm confused.

As for the top-end costs, you can see that the first three schools are ones that service very high-need students so I'm not surprised.

I do note that Licton Springs' enrollment has slowly gone up but they don't have the room they were promised. So naturally, their costs look high. I'd have to check but they are probably have the least space of any Option school.
Anonymous said…
Funding is not the issue with low performing Title One schools. Part of the problem has to do with setting low expectations. For example, right from the start the district broadcast that they believe there is either a bias against African American male (AAM) students or there is something inherently wrong with AAMs ability to learn. To be clear, I don't believe either of those statements to be true.

When an AAM reads the declarations in the Seattle School District's Strategic Plan I can imagine they are hurt, embarrassed or possible even angry or maybe all three. As with SPED there is sometimes in schools an underling resentment by parents who think that SPED students are taking away funding from non SPED students. This is not true and it has been shown as false in part by the recorded violations of the IDEA laws by the district. I fear that the same resentment could happen with AAMs students as still happens against SPED students.

I'm afraid that the new district's plan will cause more problems than it will fix. In fact there is nothing published by the district on how they are going to help AAMs, they only provide confusing jargon and hyperbole.

I believe the district and the board have made a huge mistake by indirectly calling out the district as racist in a round about way and by acting racist by declaring that AAM students are somehow inferior to other non-AAM students.

SPED parent
Anonymous said…
Keeping Tabs, what's the point of your information? And the source? The LSK8 community has heard this statistic thrown around a lot - that the school is the "most expensive" or that the kids are the "most funded" in the district, but no source or context for that assertion. Fact is, LSK8 students have 1) math class in a hallway; 2) one shared art and science room for the whole school community; 2) no gym access, ever, bc RESMS students use the space; 3) a library in a hallway (while RESMS has full and exclusive use over a large, glass-walled library space, that LSK8 students can't use); 4) limited access to electives; and 5) extraordinarily limited evening access to the main multipurpose room, which forms the hub of the school and also serves as a cafeteria, with the result that LSK8 had almost no community-building activities in the 2018-19 school year.

So, to what end is this funding data being used? It's certainly not going to the school's use of space or to special programs, because there are none. If the argument is that the staff ratios are too high, well, the District promised the school 250 seats, and they're busting at the seams right now with 125ish students, because the District gave it all to RESMS when it suddenly turned up overenrolled. Moreover, staffing is set and controlled by the district, so that's their problem to solve, not LSK8's. Without stating a point that those numbers are meant to illustrate, it's hard to see anything except some sort of allegation that the students are getting something they don't deserve.

-LSK8 parent
Interesting take, SPED parent. I wonder how many Black parents would agree. Also, there is now an entire department around this work so I would think that would be made clear what these initiatives look like.

Anonymous said…
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