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 Ari Robin McKenna
In a general membership meeting of the Highline Education Association (HEA) Monday night, teachers voted to begin a phased return to in-person learning for elementary students beginning with “Pre-K, kindergarten, grade 1, and students served in Intensive Academic Center (IAC) K–12” on March 11, and ending with grade 4 and grade 5 on April 1. A week earlier, the union’s general membership had voted to delay the return to in-person learning until April 19.
This about-face follows an intense, three days last week in which Highline Public School (HPS) Superintendent Susan Enfield announced she would be enlisting as a substitute teacher, a letter sent from HPS Human Resources to teachers who had not been granted remote teaching placement threatened them with “progressive discipline” for not returning to work, and a parent petition circulated claiming a “profound lack of confidence” in Enfield and the HPS school board. It also follows a weekend of further bargaining where “supplemental measures” to the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two sides were developed.
Continue reading Highline Teachers Approve March 11 Return, Seattle Begins Limited In-Class Learning March 29
by Andrew Engelson
After a strong windstorm hit Washington state with winds of up to 70 miles per hour in the early hours of Wednesday, Jan. 13, more than 500,000 people in Western Washington lost power and could be without electricity into the rest of today. Numerous areas in South Seattle were still without power by midday Wednesday with outages hitting the Central District, Rainier Valley, Skyway, Georgetown, Beacon Hill, as well as Highline, Burien, and other areas of South King County.
Continue reading Strong Windstorm Knocks Out Power to 74,000 in and Around Seattle, South End Especially Hard Hit
by the Staff of Dearborn Park International School
In response to the recent unilateral announcement by Seattle Public Schools (SPS) that they intend to reopen pre-K/kindergarten/first grade for in-person instruction beginning in March, the staff of Dearborn Park International Elementary School came together for a series of conversations to share our thoughts and concerns about this proposal. The conversations involved the majority of the staff — dozens of staff members over multiple days and included classroom teachers from every grade as well as specialists, instructional assistants, secretaries, and other staff.
We were especially concerned that SPS has not been clear in their communications to families and staff. The decision to reopen schools is not yet official and will have to be negotiated with the Seattle Education Association (SEA) first — there currently is no actual plan in place that would meet the needs of the impacted schools.
Continue reading South End Public School Staff to District: Don’t Reopen Without Vaccines