Seattle Hall Pass Podcast

E29 - How to Pick a School Board Director

March 11, 2024 Season 1 Episode 29
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast
E29 - How to Pick a School Board Director
Seattle Hall Pass Podcast +
Become a supporter of the show!
Starting at $3/month
Support
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

See our Show Notes for references.
Email hello@seattlehallpass.org with suggestions or corrections.

Christie and Jane cover the major topics of the March 6, 2024 school board meeting, including:
1) passionate public testimony about school funding allocations and difficulties at Rainier View Elementary
2) a work session in preparation for the March 13 special meeting to select the finalists for the School Board Director positions.
3) a State Auditor's Office audit "entrance meeting" 

Support the Show.

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

Episode 29 - How to Pick a School Board Director

See our Show Notes for references.
Email hello@seattlehallpass.org with suggestions or corrections.

Intro

[00:00:00] Christie Robertson: Welcome to Seattle Hall Pass, a podcast with news and conversations about Seattle Public Schools. I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:00:14] Jane Tunks Demel: And I'm Jane Tunks Demel. On today's episode, we're covering the school board meeting from Wednesday, March 6th. We're highlighting three parts of the meeting.

[00:00:23] Christie Robertson: First, there's the district's prep session for their annual audit. 

[00:00:27] Jane Tunks Demel: Second, public testimony about 2024-25 staffing changes that were just released by the district. And an organized group of staffers and parents from Rainier View Elementary. 

[00:00:37] Christie Robertson: And third, the School Board's decision on how the five current board directors will select the people to fill the two seats vacated last month when Vivian Song and Lisa Rivera resigned.

Please see our show notes at seattlehallpass.org and contact us at hello at seattlehallpass.org with any follow up from this podcast. And let's dive in. 

After some introductory remarks by Superintendent Brent Jones that included a recognition of Billy Frank Jr. Day, 

State Audit

[00:01:10] Christie Robertson: The board proceeded to their first major task, which was what they called an entrance conference with the State Auditor's Office, regarding the school district's annual audits.

[00:01:20] Jane Tunks Demel: Annual?

[00:01:21] Christie Robertson: Yeah, apparently all [school] districts need to be audited by the State Auditor every year, and this year, they're going to undergo an accountability audit, a financial statement audit, and a federal grant compliance audit.

[00:01:34] Jane Tunks Demel: The accountability audit is the one that's most interesting to me. It is to examine the management use and safeguarding of public resources to ensure there is protection from misuse and misappropriation. And some of the areas that they plan to evaluate are open public meetings and minutes compliance, use of restricted funds, and student enrollment reporting.  

[00:01:59] Christie Robertson: I was excited about that too. Especially when I saw they're going to evaluate the open public meetings compliance. Because it made me wonder if they're going to audit the responsiveness to public records requests, which is something we've been having a super hard time with lately. And I suppose we could ask the auditor's office about that and they might even answer us. 

[00:02:22] Jane Tunks Demel: The financial statement audit is just to make sure that the financial statements are presented fairly and correctly. And then the federal grant compliance audit will just check some of the programs that receive federal funding and that includes child nutrition, special education, and the COVID-19 education stabilization fund.

[00:02:44] Christie Robertson: The auditor's team also reminded the district to notify them of any known or suspected loss of public funds 

[00:02:52] Jane Tunks Demel: And Christie, wasn't there something about a loss of public funds at Seattle Public Schools in recent history?

[00:02:58] Christie Robertson: Yeah, I thought I remembered something like that, and I looked it up. And it wasn't super recent, but it was 2011. The state  auditor's office actually uncovered misappropriation by the head of the SPS small business program and that person was sentenced to three years and seven months in prison for accepting kickbacks from a contractor who didn't do any work.

[00:03:23] Jane Tunks Demel: Well, right there I guess is why we have audits.

[00:03:26] Christie Robertson: Yeah, exactly. And in fact, that's when the Office of Internal Audit was established within Seattle Public Schools. 

[00:03:34] Jane Tunks Demel: So, Christie, who pays for this audit?

[00:03:36] Christie Robertson: The district. The audit's gonna cost the district $418,000. And as far as I can tell, the district doesn't have much to say about how much it costs. 

Ok, so, the Board took a short break after the audit session and before starting the public testimony period, which I understand because, Jane, they were speaking in this monotone and I really had to force myself to go back and listen to understand what they were saying.

[00:04:01] Jane Tunks Demel: Yes, audits can be boring and also exciting when they find something interesting.

[00:04:06] Christie Robertson: That's right. Yeah, I think the auditors strive to be boring and that they achieved that.

Testimony

[00:04:14] Jane Tunks Demel: So the testimony was impassioned at this meeting, but not as rowdy as it was in February. And everybody pretty much kept to their two minutes of time.

[00:04:22] Christie Robertson: All 20 of the speaking slots were filled and there were a bunch of people on the wait list as well.

[00:04:27] Christie Robertson: I want to note that we play public comment on the show to elevate the concerns raised by the community members about their own experiences in Seattle Public Schools. Where possible we have links to documentation and references in our show notes.

Testimony - Counselors vs. Social Workers

[00:04:44] Jane Tunks Demel: A large cohort of speakers came to push back against the district's plan to replace elementary school counselors with social workers for the following school year.

They argued that both roles are essential for meeting students' social emotional needs.

[00:04:59] Christie Robertson: We're going to interweave clips of some of the speakers, but if you want to hear their whole testimonies, you can see them on the district's YouTube channel and we'll link to them in the show notes. We will hear from Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson, Rob Bright, Jaimee Papineau, and Chloe Kimiai.

[00:05:10] Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson: I'm here tonight to push back at the district’s seemingly random decision to fire existing school counselors at elementary schools.

[00:05:17] Chloe Kimiai: I would like to discuss funding that was advocated for by the Seattle Student Union to City Council for more mental health supports in schools. Specifically, students ask for more school counselors, social workers, and mental health therapists.

[00:05:29] Rob Bright: Senate Bill 5030 passed and asked all districts to come up with a school counseling comprehensive program.

[00:05:37] Dr Tammy Fisher Huson: I walked a long picket line for more mental health supports. We'd like 1-to-250, actually, not either/or. Even my social worker cohorts are confused. 

[00:05:46] Chloe Kimiai: It's important to note that what students and other stakeholders have advocated for is directly aligned to the ASCA national model and state legislation. 

SB 5030, in which a comprehensive school counseling program is mandated for each district. The ASCA national model states that school counselors should be funded at 1-to-250 ratio. And that they support students in three main areas: personal/social, encompassing social-emotional learning and mental health; college and career readiness for grades K-12; and academics. 

[00:06:15] Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson: This is not what other larger school districts are doing, such as Lake Washington, Bellevue, Highline, Shoreline, Federal Way, and such. Counselors are valued there in their elementaries. 

[00:06:25] Rob Bright: Also, to quote the Superintendent Procedure and School Board Policy number 2140, which under section 1(a) says, school counselors serve a vital role in the comprehensive school counseling program. The school counselor plans, develops, organizes, and leads delivery of a comprehensive school counseling program that focuses on the academic career and personal social development for all students. Based on the ASCA, the American School Counselor Association and state standards.

[00:06:56] Dr Tammy Fisher Huson: What an unnecessary trauma for every school's community, for the students, the families, and especially with well-trained well-connected, and well- loved counselors who know every kid in their building. And every teacher depends on them for their support. 

[00:07:10] Rob Bright: School counselors play a critical role in maximizing K-12 student outcomes, including those related to attendance, academic achievement, high school graduation, post-secondary readiness, and social-emotional development. 

So I'm here to ask that we get full funding for a counselor in each elementary school. 

[00:07:30] Chloe Kimiai: I'm here today to stand with students, asking for their voices to be heard, fighting for what they need in schools. They're asking for change. They're asking for more school counselors at a ratio of 1-to-250, one school social worker in every building, and a mental health therapist in every school.

[00:07:43] Jaimee Papineau: Every well-resourced school should have both a full-time counselor and a social worker. If that is impossible. At bare minimum, we urge the school board to allow schools to retain their school counselor in a full-time role in accordance with the most pressing needs of the school community.

[00:08:00] Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson: Where's the evidence-based data to support this decision? And with a district push on SEL [social-emotional learning], how does this decision support the well-being, something heavily in the news and media and schools of students and families who have established relationships. It does not. 

[00:08:15] Christie Robertson: And so those voices were Rob Bright, a 10-year SPS middle school counselor at Salmon Bay K-8 and Washington Middle School. Dr. Tammy Fisher Huson, a 39-year educator working at Blaine K-8 and teaching graduate students at Seattle Pacific University. Chloe Kimiai, a counselor at Cleveland High School, who's also an adjunct professor at Seattle University's school counseling program, and Jaimee Papineau, a 13-year teacher at BF Day Elementary and a Seattle Public Schools parent.

[00:08:46] Jane Tunks Demel: This change to allocate a social worker instead of a counselor for elementary schools can be seen in the Purple Book, which was released to school sites just a couple weeks ago.

[00:08:57] Christie Robertson: All right, Jane, that means it's your job to tell our listeners about the Purple Book and the Gold Book.

[00:09:02] Jane Tunks Demel: The Purple Book is the nickname for the booklet that shows the school funding allocations for each school site, and they're released at the end of February every year to the principals and building leadership teams.

The Purple Book details all the money assigned to every school site throughout the district, and it also includes the projected enrollment for the following year. It's super informative if you take a look at it for any school you have a connection to.

And one of the things we noticed in the Purple Book this year was that elementary schools are allocated a social worker instead of a counselor, which is a new thing.

[00:09:40] Christie Robertson: And Jane, if listeners want to find the Purple Book, where do you even get it? 

[00:09:45] Jane Tunks Demel: The Purple Book is on the Seattle Public Schools website. If you just go there and search “budget,” it will come up. It's on the Budget Development page. 

And the Purple Book was actually the whole thing that got me going on my Seattle Public Schools trying-to-find-out information journey because I was trying to figure out why we did not get enough teachers allocated to my student's elementary school a few years ago.

[00:10:10] Christie Robertson: Yeah, the Purple Book is part of the Seattle Hall Pass origin story.

[00:10:14] Jane Tunks Demel: Yes, yes it is!

[00:10:17] Christie Robertson: And what about the Gold Book? 

[00:10:18] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, and then the Gold Book is the School Budget Development Instructions. So the Purple Book has all the allocations and then the Gold Book tells principals and Building Leadership Teams what they do with all that information that's in the Purple Book.

And in this year's Gold Book, it noted that elementary schools can file a waiver, which would allow them to retain their counselor instead of replacing that position with a social worker. And those waivers were due on March 6th, which was last week.

[00:10:50] Christie Robertson: I would imagine that if schools have an established counselor, they would probably have taken advantage of that waiver because relationships are so important in schools.

[00:11:00] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah. I know that the principal at my student's school filed a waiver so that our counselor could stay, and she's very beloved in our school community. And I know that she does do a few social worker type things.

[00:11:14] Christie Robertson: Mm-hmm.

[00:11:15] Jane Tunks Demel: So what I'm hoping is that these waivers will be filed and a lot of these counselors will be able to stay at their schools.

[00:11:23] Christie Robertson: Yeah. And, of course, we asked Seattle Public Schools about the reason for this change, and they haven't gotten back to us, as has kind of been the case with a lot of our questions recently. 

[00:11:35] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, and we don't know what's up with that. So if anybody has the answers to these questions, please let us know at hello@seattlehallpass.org.

[00:11:43] Christie Robertson: Our best guess for the change actually comes from looking at the waiver. In that waiver, they have to justify keeping the counselor by documenting what social-emotional support role that counselor plays at their school. You can take a look at the waiver. It's linked from our show notes. 

Testimony - Rainier View Elementary

[00:12:03] Jane Tunks Demel: Another significant theme of public comment was the need for a safe and supportive school environment at Rainier View Elementary in District 7, which is in Southeast Seattle.

Parents and educators from Rainier View Elementary described a toxic school environment and high staff turnover due to issues with the school administration. They called for urgent district intervention to address the problems.

[00:12:27] Christie Robertson: We are going to hear clips from Kayla Seamster, Hardeep Dang, Megan McMahon, Hala Mana’o, Mashala Hall, and Elizabeth Ward-Robertson.

[00:12:37] Kayla Seamster: I come to you today with a profound sense of fear of retaliation for what I'm about to tell you. But the quest for justice for my students is more important than my fear. I'm an educator new to Rainier View Elementary this school year, pleading for your help and intervention. 

[00:12:58] Hardeep Dang: I'm a parent of two children at Rainier View Elementary. I'm here today in hopes that the board will finally take the necessary steps to support their teachers and the children of Rainier View. Multitude of concerns from teachers and parents have gone unanswered for years. 

[00:13:11] Hala Mana'o: I'm a parent and a president of the PTSA at Rainier View Elementary. We have a Rainier View community whose members, parents, and families that are uninformed or misinformed regarding its academic goals and pathways to achieving success, as well as the school culture that lacks collaborative invitation from its administration with the PTSA.

[00:13:29] Mashala Hall: I'm here to give testimony regarding how students, staff, and family are being treated by Principal Jones at Rainier View. And our concerns with the district's response. 

[00:13:38] Megan McMahon: I have come here today as a last resort and in a lot of fear of retaliation. During my year in SPS, I have witnessed a school in crisis. 

[00:13:45] Elizabeth Ward-Robertson: I am the SEA Director of Center for Racial and Social Justice and your prior admin secretary at Rainer View. As you have heard from Rainier View Elementary, it is in a crisis and has been for years. 

[00:13:59] Kayla Seamster: The high turnover rate due to a toxic and unsafe working environment has had a detrimental impact on the school community. Students feel insecure at school and have become untrusting of educators. The constant changing of staff has disrupted the sense of stability and continuity that students need to thrive academically and emotionally. This unsafe environment has fostered a culture of fear and anxiety, making it difficult for students to focus on their education.

[00:14:27] Hardeep Dang: The turnover and retention rate is astounding and beyond concerning. All of my children's teachers have left this school, except for one as of this school year. My oldest is on his fourth assigned teacher. 

[00:14:38] Megan McMahon: I've had to substitute for educators at least 12 times so far. This school year other staff had been, haven't been able to provide multilingual or special education services consistently for the same reasons. Three out of ten classroom teachers have gone an unpaid medical leave midyear due to the working conditions. 

[00:14:54] Elizabeth Ward Robertson: Educators are leaving at record rates. Over a hundred educators have taught at Rainer View since 2017. But only one staff person has remained in currently working there. Nearly 40 percent of this year's staff have resigned or taken leave in the first six months of the school year due to unresolved school climate concerns.

[00:15:19] Megan McMahon: I don't blame any of these teachers for leaving in order to protect themselves. I blame a district that has allowed one school to have a 99.5 percent staff turnover in the last five years. For a district dedicated to data, this information has been ignored 

[00:15:34] Elizabeth Ward-Robertson: Educators and parents report students have received dehumanizing punishments, facing exclusion, receiving undocumented isolation and restraints, denied lunch and recess as disciplinary measures and denied access to water, restrooms during classroom, maintaining the Rainier View Way. The district’s current approach to Rainier View is failing our students, our school community. 

[00:16:04] Kayla Seamster: There has been illegal treatment of students with disabilities and staff members, which cannot be ignored. The frequent departure of educators midyear prompted by unsafe conditions leads to constant staff reassignments, depriving many students have going all year with vital multilingual and intervention services. This failure exasperates educational injustice and is not new this year. 

[00:16:28] Mashala Hall: Our children's IEPs are being violated without the necessary services or support. Our children were labeled only by the principal as incompetent and or disruptive when normally they are not seen as such. Families are fed up with the ill-intended ways. And we're forced to remove our kids out of the district and into other schools.

[00:16:48] Hardeep Dang: We've experienced firsthand targeted behavior from our own principal. Raising legitimate concerns per training to the long-term substitute and issues in the classroom has led to our principal now targeting our child. 

[00:16:59] Kayla Seamster: Despite repeated pleas, SPS leadership has rebuffed us. Our one meeting yielded no action or follow-up. This decade-long pattern of willful ignoring of concerns raised about Rainier View Elementary cannot continue. We stand on the precipice of a staffing crisis, demanding urgent intervention. 

[00:17:17] Mashala Hall: Jones has threatened our jobs several times. If we did not do things her way, Jones undervalue the accommodation request for those of us with disabilities and undermines the doctor’s orders. Her personal ties with the district staff have made all her misconduct invisible, which led to injustices within the workplace. Staff are fearful of their jobs and feel defeated in any attempt to defend their morals, their jobs, their students, and their families. 

[00:17:43] Megan McMahon: We have shared our concerns with our admin, our regional director, and we have also been working diligently with our union to find justice for our students. All of our attempts have led to dead-ends and stonewalling, which has brought me here today for public record. 

[00:17:56] Mashala Hall: Families feel the need to run to the state for support after expressing the concern to the principal and the district. 

[00:18:02] Hardeep Dang: No child should feel that they are not safe and supported at school. We are asking the board to make it right for the kids, the teachers, and the parents. Your website states safety and wellness is a top priority for Seattle Public Schools. Students are more likely to be successful when they feel safe and welcome at school. It's time to make this statement a true reality at Rainier View Elementary. 

[00:18:25] Megan McMahon: It's time for district intervention. Every student deserves quality education. They deserve a school that’s not in constant crisis. 

[00:18:32] Mashala Hall: The mistreatment of staff, students, and families need to stop. Principal Jones needs to be replaced for the sake of staff, students, families, and the overall climate of the school. 

[00:18:41] Kayla Seamster: The school board must launch an investigation into Rainier View Elementary and enact necessary reforms to ensure our students received the education they deserve. Our students are counting on us to do the right thing. 

[00:18:53] Hala Mana'o: Our school community of Rainier View needs real help. As enrollment continues to decline and families are pulling their children away from SPS, we needed a solution that allows others a seat at the table to speak about who we're accountable to. We should be accountable to those furthest away, as you heard this before, from academic and educational justice, which are our students and families. We should protect our children as much as we protect salaries or past reputations of individuals that are no longer meeting district standards. Our community deserves that. Our educators and students deserve that. And you as a board deserve to know what you're aware of and of what you're protecting and what not to question. 

[00:19:30] Mashala Hall: We stand before you to demand the district to finally step in and to correct this injustice and select new leadership. 

[00:19:36] Kayla Seamster: We will not let the concern once again be swept under the rug only to have another new staff group come in next year to the same climate and students in crisis. It's time for actions and change. Thank you for listening.

[00:19:48] Elizabeth Ward-Robertson: And we are asking our school board leaders to step up and in help. This cannot continue. We need intervention now. We are ready to work with the district and meet the needs of the students and the families. Thank you. 

[00:20:07] Jane Tunks Demel: Christie, a listener let us know that in May 2023, there were complaints filed against Rainier View Elementary. 

[00:20:14] Christie Robertson: Yes, a community complaint it's called, filed with the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). We were able to find a complaint that was filed in May 2023 that matches a lot of the details that we just heard in testimony. 

It alleges that kids with disabilities were being kept out of the classroom as a form of discipline. They were frequently required to sit up to an hour in the office with the principal, missing instructional time. And recess and lunch were taken away due to “unexpected behaviors.”

The OSPI document made reference to the Washington Administrative Code that applies in this situation: that students eligible for special education services cannot be improperly excluded from school for disciplinary reasons and that they need to be provided with services, which clearly they can't if they're sitting in the principal's office.

So we'll link to that administrative code in our notes: WAC 392-172-A-05140. 

In an OSPI complaint like this, one of the things they ask you is what kind of remedy you'd like to see. And the filers asked for action to be taken specifically against the principal, moved, coached, mentored. Instead, the remedy that OSPI required was training of everybody in the building. And one of the things that's interesting to me about this complaint is that the training was supposed to have been completed by October 20th, 2023. And now it's March and this group is coming before the board. It doesn't sound like things are fixed.

[00:21:58] Jane Tunks Demel: Brandon Hersey is the school board director for district seven. 

And that's where Rainier View Elementary is. We asked him for a comment and he said, The testimonies are heartbreaking. And I look forward to connecting with Rainier View families is to find solutions.

Thank you, Brandon. 

[00:22:16] Christie Robertson: Given the bravery of those teachers and parents who came before the board. We hope to be following up on all of this soon.

Testimony - miscellaneous

[00:22:18] Jane Tunks Demel: There were several other great testifiers at the meeting. A student at Decatur who loves her school and doesn't want it to go away. A parent who does tutoring at TOPS K-8 using a program called Math Agency. He wanted to encourage the district to make more use of programs like this. There was also a nurse whose hours are being cut who is worried that what she will have to end up cutting will be the relationship building she does with students who come in with anxiety-related health issues. There were also a group of educators from West Seattle High School who spoke in protest of a cut to their care coordinator program. And Christie and I actually over the weekend found out that that position was restored. 

[00:22:59] Christie Robertson: And then we have to mention Dunlap because we have a soft spot for this school ever since episode 18 of Seattle Hall Pass, where we interviewed two parents and a teacher from the school who were struggling with the aftermath of the October Shuffle.

[Teacher] Matthew Burtness came to testify and the effects of that decision in October are still being felt really keenly there. He's talked about all the struggles that come from having a school full of split-grade classrooms at every single grade. And he also just learned from the Purple Book that next year they will be losing more staff: two multilingual staff and half an art teacher.

[00:23:43] Jane Tunks Demel: And also, the way he talks about a school full of split-grade classrooms, that's happening at many elementary schools across the district. nd it looks like it's going to be that way next year too, at many schools.

[00:23:54] Christie Robertson: I guess so. 

[00:23:55] Jane Tunks Demel: Here's what Matthew Burtness has said would be the impact of losing the multilingual staff.

[00:24:00] Matthew Burtness: Our newcomer and bilingual orientation center program, which supports students who are new to the country, has been essentially ghosted by district staff with the news that you've officially decided to cut the program finally, coming from our principal, not the department head. Our school’s Continuous School Improvement Plan cannot be implemented with these cuts. 

[00:24:18] Jane Tunks Demel: He also pointed out that now that the legislative session is over, it's clear that our state legislators did not step up for public school funding like we were all hoping.

And Christie, it still feels weird to me to have people coming and pleading to the board and to hear not a word of response from anyone.

[00:24:36] Christie Robertson: They used to respond in their board comments. They would almost always mention something from testimony. Now it just kind of goes into this void that I think it feels kind of harsh.

School Board Appointments

[00:24:49] Christie Robertson: Okay, our final subject is how the board appointment process is going to work. They had a work session about this.

[00:24:56] Jane Tunks Demel: The legal deadline to make the appointments is May 2nd, which is 90 days after the resignations, but they're aiming for early April because they have so many important decisions coming up, like budget cuts.

[00:25:07] Christie Robertson: For starters, all the directors are going to review the application materials, which include all of the written applications, as well as the video statements. Everybody can see all of those materials on the board director appointment page on the SPS website.

[00:25:21] Jane Tunks Demel: The board discussed and agreed upon the following criteria to evaluate the candidates.

[00:25:27] Christie Robertson: They agreed on five criteria: 

  1. Lived and professional experience. 
  2.  the connection to the director's district community
  3.  Understanding of the board role. 
  4. A demonstrated ability to do racial equity analysis, including understanding of targeted universalism. 
  5. A collaborative skill set. So they are looking for people to be able to work with the board because the board has to operate as a body.

[00:25:56] Jane Tunks Demel: And they've been pretty straightforward that they do want somebody who's going to be on board with student outcomes-focused governance and that will center students. 

[00:26:05] Christie Robertson: Agreed.

[00:26:07] Jane Tunks Demel: So what's gonna happen next, Christie?

[00:26:09] Christie Robertson: Now remember that because of the Open Public Meetings Act they cannot talk to each other about the candidates outside of public meetings. So they're each going to individually review the materials and think about how each applicant meets the criteria that they agreed on. 

[00:26:28] Jane Tunks Demel: Each director will individually determine their top four candidates for District 2, and that's the district that has 11 applicants. For District 4, since there are only four candidates, the assumption is that those four will advance as finalists, but they did want to be clear that they should also evaluate all four of those applicants 

[00:26:47] Christie Robertson: Just to make sure that all the candidates go through the same evaluation process, and if there's one from district four that somebody clearly has an objection to, they could potentially bring it down to three for the final round.

[00:27:02] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, exactly.

[00:27:03] Christie Robertson: And then they're going to come back together for a special meeting 

[00:27:06] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, at the special meeting on March 13th. The board will begin in executive session to discuss the candidate qualifications. so that means none of us will be able to hear it. 

[00:27:17] Christie Robertson: I thought it was funny. Two of the Directors are brand-new, and so they just went through the whole running process. And so they were very sensitive to what it feels like to be discussed in public. 

[00:27:30] Jane Tunks Demel: They wanted to be sure that they could discuss their frank evaluations of each of the applicants in private, so they'll be doing that in an executive session, which is fine, according to state law. But then, to vote on the four finalists, they'll have to come into public session, and they will do that using rounds of nominations. 

[00:27:51] Christie Robertson: Their system it is the weirdest system, Jane. This is the same system they use when they, pick positions like president, vice president. and they're going to use it again. 

[00:28:04] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah.

[00:28:05] Christie Robertson: So normally what you would do is you would see how many nominations there are and then you would vote, right? Like you would say how many people want which person. They do it: somebody nominates somebody, then they all vote on that person. 

[00:28:22] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah, they vote yay or nay for that person. 

[00:28:25] Christie Robertson: Yay or nay.

And if the person gets four votes, that person has the position. If that person doesn't get four votes, then somebody can nominate somebody else. So if you want your candidate to have a shot, you want to be the first one to nominate. 

[00:28:42] Jane Tunks Demel: Yeah.

[00:28:43] Christie Robertson: Right?

[00:28:44] Jane Tunks Demel: And for the rest of the process, they're closely following what has been done by previous boards, so there is precedence. There will be a public candidate forum on March 27th at Lincoln High School in Wallingford. And that high school serves both districts, actually, so it's a perfect place to do it.

[00:29:04] Christie Robertson: Here's what president Rankin said about that.

[00:29:06] Liza Rankin: That high school represents a lot of families and community from both districts. So that seemed like a nice place to hold the forum, make it more accessible to the families, and community that these districts will be representing, although it is open to everyone because of course. We come from certain districts, but we all together represent the entire city and all of our kids. 

[00:29:28] Christie Robertson: One interesting thing is this is the first time that there's been a process like this, since we've had student board directors and they discussed what role they might play. They might help developing the questions.

And the student board directors don't have a voting role, which is a different subject. But they still might give feedback about the candidates to the directors that are voting. So that those directors know how they feel about the candidates. And then the student directors might also facilitate the forum, maybe with the collaboration of other groups like NAACP Youth Council or the Seattle Student Union, so that would be fun.

[00:30:07] Jane Tunks Demel: And at the April 3rd board meeting, the school board will reconvene to make the final appointments. The directors will make motions to nominate a specific candidate, and a candidate needs four votes to be appointed, which will be interesting since there will only be five votes.

[00:30:24] Christie Robertson: Right. So near unanimity will be required.

[00:30:27] Jane Tunks Demel: And they will repeat the process for each district until both positions are filled.

[00:30:31] Christie Robertson: And so that was the March 6th school board meeting. And we will be back to summarize the March 13th meeting as soon as we can after that.

[00:30:43] Jane Tunks Demel: And that concludes this episode. Our show notes are available at seattlehallpass.org. You can also email us at hello@seattlehallpass.org. 

[00:30:52] Christie Robertson: You can subscribe or donate to support our podcast. We really appreciate help with paying our subscription fees. I'm Christie Robertson.

[00:31:01] 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. 

Upcoming State Audit of Seattle Public Schools
Public Testimony
Public Testimony - Rainier View Elementary
How to Pick a School Board Director