Seattle Schools’ controversial Superintendent Denise Juneau; School District headquarters
It seems very quiet at the offices of the Seattle School District’s John Stanford headquarters, in spite of a bombshell story about the district’s tolerance of student abuse in the classroom by the adults in charge.
The mismanagement of the district was on display and in the news recently with the School Board’s Jan. 22 vote to begin the process of dismantling its Highly Capable education program (see here, here, and here). This action ignored opposition from families, students and the recommendations of its own Advanced Learning Task Force.
And now a new outrage has emerged. The next day, on Jan. 23, Ann Dornfeld, a reporter for KUOW (94.9 FM), broke a lengthy story about rampant abuse in the classroom at Washington Middle School and in other places:
“A KUOW investigation found that Seattle Public Schools often allows teachers who harm students to stay in the classroom. Some are allowed to keep teaching even after multiple offenses.
The district has also, on at least one occasion, removed evidence of misconduct from a teacher’s personnel file after forcing them out of the district. Through a public records request, KUOW obtained records for 10 cases in which teachers were disciplined for verbal abuse, physical abuse or sexual harassment against children in Seattle Public Schools from 2012 to 2018.
Education attorneys told KUOW these 10 cases could potentially have resulted in termination. In only one case was a teacher actually forced out of the district.”
You would think that this would be an all-hands situation, at least prompting a press conference, with SPS Board leadership, and Superintendent Denise Juneau, assuring parents that they would get to the bottom of the allegations, and practice zero tolerance for this kind of behavior and policy.
Instead, so far: Crickets.
It’s been so quiet, in fact, that Washington Middle Schools students, where one of the teachers in question was still allowed to teach in the classroom, staged a protest.
The district’s response? The Board has canceled its next public meeting, set for February 5th, ostensibly because snow days that led to the cancellation of January committee meetings left them with no work to get done. Last Friday’s newsletter from Superintendent Juneau mentions not a word about the allegations; not even a tepid reassurance.
Families are asking for accountability, beginning with this new letter to district leadership from concerned parents. – Maxine Eastman
To sign the letter (click here) to demand that the SPS Directors convene a meeting to deal with abuse in Seattle Public Schools.
Sign on: We demand accountability for abuse in our Seattle Public Schools:
We, the undersigned, are shocked at the reports of ongoing abuse of students in the Seattle Public Schools. The response from our district leadership, including Superintendent Denise Juneau, as well as the SPS Board of Directors’ President Zachary DeWolf, has been woefully inadequate.
The reports that students complaints have been ignored, the lack of screening for new hires, the decisions by human resources to retain staff after complaints have been substantiated, and the shifting of blame for this responsibility is unacceptable.
We demand that the Board and the Superintendent publicly take ownership of this crisis of trust in our public school system.
We demand that the Board and the Superintendent publicly take a zero-tolerance approach to any retaliation for reports of any wrongdoing in the district.
We demand that the Board re-convene and reschedule their meeting for February 5th, to hear the concerns of parents and members of the community, and their children if they so wish.
To cancel a public meeting days after these revelations represents a complete disconnect from the principles of transparency and accountability. Carefully vetted e-mails from your communications department will not be accepted as a means to paper over this institutional irresponsibility. We need to see you address this crisis.
We demand direct answers, and a forum to ask questions in a manner that we are accustomed to, and our request is reasonable. Reinstate the February 5th Board meeting to deal with these issues, and provide extended public comment to hear from parents, taxpayers, and in the case of the Board itself, your constituents.