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Stop Seattle Public Schools (SPS) from placing an Interagency Recovery High School directly across from John Hay Elementary School. Unless SPS can prove its safe, they should find another location.

This petition had 854 supporters

The safety and well-being of our elementary school students shouldn’t be a debate.  So the decision, without community engagement, by the SPS to locate an Interagency Recovery High School — dubbed as “last chance high schools” — 25ft directly across from John Hay Elementary School and close to Queen Anne Elementary School is utterly irresponsible.  The burden should not be on concerned parents to prove that this school is unsafe.  It should be SPS who has the burden to prove that it is – that locating this school across from an elementary school playspace is not even potentially unsafe.  We fully support the mission of Interagency, the students, faculty, and staff, but SPS needs to find a new location, in Queen Anne or elsewhere, where the question of elementary kids’ safety is not even a debate.  Our sole concern is our kids safety.

Why all the secrecy if you’re not hiding something?  SPS initially kept this effort under a veil of secrecy, including beginning renovations – but only at night.  Once discovered, SPS has been evasive.  Our Board Member, Sue Peters, will not respond and doesn’t even plan to show up to the meeting we forced SPS to conduct with the Community.  

Why this old gym?  This building seems like a strange choice for a school.  It’s old, has no classrooms (was a gym), no windows, no parking, poor transportation options.  Why use this building?  By the way, John Hay had to erect several portable classrooms to accommodate overcrowding – is the gym not an option for them?  And, SPS has many other sites they can house this program at, or, they can build protables which would cost much less than the renovation of a gym to become 4 classrooms.

In the eventual SPS semi-response to our concerns, they seem to argue both sides: trust us, it’s safe – but we don’t actually track anything related to recidivisim, jail or parole issues, etc.  So which is it?  If you don’t have statistics, you can’t assure us that it’s safe.  

Where are other schools like this?  The other Interagency schools within our district (approximately ten) are housed mostly in downtown buildings, at Boeing Field, in West Seattle and the U-District.  None of these are directly across from 519 elementary school children. 

What about transparency?  Additionally, SPS seems to be violating their own mandate for transparency: item number three of their own strategic plan.  (Goal 3, Strategy 2: Support proactive and transparent communication with all stakeholders to foster trust and collaboration.)

Who might attend an Interagency Recovery School?  The John Hay Elementary School community and the immediate neighborhood have not been informed by SPS of the student profile for these recovery students, which may range in age from 15-22. However, as presented in the Continuous School Improvement Plan for 2013-2015, written by Kaaren Andrews Principal of Interagency Academy, the student population changes every week as new students are added after returning from having dropped out due to (in SPS’s own words):

*Pregnancy, homelessness, untreated mental illness, or other traumatic events;

*Having been expelled or long term suspended from comprehensive Seattle high schools for violent or drug-related offenses; 

*Having not been supported adequately by the regular system for a variety of other reasons and are off-track to graduate. 

For more information see:

Construction continues.  In the meantime, while concerned parents are attempting to get their voices heard, SPS is marching on, trying to open this school ASAP.  The Interagency Recovery School on Queen Anne will house up to 80 students. It is slated to open in February unless permits can be obtained earlier, according to the district.  The opening date appears to be a moving target as to not allow for community involvement and input. 

Our local elementary schools, including John Hay, are overcrowded and need more space.  Our elementary schools are already busting at the seams. John Hay, QAE and Coe can all benefit from this space. We have 100 elementary kids at John Hay in double wide portables on their playground, across from where this program will be housed. 

In Summary:

1) No transparency, no due process, no discussion.

2) SPS has not ensured the safety of our children, has no risk mitigation plan in place or real understanding of what they’re actually trying to accomplish in this building. In fact, they can't guarantee  anything about what this program may evolve into 

3) There is actually not enough room.

4) This building is a public asset and housing 2, 10, or even 80 kids in it is not a wise use of a gym without more substantial renovation. 



Join us on December 10!  Because parents and neighbors have voiced their concerns, the district has now set a meeting to be held on December 10th, at 6:30pm in the John Hay Cafeteria at 201 Garfield St. The district is not making a formal announcement about this meeting so please share the message.  Any parents, neighbors and community members who have concerns about the location for an Interagency Recovery School should attend the meeting and sign this petition.  It is important to understand we are not opposed to this program but question the choice of the proposed location.


Send EMAILs and make CALLs!

Finally, if you want to contact the SPS directly to voice your concerns, please do so to everyone listed below.  Interagency School Principal Superintendents office  Queen Anne School Board  John Hay Parent Board


The authors of this petition are concerned parents and Queen Anne residents. Thank you for your time. Please feel free to forward.

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