Chief Human Resources Officer Clover Codd, Superintendent Denise Juneau, Seattle School Board Directors Brandon Hersey and Zachary DeWolf sit on stage and listen to testimonies from parents, students and community leaders at a community hearing event in Quincy Jones Performing Center at Garfield High School on February 13, 2020. (Image: Xuan You Lim for CHS)
By Xuan You Lim, UW News Lab/Special to CHS
Seattle Public Schools offered apologies and some new promises at a community hearing event last week following KUOW’s investigation that revealed the district’s failure to remove abusive teachers from schools.
Earlier, KUOW reported that a math teacher at Capitol Hill’s Meany Middle School, James Johnson, called an eighth grader the n-word and punched him in the jaw. Not long after the incident, according to KUOW’s reporting, Johnson was transferred to the Central District’s Washington Middle School where the principal allegedly knew about Johnson’s misconduct before approving his transfer.
Johnson has since been placed on administrative leave pending ongoing investigations, according to KUOW.
The incidents — and the responses from officials — have left many questioning the district’s handling of incidents of abuse and its treatment of Central Seattle schools.
More than 100 parents, students and community leaders filled the seats in Quincy Jones Performing Center at Garfield High School for the community “listen and learn” event Thursday night where Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Denise Juneau, Chief Human Resources Officer Clover Codd, and Seattle School Board Directors Brandon Hersey and Zachary DeWolf listened to public comment. Approximately 40 people gave comments at the event in a rapid fire series of two minute time-limited sessions at the microphones.
Parents voiced their concerns about the wellbeing of the students in Johnson’s class who witnessed or experienced abuse. Many asked for counseling and support services for the students.
Mike Leitner, a parent of a senior at Garfield High School, read from his phone to put across his daughter’s request for counseling services to be offered to the students involved in Johnson’s class.
“Listen to the kids,” Leitner implored which was followed by applause.
Many called for accountability from the district and demanded apologies and answers from the four leadership on stage. Continue reading