Seattle Hall Pass Podcast

E18 - School Shuffle Stories I - Dunlap

January 02, 2024 Christie Robertson Season 1 Episode 18
E18 - School Shuffle Stories I - Dunlap
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast
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Seattle Hall Pass Podcast
E18 - School Shuffle Stories I - Dunlap
Jan 02, 2024 Season 1 Episode 18
Christie Robertson

In this episode of Seattle Hall Pass, we feature the first of a three-part series on the October shuffles at SPS elementary schools. We interview two parents (Nasirah Salaymane Craig and Alex Wakeman Rouse) and one teacher (Wil Depusoy) from  Dunlap Elementary school in Southeast Seattle about how the upheaval affected their community.

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Show Notes Transcript

In this episode of Seattle Hall Pass, we feature the first of a three-part series on the October shuffles at SPS elementary schools. We interview two parents (Nasirah Salaymane Craig and Alex Wakeman Rouse) and one teacher (Wil Depusoy) from  Dunlap Elementary school in Southeast Seattle about how the upheaval affected their community.

See our show notes

Support the Show.

Music by Sarah, the Illstrumentalist, logo by Carmen Lau-Woo.
Sign up for our newsletter

School Shuffle Stories I - Dunlap

[00:00:00] Christie Robertson: Welcome to Seattle Hall Pass, a podcast with news and conversations about Seattle Public Schools. My name is Christie Robertson.

[00:00:08] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel.

[00:00:10] Christie Robertson: For decades, Seattle has shuffled teachers among schools every October after the October 1st head count is conducted at each school.

This year, the impact was much greater because along with the usual teacher shuffle between schools, teachers had to be shuffled among grades in order to meet K-3 class sizes required by the state.

[00:00:30] Jane Tunks Demel: And because the budget situation at Seattle Public Schools is so dire, there was no wiggle room for them to hire any additional teachers.

[00:00:39] Christie Robertson: To review what happened to this most recent October, you can listen to our sixth episode called the John Stanford Shuffle on 

Around this time, we recorded interviews with six parents and two teachers at seven Seattle schools. In this episode, we're going to bring you Teacher Wil Depusoy and parents Nasirah Salaymane Craig and Alex Wakeman Rouse from one Seattle school, Dunlap Elementary. We recorded these interviews separately in October and November, but we wove them together here in our edit.

[00:01:15] Jane Tunks Demel: Dunlap this year lost two teachers because the school had 24 fewer students than the district projected. As a result, several classrooms needed to be shuffled and students had to be put in new classrooms. 

[00:01:29] Christie Robertson: And now welcome to Dunlap teacher Wil Depusoy. Can you introduce yourself to us, Wil?

[00:01:37] Wil Depusoy: My name is Wil Depusoy. I teach fourth grade at Dunlap Elementary. I've taught here since 1998, pretty much straight. Yeah, I started teaching in ’92. 

[00:01:51] Jane Tunks Demel: Are you the teacher that's been there the longest?

[00:01:53] Wil Depusoy: No, 

[00:01:54] Jane Tunks Demel: Wow!

[00:01:55] Wil Depusoy: There's probably a couple of other teachers. One thing Dunlap is known for is the longevity of staff who have wanted to stay here and didn't ask for a transfer. And then another is that staff that get onboarded by us want to stay here. And that includes the two that were displaced 

[00:02:13] Christie Robertson: We should say that “displacement” is the word that SPS uses when they move a teacher to a different school due to shifts in enrollment. And so, well, why do you think that teachers are so dedicated to Dunlap? 

[00:02:29] Wil Depusoy: The feeling for a lot of administrators, they say the Dunlap staff has got longevity from Ms. Metz, who has been here for maybe 10 more years, 15 more years than I have. And the new teachers that have come on the last five years or so from STR and what have you. 

[00:02:47] Jane Tunks Demel: Is STR the Seattle Teacher Residency?

[00:02:50] Wil Depusoy: Yeah. We pretty much have a very tight staff community. A lot of it is because of just a lot of mutual support for each other. Newbie or vet: sometimes the vets need help with the technology and everything like that and the newbies help; or sometimes the newbies just need to survive the first or second year of teaching. So that we don't stay isolated from each other in the classrooms. We really do a lot of collaboration and mutual support. 

I think what drives it is that Dunlap is in this space between a lot of other schools in Southeast Seattle, but we've always had a guiding North Star of just driving toward doing the best for our kids here and treating each child as if it was our own child. Like how would we want to be talked to if we were the parent of that child? So our relationships that we model the teachers that have been here long term have created a core value system about how we work with our neighborhood, community, and population of students, which has always been traditionally where we're at — immigrant almost always predominantly BIPOC over the years.

There's a lot of support for affordable housing here. So one of the big issues is that because of where we are with a high immigrant refugee population — we just have a mobile population where it doesn't stick on the October 1st count. So the district will project for a certain thing and then we'll have families that migrate out say, “Hey, I can not afford to be here anymore. I got to move to Kent.” 

And then we will have new families coming in and they might be placed by refugee assistance programs and things like that. They might be at the George Floyd Apartments or they might get placed locally in other housing and they're here in the middle of the year. And then our count all of a sudden jumps up like eight or nine kids. 

We're thinking that it would be a great idea if there was some sort of waiver for highly mobile populations to not get stuck in a situation where we lose teachers after we've worked on establishing community. And for some of these kids, it's their first experience in an American school.  

[00:05:14] Christie Robertson: Let's add a couple of parent voices into the mix. 

[00:05:16] Alex Wakeman Rouse: My name is Alex Wakeman Rouse. I have two kids. My oldest is in first grade at Dunlap and my younger kid just turned 4. So he'll be in kindergarten in a couple of years. I grew up here in Seattle, so I went to elementary, middle, and high school in Seattle Public Schools. My mom actually worked for the district for about 15 years as a school nurse and most recently as a contact tracer during the pandemic.

[00:05:45] Nasirah Salaymane Craig: And I'm Nasirah Salaymane Craig. I have a son and he's in kindergarten, so it's our first year in the Seattle Public School sector. And I grew up in Seattle. I actually went to Adams Elementary School when we just came to America, so that was my first school. I went to middle school in West Seattle, high school in the north end at Ingraham, graduated college here. So I stayed here all my whole life pretty much. 

[00:06:12] Jane Tunks Demel: So tell us what happened this year at Dunlap. 

[00:06:15] Nasirah Salaymane Craig: So yeah it's very new for us. I'm still learning and we get good communications from the school and, of course, SPS but I'm still confused about what's going on sometimes. Just reading from the emails, we know that we lost two teachers there. My son's class got shifted. His guest teacher told me that he was going to be shifted to the other class or transferred to the other class. And got a little nervous about it because he's really loving the teacher. He loves his class and his classmates and I was nervous that he's going to be discouraged going to another class and then they're going to have another shift, with a teacher returning from their maternity leave. So there's a lot of stuff going on there. 

But thankfully toward the end of the day, he didn't get moved. Right now he has a mixed class of first graders and kindergarteners in his classroom. His class is the one that first graders got moved into and he was going to be shifted to the full only-kindergarten class. There was an email sent to us, I think, a week prior to that shift happening. He knows what's going on. He's excited with the new classmates joining and stuff. I think everybody's adjusting. He's making new friends. He's makes friends very easily, so he's adjusting. 

[00:07:32] Christie Robertson: Thanks, Nasirah. And let's hear what this October was like from a teacher's perspective.

[00:07:37] Wil Depusoy: This year, they had funded for us to have just about two of each grade. Two kindergartens, two first [grades], two second [grades] — nice size school. Two fourths [grades]and two fifths [grades]. We had, as a result, one new teacher come aboard. He was assigned as a partner to me, a fourth grade teacher who just came out of STR [Seattle Teacher Residency]. 

I worked with him closely through August to just say, “Hey, this is the Dunlap way. This is how we do things.” And he was really onboard. Mr. Hammond was doing a great job just listening and learning about the community from me. And spending a lot of critical time getting to know his neighborhood. He'd just take walks at lunchtime and walk around the neighborhood as his first year of teaching. He'd eat his lunch walking around. 

He had approximately 22 students and I had 22 students. And we had already set our classrooms up. So the story is that, as you probably know, the district recognized that it was in jeopardy of losing $3.1 million or so because they didn't do something correctly to go with the McCleary money. And the district said, “Wait a minute, we're paying for too many intermediate teachers. We're paying for four intermediate teachers. We're only supposed to pay for 3.5.” So the first thing is that either me or Mr. Hammond has to split ourselves and become a part third-grade teacher.

The issue is was that our 3rd grade was already small. We were at like 17 or 16 students in the 3rd grade. But because of the state mandate that the money be driven towards K through 3, we had to reconfigure in a way to try to create one of us 4th grade teachers to be a 3-4 split. Where our lump was in population was in the 4th grade, So that would migrate other 4th grade students up into the other 4th grade class or the 5th grade class to increase their numbers. And then we would have one of us teachers teaching a 3-4 split. So that's the one piece, okay?

[00:09:52] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah.

[00:09:53] Wil Depusoy: The other piece is, for some reason — we’re still trying to figure out what the arcane formula is — they decided that our population of drop of 24 students from their projection should cost us two teachers. So they have to pay for 6.5 K-3 [teachers] and 3.5 intermediate [teachers]. And plus, we're going to lose two teachers. So instead of 12 teachers to do this, we're going to change it to 10 teachers that are going to try to do it. 

[00:10:21] Christie Robertson: You were trying to figure out this formula, too, right, Alex?

[00:10:25] Alex Wakeman Rouse: Dunlap's enrollment last spring was, like, 230 kids. We are a high mobility school, so kids move in and out of our neighborhood a lot. We have a couple of tiny home villages. We've got a lot of low-income housing, like Seattle Housing Authority and other nonprofit low-income buildings. So there's just a lot of mobility. But our projections for this year were 249 kids — almost 20 more. I don't know why. It just seems like that would be a really big swing for our school. And so we didn't meet that enrollment number. Not only did we not gain 20, we actually were 5 fewer. In October, they said we have 225 kids. And so we had to lose 2 teachers. I also don't know how that equates to two teachers. 

[00:11:17] Christie Robertson: How did you manage, as a teacher group, losing those two teachers, Wil?

[00:11:24] Wil Depusoy: So I'm on the BLT [Building Leadership Team] when we lose one teacher, Mr. Hammond, and then we lose Mr. O, who was also teaching 3rd grade. We had to do some juggling just to comply and get all these numbers to match up, and we just ended up creating all kinds of splits.

[00:11:46] Jane Tunks Demel: There's no straight third grade anymore. There's only a 2/3 and a 3/4 I'm teaching the straight 4th [grade] and I got brought up to 28 [students]. Mr. Barr, who was a fifth grade teacher, is now a 4/5 teacher with 15 fourth graders and 10 fifth graders.

And because of that decision, none of our K-3s, as I look at it, none of those numbers are at the ratio of 1:17 anymore. I'm looking at a kindergarten with 21 kids, a K/1 with 14 Ks and plus 5 first-graders, a first grade with 22 first graders, a 1/2 with 14 first graders, 6 second graders. The one straight we got is a second grade — it’s got 22 kids. A 2/3 — that’s a really difficult one. Mr. Vernon's assignment is that he's got 7 second graders and then he's got 13 third graders that are going to take the SBA [Smarter Balanced Assessment, a standardized test]. Those second graders don't take this [test].

And if you looked at any of our current math curricula with Amplify or the Envision adoptions that as teachers ,we’ve got to manipulate two different learning paths. For instance, Mr. Barr is teaching decimals, but at the same time, he's teaching place value to the few fourth graders in his class. Two different workbooks to manage curriculas.  

[00:13:13] Alex Wakeman Rouse: And last year we also had a shuffle in October. We got an email saying that our kindergarten classes were too big we're going to have to move some kindergartners around to first grade. And this was just an email from the principal. We never got any communication from the district.

 I had no idea that this was like a typical thing that happens. And I remember being really confused and worried too because my kid is a little shyer and thankfully they had Jump Start last year, but he was the kid that cried and screamed every day of Jump Start. A small classroom with some stability with a teacher that he can connect to was just really important to me. And so I was really worried about it. 

He did not move,. I knew it happened, but I didn't know it was normal.

[00:13:59] Christie Robertson: How did the kids respond to all that movement? 

[00:14:02] Wil Depusoy: They have written “we miss you” letters to Mr. Hammond and Mr. O. Mr. O has been with us for about two years going now and he really wanted to stay. He was really committed. He really merged well with the rest of us as a staff community.

The kids — some of these first graders and second graders — are wondering if they're going to be able to play or see their classmates that they had in September. What lunch were their former classmates going to be in now? Are they going to be in second or first grade lunch? 

As I review a lot of their “we miss you” letters, a lot of those third and fourth grade kids, they were talking a lot about how they really connected with that particular teacher for the month that we were here together.

The population, like I said, there's a lot of kids that are ML. 

[00:14:56] Jane Tunks Demel: Multilingual? 

[00:14:57] Wil Depusoy: Yes, where they're having to sort through the scheduling hassle that usually happens in September. Like, when are these kids going to get service? It happens again, and it happens in a more complicated way, because now we have second-grade first-year-learning-English kids with kindergarten-learning-English, just learning anything, kids. That's been a hot mess, trying to figure out all the scheduling with services for all those students. 

[00:15:25] Nasirah Salaymane Craig: It's gonna be a lot of shifting. The maternity teachers are coming back in December and so they're gonna have another change happening and they're gonna have another teacher to get used to and familiarize to. It's a little concerning, but kids are resilient and I'm hoping that everybody work together as a team to make it best for all the kids involved with this. 

[00:15:47] Alex Wakeman Rouse: One of the amazing things about Dunlap because its a smaller school — there’s a lot of amazing things. Most of our staff and teachers are people of color, which is really important for our community because the vast majority of our kids are people of color, so they're seeing educators who share their culture and their background. But because it's so small, every staff person knows all of the kids. It's amazing. And so with this transition, they were really intentional. I don't know what the formula was, but I know that each teacher connected with all family members of those that they thought about moving to discuss and try and figure out whether this would be a good opportunity or not. 

And then the second thing that's been so amazing is the messaging to the kids. When I asked my first grader about it because he didn't move, I was just asking how did it go? What's he thinking? And he said, “Oh, so-and-so are going to be the leaders in the kindergarten class. They're moving down to kindergarten, but they're still in first grade, Mom. They're still first graders, but they're going to be the leaders of the class. And then my other friend was saying that her son was really disappointed he didn't get to move, because he said, “Does my teacher not think I'm a leader? I could be a leader. I could be a leader for the first graders.”

[00:17:06] Nasirah Salaymane Craig: Oh, that's so cute. 

[00:17:07] Alex Wakeman Rouse: But the teachers and school are really going above and beyond to center students and families. 

I just think, it shouldn't have to be this way. And we have so much transition and mobility in our community. And like Nasirah said, our kindergarten teachers are on parental leave — both of them. There was already so much change built into these kids’ lives. 

And I'll add too, I know that other schools who had lower enrollment and were supposed to lose staff were able to raise private money to pay and keep their staff. Which I don't fault them for that. And if we had the money, I think we would do the same, but we don't. And so I think that was an unfortunate — really unfortunate — unintended consequence of this shifting. 

Of the other big pictures: I've been talking to parents all across the city, and there are schools that had 30 or 40 more kids than they expected so all the classes are like 30 kids. And I don't want that either, you know? All kids deserve stability and good support and staffed schools, so that's all crappy. 

[00:18:21] Jane Tunks Demel: For other students and families, what have you heard from them about this change? What are their feelings?

[00:18:27] Alex Wakeman Rouse: Parents that I talk to who drop off or pick up their kids a lot of them do not speak English well. So they're not really aware what's going on. I know the school did a really good job at calling some of the parents that speaks the language and kind of explaining to them, but I don't think they get the whole gist of the story of what's happening. I think if you get email information, there's more in-depth detail to that.We're still navigating this whole system of “what do we know, what do we not know, what do we share with each other? How do we get this information from the school or from SPS?” 

That's been my main concern: how are we helping answer any of those questions that parents might have? To Nashirah's point, I think a lot in our community — often due to language barriers, but often because they aren't familiar with this educational system at all — is they don't know what to do with the questions that they have, so they just keep them. And so they're left confused and it can sometimes foster mistrust. 

And this year, because of the shuffle and the loss of two teachers, I've talked to quite a few parents and caregivers who feel that this means the school is going to close, that they feel like the district is doing this on purpose, and that this is just the beginning of closing our school. So there's a lot of fear and concern that is what this means.

And I think because nobody has come and talk to us and talked to our community from the district and shared why this happened or helped explain, then there's a lot of worries swirling around and no answers. 

[00:20:13] Christie Robertson: How do parents feel about the idea that Dunlap might close.

[00:20:18] Alex Wakeman Rouse: Dunlap and the staff and the teachers are so intentional and supportive and provide such wraparound support for the kids who need it the most. And I think there's just worry that if that kind of intentionality and hyperfocus on supporting our kids, those kids will be lost. I personally think it can be done in a way that centers those kids and centers those families. But we don't have any, I don't have any evidence of that actually happening. Like I said, they haven't even come to talk to us about why we lost two teachers. They haven't shown us that they would actually center our voices and actually listen to us and our concerns. 

[00:21:02] Jane Tunks Demel: Do you have any thoughts you want to share about the district leadership or the school board directors, 

[00:21:09] Nasirah Salaymane Craig: Like I said, this is my first year in the SPS system. As a immigrant, I'm not really familiar of how to navigate the system. It's a learning process for me. And, remembering when we came to America, just, being a fifth grader, you just have to navigate everything by yourself. I want to learn so I can be a better advocate for my kid and kids in the school. So I'm open to learning. 

Sorry. Just got a little emotional just because just remembering what we went through as immigrants and trying to learn the system and acclimating to America and my parents not speaking any English. So I know that lack of communication sometimes breeds contempt and contempt breeds misunderstanding and mistrust. I hope that they — the school system — shares a lot more and be a little bit more open to at least reaching out to the broader community of immigrants because our community is full of immigrants. And even though I grew up here, there's so much that I'm still learning and I don't know about and I can't imagine parents who just came here a year or two ago trying to acclimate to America and getting themselves settled and having multiple kids and like juggling all these things. Like I can't imagine what they're going through just because I'm putting myself in my parents perspective and it's just heartbreaking to not understand anything.

[00:22:56] Christie Robertson: So hard. So hard. And it just makes it triply overwhelming for those parents. And there's a significant percentage of our Seattle Public Schools population where the home language is not English. And it's a strength for our whole district but it requires special handling, especially when there's like unusual things like this that are happening. So my heart goes out to you and your community and those other communities, Nasirah.

[00:23:28] Alex Wakeman Rouse: Dunlap is an incredible melting pot of people from everywhere across the world. Last year we had 30 refugee students from Afghanistan move to our community. We have Ethiopian, Eritrean, Somali, we have Mian, Cham, Vietnamese, Chinese. We have Spanish-speaking families from Mexico and Guatemala. I'm forgetting so many other people, but we are a world school. 

So my ask for the board or the superintendent is more support for schools like ours. I know that we only have instructional assistants in Somali, Vietnamese, and Spanish. We had those 30 students from Afghanistan last year, and we didn't have a PTA, we didn't have any money to fund a Dari or Pashto interpreter to help those families understand. So I agree with Nasirah: more communication, come to where we're at, because our families are eager. When we have events, they come, even if we only have interpreters for those three languages. And we work hard as a small community to try and find interpreters and pay for them to show up, but we're at the ground zero of understanding what's happening. 

I grew up here. I’m a native English speaker. I have a master's degree in public administration. And I am completely flummoxed by how all of this works. Just some help in educating us a bit so we can feel empowered and bought in and seen and heard. 

[00:25:09] Jane Tunks Demel: Wil, we've talked to lots of parents and only a few teachers, and so we're really wanting to hear from teachers from your perspective. How does it affect you when these shuffles happen? Everything: the change in classroom, the split grades.

[00:25:26] Wil Depusoy: Besides what I've already said about from watching the kids experience a little bit of trauma from the upheaval of, moving desks and having to explain to parents. For me, as a teacher, it felt like starting September again when I lost, five students, six students. They had to go to the 3/4 split. And then I gained seven or eight, so it's a weird change.

So some kids left my class that we thought would be more appropriate for 3/4, and some kids entered my class that were from Mr. Hammond's closed-down class. And we have to start the whole building classroom community process again. Albeit, maybe I had to condense it a little bit. Can you sign on to our class charter? Can we understand all of the routines and processes in class and homework and things like that? But the 23 kids I started with were really good in trying to help those students that entered my class. 

I think it's hard for me just because I had put a lot of time into helping Mr. Hammond. I sat with him a couple hours after school every day teaching him how do you run a fourth grade class. What things do you do? How do you handle homework policies and seating and class procedures and things like that. So I spent a lot of investment time, as we normally do with new teachers at Dunlap, and saying, “This is what our community is like.” 

I'll tell you, we get a lot of kids from these apartments and a lot of kids from the local neighborhood. We shared a lot of things and bonded a lot. And so that was hard to have put that work in and have it lost.

Plus just I've been teaching at about 23, 24 [students] for a while. And right now I'm at 27, which is like one under my contract. And my classroom is just filled to the gills. There's really not any space to do community circles on the floor anymore. There's a few more papers and grades that I have to scrutinize and reading levels and small reading groups I have to formulate. So that's been difficult. Any teacher will tell you, you add five or six more kids, you're probably going to have an extra half hour every day to prep or to assessments. And that all adds up.

[00:27:59] Christie Robertson: That totally makes sense. Did you guys have any say in the matter or was there any appeal or was it just kind of told to you?

[00:28:07] Wil Depusoy: Oh, we've just been trying to appeal it left and right. It was told to our principal, and our principal went and said, “Anybody in the district, can you explain to us why 24 kids equals two teachers?” 

John Adams lost two in the North End, and we lost two and we know Orca lost a teacher. And there are some other buildings that had enrollment drops, but did not lose teachers. We could have used one teacher, definitely. We wouldn't have so bad a shake up in K through 3, where we're running 22 kids and they're different grade levels. Any of that decision making did not seem, from my professional viewpoint, a best decision for kids. 

[00:28:53] Jane Tunks Demel: Right now we are just trying to comply with what the district asked us to do, even if it is not the best thing to do.  And all of that moving students that are furthest from educational justice up academically, it's just much more of a heavy lift. So I'm not sure how we are going to make our CSIP goals. 

[00:29:17] Christie Robertson: For our listeners, a CSIP is a Continuous School Improvement Plan. Every school needs to have one. And it is now supposed to align with the goals and guardrails that the school board laid out. The CSIP is put together and approved by the Building Leadership Team, I believe.

[00:29:42] Wil Depusoy: We submitted our goals early on before any of this, and we said, “Yeah, our goal is always third grade reading.” And that looks like it's just going to be a very difficult task if we got K/1s running at 22, 23 [students] with a high ML [multilingual] population. Our second and third grades are still feeling the aftereffects of Covid learning. Those are still reverberating through the grades. So we are still catching up there. 

I don't see where in this decision it was best for our particular kids. And we're also concerned, that we know that there's a well-resourced school discussion happening through the district, which is gonna probably lead to school consolidations and closures. And it makes us wonder if they've already selected the schools. So we have his concerns are certain schools set up to not experience success and therefore justify the closure. 

[00:30:44] Christie Robertson: Yeah. 

[00:30:46] Wil Depusoy: I just appreciate that you folks are letting us get our story out. I know there were a lot of folks from Orca at the board meetings. And we have a population that cares, too. They just have a lot of parents that are very busy or maybe a little bit too apprehensive of getting up in front of a microphone and explaining the impact on their daughter or child on what happens here. But they have the same concerns and grief over things changing like they do so we just would like to make sure that Dunlap's story is somewhere in this mix. Dunlap has always been at that forefront of trying to reduce disproportionality even before there were racial equity teams.

And Dunlap was already doing it. Because that's all we had. We had students of color that it was what we worked with. So every move we were trying, we were always thinking that if this child, if this if this was my son, how am I going to make this child move up the levels or improve socially, academically, behaviorally.

So we were always doing that work before there was racial equity teams. And so it, we started one and we still continue to do that work. We've always been here in the Southeast Seattle as one of these kind of like schools that it was a little bit overlooked. It's just if my kid didn't get off the waiting list at the Orca or not Orca, but South Shore or whatever, then we're just going to place them in Dunlap until they have an opening.

And then the kid stays there at Dunlap. We like it fine here. We're going to stay here. Because we have been here so long that the families, I got a kid here who  I've taught her mom and dad. 

So that's where Dunlap is. It's just a really embedded community school. It's not like one of these schools that has endowments and well resourced and things like that. We just garner our own resources from the people around us and our commitment to the neighborhood.

You'll see a lot of things happening here that we say that sounds like it would be a private school. This classroom here that I run. It's a field experience every month. We're not one of these schools that says we've got this population, so we're just going to work on the basics. No, our kids are doing everything. They're doing lots of field science, lots of experiential learning. We don't feel that sometimes we get enough positive press about what goes on here.

So that's the story of Dunlap.

[00:33:15] Jane Tunks Demel: Beautiful. 

[00:33:16] Christie Robertson: Awesome. Well, I really appreciate you guys telling the story and I'm happy that we can help to spread the news and put faces to possible decisions.

[00:33:26] Wil Depusoy: We have not seen a [school board] director for a long time. We have not seen downtown people for a long while. We see some more specialists come in and stuff like that, but yeah, we don't have these decision makers coming and seeing what happens on the ground and why this is a community school.

[00:33:43] Jane Tunks Demel: I just want to thank you guys so much for talking to us. Your community just sounds like an amazing community. And I hope that we can help people learn about it and see all the strength and value that's there.

[00:34:00] Nasirah Salaymane Craig: I just have to say that I appreciate being part of this podcast because you guys have taught me some stuff that I wasn't aware of. Like I said, even though I grew up in Seattle, just navigating the system and stuff like that. You guys had opened my eyes to like, “Oh, look, you can email, the school board and all these things." And I just need to make sure that I'm braver in my actions and making sure that my voice is heard more and not just be seen and not be heard mentality growing up. So I appreciate that. And thank you for letting me be part of this podcast. I appreciate you guys. 

[00:34:35] Christie Robertson: Oh, my gosh, that means so much to us. Thank you so much. 

[00:34:40] Jane Tunks Demel: Thank you. And thanks for sharing everything about both of your stories and your school story with us. 

[00:34:46] Christie Robertson: And thank you. Well, it was great to meet you. 

[00:34:49] Jane Tunks Demel: Thank you. so much, Wil. 

[00:34:50] Wil Depusoy: It's been great Talking with you. 

[00:34:52] Christie Robertson: We checked in with Alex, Nasirah, and Wil to get an update from them. Things are basically the same as we left them.

[00:34:59] Jane Tunks Demel: Though they did get a visit from School Board Director Brandon Hersey who came to their PTA meeting.

[00:35:05] Christie Robertson: He apologized on behalf of SPS and said that while our students are resilient, they didn't deserve such a big disruption. They haven't gotten any information from Director Hersey or the district about why enrollment predictions were so off or what steps they're taking to prevent a big disruption like this from happening in the future.

[00:35:28] Jane Tunks Demel: In our next episode, we hope to feature stories from five additional schools who also had disruptions in October this year.

[00:35:36] Christie Robertson: We think understanding what happens on the ground based on district decisions is really key for making future decisions. Hopefully after these couple of episodes where we're just bringing you ground stories. We will have an episode where we explore why this shuffle happens in some more detail and why it is that despite years of parent protest and people even joining the board to try to mitigate this shuffle that happens every October, why are we so stuck in this situation every year?

If you know anybody that you think we should talk to, or if you are a district historian in some way, or if you know how this works in other districts around the state or in other states, please contact us at We Would love to talk to you.

 And that concludes this episode of Seattle Hall Pass.

[00:36:36] Jane Tunks Demel: Show notes are available at, where you can subscribe or donate to support our podcast.

[00:36:42] Christie Robertson: I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:36:44] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel. We'll be back with more episodes soon, and we hope you'll join us next time on Seattle Hall Pass.