by Emi Ponce de Souza with An-Lon Chen
Just over a year ago, my son Eric Anthony Souza-Ponce, then a high school senior, filed a formal complaint against Ballard High School. Over the course of a semester, English teacher Wendy Olsen had perpetrated negative racial stereotypes and Principal Keven Wynkoop had shielded her from responsibility. We hope that detailing our family’s experience will help make the complaint process easier for fellow Seattle Public Schools (SPS) students and their families to navigate.
Our case took ten months from beginning to end. Several weeks after The Seattle Times ran an article about the district’s findings, at least two other families filed complaints. Shortly after those complaints were filed, the district placed Principal Wynkoop on administrative leave without specifying its reasons.
This was an important step, but only a partial one. Wendy Olsen continues to teach at Ballard High. Acting Principal Dr. Joseph Williams III, a Black man, faces an uphill battle in trying to change an entrenched culture. Perhaps most glaringly, none of the district’s determinations addressed the issue of race. Trying to prove a school-wide history of racial microaggressions was like nailing Jell-O to the wall.
Continue reading OPINION: Fighting a Hostile Learning Environment Within Seattle Public Schools
by Melia LaCour
It took several attempts before I could finally write this article. What do the 2020 election victories for Black women Democrats mean to me as a Black, mixed-race woman? Each time, I erupted in explosive grief. A complex grief that holds a thousand stories.
Continue reading When We Elect Black Women Leaders
by Luna Reyna
Nine months into the coronavirus pandemic, Seattle students and their families are still confronting a disproportionately large divide in who can and cannot access technology and online learning, though the City and Seattle Public Schools (SPS) are launching an array of initiatives that could close the gap. According to the May 2020 Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) Survey, “at least 8,800 students still need adequate, reliable internet.” A July report published by sea.citi — a network of regional tech and innovation companies working to promote civic engagement and build relationships between community, government, and innovation workers — shows stark inequities among students without access. The most glaring inequity in the report is that almost half of all Black residents in Washington have a barrier to accessing reliable internet. Economic barriers are cited as the most prevalent in households without the internet, making Black students in the state five times more likely to not have access.
Continue reading Seattle Public Schools Works Toward Educational Justice and Digital Equity During the Pandemic