Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Superintendent declares Seattle Public Schools will End Affiliation with Boy Scouts of America

Sometimes change comes slowly, even when the laws are in place and the policies already written that require change in a timely way. Sometimes the reason for the change, and the scope of the change is fully acknowledged, and other times the reasons become obscured.

Here is what I'm talking about: District policy requires prompt action within published time-frames. I wrote to the district in May--they requested additional time, and then agreed change was needed in July. I requested confirmation from the Superintendent--policy requires a prompt response, with the change actually implemented within 30 days. Here we are two months later. The letter you'll read below is reasonably straight-forward. It is clear that the Superintendent is going to end the affiliation with the Boy Scout of America (BSA) based on the concerns raised with the school district back in May. I was gratified to finally received this letter via e-mail (even though it never arrived in the post as promised, and required some persistence on my part to have it finally sent).


August 18, 2014

Mr. Geoffrey McGrath
Seattle, WA 98118

RE: POST at Garfield High School

Dear Mr. McGrath,

Thank you for bringing your concern about the POST program at Garfield High School to the attention of our staff. Our staff, led by Mr. Larry Dorsey, reviewed this course offering and determined that the affiliation of the Boy Scouts of America with a credit-bearing course is not appropriate. Therefore, we are taking steps to end the affiliation before the start of the 2013-2014 school year.

It is our plan to transition this offering into an environmental education course for the students who have enrolled in POST. In order to make this transition, the content of the course will be evaluated by our Career & Technical Education (CTE) program manager to ensure the content is sufficient to provide course credit. In addition, we are working with our Risk Management office to determine the insurance needed for this type of course. As long as the course is worthy of credit and the district is able to obtain sufficient insurance, we will transition to an environmental education course for the 2014-2015 school year. If it is not, the course will be dropped and the students will be reassigned to other courses.

Again, thank you for your concern and I hope this answers your questions. Mr. Dorsey will be available to keep you updated as we work on this transition.

Sincerely,
(signed)
Dr. Larry Nyland
Superintendent
While the letter doesn't address my concerns about the Scoutreach(tm) program, it is clear they intend the POST program to be re-implemented without BSA's involvement. If you look at my prior blog entries the district arrived at this decision and wrote about it back in early July. Curiously, the district never informed the instructor (I hear he was called by the press today about it, and likely was distressed to hear first from them rather than from his superiors).

Today a member of the press stopped by to get my reaction. He tells me the district told him that they were making program changes not because of discrimination, but because of problems related to academic rigor. I think they suggested that discrimination had nothing to do with it, and even claimed that the original concern was originated by a parent. The story just got published, you can read it here: http://www.king5.com/story/news/local/seattle/2014/08/27/seattle-public-schools-ends-boy-scouts-affiliation/14718563/

As far as I can tell, our new Superintendent was being straight with me, even if he has yet to be responsive with regards to the other BSA programs operating in other public schools. I don't know who the reporter spoke with--but I'm curious to find out. If it was some bureaucrat simply invented a reason then I suppose that is understandable, and they'll get their story straightened out. But if it turns out the Superintendent is inventing new reasons, then that could be an early indicator of truth-telling problems coming from the top.

Either way, transparency matters. Just ask the people of Ferguson, Mo. They'll tell you. They have a tale of woe we should all be paying attention to because of the official shenanigans played out by the folks in power.