While the Seattle Public School Board only managed to further inflame critics and protestors at a meeting this week, interim superintendent Larry Nyland says his system is making changes and learning from the revelations that emerged this summer about the district’s response to a reported 2012 sexual assault during a Garfield High School field trip on the Olympic Peninsula.
“While we cannot undo that event, we can learn from it and take steps to increase the safety for our students,” Nyland writes in a letter on the district’s response.
Nyland also said the district has already trained administrators on how to better respond to reported assaults and overhauled “training, field trip and chaperoning practices.”
The full letter from Nyland is below.
The incident reported after a 2012 Garfield High School field trip is of concern to us all. We would each be deeply shaken if our child was involved in such an incident. While we cannot undo that event, we can learn from it and take steps to increase the safety for our students.
We will continue to work together to support student safety both on and off school grounds. We support Ted Howard in his leadership as principal of Garfield High School.
As background regarding this incident:
• The FBI and the National Parks Service immediately investigated the incident.
• Based on the investigation, the U.S. Attorney did not file any charges.
• The District also investigated and found the facts to be inconclusive.
We can and will, however, continue to learn from this incident. As a result of this incident the District has:
• Established a Critical Incident Response Plan and trained administrators in how to respond to issues such as this.
• Reviewed and improved our training, field trip and chaperoning practices.
• Trained administrators in appropriate responses to critical incidents such as this.
We will be reporting to the School Board Operations Committee tomorrow on all incidents involving students the past year. We are also working with the Office of Civil Rights and will give careful consideration to their recommendations for improvements in our compliance to ensure that we are clear and current in our efforts to protect student safety. I have asked a senior management working group to review all processes related to the requirements of Title IX on sexual harassment to improve our notices, training, investigation practices, compliance actions, and remedies for victims of sexual harassment.
Ted Howard, principal at Garfield High School, is equally concerned about this issue and is also committed to learning from this incident to improve safety for our students. Given this experience, he and the Garfield staff are now even more aware, knowledgeable and committed to enforcing our field trip policies rigorously.
We will also do everything possible to prevent harassment, intimidation, or bullying of all students including any retaliation toward any of the parties involved in this incident.
Dr. Larry Nyland