Monday, September 30, 2019

Director DeWolf Speaks

There's an interview at the Capitol Hill Blog with Director Zachary DeWolf and it's so him.  (Also, I have to laugh at how both he and the Superintendent like to have me as "she who will not be named" and call me "a blogger."

And hey! he's writing a children's book. 

I'll let you read the piece (hoping that parents in his region don't roll their eyes too much as he seems to think all is well) but here's my comment.
Hi, Melissa Westbrook here from the Seattle Schools Community Forum.

Was my editorial on DeWolf's candidacy for City Council "searing?" I think it was blunt and to the point.  I also said some nice things about him AND defended him when a PAC was attacking him.  It's called being fair.

I don't know his work on the Seattle School Board? Actually, I do because I'm the resident expert in this city on Seattle Public Schools. 

“There were a couple of schools where the school leader wasn’t a good match or a good fit for that school community,”

Well, there's an understatement.  The principal at Washington Middle School flipped the table for that school to the point where an investigation showed she had treated an African-American Special Education student very wrongly. She then got officially demoted, via a letter from the Superintendent, to assistant principal. However, she is now a full principal at another school and got that demotion rescinded.  And the Superintendent is trying to put a new STEM program into WMS with near-zero public input.

Does DeWolf have anything to say for that?

Ah, Ethnic Studies. Well, I have written the Board several times about the head of Ethnic Studies. A well-education woman but with a pitbull attitude. She admits that the Superintendent has forbidden her to directly contract either the Super or the Board.  One-third of principals don't answer her emails about the program.

Is DeWolf aware of these roadblocks to Ethnic Studies?

I have to smile at the "community meetings" section of this piece.  DeWolf is piggybacking on the hard work that other directors have to do in order to set up these meetings. And the ones with other directors are in those directors' regions, not DeWolf.  I have to wonder if this year DeWolf breaks his personal record of two whole community  meetings in one year (most directors have two a month for the school year).
Fingers crossed.

DeWolf does care a great deal about issues like dress code and green buildings. And those are worthy concerns.

But, operationally, the district is not doing well. Last week a school bus with two preschoolers in it hit a car. The moms of those children found out but not from the district. 

Since the start of school, the cafeterias have not had the food advertised. Staff at some school cafeterias traded food.  The new head of Nutrition Services says that he wants fresh, healthy food for the students and said to KUOW that it's coming...in November.

The district's predictions for nearly all high schools were off and now the district is scrambling for new teachers.

It's those kind of bread-and-butter issues that need to be addressed sooner rather than later.  So where is DeWolf?


Anonymous said...

NJNP, she is the resident expert because parents have had no where else to turn. Thank you Melissa for the work you do.


Anonymous said...

And you think you are the expert regarding Nathan Hale , right?

Bees wax

Melissa Westbrook said...

Bees Wax, no, I don't. I'm an expert on the district as a whole.

Anonymous said...

Melissa-thank you for your continued work on keeping parents informed. Your depth of knowledge and your longevity have helped many of us connect the dots and for that I am really grateful. There is alot of noise that continues to come from John Stanford but sadly, very little change or progress. We should all expect better.
-long road

Anonymous said...

@long road

I second that!


Elsa said...

You have LOTS to be proud of Melissa. He has nothing.

That's why he bad mouths you.

Pay no attention.

Many of us have been called much worse (and on this blog btw)

Anonymous said...

Ms. Castro-Gill has responded by saying you perpetuate racism:

Hi! Tracy Castro-Gill here. Melissa Westbrook is perpetuating her racist views again. Not only am I the program manager for Ethnic Studies in SPS, but I am the person who has orchestrated and written much of what will become the adopted curriculum.

Melissa has no idea what she’s talking about when she says 1/3 of principals don’t respond to my emails. In fact, I am currently working with approximately 30 principals (1/3 of all principals) on bringing ethnic studies professional development into schools on early release days. I am also collaborating with various stakeholders in the district and across the city to create ethnic studies courses in high school that can be cross-credited to meet graduation requirements, which would support a mandatory ethnic studies requirement.

I have led the creation of units of study for K-12 in various content areas, vetted by community members, including students from the NAACP Youth Coalition. I’m managing a group of higher ed. faculty from various ethnic studies programs to write a K-12 scope and sequence for ethnic studies.

Over the summer, I created and hosted a 2 week long institute to support educators in implementing ethnic studies that was attended by over 100 educators from districts across Western Washington. Sessions were created and facilitated by SPS educators, students, and parents, and higher ed faculty, including nationally known scholars and ethnic studies experts, Dr. Django Paris and Dr. Wayne Au. The institute was a huge success and I am being contacted by educators from across the PNW asking if I will be doing it again this summer. The answer is yes.

We are gaining a lot of traction in SPS and this is with a staff of one: me. The only “problem” I am is to Westbrook because I continue to call out how she and her blog are barriers to racial justice work because she is a racist. She thinks me calling her that makes the district look bad. I think her being a racist does more than make the district look bad. She’s bad for kids and educators of color and I’ll keep calling her out until she figures that out and does something about it.

She has nothing to say about DeWolf's lack of showing up when it counts.


Melissa Westbrook said...

That is pretty funny stuff from her. I don't even need to comment on her ideas about my work.

One, she DID say - twice - that one-third of principals had not gotten back to her. I know what I heard and wrote. And you know who else did? The Board office administration who took the notes for those meetings.

I said nothing in my comments about her work ethic, just how she works.

And why is she just a staff of one when her budget reflects money for two FTE. That's a mystery but I'd guess it has more to do with her than me.

Her calling me "a racist" makes the district look bad? No, I just think it makes her look bad. I think the way she operates as a judgemental zealot could be a problem for the district and I've called that out.

Interesting she had nothing to say about DeWolf but struck a defensive posture for herself.

Anonymous said...

"Not only am I the program manager for Ethnic Studies in SPS, but I am the person who has orchestrated and written much of what will become the adopted curriculum." writes Castro-Gill.

Well that's not reassuring. I don't think I'd trust my kids' Ethnic Studies education to curriculum from this person. Plus she seems to have a lot of free time on her hands to engage in obsessive rants about a blogger. (Maybe she doesn't need those other 2 FTEs.)

Heal Thyself

KTJ said...

Hi HP,

I'm curious as from where was the letter/blog from Ms. Castro-Gill was posted/sent?

Thanks -- KTJ

Melissa Westbrook said...

KTJ, this was at the Capitol Hill blog - see the link in the post.

Gathering, I'm going to delete your post. If you don't know the accuracy of the statement, you go find it.

Anonymous said...

@Peace. GO AWAY. If this blog is so bad, then why are you wasting your time here? Take your negativity and go elsewhere.
Go away

Anonymous said...

I truly know nothing about Ms Castro-Gill, her qualifications, academic bona-fides, career path so far, or race (so don't call me racist) or the ethnic studies department/program -other than what I've read on this post just now but her behavior strikes me as really unprofessional for some in her role, as a public employee, the head of a department, a school district administrator, to be calling out private individuals, albeit ones that have a public voice as a blogger, and accusing them of anything. And if she indeed composed that response posted upthread and if she doesn't think this doesn't make her look bad and instead makes Melissa look bad, then I would seriously question her judgement.
This is the sort of thing that, if it happened in the private sector, would attract a fair bit of scrutiny. It reflects badly not just on employee who's mouthing off on social media, but the whole company and it's culture. Is SPS ok with this?


Anonymous said...

Argh - lots of typos and grammatical errors in my comment - should have proofread. How very unprofessional of me!


Anonymous said...

Superintendent Juneau dismisses any criticism, from any quarter, as "noise". Same is true for DeWolf.

What are their accomplishments?

"Running Tab of Recent Disasters" at SPS:

a. Washington Middle School Bullying of Students by Principal
b. Washington Middle School Science not being taught
c. Licton Springs
d. Bailey-Gatzert
e. Transporation failures
f. Food Services failures
g. Science Curriculum - failures
h. Ethnic Studies Curriculum - failures
i. Budgeting for Teachers - failures
k. Enrollment Projections - failures

Any yet, Juneau congratulates her SPS Team for getting it "98% right" on Enrollment and Teacher Hiring this year.
Wrong SPS word-salad.

Nearly 1000 High School Students schedules were slammed this past month because of SPS incompetence, and Juneau's indifference.

Juneau's Journal is the main source of "noise" about the SPS District. SaveSeattleSchools Blog is the key site to learn about SPS dysfunctions, which include its Superintendent, and its School Board.

Thank you, Melissa, for providing a forum for parents and citizens to learn the sad truths about the SPS Center for Excellence in Incompetence.

Good Grief

Anonymous said...

You mean the redlined and segregated Capitol Hill blog. Time to dismantle Capitol Hill.

Words matter but calling people racist without justification doesn't matter? Listen to her fearless leader Juneau echoing Bryan Terry's white supremacy remarks. I wonder if Devin Bruckner and Terry are still getting that special grant from the School District to divide our community along race (not ability).

Seems Ignorant right??? As Blacks weren't the one group that was redlined. Our jewish communities were. Even well after WWII. Well done Seattle. I am guessing there are a few jewish people in the HCC. But can I say that? Is there a redlined lens we can use? Because Seattle had another tricky little redline they applied as well it was in camps:

Topaz Internment Camp, Central Utah

Colorado River (Poston) Internment Camp, Arizona

Gila River Internment Camp, Phoenix, Arizona

Granada (Amache) Internment Camp, Colorado

Heart Mountain Internment Camp, Wyoming

Jerome Internment Camp, Arkansas

Manzanar Internment Camp, California

Minidoka Internment Camp, Idaho

Rohwer Internment Camp, Arkansas

Tule Lake Internment Camp, California

That is where Japanese Americans ended up regardless of how long they were Americans. Most lost everything and then had to fight through the stigma when they returned after the war. But according to DeWolf Japanese Americans aren't brown. But Native Americans are. Self serving much?

White America has caused untold damage to brown America. Still is in fact (but that is not what is going on with the cohort). And to say that POC who speak at the Board are the wrong color has to be checked at the door. For a SPS employee to malign someone without cause as a racist, who identifies as brown (not like Rachel Dolezal) none-the-less should be chilling to the HR department. But they are cool with it.

Why not? Juneau is ok with redlined, because segregated is professionally dishonest and may shorten her political trajectory. Sure she is disavowing that it hurt more than blacks and native Americans. But Asians come on? And Jews seriously?

Juneau is her boss and Juneau likes it.
Juneau was hurricane Emily's boss and she loved that too.

Keep up the good race-baiting-division thing and one day you will be sitting there with the chiefs of it all right next to Kari Hanson and Wyeth Jesse.

Internment Sucks

Anonymous said...

Wow Internment Sucks.
You lost me at "blacks". If the way you are referring to African Americans is not racist then I don't know what is.
This is very entertaining. Keep it coming!


KTJ said...

In her comment on the Capitol Hill Seattle Public, Ms. Castro-Gill has represented herself as the Program Manager for Ethnic Studies for Seattle Public Schools and has publicly written than Melissa Westbrook “is a racist”.

I have read Melissa’s blog for many years and have found her to be a tireless public advocate. Because of discussions and advocacy facilitated on Melissa’s blog, I know Seattle Public Schools is a better place for my children and believe the same to be true for students of all races across the district.

I believe Seattle Public Schools owes its parents and community members an explanation. If the District under Superintendent Denise Juneau believes Melissa Westbrook is a racist, it needs to provide evidence explaining why this is the case. If SPS does not believe Melissa is a racist, then it needs to explain why it is acceptable for Ms. Castro-Gill in her capacity as Program Manager for Ethnic Studies to make such accusations against a respected member of the community.

If the claims that Ms. Westbrook is a racist turn out to be unfounded, then I believe it’s untenable for SPS to retain Ms. Castro-Gill in a position interacting with parents and students. I certainly don’t want staff interacting with my kids that make supported accusations of racism against other community members. If, on the other hand, the district stands behind Ms. Castro-Gill’s statements and can justify them, then I will support Ms. Castro-Gill and stop reading Ms. Westbrook’s blog.

But the district can’t have it both ways. It can’t allow its employees to publicly call community members racists or other names while representing themselves as district employees, and at the same time turn a blind eye. Not only is the district opening itself up for libel, but it’s also extremely divisive.

Anonymous said...


So your snowflake senses get all out of wack just like they did when someone used the term POC. "You are all racist." Those are the terms we live with today. And to jump on that and disregard the real fact that our School District is using race to divide us is quite startling. If only you knew how much of an idiot you are for calling me a racist.

And here is the facts which shock me that I have to share with you again - from a noted demographer of social polling.

"More than four-in-ten say the country hasn’t made enough progress toward racial equality, and there is some skepticism, particularly among blacks, that black people will ever have equal rights with whites, according to a new Pew Research Center survey."

Yeah blacks is now the accepted term. And no, not at all surprised you couldn't read past a dozen words or so. So go back and read it and learn.

Internment Sucks

Anonymous said...

More over KTJ, if the District believes that the parents at WMS are racist they need to show the proof that is the case. If not, they need to state why
Emily Butler Ginolfi was not terminated for all her racial accusations (and overt bullying). Or not directed to apologize to the WMS community when her partner posted simmiliar biased discourse here. Alas, will it happen for Emily Butler Ginolfi? No. But there should be relief for MW.


Anonymous said...

I really support Ethnic studies curriculum being implemented in our schools. But I can’t stomach the outright bullying from the top. If you disagree with her and you are white, you are racist. If you are a POC and disagree, then you have been white washed. It’s ridiculous. All it does is spew hate, which is the opposite of what implementation of ethnic studies is meant to do. I fight for inclusion and diversity, even of opinion.

Rise above

Anonymous said...

@Rise Above, if you disagree with who? And why does disagreement = racism, particularly if you are supporting diversity of thought? Surely this topic is more nuanced than that.

Too Simple

Anonymous said...

@Too Simple

If you read the thread more closely Rise above is referring to the person "managing" Ethnic Studies being implemented in our schools. It seems from the conversations thus far on various threads this person creates an atmosphere where others around her feel silenced in conversations. She seems quick to label others as "racist" to shut down any dialogue. If she keeps throwing around that term so loosely and labeling others it loses it effectiveness. It's also not best practice if you really want to influence others toward being receptive to your own point of view.


Nola said...

SPS educates kids not parents. 20% of King county voted for Trump. Another 20% didn't vote at all. SPS doesn't care. SPS just has to educate all the children residing within its district borders.

Anonymous said...

@PEACE, you should also understand that "Black" is not synonymous with "African American." Think black immigrants.

PS - The district's new Data Verification Form even attempts to break out Black/African American students from other students of African origin. You might go back and check this thread if you have questions: https://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2019/09/tell-board-and-turning-off-commenting.html

Not B&W

Anonymous said...

I agree that the thought of Ms. Castro-Gill writing the Ethnic Studies is very concerning given what I consider her obnoxious, unprofessional, and racist-sounding language and behavior, but at least she did refer to ADOPTION (even if she did presume adoption, rather than saying it will be submitted for adoption).

I hope the Ethnic Studies really does go through the formal adoption process. Given the extreme sensitivity of the issues and the divisive flames that many SPS staff are fanning these days, it seems essential that the Board require a full adoption process. This is too important an issue for it not to be implemented with transparency and buy-in. The Board needs to step up and make sure this is clear now, so staff know and understand what the full process and timeline will be. The public engagement process needs to be made clear--to staff and the public--and there will need to be a typical period for full public review of the proposed curricular materials.

However, I do recall some strange maneuverings by the Board a couple years ago re: "major" and "minor" adoptions, perhaps making it easier for "minor" (under a certain $ value?) to be implemented without a formal adoption process. My sense at the time was that staff were paving the way to implement new science curricula and/or an Ethnic Studies curriculum without Board review and approval if they could get special deals to try Amplify for cheap or write their own curricula (Ethnic Studies, Carbon Time) for cheap.

The Board should go back and look at this and see if they "gave too much away." Ethnic Studies implementation NEEDS to go well, otherwise it has the potential to do far more damage than good. If we are not adopting a heavily reviewed and tested "off the shelf" curriculum, we need to be sure that whatever we do adopt is age-appropriate, fact-based, implementable by teachers, etc. There also needs to be an evaluation plan to monitor the implementation process, as well as outcomes.

Please, BOARD MEMBERS--be cautious. Don't make things worse than they already are. Think of all the time and public engagement you put into faming a recent replacement board member. The adoption of an Ethnic Studies curriculum is arguably much more important, and it will reach many more students over a much longer period of time. It must be done right.

Careful, Please!

Anonymous said...

JK is spot on. It's like the boy who cried wolf. And people see through it - they know that when you don't actually have a strong case or evidence to support your position you resort to name-calling, labeling people to dehumanize them. Just like Trump LOL. But what irks me is that this unprofessional behavior is tolerated, even seemingly supported, by SPS leadership. And that it's happened before with the former WMS principal. Of course no one likes to be openly criticized but part of taking on a leadership role is understanding you will likely be subjected to it and dealing with that in a professional manner. And not get drawn into social media spats. Melissa no longer has students at SPS but what if she did? Would SPS still be OK with one of their employees to be saying this sort of stuff about her on social media? Will parents be subject to accusations of racism or online bullying by SPS staff if they express opinions critical of the district in an online forum (are we already subject to this in the form of anonymous comments?) Does SPS have social media guidelines for their employees - surely they must?

For example - these are an abridged version from a organization I'm familiar with ..... (what does SPS's look like?)

***The public in general, and XXXX volunteers, employees, and constituents, reflect a diverse set of customs, values, and points of view. Please be respectful of that diversity.
It is important that all posts by volunteers are consistent with XXXX website, policies, or publications.
Don't be afraid to be yourself, but do so respectfully and think about potential consequences. This includes not only the obvious (no ethnic slurs, offensive/defamatory comments, personal insults, obscenity, etc.), but also the proper consideration of privacy and topics that may be considered objectionable or inflammatory – such as politics and religion.
Handling Controversial Issues: Avoid online arguments relating to XXXX; don't try to settle scores or bring others into inflammatory debates.
Ensure that what you are posting is factually correct. Use your best judgment and be sure to make it clear that the views and opinions expressed are yours alone and do not represent the official views of XXXX.
Protect XXXX Clients, Employees, Volunteers, Visitors, etc. Never identify a client, employee, or volunteer by name without permission
Appropriate #s. Hashtags can set either a positive or negative tone in a social media post. Please be mindful when using them
Be mindful of posting information that you would not want the public to see.
Do not post or blog anonymously about XXXX, using pseudonyms or false screen names, or say anything that is dishonest, untrue, or misleading.
What you publish will be around for a long time, so consider the content carefully and also be cautious about disclosing personal details.
If someone accuses you of posting something improper (copyrighted material or a defamatory comment), deal with it quickly - better to remove it immediately to lessen the possibility of a legal action. It is never a bad idea to have someone proofread to catch any spelling/factual errors***

That this is even something we're talking about seems to be another illustration of the "culture of lawlessness" at SPS.


Anonymous said...

@ Not B&W
You are correct. Not all black people are African American. That was ignorant of me
@ Internment sucks
Isn't it wonderful to have this space to put down anyone that doesn't agree with you? I am not angry or hurt because you call me a snowflake or an idiot. But you sound angry. Over what? Comments on a blog that allows us to remain anonymous. I bet if we were at a school meeting you would not call me those pretty names.
Thank you MW, this is a lovely playground you have going.


Melissa Westbrook said...

"I hope the Ethnic Studies really does go through the formal adoption process. Given the extreme sensitivity of the issues and the divisive flames that many SPS staff are fanning these days, it seems essential that the Board require a full adoption process. This is too important an issue for it not to be implemented with transparency and buy-in. The Board needs to step up and make sure this is clear now, so staff know and understand what the full process and timeline will be. The public engagement process needs to be made clear--to staff and the public--and there will need to be a typical period for full public review of the proposed curricular materials."

Careful Please, spot on. This is vital work and it needs buy in. I note that Ms. Castro-Gill has said that it is she creating the curriculum so that would give me pause.

I firmly believe the ONLY thing that can truly help our country is for all kids in the U.S. to learn about the good, the bad and the ugly of our country. Sometimes one of my sons grumbles about how terrible this country is and I check him.

There ARE great things about our country and in the history of our country. But man, so many bad and so many ugly things.

We have to accept them all as to whom our ancestors were and what was done and we have to then face forward and embrace everyone who is here and ask how we move ahead as Americans.

We need a generation of well-educated children, both in history AND Ethnic Studies, to move ahead.

There are likely good ways to do this - albeit tough - without shaming or blaming. If you back anyone into a corner, don't be surprised if they get defensive. That's not being a snowflake, that's being a human. However, we also need to be blunt and clear about what was done, particularly to African-Americans and Native Americans.

I leave you with a telling tweet that I saw:

"10 yr old walking into the Jefferson Memorial in DC: “It’s hard to believe somebody who did so many great things was also such a bad person.”

Sneering stranger wheels around on him with a lecture about what a great man he was

Kid calmly retorts: “He enslaved his own children.”

The good, the bad and the ugly.

Anonymous said...

Can someone please direct me to where Juneau is talking about redlining? Thanks!


Anonymous said...

To be clear FWIW you called them a racist and they called you an idiot and a snowflake because of it. And yes I wouldn't have faulted them for doing the same thing in a public forum. The irony is if you read the post they are saying the district is shutting down programs based on racism using terms like segregated, segregation and red lining to describe their own program for state mandated services. THEIR PROGRAM THAT THEY'VE OVERSEEN FOR 30 YEARS. Kari Hanson and Wyeth Jessie are being paid way too much to put forward such idiotic snowflake presentations.

There is no policy in place right now that doesn't allow them to fix the perceived racial inequity. And to be clear I say perceived because every assumption is laid at the hands of racial issues not at the other contributors like social economic status, ELL, 2e, absent parents and etc. As there is no policy in place to maintain Emily Butler as a principal in the midst of all her racially charged statements. Hanson and Jessie's statements were reviewed by Juneau.

And where does DeWolf stand on this. Exactly where he stands on everything...what's my next gig?

Idiotic snowflakes

Anonymous said...

Juneau also reviewed Butler"s statements. She was then demoted but not really. Where does DeWolf stand on all that?
Where's my next gig

Anonymous said...

See the KNKX link in the Tuesday open thread.


Melissa Westbrook said...

WMNG, to be clear. First the Superintendent demoted Butler to an assistant principal role, making clear the district would decide where she goes AND that it would mean a pay cut. Then, it got rescinded when they put her at Licton Springs K-8 so she's a full principal with a full principal salary (for K-8/middle school). Very odd.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...


The inclination to shout people down as racist (undefined but loaded term) when engaging in discussion is precisely why this anonymous space thrives. There is no space for learning with your name next to you on a screen in this digital political climate. Anonymity does have pitfalls though, like people being jerks and posting under multiple monikers.

You do have to give Melissa props for slogging/blogging day in and out with district and education related topics that keep readers commenting and journalists citing her in their stories, printing her endorsements. There’s simply no one else putting the work in. If there’s a need for an alternative source that is better aligned with your political agenda, I’d invite you to put in the work and the time.

It’s so much easier to tear down than