Friday, October 15, 2021

Seattle Schools Goes Political - Should They?

 In a fairly stunning press release, Seattle Schools appears to have a a group that appears to be using a department as their mouthpiece and urging the defunding of police.

From the press release:

October 14 is George Floyd’s birthday and Justice for George Day/#TeachTruth. Justice for George is a day to remember him and call for funds to be directed towards social programs and education.

Now, I know what you are thinking - Melissa, where does it say "defund the police?" True, just calling for funds to be directed towards social programs and education doesn't necessarily mean defund the police. But what funds are they talking about and where are they currently directed?

And, who wrote this press release?

Meanwhile, over on the district's Facebook page, the message there DID call for defunding the police. (This was up last night and has since been taken down but too late; got a screenshot, SPS.) It said (bold mine):

Oct. 14 is George Floyd's birthday, and in his honor, we recognize Justice for George Day and #TeachTruth. Justice for George is a day to remember him and all those impacted by police violence. It is a call for the defunding of the police and the redirecting of those funds towards social programs and education. We will teach the truth about structural racism and other forms of oppression, regardless of dubious bills that attack anti-racist education and the humanizing experience that is #TeachTruth and #BlackLivesMatter.

Learn more about our Department of Liberatory Education on our website.

The press release also speaks of this "department" which is really the Department of Racial Equity Advancement - DREA. It is headed by Manal Al-ansi who was one of two black women to be "harassed, intimidated and bullied" by President Chandra Hampson and Director Zachary DeWolf. Hmmm.

It feels like there are very much competing interests (and egos) down at JSCEE. Who is really in charge? It's hard to know but throwing out that SPS agrees with defunding the police is pretty serious. If they don't agree with defunding the police, how did these two news items get put up on the district's own site and Facebook page?

10 comments:

  1. WHY can’t SPS stay in its lane? This one, and also the homelessness policy tweets that resulted in the Broadview encampment, it’s all a distraction from the core mission of the schools: to provide excellent (their words) education. At minimum, any deviation from education policy goals deserves a vote of the School Board. Taxpayers work hard to fund this district. Try harder to not get sued.

    Back to Work

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  2. Also, SPS enrollment is closer to 50k, not 53k per the press release. Because a full 6% of students have fled the excellence in the last two years. No cute rebranding of fictional departments will change that!

    Spin

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  3. Seattle Parent10/16/21, 2:03 AM

    Melissa,

    I believe you are misquoting from the investigation into DeWolf and Hampson.

    In your blog post, you state, that Hampson and DeWolf “harassed, intimidated and bullied” Manal Al-annsi and Scarlett. The report states, MFR finds DeWolf and Hampson used their “positions and authority to the detriment of Dr. and Mrs. in violation of Policy 5207.”
    If you read the investigator’s findings, and state definitions of intimidation, harassment, and bullying, it appears the only term that applies is bullying.

    Washington state defines intimidation as, “implied or overt threats of physical violence” - WAC 495A-121-011. While Manal Al-annsi and Scarlett claim intimation, the investigator makes no such finding and presents no supporting evidence. For you to factually misrepresent the report’s findings and state the directors were found guilty of intimidation, could be considered slanderous and defamatory.

    “Harassment - any malicious act, which causes harm to any person's physical or mental well being” - WAC 495A121-011. If you read section VII.A.1 of the investigation, there is no claim or harassment. And there is also no finding of harassment. For you to factually misrepresent the report’s findings and state the directors were found guilty of harassment, could be considered slanderous and defamatory.
    “Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.” While the investigation does not make any specific findings of bullying, it does mention spreading rumors verbal attacks, and exclusion, and this is likely what the investigator is referring to in their finding the directors violated district policy.

    I appreciate your reporting. I wish you would tighten up your language on your two related posts. Perhaps it would be best for you to quote the report, which states, the directors used their “positions and authority to the detriment of Dr. Scarlett and Ms. Al-annsi.”

    I’m not looking for you to post this note, but for you to be careful and precise.

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  4. Seattle Parent, thanks for the input but I am quite sure of what I said. This investigation was NOT using state law but Board policy 5207 which is "Prohibition of Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying." The MFR Law Group makes that pretty clear. I NEVER said either director broke any law.

    On page 9 of the report,

    "Director DeWolf violated Policy 5207 by repeatedly engaging in HIB conduct that, being persistent over time, had the effect of substantially interfering with the work environment.

    After a thorough review of the evidence, MFR finds Dirs. DeWolf and Hampson used their positions and authority to the determent of Dr. Scarlett and Ms. Al-ansi in violation of Policy 5207."

    The report DID say that neither director acted in that manner because of gender, race or intersectionality. I have repeatedly stated that as well.

    On page 40, the report makes the statement you point out "MFR finds Dir DeWolf used his position and authority to the detriment of Dr. Scarlett and Ms. Al-ansi in violation of Policy 5207."

    On page 44, "In summary after a thorough review of the evidence, MFR finds Dir Hampson violated Policy 5207 to the detriment of Dr. Scarlett and Ms. Al-ansi."

    As was pointed out at the Board meeting, that policy technically doesn't cover Board members because they are not included in it. However, MFR used it to judge what happened. Additionally, as I wrote in my very first post on this topic, Director Lisa Rivera Smith used that language twice in her remarks before the vote. That's how I knew some of what was in the report; she never would have used that language had the report not had it.

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  5. Just as a follow-up, I also pointed out how badly organized this report is and I am not surprised at how difficult it is to ascertain what is being stated.

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  6. Seattle Parent10/16/21, 3:40 PM

    Melissa,

    I believe we both agree that the final investigation report submitted by Marcella Felming Read of the MFR Law Group into the allegations by Dr. Keisha Scarlett and Ms. Manal Al-ansi against Directors DeWolf and Hampson is hard to follow.

    Board Policy 5207 states that complaints that “allege HIB based on a protected class shall be investigated and responded to as described in Superintendent Procedure 5010SP.” Board Policy 5010 states, “The Superintendent, in compliance with federal and state regulations, has established this procedure for resolving discrimination complaints filed against a District employee.” The allegations by Dr. Scarlett and Ms. Al-annsi were based on protected class and were an employment discrimination complaint, alleging violation of state law. Page 11 of the report says that the investigation was done based on both 5207 and 5010. It would therefore seem reasonable to assume that MFR used the legal definitions of harassment, intimidation, and bullying for these terms in reaching their conclusions.

    OSPI provides definitions here:

    https://www.k12.wa.us/student-success/health-safety/school-safety-center/school-safety-security-related-rcws-wacs/harassment-intimidation-and-bullying-hib

    - Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
    - Intimidation - implied or overt threats of physical violence - WAC 495A-121-011
    - Harassment - any malicious act, which causes harm to any person's physical or mental well being - WAC 495A121-011

    The investigation report delineates “gender discrimination” and “racial discrimination” and clears both DeWolf and Hampson of all eight separate claims of discrimination.

    The investigation report does not delineate findings for “harassment”, “intimidation”, and “bullying”, even though OSPI provides definitions for each.

    Is there any evidence of implied or overt threats of physical violence” as required for intimidation? No, and the investigators never say there is.

    Is there any evidence any of, “a malicious act, which causes harm to any person's physical or mental wellbeing” as required for harassment? I don’t find any, and the investigators never say there is.

    In the report’s summary findings, the investigators provide (1) evidence of unprofessional conduct; (2) evidence of unsubstantiated criticism of staff; and (3) evidence of limiting the participation of staff in a meeting. Those actions would generally be defined as types of bullying. But let’s not overlook the fact that the only detailed notes of the incidents were written by the accusers, one of whom is a lawyer, and that corroboration came from their district staff colleagues, many of whom likely report to the accusers, and one of the corroborators, Superintendent Juneau who was "forced out" out of SPS by one of the accused during the investigation. No other corroboration.

    You write, “It is headed by Manal Al-ansi who was one of two black women to be "harassed, intimidated and bullied" by President Chandra Hampson and Director Zachary DeWolf.” That quote is nowhere in the final investigation report. I suggest if you want to be accurate, you change your “and” to “or” so that one violation isn’t multiplied into three.

    Generally in my opinion it's not uncommon for politicians to use bully-like behavior with bureaucrats when trying to get things done, and for bureaucrats to fight back by being "obstructionists" when they disagree. For me, harassment and intimidation are different beasts, and I don't see any evidence in the report for them; it's very unfortunate that Marcella Felming Read of MFR left the HIB findings so vague.

    https://www.mfrlawgroup.com/our-team/

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  7. First, the OSPI link is for students, not adults.

    "Is there any evidence any of, “a malicious act, which causes harm to any person's physical or mental wellbeing” as required for harassment? I don’t find any, and the investigators never say there is."

    If you read the complaint, these women truly suffered for months mentally. They got yelled at by both Hampson and DeWolf. They were marginalized at meetings. I think they were harassed even if the report doesn't say that overtly. You can call it both bullying and harassment.

    As for intimidation, I don't think any definition that implies only physical action does not adequately cover the word. There is nowhere in the report or my reporting that says either woman said they feared for their physical well-being.

    You are making a big leap there is saying that staffer who worked under these women were afraid to tell the truth as well as former super Juneau. I don't accept that. Juneau may have not always flesh out everything but I don't think she was a liar.

    Again, the report is not the only place to cover. If DeWolf and Hampson want to sue me, they'd have to sue Lisa Rivera Smith because she did use that phrasing at the Board meeting where they voted on this report. And this was before anyone outside of JSCEE had seen it. I think she chose that phrasing carefully.

    I can stick in "and/or" but I'm also sticking by what I read in the report.

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  8. Even if it was "just" bullying and not harassment and/or intimidation, it is entirely inappropriate for a board member and especially a board president to be engaged in this behavior toward *any* employee. When they are engaged in it toward two Black women, it's especially egregious. DeWolf is rightly not running for re-election. Hampson should do the right thing and resign as well. She won't, of course, so instead she seems determined to lose (and lose big) in 2023.

    Zero Tolerance

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  9. Zero Tolerance

    I doubt many will run again for this unpaid position. I suppose in the case of the Hampson and DeWolfs of the Board, that is fine. But if we had actual paid positions with staff and supports, I think there would be less ideologues and more accountability on the Board. I have been wrong before, though!

    State Intervention, Plz

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  10. Seattle Parent, you might want to remove that great big stick from up your patootie. Have you ever witnessed the unending race baiting and virtue signaling of SCPTSA while under the direction of Chanra Hampson? Yes, bullying is a good way to describe it. And oh lookie, the race baiting hasn’t been turned off just because the victims are black. Bullying and harassment are a way of life for some people. No, we don’t need esoterica and exercises in hair splitting definitions to know about our board’s self righteous antics. SPS - “Stay in your lane.” Aptly put. Forget about fixing homelessness and police funding issues and saving the whales! Not your mission!

    Getta Grip

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