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Showing posts from April, 2022

This and That

 Hey, will you look at that? The Times actually has a real story on Seattle Schools, this one about the transportation issues. Sadly, some things get missed like the fact that while there are large numbers of eligible riders, not all ride the bus. Those numbers should be taken off the stats and then the district would get a clearer picture of who DOES ride the bus. “We are bringing this forward because we have a problem with our ability to be able to offer consistent and predictable transportation to our families,” Ashley Davies, executive director of operations, said   during an  April 21 committee meeting . Now, that's funny because you can change to three-tiers or stay with two but SPS will STILL have problems with "consistent and predictable" transportation. Changing start times will allow Seattle Schools to cut 70 of its 364 buses and will save the district at least $5 million, Davies said. Currently, the district spends  $3,306 per student on transportation , high

Heads Up!

I have written many posts where I express to readers my utter frustration, dismay, shock and anger over actions by various assemblages of the Seattle School Board and various superintendents over my decade+ of being a public education blogger. You'd think I'd be used to it.  In my defense, nothing really surprises me anymore so there's that. But the sheer hubris of what comes out of the mouths of the directors and superintendent and senior staff is sometimes breathtaking. But this post is really about giving you a heads up. As you may recall, the district seems bound and determined to change transportation from two-tiers to three-tiers ALL because of money. That would be bad enough. (I note that  the petition against the change has over 800 signatures in 3 days.) However, the Board had a Budget Work Session yesterday that was very disturbing. Details below but here's my big takeaway hunch: The district is on a very steady downward enrollment trend, losing hundreds and

Seattle School Board Director Chandra Hampson Loses Case Against the District

 In the category of "no one is surprised," yesterday a terse ruling was put forth by King County Superior Court: 1) Neither the decision of the District set forth in the outcome letter dated August 19, 2021 nor the action of the Seattle School Board at the September 9, 2021 meeting with respect to Director Hampson constitute arbitrary and capricious action subject to reversal by this Court; and  2) This appeal is dismissed.  It is SO ORDERED. (caps theirs) And yet, Director Hampson has chosen to drag this on and she is seeking review by the Court of Appeals. That case was entered yesterday. She has cost the district money because of HER demand for an investigation stemming from the letter of complaint filed by the two senior staffers. She has cost the district money by filing her original case against the district's use of a Board policy in the investigation. That now has been dismissed. She is continuing to cost the district money by appealing this case.  Know what she c

Seattle Public Schools and Transportation - Yet Another Cluster You-Know-What

Update: a parent at a Magnolia/Queen Anne/Ballard Facebook page created this doc on bus routes. He says: We have 42 routes over 27 schools. The missing routes are heavily clustered. Only Cascadia and Salmon Bay have more than 2 routes missing. (They are missing 6 and 4 routes respectively). Most of the missing routes are in District 2 and 4. In essence, this means that the bell time change is attempting to service the needs of 27 schools, and really mostly Cascadia and Salmon Bay. I don't think this is obvious. Furthermore, I don't think anyone has even asked the folks on these 42 routes (or others in the 27 schools) if they would prefer to continue with whatever workarounds they've had this year or if they'd prefer a bell-time change (and implicitly drag the whole city + supporting industries + teacher/staff families) along with it. There is also a   Change.org petition. end of update Seattle Public Schools has never gotten transportation right. It's like watchin

Teens Need Help - Now!

T here are three good articles at The NY Times about teen mental health. One is a 14-minute video , one is an article and one is an informational article . If you have a teen, I urge you to read and listen to all of them. As well, there is a moving article at The New Yorker. I urge you to forward this post to your PTA and ask that it be put up on the PTA page. NY Times article American adolescence is undergoing a drastic change. Three decades ago, the gravest public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from binge drinking, drunken driving, teenage pregnancy and smoking. These have since fallen sharply, replaced by a new public health concern: soaring rates of mental health disorders. In 2019, 13 percent of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode , a 60 percent increase from 2007 . Emergency room visits by children and adolescents in that period also rose sharply for anxiety, mood disorders and self-harm. And for people ages 10 to 24, suicide rates, stab

Seattle Council PTSA; What's Happening?

 Can we talk PTA? And talk SCPTSA and the attempt by SCPTSA to say they speak for all parent communities (no less represent them)?  As some of you know, when my kids were in SPS, I was an active PTA member and board member (although I never served on any SCPTSA groups). One thing I learned (especially as a co-president) that I want you to know is that this idea that any one PTA truly represents an entire school is not  true.  And that SCPTSA grand statement that they speak for all the school PTAs is even less true.  I think most parents can understand my former statement. Unless you have a fairly large PTA, whoever serves on the board AND whoever are members of the PTA are a small subset of any given school. And sometimes, whoever steps up to serve on a PTA Board are then well-positioned to decide the direction of that PTA. So it is for SCPTSA. When they say "membership" or "communities" feel "this way," just know that there was no vote on a position. Th

Director Chandra Hampson Fires Back at Seattle Public Schools

I have to say, Director Hampson is always good for a laugh. Here's a link to her brief in reply to the district's brief of Feb. 16, 2022. I'll walk you through it.  The most important item to point out is the micromanaging that Hampson apparently did AND believes she is entitled to do as an elected Board member. This is absolutely false and decades of Board members have understood that and some have been battered by the Times editorial board over it. She's wrong on this one. Hampson  doesn’t waste much time trying to create a situation for which there is ZERO evidence.  Yet the District’s brief ignores this case’s critical facts and circumstances: District staff, who wanted to control the development of an important new policy, did not move the policy forward despite an elected Director’s repeated requests for swift action; the elected Director then expressed disapproval to the staff members, who gave as good as they got in a phone call that was emotional for everyone;

Seattle Schools Instructional Aide Faces Criminal Charges on Child Molestation

Update: The suspect, Abdi Hassan, was arrested after the court filing. Per the report from KING-5 tv, he was released on a $50,000 bond. KING-5 also reports that the abuse happened at Rainier View Elementary during the 2015-2016 school year.  The victim came forward about the abuse in 2021 after she was asked to write about a "time of great difficulty in her life," according to court documents. I wonder if what she was writing was an essay to get into college. So sad.  end of update The district sent out a staff notice today: Criminal charges were filed Monday, April 18, 2022, in King County Superior Court against an SPS instructional assistant Abdi Hassan for child molestation of a student.  As soon as the district learned of the police investigation of the employee, our Human Resources Department took immediate action to suspend him from work and prohibit any contact with students. He is not allowed on school property. SPS is working to address his employment status. SPS wi

Ballard High School Will Continue Its Principal Status Quo

 From Associate Superintendent Concie Pedroza: Dear Ballard Staff and Families, Allow me to extend my appreciation for your dedication to the needs of students over the last several months. As you know, Ballard High School undergone a leadership shift while Principal Keven Wynkoop was on leave. Today, I am providing an update as promised. At this time, Principal Wynkoop has returned from leave and been reassigned. He will continue to serve Seattle Public Schools as a principal on special assignment, supporting and filling in for building leaders in need of assistance at other schools. Interim Principal Joseph Williams will continue serving the Ballard High School community as school leader until further notice. His role as the interim building leader has been to support students, staff, and families, effectively maintain the daily operations of the school, and provide stable leadership. I understand how sensitive this transition is for many families and staff members. Please know the t

Update on Highly Capable Program

The Multidisciplinary Selection Committee (MSC) is reviewing the data from over 31,000 students K-8.  Families will receive an e-mail or slow mail letter this week, letting them know when they will receive their eligibility decisions. We have divided the groups so that our students of color – many with IEP/504s, FRL/MKV and multilingual – are in the first group, receiving decision by April 19 (appeals due by May 3).   All other students , including additional students with IEP/504s, FRL/MKV and multilingual will be in the second group, receiving their letters by May 2 (appeals due by May 20). The following Eligibility Decisions will be made: HC – Highly Capable AL – Advanced Learner CAL – Continued Advanced Learner NE – Not Eligible It appears that principals will receive the eligibility decisions when parents do. I'm not sure I love this idea because many principals would tend to discourage their advanced learners from leaving a school. Of course that's all short-term becau

Did I Tell You My Theory?

I am not customarily a conspiracy theorist. But sometimes, there is nowhere else to go to explain what has transpired.  It appears to me that there is a campaign going on within the media to boost/protect Seattle Public Schools.  What prompted me to want to write about my theory is the puff piece on Superintendent Brent Jones that was in the Friday Seattle Times. In short, he's "listening "(kinda like what Frasier used to say on his radio show). Which is great but it tells us near nothing about the future of the district.  Nothing about what he will do about transportation.  Nothing on the loss of 3,000 students (and the district's projection that next year, the number of students in SPS will fall below 50K).  Nothing about how boundaries will have to change when the district revamps HCC.  All these things affect nearly every student and family in this district.  But sure, let's hear what his good friend, Mayor Bruce Harrell, has to say. Or perhaps a friend from

Changing School Start Times? I Guess It's NOT Just a Rumor

Update: It appears that Transportation is putting forth a three-tier schedule to operate all routes but with fewer drivers (as it has been and remains difficult to find enough drivers). Whether this is official or not, it is likely that this will be the informal schedule.  They are working with different partners like Athletics and community groups to work this out. Suggested schedule on this matter: April 18: Letter to families about the proposed transition to a three-tier schedule April 21: School Board Operations Committee considers three-tiers and assembled feedback May 4: School Board meeting, introduction of the Transportation Standards May 18: School Board meeting, Board vote on Transportation Standards So if you play this out, it would seem that elementary schools would have to start at 7:30 am instead of 7:55 am which is very early (and means that teachers contract would include a 7:00 am start for teachers).  You may remember over the last decade how Transportation was seekin

Transportation - Is First Student Really the Only Answer?

Seattle Public Schools contracts with a company named First Student to provide most of the transportation for SPS students. (There is some private contracting done for certain Special Education students as well as some homeless students.) However, First Student has a fairly poor track record with SPS as well as with other districts. Recent events makes this even a more serious issue.  From The Seattle Times :(bold mine) The Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission announced a $198,000 settlement Tuesday with First Student, the school-bus contracting giant that has racked up hundreds of safety and procedural violations in the past two years, according to state regulators. The company admits to 396 safety violations, which include repeated failures to screen drivers for drugs and alcohol, clearing employees to drive before they’d even completed an application for employment or had their driving records reviewed, and providing false information on driver records. The co

Principals Musical Chairs

Let me bring you up-to-date as best I can.  Looking at the Personnel Report for the upcoming Seattle School Board meeting we see: - Franklin HS's principal leaving to become...an assistant principal at Franklin. It's unclear who will be principal there.  - Principal at Olympic Hills Elementary leaving - Assistant Principal at Ballard HS leaving (their principal is still on administrative leave)  - Principal at B.F. Day Elementary leaving  - Assistant principal at John Muir Elementary leaving When we last talked: - Ballard HS still had an "acting principal," Dr. Joseph Williams, while Principal Keven Wynkoop is on administrative leave.  - Cleveland HS seems to have lost their principal and an AP, Catherine Brown, is now principal.  - It appears that Roosevelt's former principal is entirely gone and it is unclear to me who is in charge.  You can certainly say that COVID issues could be part of this principal movement but I doubt it's the main reason, not with th

Interesting Discussion Coming Up From King County League of Women Voters

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Our panelists work in the schools and with teachers and future teachers every day. Join us for this discussion of the ongoing work and future possibilities. Emilie Hard , Director of Equity, Tahoma Schools will moderate our discussion with panelists: —  Teddi Beam-Conroy , Ph.D., Director, Elementary Teacher Education, University of Washington —  Shajaira L√≥pez , Ed.D., Director of Secondary Language Learning, Highline Public Schools│Language Learning Dept. —  Jennifer Matter , President of Seattle Education Association —  Toni O’Neal  M.Ed., Professional Growth and Educator Support (PGES), Consulting Teacher, Human Resources, Seattle Schools —  Mike Simmons , Director of Talent Management, Seattle Schools  We hope you will join us for this important conversation.  Register here. Watch live on  YouTube.

NOW You Can Talk to Superintendent Brent Jones

Nothing like being willing to talk AFTER you have the job.  I expect these events to be tightly controlled and the categories for each meeting are interesting. Last I looked, Latino kids had only slightly better outcomes than Native American and/or Black students.  Seattle Council PTSA and Seattle Public Schools are hosting a series of online community engagement events with Dr. Brent Jones.   Please join a Zoom meeting to share your thoughts and perspectives with the Seattle Public Schools superintendent! Dr. Jones will be listening to families about how our schools can be safe and welcoming spaces where students can learn and thrive.   ASL and closed captioning will be available at each listening session. Amharic, Cantonese, Somali, Spanish, and Vietnamese interpreters will be available at each event.  To register for an event, please use the following links.    Native American Families    April 19, 5:30 – 7 p.m.  Register for this event on Zoom Multilingual Families    April 21, 5:3