Seattle Public Schools and Their Principals
I know I may have said this before but I used to think that a school was only as good as the three-legged stool that it is - parents, teachers/staff and principal. I soon learned that without a good principal, you might not ever want to sit on that stool.
I have also often wondered if Seattle Schools had just bad luck/poor judgment about principals or if other districts have the same kind of churn. And principals aren't the same category as teachers. They don't have a union per se but in SPS, they have their own org, PASS (Principals Association of Seattle Schools). They oversee hundreds of students, not a single class. They have to juggle multiple balls of budget, discipline, curriculum and governance of a staff. That plus make parents and students feel good about the school.
It was also an interesting fact for Seattle Schools that only until recently, they had three principals who had all graduated from the school that they now oversaw. That was Martin Floe at Ingraham High (still there), Kevin Wynkoop at Ballard High (on leave) and Ted Howard at Garfield High (who is now gone).
Recently, I noticed an uptick in the hiring of Black principals in SPS. I sat down and went through looking for every school's principal (tedious because SPS does not require principals to be on the homepage for their school's webpage nor have their own listing in the staff listings).
The results mirror what the district and the Board have been pushing as part of the initiative for Black boys in SPS.
I found this:
60% of SPS principals are white (primarily men)
25% of SPS principals are Black (primarily men)
5% of SPS principals are Asian
4% of SPS principals are Hispanic/Latinx
4% of SPS principals appear to be Multiracial
The numbers for high school are striking - 8 Black principals for 15 high schools and 6 Black principals for 14 middle schools.
To recap the enrollment of SPS:
45.9% of students are white
14.9% of students are Black
13.4% of students are Hispanic/Latinx
12.6% of students are Asian
12.4% of students are multiracial
.4% of students are Native American
.4% of students are Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander
If you add up all the non-white categories, you have a majority minority district of 54.1%.
Yes, it would seem that the balance of principals is off because clearly, there are not nearly as many Asian and Hispanic/Latinx principals as you might expect. I suspect that this is part of the AA Black boys initiative perhaps on the theory that it's more important for Black boys to see a Black male in leadership than it is for Asian or Hispanic/Latinx students to see a principal who looks like them.
And yet, SPS' history of trouble with principals continues. As I reported a week or so ago, the Personnel Report for the last Board meeting showed the exiting of the principal at Roosevelt High School, Hkwaua QueJol Hollins as well as Christina Posten of Whitman Middle School. Both in the middle of the school year. That's unusual.
My intel says that Principal Hollins was a respected and liked principal at RHS among students, parents and staff. So what happened? I can only say that near to nothing has been said to students and parents with NO interim principal and missives from administration signed, "The Team." I would guess that the assistant principals are "The Team." I also heard that there may have been an interaction with the principal and a student on school grounds that may be the issue.
We still have the case of Kevin Wynkoop out at Ballard High School over the issue of a student and his family saying that the student was retaliated against because of the student's complaint over what the student thought was a racist LA assignment.
Wynkoop got put on non-disciplinary paid administrative leave and an assistant principal, Joseph Williams who is a Black man, is now interim principal at Ballard. (No, I am not connecting the case against Wynkoop with the growing number of Black principals.)
I did get the investigative report on the Wynkoop case. Basically, what occurred was investigated and it appears there was nothing racially motivated to be found BUT that the investigator then turned all the evidence over to SPS HR and that is where the issues against Wynkoop were found.
It has been stated that the investigative report found that Wynkoop and the teacher in question, Wendy Olsen,had fostered a hostile school environment and had violated the school district’s policies.