Saturday, March 24, 2012

Gregory King, Rina Geoghagan, and APP

There is a general discussion of "The Lowell Investigation" over at Seattle Schools Community Blog. Let's add an APP-specific thread here.

So, please use this to talk about the investigation, any thoughts you might have more generally about the history and impact of Greg King and Rina Geoghagan at Lowell when APP was there, what all this might mean for Lowell@Lincoln APP, and whether this is likely to have any broader impact on the APP program.

Update: The Seattle Schools Community Blog added three more posts ([1] [2] [3]) about this issue.

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

Why did SPS wait to release the report until open enrollment was over? Why are these two still principals when the investigator found they not only didn't do their jobs, they lied about it? AND punished the messenger.
-disgusted

Anonymous said...

I am disgusted also. And since I was a huge Lowell at Lincoln supporter and told many perspective parents that this investigation has nothing to do with Ms Geoghagan and Lowell at Lincoln, I feel really really bad.
- Depressed

Anonymous said...

Some of us learned about the allegation last year. We were disturbed by the way the administration appeared to rapidly sweep the allegation under the rug. We have followed the reporting saga and investigation. I assume that factored into the failure of King's and Geoghagan's claim that they didn't know, that the allegation was never reported to them, and so on -- that is, too many parents and staff knew from the beginning that they did know about it. That in itself disturbs me: Did they imagine people who knew would forget or not care, or all lie together? Also, there were many concerns about situations that appeared to be handled inappropriately by King and/or Geoghagan, or not handled at all. These often related to SPED kids or other children on IEPs. None of the other situations were near as serious as this allegation, but as a body of issues were enough to create ongoing deep concern of systemic ethical lapses. This was hard at Lowell because the APP community, and I say this as an APP parent, could be forceful in its determination to support King and Geoghagan and not tolerate questioning of their professional integrity. In APP Lowell/L@L I have encountered a community where parents can be so extremely focused on their desire for a successful school, that they become disinclined to tolerate even a mention of potential serious deep-seated problems. Perhaps ultimately this situation will be an opportunity for the APP community to do some soul-searching about what "community" means. It doesn't mean we have the same experiences, and it means serious concerns have to be respected and seriously examined.

Anonymous said...

Thank You anonymous @12:38PM for your thoughtful and honest comment. We all have our blindspots. We do need to be aware of them so we too don't become blinded as Principals King and Geoghagan.

-SP

Charlie Mas said...

I don't understand why Ms Gray's resignation could not be rescinded but Mr. King could rescind his.

suep. said...

I think APP families also suffered under Lowell leadership last year because so many strong APP teachers were bullied and driven out by it.

And I know firsthand that GK treated some people very well and others terribly. So one's perspective on how things were going at Lowell last year depended on whether you were a parent or a teacher, a favored teacher or a targeted veteran teacher, and yes, the Special Ed community in particular was not treated well, not only because of the complete failure of school administrators to look out for the safety of the kids at the heart of this investigation, but the willingness of school leaders to divide up the Special Ed classrooms and spaces in order to make room for the outrageous proposed capacity of 700 kids in fall 2011.

And then there was the matter of the negative climate surveys possibly being intercepted, the summary firing of the BLT team, angry outbursts, and more recently, a felon allowed to chaperone a school field trip -- all of this on GK's watch.

What the district needs to realize is that there are serious liability issues attached to all of this. Children's safety is at risk here.

Principals who do not know their legal and moral obligations to protect children by following the correct protocols and investigating claims of possible abuse are not fit to be principals.

If SPS allows this to go on, the liability reaches all the way to the top.

As a longtime Lowell parent I am deeply disturbed by all of this. Anyone who cares about the future of either Lowell schools needs to speak up and demand better leadership.

Karen said...

I'm a L@l parent who cares AND likes the current leadership as well as Mr. King. You should feel free to speak your mind, but please don't feel you are representing all parents that "care". I feel my kids are safe and am generally happy with the overall school experience.

suep. said...

Karen, have you read the investigation reports?

Letter dated March 16, 2012, addressed to Paul Apostle; RE: Lowell Elementary School: response to Gregory King’s and Rina Geoghagan’s Assertions re: my February 15, 2012 report.

Memo dated February 15, 2012; Whether (four employees) Fulfilled Their Mandatory Reporting Obligations

Memo dated March 16, 2012; Lowell Elementary School: Complaints by (two employees)

Here's what I understand to be a pretty accurate summary of the investigation (from Charlie Mas at the SSS Blog):

March 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM

joe98002, you need to read the article again. People who work with children are required to report inappropriate contact. The report was made as it was required to be made. The failure was by the principal and the vice principal who did not fulfill their duty to investigate.

Worse than that, however, is that the principal and the vice principal then encourage the district to investigate the employees who made the report for failure to report.

To save their own reputations, they denied having received the complaints from the first two people who observed the inappropriate contact (a total of three employees observed and reported it - far from an un-substantiated claim).

Get that? The third person who saw and reported the inappropriate behavior reported it to someone outside the school, mentioning in their report that the same activity had been observed by the first two. The district staff person (from outside the school) asked the principal and vice principal if they had received a report from the first two employees. The principal and the vice principal denied that they had received any such reports which caused the district to investigate the first two for non-reporting.

The principal and the vice principal shifted blame to the first two people who complained to cover up the fact that they didn't take proper action in response to those complaints. They encouraged a district investigation for non-reporting even though they knew that the inappropriate action had been reported - to them.

Anonymous said...

does anyone know the names of the spec ed teachers
that were accused of these allegations? are they still at Lowell.

maria renninger said...

It doesn't matter whether any of us like Rina or Greg. What matters is whether they are responsible enough and honest enough to have these positions - at any school.

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering how things are going this morning at L@L, how parents and staff are feeling about this issue, and what the general atmosphere at the school might be like. What is the principal's response to parents?

Jane

Anonymous said...

I think that they were both way in over their heads trying to run this school and trying to make it work
especially after the split. there were many issues going on at this school. my first observation was the overcrowding and not enough staff.

NESeattleMom said...

Monday 3/26/12 12 noon
Dear Lowell @ Lincoln Families,

This weekend the Seattle Times released an article regarding an administration issue that occurred last year at Lowell on Capitol Hill.

Please understand that I have always and will continue to have your children's best interest at heart. As a mother and principal, there is NOTHING I take more seriously than the well-being of children.

I ask for your support so we can move forward with the excellent teaching and learning community that we built this year at Lincoln.

Thank you,
Rina Geoghagan

Anonymous said...

Questions to Rina:
Shall we just move on like nothing happened? Could you do that if your daughter had been involved in a same or similar situation?
How can we move on as you requested before you address the issues that were raised in the report?
Isn't this letter a little too late?
Don't we, parents deserve an explanations and / or least an apology more than this plain and simple letter?
How can we trust you with our students when you stated a year ago that you don't feel comfortable to deal with a child related issue blaming your inexperience? What happened since than? Do you feel comfortable with the same issue now? Wonder why?
And so on...
- Concerned

NESeattleMom said...

I don't like the way Principal Geoghagan does not take any responsibility for the lack of follow up with the instructional aide, or for the other things she did or did not do. Hopefully she has learned from it, but it is hard to tell from her letter that does not mention anything she is responsible for.

Here is a link http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/education/2004456273_hill04m.html

to the 2004 ST story about the long term abuse at Broadview Thompson where teachers reported things they saw and nobody at that school followed up. I don't call the current problem an "administration issue" which minimizes the possible badness that could have happened. It is instead an important safety and security issue. It is also an issue of not following protocol, rules & laws to protect children. It is also a problem with turning against a person who is trying to do the right thing and instead making that employee be unfairly put into a stressed position.

suep. said...

I agree that her brief and superficial note is entirely inadequate and does not acknowledge the severity of the core issues. It doesn't even mention that there was an investigation.

I don't see how keeping such leadership at either school is in the 'best interests' of any kids.

It certainly would send a negative message to any incoming or prospective families to have principals on staff who have received written reprimands from the district for having failed to properly follow up on a matter of child safety -- and for trying instead to blame the very people who were looking out for the kids.

It already sends a troubling message to existing families.

I find it hard to muster anything but a vote of No Confidence in both principals. Both schools deserve better.

Anonymous said...

The best way to adress any MAP realted questions is to go to this meeting: http://saveseattleschools.blogspot.com/2012/03/district-announces-map-meeting.html
-Good luck

Anonymous said...

Oooops. This last message about the MAP scores was ment to be in the Open Thread section. Sorry...
-Good luck

Purple mama said...

Sue P-

My guess is that there is more to the story than what we are hearing.

Anonymous said...

With investigation over at Lowell elementary, school aims to move on

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2017846280_lowell27m.html

Regretting sending my kid to Lincoln next year said...

It really pisses me off that the district waited until after open reg. to release the findings of this report. I truly hope Ms. G., is gone from Lincoln by next year. At the very least, she needs to acknowledge what she did wrong in this situation and explain how she will handle similar situations in the future.

Happy with L@L leaders said...

Regretting sending your kid to Lincoln, you CAN go back to your school. Just call enrollment and "void" your application. Do us all a favor and don't come. MOST of us with kids at L@L DON'T want Rina gone.

Anonymous said...

"Do us all a favor and don't come."

Wow. Just wow. Do you always treat new parents with such welcome arms? Do you really not understand that some new parents may be legitimately concerned by this report, even if you personally are not? A statement like this is not going to help anyone regain a sense of confidence in staff at L@L, or help retain a cohesive environment, one of L@L's main strengths.

NESeattleMom said...

Dear new L@L families,
You are welcome. Our APP community is strong and devoted to your children and our children. We have gone through a lot and are still positive. What is said on these blogs has to do with following protections for all children whether they are in APP or some other classroom in SPS. You and your child are welcome. Those who are already there will welcome you. Any of these discussions are between parents. They do not filter down to the children. One of my daughter's best friends in this 2nd half of 8th grade was a girl we welcomed on the first day of 3rd grade at our Welcome new families picnic. The current kids welcome in the new kids. I have strong confidence in the program despite the roadblocks and challenges we have faced. This is now my 7th year in APP. The community is strong. Welcome! (Don't listen to grumpy people--there are always some grumps.)

Anonymous said...

From the Seattle Times - I haven't received this message yet though...

Message sent to Lowell@Lincoln families today:

"Message from the SNAPP PTA Board

We support our staff and the positive impact that they are having on our children’s education this year. Our experience with Rina Geoghagen, our principal, is that she has been a solid leader for our students during this year of great upheaval, including a building move, many new hires, and uncertainty about the future location of the APP program. The SNAPP PTA was not involved in the district's investigation, and we are not in a position to discuss the matter in any detail. But, we do believe that the District needs a strong, clear policy for reporting on issues that involve allegations of impacts to student health and safety.

On behalf of our children, the SNAPP PTA must stay focused on our continued support for teachers and students in the program, and on the current challenges facing advanced learning and the urgent need to find a permanent home for our displaced students. Should any parent require further information about the District’s investigation or the District’s policies please contact Nancy Coogan."

suep. said...

I second that "Wow" to "Happy with L@L leaders"

What a poor example you present of the L@L community with that horrible attitude.

And how can you possibly know what "most" of L@L's 460+ families feel about Rina's leadership, especially in light of what this investigation has revealed?

You don't.

The "Regretting" parent has very legitimate concerns. As does my family.

If you truly are devoted to L@L, "Happy," and want it to be a strong and safe school for parents, staff and our kids, then you would take these concerns very seriously too.

To "Regretting" -- your child will be welcome at L@L. The staff and students and parents make up a strong community with good plans and hopes for the future. But I agree that we need new leadership.

If you choose to keep your child at your local school, that's perfectly understandable too. I'd look into asap, though, if I were you.

Anonymous said...

MOST of us with kids at L@L DON'T want Rina gone.

did you actually conduct a survey?

my claim is anecdotal as well, but MOST parents I know at L@L do want Rina gone, myself included

the very fact that her continued presence has polarized and may further divide the parent community at L@L is reason enough for her to step down.

she can no longer be an effective leader.

- buh bye

Anonymous said...

From the Lowell @ Lincoln website:

Upcoming Events
Mar 27 7:00 pm 9:00 pm - TONIGHT
SNAPP PTA General Meeting

suep. said...

March 27, 2012 10:46 AM
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the Seattle Times - I haven't received this message yet though...


Nor have I. Why was the PTA's response to families posted on Times site first?

Anonymous said...

SNAPP PTA Meeting: Tuesday March 27th
March 21st, 2012
We hope to see our families at our second General Meeting of the school year. The meeting starts at 7PM in the Lincoln Library.

Agenda:

Treasurer’s Report

ACTION ITEM: Nominations Committee Election
• Nominees: Julie Yee, Alison Porter, Julita Eleveld
• Board Positions

ACTION ITEM: Standing Rules Revision

BLT Survey Report & Project-Based Learning
(Principal Rina Geoghagan, Jean Bryant, Staff)

Capacity Panel Discussion
FACMAC & Advanced Learning Task Forc

Anonymous said...

I just received this - only the end looks different a little bit than in the ST
:
A Message from the SNAPP PTA Board

We support our staff and the positive impact that they are having on our children's education this year. Our experience with Rina Geoghagen, our principal, is that she has been a solid leader for our students during this year of great upheaval, including a building move, many new hires, and uncertainty about the future location of the APP program. The SNAPP PTA was not involved in the district's investigation, and we are not in a position to discuss the matter in any detail. But, we do believe that the District needs a strong, clear policy for reporting on issues that involve allegations of impacts to student health and safety.

On behalf of our children, the SNAPP PTA must stay focused on our continued support for teachers and students in the program, and on the current challenges facing advanced learning and the urgent need to find a permanent home for our displaced students. Should any parent require further information about the District's investigation or the District's policies please contact Rina Geoghagan or Nancy Coogan. They are available and willing to meet with parents.

Anonymous said...

The original message was posted on the Facebook page by Jean Bryant, PTA co-president. The Facebook page is not officially connected with the PTA. The second message was emailed from the Board via the official SNAPP PTA email service.

maria renninger said...

Some parents have asked who can advise/guide them about this, outside of the L@L PTSA or the SPS school board. For everyone's reference, below are two useful entities:
1) The Puget Sound Educational Service District (PSESD), http://www.psesd.org
You can call the main PSESD switchboard to be directed to an appropriate staff person.
2) The Wa St Office of the Educational Ombudsman: http://www.governor.wa.gov/oeo/
Same thing - call the main # and they'll connect you onward.

These entities were created by the state - your legislature - to help parent communities and schools improve situations and address concerns at the local level. Contacting them doesn't mean you're lodging complaints or initiating any sort of request. You can just call and ask questions, share concerns.

suep. said...

The KUOW story about the investigation is now available online:

Seattle Principals Disciplined For Mishandling Abuse Allegations

Ann Dornfeld
03/23/2012

suep. said...

Share your concerns/thoughts about L@L leadership with the SNAPP PTA:

Hi everyone,

Apparently one of the heads of the SNAPP PTA claims she has only seen one e-mail that expresses concerns about the investigation and Ms. Geoghagan's leadership at L@L.

It's been less than a week since the report was released last Friday night, so I imagine most families are still processing how they feel about the whole matter and what's best for the future of our school.

I also believe that families may be calling or sending emails to people with greater authority than the PTA, like Susan Enfield, the ombudsman Ronald McGlone, Nancy Coogan, which the PTA have not seen and cannot tally.

It would be troubling and inaccurate if the PTA leadership were to interpret L@L families' lack of e-mail to them these past five days as a tacit approval of current leadership or indifference to the results and implications of the investigation.

If the PTA does plan to use this as its sole measure of parent satisfaction with L@L leadership, then apparently anyone who has concerns would be advised to share them with the SNAPP PTA board, beginning with the leadership:

jeanmbryant AT msn.com, jgbiely AT comcast.net

Lisa G said...

Suep,
(pardon typos below-texting on unfamiliar and tiny technology)

I take umbrage at your use of the word "claim" in your post above - are you meaning to convey skepticism as to the honesty of the assertion by "one of the heads of the SNAPP PTA."

I know this is a challenging moment in our history, but I ask you to take more care in your word choice. Our SNAPP PTA leaders have done extraordinary work, far beyond what should ever be asked of them, to transition to a new location and work both with families and faculty/staff (Rina, too, for that matter). Kudos to them! While they may not necessarily taking up your torch to banish the PrIncipal, it does not mean they are dishonest or unethical - yet I worry that your post suggests that.

Anonymous said...

Hi SNAPP PTA,

I am curious why you say Rina is a solid leader. According to Cristen Kent's report "Geoghagan 'went along with' the proposal [to conduct an investigation] even if she did not think it was justified". that is kind of amazing. She did a lot of damage and cost the district a lot of money for something she thought was not right but went ahead and did anyway. She is educated and paid to be a leader. Is this what leaders do? Could you give us some specific details why you support her?

disgusted but curious

Anonymous said...

To Sue P and the SNAPP PTA
I am sorry but I don't think there will be many parents contacting the PTA with concerns about the leadership. I for one, won't send a letter to them with my name because I am afraid who will be reading my letter and my concerns and what will be the retaliation against me (and or my child at Lowell). I don't trust the school and the district any more until I receive a detailed explanation what happened and why and even more importantly what did the leadership learn from this case and how do they plan to move forward exactly. So I would really like to have a open meeting with all involved so they have an opportunity to address all the concerns. I feel this is the least they could all do ASAP so we can all concentrate on the next big step /move.

Anonymous said...

To whom it may concern:
My student witnessed another student yesterday how he was talking to the principal on a really not respectful (or rather inappropriate) way at Lowell. Although I know this could happen any time and even without any reason with any principal but I am really afraid this will happen even more if we don't solve the problem between the leadership and the school community ASAP. I know that students can hear their parents talk even when they are not aware of this and I am really afraid that these happenings could cause a toxic environment in the schools involved in the investigation.
Please consider to make the right move: organize a meeting for the community.

NESeattleMom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

At least, something is happening (citation from the saveseattle blogsite):

"Both Lowell principals and the District again skewered by KUOW's Ann Dornfeld just now. Host and media panelists so seemingly appalled that they just shut up and didn't discuss afterward. That never happens. Muttering about how depressing the news was.

Another banner day for professionalism in the district.

Upon thinking about the story for a week, I hope Jennifer Gray and the other reporting staff member sue. I really do. It's the only thing that will change this district's attention to reporting potential student safety problems AND stop principals from unthically going after employees to save their own skin.

-critical-

3/30/12 10:44 AM"

Anonymous said...

http://kuow.org/program.php?id=26382

Here is the link to the KUOW show featuring Ann Dornfeld's discussion of Lowell at about minute 27:00.

KUOW fan

Anonymous said...

Invitation:
Dear Lowell @ Lincoln Families,

Please join Nancy Coogan and myself for our April Coffee Chat, Thursday, April 12th at 9:30 am in the third floor staff lounge, room 307. We hope you can join us after drop off. As this meeting is occurring during the school day, parents should remember to check in at the Lincoln office.

Thank you ,

Rina Geoghagan
Principal
Lowell @ Lincoln