Yet Another Seattle School Struggles with Racist Talk

From the West Seattle Blog via a reader tip:
West Seattle High School principal Brian Vance has disclosed that students have been disciplined for use of “racist language and symbols.” Multiple recipients forwarded us this letter he sent to families last night:
Vance letter (partial)
Recently, there has been a couple of incidents where students have used racist language and symbols with and against each other. Religious bigotry, racism, and discrimination go against every core belief held by the school and district and will not be tolerated. As West Seattle High School’s principal, I take the responsibility to create a safe, welcoming, and inclusive learning environment very seriously.
While these individual incidents were addressed immediately, I want to share with the broader school community what has been done and my expectations moving forward.
Vance then lists a number of measures - including a student made video and student restorative circles - that have been done.

From the district:
We requested followup details through Seattle Public Schools spokesperson Tim Robinson. He said this refers to “verbal” incidents: “Three completely separate incidents since the start of school.”
We also requested the video mentioned in the principal’s letter; our request was turned down; Robinson said, “He prefers not to disseminate it further, but he points out that it is largely a reiteration of the points in the letter. It was about a minute long.” The Code of Conduct to which the letter refers has a disciplinary matrix you can see here.
Very odd that the district would not release a school-produced video on discipline issues.  I suspect that perhaps Vance said something the district did not want said.

For a district that is all about restorative justice and racial justice, they certainly seem slow to respond to issues of real import to school communities.


Anonymous said…
Very odd that the district would not release a school-produced video on discipline issues. I suspect that perhaps Vance said something the district did not want said.

I don't find it odd at all. It was a very short, and included things students said. We don't know whether those students intended for their words to be shared with people outside the school, and it's possible they (or their parents) did not consent to that. This sounds more like a way to quickly capture and share comments from the school community, without having a bunch of individual students speak in front of a crowd. The video comments process allows for a more controlled and targeted discussion, rather than allowing things to go off the rails at a discussion in which individuals are speaking off the cuff. It also may be a much more comfortable way for some students to share their experience.

To me, it's healthy to let some dirty laundry be washed in the house. Not everything students say needs to become a YouTube video.

Anonymous said…
Sounds like Principal Vance took and is taking a multi-pronged approach to address the specific issues with the student body and provide training to staff, and do what he can as one leader to change the culture.

Anonymous said…
Not enough. This is typical SPS response. "We are aware, we are investigating, we have taken care of it and will take the steps needed"> Then it dies and they do it all over again.
Racism is pervasive and we can do better. WE as in working together with administrators and district, not only relying on social media or blogs to determine it's all good.

Fed Up

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