Mum’s the word on levy money for First Place charter school


If you read my post The Seattle Office for Education has decided it’s OK to use taxpayer levy dollars for charter schools, you would know about the fact that the Office for Education has decided it’s OK to use existing levy money for charter schools.

I asked the Office for Education (OFE) how they came to that decision and they decided my question was a FOIA request.

Because it was a FOIA request, I decided to be specific and request communications between the Office for Education and the City Attorney’s Office regarding First Place Charter Schools. They waited five days to reply to my request and said it would take 30 days to respond.

I patiently waited and today received my response. All communications between the Office of Education and the City Attorney’s Office were redacted. The reason stated is because the communications are protected by attorney/client privilege. This seems odd to me because being the City and we pay city taxes and then property taxes for levy money, aren’t we the client?

I’ll look into that later but for now know they don’t want to divulge any information which of course, makes me even more curious. It might take some time but we will find out the full story on why the OFE decided it was OK to use levy funds for a charter school.

If this is how opaque their decision-making process is, imagine what it will be like when the OFE is converted into the Department of Education and has control in some fashion of Seattle Public School property and programs including the City’s preschool program. And imagine how difficult it would be if Mayor Murray decides he wants to control the Seattle Public School district as mayor, sometime referred to as Mayoral Control. He sponsored a bill in Olympia when he was a State Senator that proposed considering options to a democratically elected school board and word has it there are whispers about it or a version of it now in the corridors of City Hall.

Getting back to First Place charter school, the first one to become a charter school in the state of Washington, well…they’re having a few problems

From the Seattle Times and published yesterday evening:

State’s first charter school in disarray

Since it opened in September, the state’s first charter school has lost its special-education coordinator, principal, board president and half the rest of its board. By Wednesday, it must prove to a state board that it can solve problems in four major areas 

Just months after it opened, First Place Scholars, the first charter school in Washington state, is in turmoil.

Its first principal resigned in November, more than half of its original board of directors have left, too, and the state’s charter-school commission has identified more than a dozen potential problems that need to be fixed soon if the school wants to keep its doors open.

Among them: hiring a qualified special-education teacher for the roughly two dozen students who need those services, and completing background checks on some of its nonteaching staff.

Members of the Washington State Charter School Commission, charged with vetting and overseeing charter schools, say they are hopeful that First Place will turn itself around and that the school is on track to complete its corrective action plan on time.

But if it doesn’t, the school will face stricter negotiations that could ultimately lead to its closure.

The school’s rocky start is bad news for charter supporters, who barely got a charter law passed here two years ago after trying for nearly two decades.

I sent an email to Holy Miller, Director of the Office for Education, this morning asking if, due to the news about First Place charter schools, the OFE will still consider providing levy funds to the school.

So far, crickets.

Dora Taylor


4 thoughts on “Mum’s the word on levy money for First Place charter school

  1. Dora,

    In essence, we don’t know whether or not the city’s attorney advised against providing levy funds to First Place.

    Thank you for keeping-up on these important issues.

  2. This deeply saddens me. First Place has been around for a long time and it has played a very important role in the education of homeless youth and providing support services for children and their families. I was fortunate to intern at First Place when I was learning to be a teacher. I was worried for the future and integrity of this institution when I read that this school had pursued and been awarded the status of the first charter school in WA. Thank you for keeping us informed.

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