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First charter school in Washington imploding
The first charter school in the state of Washington appears to be rapidly falling apart after just a few short months in existence. The school, First Place Scholars, was a private school that applied to become a public charter school under the state's charter school law. The school operates with public funds but doesn't have to follow the same regulations as regular public schools.

Since September, more than half the school's board of directors has resigned and the board president was unanimously voted off the board.  The principal resigned last month, and a significant number of staff members have also quit.

Here are some of the more disturbing details of the story:

  • The school has no special education teacher, despite the fact that 20 percent of the school's population has been identified with special needs.
  • Special education students have not received any IEP services since the beginning of the school year, a clear violation of federal law and of the students' rights to a free and appropriate public education.
  • In clear violation of the state's open meeting laws, the school's board of directors met in executive session to discuss issues not covered under executive privilege.
  • The board of directors, required by the school's bylaws to consist of 15 members, only has 7.
  • Background checks of school staff, required by law, were not conducted.
  • Policy and procedure paperwork were found to be out-of-date, including the school's fire drill plans and emergency contact list which listed staff members who no longer worked there.
  • The school's main office had no documentation of any teacher's certification.
  • State officials could not tell if the school was planning on being in operation for 180 days.
So what's their remedy to fix this mess? Hire one of the remaining board members, Linda Whitehead, as the new principal. You might recall that Linda Whitehead was the superintendent of the Marysville School District whose leadership caused a 49-day teachers' strike, the longest in state history. The Marysville School Board ended up having to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy her out of her contract.

The news of the state's first charter school sitting on the brink of collapse is not surprising given the overwhelming evidence that charter schools, on the whole, rarely outperform public schools with similar demographics. In fact, only 13 percent of charter schools have been found to perform better than public schools. That means that 87 percent -- no, that's not a mistake -- 87 percent of charter schools perform either the same or worse than similar public schools. Time will tell if these students get the education they deserve.

Governor's Budget
Gov. Jay Inslee included a COLA in his recent budget. Read about his education budget highlights. This session will be a difficult one. Now would be a great time to begin communicating with our lawmakers. While we appreciate the proposed COLA, we are looking forward to real investments in education that demonstrate progress toward fulfilling the McCleary decision.

Legislative Session and Initiative 1351
Now that I-1351 has passed, we need YOUR help to make sure our lawmakers implement actual lower class size!  The legislative session begins on Jan. 12, 2015. Pay close attention to the decisions our legislators are making regarding your class size, salary, evaluation, health care and retirement. It is a perfect time to join WEA-PAC if you haven't already. We need legislators that will truly make decisions that make sense for our students and for us! Download the WEA-PAC enrollment form. You can fill it out and send it to the HEA office via your building representative.

School Board Connections
The Dec. 3 School Board meeting offered many speakers sharing their concerns and offering viable solutions. This included eight students from ACE High School. The students were amazing! They were very articulate about the supports they need to be put in place in order to achieve their goals. Please attend a school board meeting this year. Your presence is needed. Public school educators need their voices heard. The next school board meeting is 6 p.m. Jan. 7 at ERAC. Consider sharing your experiences in the classroom. Suggested speaking topics:
Strategic Plan Implementation, Dual Language Program, Student Behavior in schools. Any speaker can select any topic. Members have requested suggestions.

Sue McCabe will host appetizers at Azteca at 4:45 p.m. for meetings held at ERAC.

Building Visits
HEA leadership has visited the following schools:
North Hill Elementary
Chinook Middle School
Cascade Middle School
Hilltop Elementary
Midway Elementary
White Center Heights Elementary
Parkside Elementary

Sue McCabe joined HEA building meetings at Shorewood Elementary, Highline High School and North Hill Elementary.

HEA member voice is a crucial piece of moving forward. Please lend your voice. If your building would like a visit, please talk with your HEA building representative.

6th-Grade Transition to Middle School
Highline School District decided to postpone moving 6th grade to middle school. Thank you for attending the information sessions. Stay tuned for more information regarding this issue.   

In this Issue ...
  • First Charter School in WA
  • Governor's Budget
  • Initiative 1351 and Beyond ...
  • Highline Citizens for Schools
  • School Connections
  • 6th Grade Transition 
  • Building Visits


Q: Do secondary teachers work on Jan. 26?
A: HEA members are NOT contracted to work on Jan. 26. It is a non-school/non-work day. If your principal offers a PIT time opportunity, it is your decision whether to join in the activities. More opportunities will be offered.

Q: When I document my 14 hours of PD on my TRI form, does it need to be approved by anyone?
A: No. This professional development is completely self-selected and requires no separate approval. It is the discretion of the professional making the decision.

Q: When is the next school board meeting?
A: Wednesday, Jan. 7, 2015, at ERAC.

Your Contract
Available on our website

Upcoming Dates

Dec. 19, 2014 - Jan. 6, 2015
Winter Break
Jan. 7:
School Board Meeting at ERAC
Jan. 12: HEA Rep Council Meeting, 4:15 p.m. at ERAC
Jan. 12: WA Legislative Session begins
Jan. 26: No School for Secondary Schools (end of semester)

Highline Citizens for Schools

Highline has a bond on the Feb. 10 ballot. Highline School Board voted to place a levy and a bond on the ballot in February. Look for information from Highline Citizens for Schools to learn about next steps.

Articles Worth A Read
Teachers shouldn't be moved like widgets.

The great charter school rip-off: Finally, the truth catches up to education "reform" phonies.

Contact us

Sue McCabe
HEA President
206-246-4340, Ext. 121

Elizabeth Beck
WEA UniServ Rep
206-246-4340, Ext. 122

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