Thursday, June 27, 2019

Is it time for the Seattle public school district to be split ?

  • When a district closes ALL its schools due to snow in only one portion of the city does it make sense? 
  •  When school buses are continually late due to long routes, is that efficient? 
  •  When the districts priorities don't align with all communities, is that fair? 
  • When schools aren't equally funded, is that equity?
  • When a parents concerns get buried in a large bureaucracy, is that listening? 
  •  When it takes 4 out of 7 school board members to effect change, is that expedient?
  •  When one area has multiple new schools and another has 60 year old buildings that have poor heat, leaking roofs and peeling paint, is that equity? 
  •  When a fairly new building needs a $5.5 million roof repair, is that stewardship? 

Whether a parent has one or more students attending public schools you will experience a lot of frustration attempting to understand why the same type of issues seem to become circular problems that remain unsolved. At some point you might think the district is just too large to be effectively managed.

One of my frustrations is how the district seems to shuttle its problematic employees from a distant school to another school hoping the parents at the new school are in the dark about the past issues with their new principle, AP or teacher. Special education is particularity problematic perhaps because of a long and frustrating interaction for over a decade with the department.

So do you think the district is too large?
If it were to be split what would the new district look like.
What should happen to JSCEE ?     Should it be sold to pay off the debt?

I found an interesting site you should look at to see some of the issues with splitting districts.

Fracturing school districts



Friday, June 21, 2019

Congratulations Seattle Public Schools class of 2019

Take pride in your accomplishments - you did it!

Are you interested in finding out what's really going in the district ?

The district keeps a document called the PRR or Public Records Request log. It's an excel spreadsheet listing the FOIA request received by the district.

Here is a recent 2019-2020 copy : Seattle school district PRR log

If you would like to obtain your own PRR just email :
and ask for a copy of the PRR log.   

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

How can Seattle schools move forward when the school board is stuck in the past?

As most school board observers know, the critical work of the board is performed in the work committees outside of the view of only the most die hard parents, those who can skip work to attend. Board decisions are usually made before the public board meetings are held. The public board meetings are not very useful but for the illusion that public testimony might cause change. Does that method really work?

I found a site that has a new approach for school boards that you might find interesting;

"New Roles for Board Members

Assuming such a role is taken on by the superintendent, what, then, becomes the role of the school board?
Traditionally, few boards ever have meetings without the superintendent physically present; they are much like children relying on a parent—or students relying on a teacher. Just as we see with kids in a classroom, when excellence is not demanded, when thoughtfulness is not valued, and when self-directed meaningful work is not required, then apathy and mediocrity result. Is it any wonder trustees have abdicated their responsibilities over the years? Or that they spend board meetings debating the merits of selling candy bars at fund raisers? They've come to believe that they can't do much, don't know much, and shouldn't do much—and act accordingly."


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

The district has an operating budget of nearly $1.5 billion

Most voters have no idea of the yearly cost to run the Seattle school district and to be honest it's very difficult to find the real cost buried in budget reports when there are many non budgetary expenditures that the school board never sees because the cost falls under the required $249,000 amount that triggers needed board approval. In most school districts the threshold is $10,000 not a quarter of a MILLION dollars. 

WA state recently approved a two-year budget funding Washington’s 2,400 K-12 public schools $27.2 billion,  a increase of $4.4 billion. Most school districts are now receiving $16,000 per student. $16,000 per school year is above the average yearly tuition of most private schools in Seattle.

 Below is the recent email from SPS disclosing a staggering $1.5 BILLION budget,

"The Seattle School Board will be appointing a new Board Director on August 28 for District VII (see map here) representing schools and students in Southeast Seattle.
Seattle Public Schools is the largest district in the state, home to 53,000 diverse students that attend 102 schools. The district has an operating budget of nearly $1.5 billion. The seven-person Seattle Public Schools Board of Directors governs the district and plays a critical role in the education of our students and stewardship of public investment. Each director, while responsible for oversight of the entire district, also represent seven distinct “districts” across the city.
The District VII board seat has been vacated by Director Betty Patu, a two and half-term board director and community leader of Southeast Seattle.  Washington state law (RCW 28.A343.370) guides the transition process. When a board seat vacancy occurs outside the regular election cycle, the current board appoints a candidate to finish that term. In this case the appointed term will last for two years and reopen for public election during the 2021 campaign cycle.   
It is the intent of the School Board to engage in a transparent process, with community assistance to solicit candidates and gather feedback from families, students, partners, and staff.
More information about the appointee process, criteria, timeline and engagement opportunities can be found on the School Board webpage.
If you have questions about the School Board appointment process please email
School Board Office"

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Parents Prevail in D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ Decision Reversing Use of New USAO Matrix for Calculating Prevailing Attorney's Fees

On May 21, 2019, parents prevailed in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision in D.L., et al. v. District of Columbia, A Municipal Corp., et al., which reversed the district court’s decision to apply a new matrix from the United States Attorney’s Office (USAO) instead of the historically used LSI Laffey matrix as urged by parents’ counsel for calculating prevailing attorney’s fees following a successful fifteen-year complex IDEA class action.  The district court’s use of the USAO’s new matrix reduced parents’ counsels’ fee award by over three million dollars. 
In reversing the use of the USAO’s matrix, the Court of Appeals found that the USAO’s matrix did not incorporate rates for the applicable type of practitioner—in this case, those who practice complex federal class action litigation.  Instead, the USAO’s matrix incorporated rates from all types of lawyers, such as real estate, family, and insurance lawyers, all of whom do not provide the same kind and quality of services as parents’ counsel provided in this complex class action litigation.   In addition, the Court of Appeals found that the USAO’s matrix compiled data from practitioners in a wide radius—covering three states and including rural counties.  Obviously, rates from lawyers in more rural areas outside the District of Columbia are not applicable in determining the reasonable hourly rate for experienced complex federal litigators within the District of Colombia, where this litigation took place.   

Accordingly, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the USAO’s new matrix did not accurately reflect that of similarly experienced attorneys practicing within the relevant population, and therefore, it reversed and remanded the issue back to the district court for appropriate fee calculation. 
This litigation began in 2005 The named plaintiffs in this lawsuit—former preschool-age children in the District with various disabilities—allege that defendants have systemically failed to provide, or failed to timely provide, special education and related services to them and other children, in violation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”), 20 U.S.C. § 1400 et seq., section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 794(a), and District of Columbia law. Margaret Kohn, long time COPAA member has represented the plaintiffs along with Todd Gluckman, Terris, Pravlik & Millian, LLP. COPAA filed an amicus group with other amici including: CITIZEN, INC., HOWARD UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW CIVIL RIGHTS CLINIC, NATIONAL HEALTH LAW PROGRAM, WASHINGTON LAWYERS’ COMMITTEE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND URBAN AFFAIRS, COUNCIL OF PARENT ATTORNEYS AND ADVOCATES, INC., ANIMAL LEGAL DEFENSE FUND, THE JUDGE DAVID L. BAZELON CENTER FOR MENTAL HEALTH LAW, DEFENDERS OF WILDLIFE, LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, NATIONAL WOMENS LAW CENTER, AND AARP. Michael Kirkpatrick of Public Citizen wrote the brief for amici.
Read the decision in D.L., et al. v. District of Columbia, a Municipal Corporation, et al.