Seattle Public Schools

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A Garfield High School student might have groped two classmates while on a school choir trip to New Orleans in March, a Seattle Public Schools investigation has found.

The district also says the school's choir teacher and chaperones were drinking during the trip, and that one chaperone had "inappropriate contact with the student while under the influence of alcohol," according to a district statement.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

After expressing doubts about the legality of ongoing teacher walkouts, state Republican lawmakers have scheduled a hearing on a bill that would block the state from paying a striking teacher's salary or benefits during the strikes.

Spokane Republican Sen. Michael Baumgartner in a statement said teachers are making political points with children bearing the cost. "These strikes use our children as a political football," said Baumgartner, one of the bill's sponsors.   

The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Late last year, Elijah Falk was just another eleventh grader at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School who had never heard of the Smarter Balanced Assessments.

Then a friend told him all about it — that the test was more than eight hours long, required for every high school junior in Washington state but, in the end, mostly unnecessary to earn a diploma.

Falk was shocked.

"The huge amount of testing I've had to go through during my short time as a student— it's taking away from my time in the classroom," Falk said. "That kinda crosses a line where it's not helpful."

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle School Board president Sherry Carr would rather Washington had not entered the charter school game in the first place. But eventually, she says the state's largest district may have to decide whether it wants to play.

Only one Washington school district, Spokane, currently decides whether to allow applicants to start charter schools within its boundaries and oversees their operations once they open; they're the state's only local "charter authorizer" — for now.

Joe Wolf / Flickr

Eleventh graders at Seattle's Nathan Hale High School will take a state- and federally-required standardized test after all, an apparent reversal of an earlier decision by staff, students and parents to boycott the exams this year.

"The [Smarter Balanced assessment] is required by the state. Therefore, to comply with Seattle Public Schools directives, students will be tested" in April, Nathan Hale Senate chair Melinda Greene said in an email to parents Thursday.

Cactusbone / Flickr

A bill dividing Seattle Public Schools into two separate districts took another step forward in Olympia Thursday after House Education Committee members sent the proposal to the full chamber by a 16-to-5 vote.

Though it doesn't mention Seattle by name, the bill would bar any Washington school district from enrolling more than 35,000 students at the opening of the 2018-2019 school year. Only Seattle Public Schools currently fits that description.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

The role of Seattle's mayor in the city's education system will be up for debate in Olympia this week.

A House Education Committee will take public testimony at its meeting Tuesday on a bill that would give Seattle Mayor Ed Murray the power to appoint two of the seven members of the school board.

Seattle Public Schools

Seattle School Board members offered the district's open superintendent job to the current interim, Larry Nyland, at a special meeting Wednesday night, aiming to slow years of staff turnover in top administrative positions.

Seattle Public Schools

  If it's possible to not seek and yet still find, Seattle school leaders hope they have their man in interim superintendent Larry Nyland.

School board members appear poised to strip the "interim" tag from Nyland's title with a vote at a special meeting Wednesday night that would open up talks to keep him at the district's helm for two and a half more years.

Seattle Public Schools

One item on Wednesday night's Seattle School Board agenda drew a lot of attention when it was posted on the night before Thanksgiving: a proposal to open up talks to hire interim superintendent Larry Nyland on a permanent basis.

Ahead of Wednesday night's meeting, two board members floated another plan: extend Nyland's temporary contract into 2016, keeping Nyland at the district's helm on an interim basis for another year.

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

Seattle Public Schools students don’t get enough time to eat lunch, according to a group of parents. Dozens in a group calling itself “Lunch and Recess Matter” rallied at the Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools leaders have dropped a bid for a property that could've been the site of the district's first downtown elementary school in more than six decades.

School board members balked at the estimated $53 million cost of renovating the vacant Federal Reserve Bank building, noting the district would have to take on debt it might have trouble paying back.

In voting 5 to 0 to drop its application, the board passed up a golden opportunity for effectively free land in a pricey real estate market, the school's supporters say; the U.S. Department of Education could have deeded the property to the district for practically nothing.

Wes Chapman / Flickr

Someone altered test responses at Seattle's Beacon Hill International School in a way that significantly increased the elementary school's test scores. State education officials have now thrown out the entire school's results after noting "heavy erasure" marks on the test forms.

Whatever the reason for the alterations — both Seattle Public Schools and the state aren't using the word "cheating" — the changes produced some pretty startling test results, as a state analysis shows:

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

State education officials have raised the stakes in Seattle Public Schools' efforts to improve services for the district's most vulnerable students, recently announcing they will hold back $3 million in federal funding until the district can get its troubled special education department back on track.

On Wednesday night, the Seattle School Board members took a step toward potentially getting that funding back, hiring an outside firm to help district officials implement a plan to fix its special education offerings.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle school leaders will convene a task force to review the district's handling of sexual assault cases, acknowledging in a statement late Wednesday that "substantial work is required to bring the district into compliance" with federal laws designed to protect victims of sexual violence in schools.

The move is Seattle Public Schools' latest response to criticism of how district employees handled the case of a Garfield High School student who alleged a classmate raped her during a school field trip in 2012.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle Public Schools officials may soon get their best opportunity in years to open a public elementary school downtown, and various downtown interests are now pressing district leaders to take advantage of it.

District officials submitted an application earlier this month to move into the vacant building at Second Avenue and Spring Street, which once housed a Federal Reserve Bank branch.

Federal agencies no longer want the property and are considering whether to deed the building to Seattle Public Schools practically free of charge. If the feds grant school officials' application, downtown groups want to make sure the district follows through.

Lynne Sladky / AP Photo

Seattle Public Schools' efforts to educate students with disabilities of all sorts are "in need of urgent, substantial and significant improvement," according to a scathing report released Tuesday, faulting district staff from the administrative offices all the way down to individual schools.

The report itself was commissioned by the district office's special education team as part of an effort to correct, as the authors call it, "an obvious and chronic lack... of urgency" around special education — and to bring Seattle Public Schools back in the good graces of both state officials and of federal law.

Provided by Seattle Public Schools.

The Seattle School Board has named former Marysville School District Superintendent Larry Nyland as its interim superintendent.

The board made the announcement following a special meeting Friday.

The Seattle School Board will hold a special meeting on Friday to select an interim superintendent, district officials said.

The 4:15 meeting, which will be streamed online, will be followed by a news conference around 5 p.m., officials said.

The superintendent position is being vacated by José Banda, who has accepted a superintendent position in Sacramento, California. His appointment was finalized Thursday.

Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo

Earlier this year, Washington became the first state in the nation to lose its reprieve from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Now, Seattle Public Schools wants to become the first district in the nation to regain that flexibility on its own.

Superintendent Jose Banda sent a letter Wednesday asking for a Seattle-specific waiver from the outdated federal law.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Seattle school officials will officially ask to move into a vacant, federally-owned building in the heart of the city, offering advocates for downtown interests a shot at something they've long sought: their own public school.

By a 5-to-2 vote, Seattle School Board members passed a resolution Wednesday night, authorizing the district's application to take over the 119,000-square foot building that, for decades, housed the Seattle branch office of the Federal Reserve Bank, located on Second Avenue between Spring and Madison streets.

Gabriel Spitzer

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda expects to leave his post before the end of July after being named the only finalist for a superintendent position in Sacramento, California.

The Sacramento City Unified School District's school board could confirm Banda's hire as soon as July 17.

AP Photo

Most Seattle elementary students will likely be using new math textbooks next year, and if a few members of the school board have their way, they might not all be the same textbooks.

Seattle School Board members will vote Wednesday on whether to allow school principals to decide between two sets of math textbooks, worksheets and materials rather than mandate which one to use.

rafael-castillo / Flickr

Another 1,300 children will pack into already-crowded Seattle Public Schools next year as the district rides a wave of population growth that, if trends hold, could swell enrollment to more than 60,000 students by the end of the decade.

Projections district administrators released Tuesday show enrollment growing to more than 52,300 students next school year — an increase of more than 7,000 students from seven years ago, when enrollment bottomed-out after a decade of decline.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Following a cash infusion from the state and agitation from building-level staff, Seattle Public Schools administrators announced this week they won't be cutting staff members at schools after all.

Superintendent José Banda said the district will use the $8.3 million from the state Legislature's newly-passed budget to restore the equivalent of 50 assistant principals, counselors and clerical staff positions they had intended to eliminate next year.

"We intend to fully restore what was cut," Banda wrote in a district-wide email.

KPLU

  Roosevelt High School has invited an expert on teen substance abuse to address concerned parents after the the school's principal sent a letter to parents about an increase in drug and alcohol use at the school. 

The letter by principal Brian Vance said the school's number of disciplinary incidents involving marijuana and alcohol use had "doubled" since last year, from 12 incidents to 24.

Seattle Public Schools officials say they've observed a similar trend district-wide.

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Teachers in 25 Seattle Public Schools have voted to reject their buildings' budgets for the next school year, and more may follow suit in the coming week.

Local teachers and union leaders coordinated the vote in hopes of forcing district officials to avoid cutting the equivalent of more than 50 full-time staff positions — clerical staff, assistant principals and school counselors — across the district's 95 schools. 

Wenmei Hill / Courttesey of Northwest Center

Northwest Center Kids in Queen Anne has rented the same building from Seattle Public Schools for decades. But the district says it’s short on space and needs the facility back in the next six months.

The program's location is hard to spot from the street. It’s tucked in near a city park on the downhill slope of north Queen Anne. Inside, toddlers with Down syndrome and preschoolers with feeding tubes play side by side with typically developing children.

Inclusion was the goal of the program’s founders back in 1965. They had kids with special needs, and instead of institutionalizing them, they started their own school.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

The Obama administration has issued new recommendations on classroom discipline that seek to end the apparent disparities in how students of different races are disciplined for breaking school rules.

Government civil rights data show that black students without disabilities are more than three times as likely as whites to be expelled or suspended. Critics say that creates a "school-to-prison" pipeline because many students enter the criminal justice system for violations.

Florangela Davila / KPLU

Seattle police have arrested four people occupying the vacant Horace Mann school in Seattle's Central District. Some activists inside had refused to leave the building even after they were warned against trespassing on school district property.

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