Petitioning Seattle Public School Board

New Garfield Principal for 2014-2015 School Year

2,423
Supporters

As a community, we are sickened, shocked, angry and appalled to hear how Garfield High School and the Seattle School District handled an atrocious sexual assault during a school field trip in November of 2012.

[http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2014/7/18/on-rape-high-schoolsareworsethancolleges.html]

Rape is a heinous crime. The way the school administration handled this sexual assault adds insult to injury. They failed to follow the basic guidelines for overnight field trip supervision[1], they failed to provide a safe environment for learning[2], they failed to protect a student from harassment[3], they failed to investigate the crime in a timely fashion and keep the family informed during their process[4], and they failed to adequately discipline the perpetrator[5]. The Garfield Administration’s inaction promoted an environment where young women are both victimized and voiceless.

Garfield High School and the Seattle School District failed this young woman, and there is little that can be done to take away what has been done to her. What can be done, however, is to ensure that in the future Garfield will have leadership that will protect students like this one and not mishandle and ignore their plight. For this, we demand the termination of Garfield High School principal, Ted Howard.

The principal is the head of the school. The principal sets the tone for what is and isn’t acceptable conduct. The principal failed to set a standard for how sensitive and difficult situations are handled in an institution with standards and integrity. Mr. Ted Howard may be a nice person, but he is no longer fit to be principal for Garfield High School. Our students need real leadership. They need to see a new face on the first day of school this year. Our students need to know that rape is unequivocally wrong and will be punished—both those who commit the crimes, and those who condone it.

Today, we must stand up for what we believe is right. We must set the standard and take back our school for our children. Our young women should expect equality and integrity in the place they learn. The school community needs to redouble its commitment to the Garfield Vision Statement to “construct an environment of excellence and ethical growth for all”.

We cannot wait for our federal government to hold our schools accountable; we will hold our schools accountable. We will hold our elected leaders and their representatives accountable. There must be a price for inaction, and that price should be steep enough to let all know that we have a zero tolerance policy for those who would endanger our children.

Join us, today, in demanding the resignation of Garfield High School principal Ted Howard. And, if the Seattle School Board refuses to act, work with us to ensure we have a school board that will act.

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[1] [T]he students on the field trip had been freely playing outside and in one another’s cabins for hours after lights out on both nights while their chaperones slept. The chaperones admitted later to a district investigator that they hadn’t even read the district’s field trip guidelines, which recommend checking on students until they’re asleep.

[2] The alleged perpetrator was a classmate, who admitted that he had had anal sex with her. He acknowledged to law enforcement that she told him to stop several times but said he persuaded her to “roll with it.”

[3] Her friend mentions that he heard the alleged rapist, a popular student-athlete, talking about the incident at school. In its policy, the district states that retaliation against someone who makes a sexual harassment complaint “will result in appropriate discipline” and that it will “take reasonable actions” to prevent it from happening. [T]he district did nothing to respond to the insults and painful gossip. It offered Emily a transfer to another school...

[4] In its policy, Seattle Public Schools says it will respond to reports within 30 days. But the district didn’t begin to investigate the incident with Emily until six months after the alleged incident and only at the parents’ insistence, records and emails show.

[5] Emily never went back to Garfield, but the alleged perpetrator returned after a 10-day "emergency exclusion" on the basis of a possible security threat he posed to other students.

Letter to
Seattle Public School Board
New Garfield Principal for 2014-2015 School Year