Parents Demand Action for Vestal K-8

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Parents and Montavilla neighborhood residents demand an immediate response to the academic crisis at Vestal K-8. At the start of the 2016-2017 school year, returning families learned that more than half of Vestal teachers left the school over the summer.  This was devastating, as most of them were very involved and experienced teachers, loved and respected by both students and parents.  Teachers cited lack of administrative support from Principal Emily Glasgow, low academic standards, and worsening school violence. Nearly 50% of kids assigned to Vestal petition to transfer or lottery to better schools. By January, many families chose to pull their kids out of Vestal, because of escalating school violence, plummeting academic performance and unresolvable conflict with the administrator. Second semester enrollment for the 2016-2017 school year dropped by more than 30 students.

Vestal K-8 has an engaged diverse community, a dedicated and hard-working PTA, low teacher to student ratios, is an active IRCO and SUN Community School, has dozens of SMART volunteers, Reading Results, Playworks, a school garden, the Right Brain Initiative, the AVID program. We have well- educated faculty and staff, the Restorative Justice program, Inclusion, as well as Trauma- Informed practices. We have free meals and school supplies for all students, — in short, we have all available PPS supports in place, supports that in theory should produce a safe and equitable learning environment, and yet, the Equity Dial has not moved as it should on education, retention, or safety at Vestal K-8. In fact, the numbers show a continuing decline in these areas. 

While we know, that one person is not responsible for solving all of the intersectional challenges of a school as diverse as Vestal, we do know that a respected and capable administrator is crucial in leading positive, equitable institutional change. The departure of so many families, students and teachers should alone send a clear message of “no confidence” in the leadership ability at Vestal. Vestal is one of the lowest ranked schools in Oregon, currently ranked 607 out of 698 Oregon schools. By comparison, Laurelhurst K-8, just 2 miles away, is ranked 9th in the state of Oregon. (see "DATA"). In an independent, anonymous survey of 47 Vestal teachers and staff from 2015 to current, 80% do not agree that Vestal students are being prepared for academic success, 64% disagree with school policies and procedures, 60% reported not feeling safe at Vestal (see "DATA").  All too frequently students are bringing home stories of playground and classroom violence, from hate speech to physical assaults.  Children report feeling it is no use to try and receive help from the adults.  

Vestal parents have joined together and are speaking out.  We will not stand by and watch more neighbors feel they have no other choice than to remove their children from Vestal. We will no longer watch top- notch teachers, drained and dejected, leave Vestal for other schools, or watch our own children harmed academically, socially, emotionally, and physically in so much chaos and violence inside the classrooms and hallways of Vestal K-8. 

We believe neighborhood schools play a vital role in building just and equitable communities.  We believe our Vestal kids can learn and excel.  We believe our Vestal teachers and staff are dedicated and highly- skilled. We demand an equitable and safe place where our children will receive a quality education in their neighborhood Portland public school. Vestal school is a gem in this neighborhood. It would be a gem in any neighborhood! It is because we value our school and our beautifully diverse community that we are willing to fight for its success. By not providing safety, trusted leadership, and equitable academic standards we are sending the message to our community that diversity cannot succeed. This is untrue and absolutely unacceptable.

We are petitioning for immediate action of the Portland Public School Board and Oregon Department of Education:  Please join us in asking for the immediate establishment of an Emergency Task Force comprised of parents, teachers, and district representatives to audit all Vestal programs, review all complaints against Vestal or Vestal personnel, review pending data, and make recommendations that will be implemented by the start of the 2017-2018 school year. This Task Force should be overseen by the Oregon Department of Education Equity Office. 

DATA

Nearly 50% of kids assigned to Vestal petition to transfer or lottery to better schools.

Vestal is one of the lowest ranked schools in Oregon,  currently ranked 609 out of 680 Oregon schools. By comparison, Laurelhurst K-8, just 2 miles away, is ranked 9th in the state of Oregon.  (Source citation: http://schooldigger.com )

Survey Monkey independent, anonymous survey, “Vestal Faculty and Staff Survey,” February 20, 2017 —-

  • 80% - not at all satisfied (40%) or somewhat (40%) dissatisfied with school policies and procedures 
  • 80% - strongly (40%) or somewhat (40%) disagree with the statement that students are being prepared for academic success 
  • 75% - disagree that students’ academic needs are being met
  • 64% - disagree or strongly disagree with Vestal policies and procedures 
  • 60% - strongly (30%) or somewhat (30%) disagree with the statement that they feel safe at Vestal
  • 58% - do not agree that their concerns are heard and addressed 
  • 50% - disagree with this statement, “I feel supported by my principal.” 

 

PENDING DATA

Vestal transfer request applications from 2007-present  
Exit interviews of Vestal teachers 2007-present 
Ombudsman complaints filed against Vestal Practices & Procedures, or Personnel
Vestal teacher Tell Oregon Survey results 2007-present
Vestal results of PPS District Literacy Assessment
Vestal Student Handbook interpretation of corresponding guidelines laid out within overall PPS “Student Responsibilities, Rights, and Discipline Handbook”



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