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Schoolyard Bullies

District Evicts Disabled Kids

Schoolyard Bullies

Seattle Public Schools is scrambling to accommodate a growing student population, but the developmentally and physically disabled students of Northwest Center Kids on Queen Anne now seem to be at the receiving end of the crunch, having been given six months to vacate the building they've leased for the past 28 years.

Blindsided by the decision, parents say the eviction could have dire consequences.

At a school board meeting on February 5, the father of a child who has a heart condition begged the district for more time. "Other places are terrified that my child will die in their care," said Robert Marks, arguing that other schools—public or private—are not equipped to care for his child. "We have nowhere else to go."

The Northwest Center was founded in 1965 by concerned parents when public schools wouldn't take their disabled children, worried that their behavioral and physical needs were too much or too dangerous.

Now the parents are concerned the district is also taking advantage of their investments in the school building, and they present damning public records to prove it.

Last year, the Northwest Center received a $250,000 grant from NAIOP, a commercial real estate firm, to renovate their facilities, including remodeling bathrooms to accommodate physically disabled students and refurbishing the floors. The work was completed in October 2013, but two months later, the Northwest Center was given an eviction notice. Seattle Public Schools has claimed it didn't have any knowledge of the remodeling work because the proper paperwork was not filed. But e-mail and public records indicate the district had designs on the building for the better part of a year.

Northwest Center president Tom Everill e-mailed school superintendent José Banda in October 2012 to ask if their location would be used to house public-school students. Kathy Johnson, property manager for Seattle Public Schools, e-mailed five days later to confirm that "there are no plans to include North Queen Anne in the levy proposal." But in March 2013, an e-mail from Gretchen DeDecker, a project manager for the district, to Johnson and K–12 planning coordinator Joseph Wolf, indicates the district has been considering plans to take over the Queen Anne location:

To doubly confirm our discussion last week, you think we may need to take back North Queen Anne when their lease is up in 2015 (or sooner)?
NAIOP is considering the site for a huge volunteer project, and the needs are pretty compelling. One thought is if NAIOP did some major building improvements and site cleanup, it would benefit the tenant for the next few years, who really really could use the help, and likely (hopefully) be that much fewer improvements we'd need to do to use it as a school in the future.

The e-mail trail seems to present clear evidence that school officials have not only been discussing moving Northwest Center, they intended to benefit from the center's renovations to the building.

Katie Curnutte, a Northwest Center parent, is furious. "The process of decision making could have included us and did not. A clear decision had been made by September, and I'm angry that this has fallen through the cracks."

Teresa Wippel, a spokeswoman for Seattle Public Schools, insists that the district is not taking advantage of the renovations since they didn't know the renovations had happened and other schools were being considered for the move, adding that such construction projects usually trigger an evaluation of how those improvements might affect the facility.

The Northwest Center has resigned itself to moving, but they are asking the school board for a six-month reprieve to ensure the new location has adequate facilities for disabled children. recommended

 

Comments (42) RSS

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1
Think of the 6 month eviction notice this way:

You are running a non-profit.
You have 110 students and 62 staff.
You are currently fully using approximately 19,000 sqft of space.
Licensing requirements include things like having 2 sinks within a certain distance of every diaper changing table.
The licensing process itself is lengthy.
Some of your students are from low-income families.
Some of your students have developmental disabilities that make dealing with change difficult.

How many options do you have?
Six months is unrealistic.

https://www.change.org/petitions/seattle…
Posted by Michael Snyder on February 12, 2014 at 10:55 AM · Report this
2
There is some really slanted reporting going on here, and some clever twisting of the facts.

They remodeled a building they were renting without receiving the okay from the school district? How did that not right then and there invalidate their lease? I'm sorry but that is not a good investment of money, and it's also not the district's fault.

If they needed more than six months to move at any given time, why didn't they negotiate for that? They tried to buy the building and the district said no because at some point they knew they'd need it back.

Further, I'm sure the district wanted to evaluate what was done and whether it would be useful, but $250k is a small drop in the bucket for the amount of money the district has committed to repair the building and make it suitable for its use. In fact, it's very likely that some of the things done will be undone. So to claim that they waited until the repairs were done and then said YEP WE WANT IT BACK NOW LOL for that reason is silly. Untrue.

The decision, the final for sure decision, for the school district to use its own property for its own constituents did not occur until November of this past year. Yes, it had been discussed before, in the context that it might be a good place to put a program, and in the same context as all the other district buildings currently being rented out. It wasn't for sure decided or known that it would be needed until this year. So to suggest that it was a done deal two years ago and they've been withholding this information is, frankly, bullhonkey.
Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 12, 2014 at 5:46 PM · Report this
3
Your comment, Maiden Voyage, in addition to being offered in an unproductive spirit, is naive. The email records are clear and you are welcome to review this public information. SPS has been considering taking back this building for up to a year prior to handing down a 6 month eviction notice to a program that requires 6 months simply to license. Whether or not a final decision had been made, common decency and mutual respect would have dictated that a heads up was in order. Had NWC Kids had 18 months to relocate this would be a different discussion. There is no shading this as anything other than an example of how miserably managed our school district is. Pathetic.
Posted by Rik on February 12, 2014 at 6:22 PM · Report this
4
Thank you MaidenVoyage for putting things so in perspective. Public schools need to prioritize meeting the needs of their students first. SPS is in the business of serving their students, not prioritizing renters, no matter how wonderfully a private school may serve their students. I think it is kind of SPS to offer Van Asselt as a new location as well as work towards expediting the licensing process. I wish the Northwest Center the best in their new location.
Posted by SPSparent1 on February 12, 2014 at 7:12 PM · Report this
5
There are children and parents on both sides of this story and the Stranger reports only the side of th NW Center parents and children. Are these children more important than others?

The NW Center Executive team and Board of directors should be held responsible for their malpractice. They continue to spend money on a building they had a most a 6 month lease in. And they continued to renew a 6 month lease. No business owner in their right mind with a 6 month lease would invest in a property without some reassurance that the lease would be extended beyond a mere 6 months.

The one sided slant and utter lack or research of both side is shameful for The Strange. This will end my readership of this paper.
Posted by Seattlecitizenparent on February 12, 2014 at 8:14 PM · Report this
6
Based on the information offered here, that is the only rational conclusion. Anything more is speculation.

As to whether or not the school district has screwed up at any point in managing this (or many other things) oh trust me, you don't need to convince me. I agree with you there.

Considering something, however, is not the same as action. What should they have said? Hey guys, we may or may not need our property back to serve the public school children for whom we pay taxes and we don't know when it will be but maybe soon? I'm sorry that declining to sell you the building and people touring your facilities wasn't a clue? We might need you to move in 2 years, or maybe one, or maybe 5? I'm sorry that the lease we negotiated isn't good enough, and that we acted within our legal bounds and within the contract that you signed but you didn't have a jump plan and now we're the bad guy?

Even using the language 'eviction' rubs me the wrong way. It's not like they capriciously decided to evict a bunch of kids. They opted not to renew the lease and to terminate the lease within the negotiated and agreed upon terms of the lease agreement that was agreed upon and signed by both parties.

Some of the timing of this has to do with other things, such as the demolition/rebuilding of other campuses. The program that is slated to head there isn't even the biggest factor; they simply need the space. If Cascade wasn't to be housed there, they would need it for other things and would require the space back regardless. Which is a bit discouraging honestly, because there was a hope that perhaps a better location could be found for Cascade and then this would be a non-issue. Unfortunately there isn't a better location, and even if there was, it would simply displace whatever program was going to be at that location and move IT to Queen Anne. :/ Nor is it really a possibility for Cascade to move elsewhere temporarily; moving twice within one or two years would be ridiculously, exceedingly difficult--perhaps to the point of killing the program--on the program and on the special needs students who depend on the program and again, there isn't another location that could house the program effectively. There's no temporary place to go TO, even if temporary were an option for the program.

The school district is offering to help with a new location and offering to expedite permits so that NW Center can effectively move and not lose steam. I think that's rather generous of a landlord, and I think that point is being lost in all the hand-wringing.

Was this executed perfectly and at all times fairly? No, but that's what happens when a district runs out of time and money. Not to mention how often seats on the council and other high places have changed in the past few years, which GREATLY added to the miscommunication and chaos...:/ good job Seattle.
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Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 12, 2014 at 8:25 PM · Report this
7
I realize I'm playing a bit of devil's advocate, you know, on behalf of the district. It just bothered me that there was a total lack of balance or consideration in this article for the facts and the stance on both sides of the equation. I think this is a bit of a debacle for sure, but I also don't think it's meant to be a malicious eviction. I sincerely hope that a good solution can be found for all the involved parties.
Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 12, 2014 at 8:31 PM · Report this
8
Rik, I would like to pose the question "Why do you think that MaidenVoyage's comment being is being offered in an unproductive spirit and is naive?"

1. What are you trying to produce?

I think that MaidenVoyage just has a different point of view than you and you don't like it. MaidenVoyage's opinion will not produce the outcome that you desire. That does not mean that it is an unproductive opinion.

2. Regarding Naivete. I have lived in rental units for many years. I also have a degree in Accounting. A tenant put money into a rental property or made a "Leasehold Improvement".

I have never made an improvement to a property that I was renting without a written agreement between myself and the landlord. And I definitely would not put much money into a property I was renting unless I had a 5 year lease.

If I don't own the property, by the very nature of the transaction, I am improving a property for someone else. Yes I would get the benefit of the improvement for the time I was there, but if I wasn't taking the improvement with me - then I would weigh the benefit of the improvement and it's cost with the fact that I could lose that benefit since I did not have control of ownership.

This is sound business practice. It is odd to me that this was seen as a good idea business plan without some sort of long term lease in place.

I don't know what personal phone conversations were had between which people. That's part of the problem with an informal or a handshake agreement. Yes, that works great between my neighbor and I when I walk their dog a couple times a week - but in this type of situation - a responsible business person would ensure their investment was protected with a contract.

I also don't know what really went on behind the scenes at SPS, all we really see is a snippet pulled out of context. One that agrees that the leaseholder would receive benefit of their improvements while operating on the property. It is hard to understand the intent and voice behind email communications.
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Posted by CascadeMama on February 12, 2014 at 8:38 PM · Report this
9
1) The school district appears to be aware of the renovations as evidenced by the email sited in this article.
2) The program slated to use this space by the school district is a part time program for home schooled students. Not the public school students our tax dollars are supposed to be supporting.
Posted by JamieR on February 12, 2014 at 9:24 PM · Report this
10
1) The school district does seem to be aware of the renovations as evidenced by the email sighted in the article.
2) The program currently slated to use the space after Northwest Center by SPS is a part time program for home schooled children NOT the public school students our tax dollars are supposed to support.
Posted by JamRoc on February 12, 2014 at 9:31 PM · Report this
11
Just to clear up a few misconceptions here:
- First, SPS knew about the NAIOP project before it happened. This is a matter of public record. They discussed it internally and gave it the go-ahead.
- Second, they are terminating Northwest Center's lease early. Nobody contests their right to do so, nor SPS's responsibility to the students of Seattle Public Schools (although many NWC kids are actually also SPS students). But the leadership of NWC repeatedly asked about the future of the building, asked if it would be taken back and asked to be notified early in the process. None of those requests were honored.
CascadeMama, we want a place for Cascade AND NWC kids to go. There has to be a better solution. NWC just wants a seat at the table.
As for Van Asselt, unfortunately it's just not a realistic option, and actually hasn't even been formally offered to NWC. Cascade turned it down because most of the kids who attend there live in north Seattle. It's the same situation for NWC -- 95% of families live north of downtown.
NWC is more than willing to move. But it needs to be to a place that works for the community and the vulnerable population it serves. We can find that in north Seattle. But wherever this new place is, it will take time to renovate -- we need ADA compliance and teeny tiny potties, among other things -- and the state licensing for a new early childhood education center is at least a six-month process, AFTER construction has been completed.
Posted by NWC-Parent on February 12, 2014 at 9:32 PM · Report this
12
Thank you for the clarifications NWC parent. I am disgusted by the lack of concern for vulnerable populations such as that of NWC in these comments. You do realize they are already or will be SPS students. Get your facts together rather than just jumping at an opportunity to troll.
Posted by Disappointed_by_SPS on February 12, 2014 at 10:08 PM · Report this
13
JamRoc You are wrong about the Cascade Parent Partnership Program.

What's your stake?

The fact that people continue to say that is when it is not true leads me to question your motives. Why are people continuing to spread this misinformation?

The Cascade Parent Partnership Program is a public school program.

I was a homeschooler when my son was younger, for five years. Why - One big fat reason is because he has a two mental illnesses and a learning disability.

However, I planned on waiting until he was older and more able to handle a classroom situation to start moving him in that direction. We entered into the Public School System through the Cascade Parent Partnership Program - and I understood that we were becoming a Public School Family and the implications.

Our school just looks different than most public schools.

For one thing - we have a Certified Teacher that we see multiple times a week, and I meet with her monthly to go over our Student Learning Plan. I have to meet the goals of the student learning plan within the guidelines set by WA state for my grade. Additionally, we take official classes with certified teachers. AND my children take the tests required by the state. Just like any other public school student in this state.

When we were homeschooling, our rules were a lot different then now that we are at Cascade.

Another way that this school looks different is that I have to stay on site in case I am needed. If I can find another person who can support my child in case he needs it, then we can trade, but it is a much more hands situation on for the parent than a regular school. I give up a lot to do this. If he could make it in a regular school - I could go back to work.

I feel like every time "homeschool program" is used, it is used to denigrate and reduce the value that this program provides to its students and families.

This is not fairly stating the program's role in the City of Seattle public school system and seems to have persisted in a variety of media sources even though it has been corrected more than once.

I would ask "why". What benefit is received by continuing to spread this misinformation? Why would people like you feel the need to cut down children - especially if they need something different than what a normal classroom situation can offer.

My child could not and can not be in a regular school setting. He would not do well and his challenges would make it difficult for others to learn. Cascade Parent Partnership Program gives him a way to learn with others students and the other students get to learn too. The staff is able to support me in a way that allows him to grow and for me to meet his needs.

In the end, he will be able to contribute to society instead of draining it. This is what schools are supposed to do for students. And Cascade Parent Partnership Program is allowing this to happen for us - well - and society in general since he'll be supporting himself and hopefully using his weird way of seeing things to invent a thing or two.
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Posted by CascadeMama on February 12, 2014 at 10:09 PM · Report this
14
1. It's not a 6 month lease. It's a long term lease with a 6 month termination clause.
2. NWC routinely, and responsibly inquired as to the status of SPS intentions for the building.
3. SPS represented it had no plans for the building as recently as Sep 2013.
4. SPS had been discussing this as a potential location for CPP as much as a year earlier.
5. SPS was well informed of the upgrades to the building which were completed in Oct 2013.
6. SPS first informed NWC of its intentions to take back the building in Dec 2013.

It's all documented in the emails folks. If any of the parents of these two worthy programs have an issue it should be with the district staff and their gross mishandling of the matter - not with each other.
Posted by Rik on February 12, 2014 at 10:34 PM · Report this
15
NWC-Parent -

In my perfect world, there would be a place for everyone and this would never have happened.

Unfortunately, in the very first post (that I saw) about the situation, on the Queen Anne View blog, presented the Cascade Parent Partnership Program as "a program for home-schooled children." And it has never been corrected.

This same false information has been repeated, more than once. And yet again - in an above comment.

This misinformation is simply to reduce the value of the program and the children's needs that are involved.

I don't understand why this situation would have been set up that way. It implies that there are children whose needs should be met while others should not be. This is very painful, as I am sure that you fully understand and appreciate.

These children at CPPP have nowhere to go either. While my family could tough it out for six months, many other families are low income and rely on the school lunches to meet their children's nutritional requirements.

And I know of kids who have been bullied so badly that another school is not an option. Only this one, where they feel supported enough by family and other adults to feel safe.

Really, the list goes on and on and I could spend all day on it, but to what point.

My concern is that these kids, who need a different setting, count.

And their needs should not just be discounted by calling them all "homeschoolers". And saying that the school is a "program for home-schooled children" to reduce value of this Public Schools Program is not OK.

Well, it isn't OK to attack any children, to me anyway - as the statement is still sitting there - it is implied that the writer, Laura, and her editor, think is fine to denigrate homeschooled children. Or to use homeschooling as a put down to the program. The connotation is definitely negative. Otherwise they would write a correction article.

And I reached out to this author, Danielle Henderson, to see if we could talk about the benefit and value of the Cascade Parent Partnership Program after her last article. Because this is The Stranger. And this venue, of all places, should appreciate the roll of CPPP in the public school system. And I did not receive a response.

However, all reports have been one sided.

Not one media outlet has shown any positive information about the CPPP. I get it. Our story isn't as sexy. We are easier to attack. But man, it stinks to be on the bottom.

On the bright side, my child has yet another challenge to rise above. It's character building, right?
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Posted by CascadeMama on February 12, 2014 at 10:50 PM · Report this
16
Exactly Rik -

Honestly, I want to support all children. My oldest has a lot of challenges to overcome.

And I have purposefully and knowingly stepped into long term relationships with children that have very serious challenges that I will have to support over the next many years.

So I get it that the problem is not with the families.

However, I have seen so many JanRocs or JamieRs by now that I am actually becoming afraid.

The Queen Anne View blog posted that rhetoric of disenfranchisement of our children. I have seen other angry posts. No one has stepped up to support the CPPP children. Some in the comments - but no media where it counts.

Here is the link: http://www.queenanneview.com/2014/01/23/…

It is a great program. We don't have any other choices. We are losing our building due to construction. We have a fragile - yet flourishing - because of the program/community, population.

If it had no building for 6 months, I do not see it being able to reestablish itself. This public school resource would just be gone.

What do you do with the kids who don't fit in? They need a place to go in the Public School System, and this is it. There isn't anywhere like it. Seattle needs this resource.

Posted by CascadeMama on February 12, 2014 at 11:07 PM · Report this
17
Disappointed_by_SPS.

You are right, hopefully when the kids are ready, they will be at our school (the CPPP).

We already have several "graduates" from the NW Center program.

This is exactly the problem with the reporting that I was talking about.

People are pitting needs against needs and children against children, and that is not what this is about.

Honestly, only one maybe troll I have seen. Most people are putting forth thoughtful arguments and communicating.
Posted by CascadeMama on February 12, 2014 at 11:13 PM · Report this
18
Rik -

I really appreciate this:

"If any of the parents of these two worthy programs have an issue it should be with the district staff and their gross mishandling of the matter - not with each other."

This is the first time I have seen our program the "CPPP" mentioned as worthy in print.

I realize that this is a comment and not main media. But still. It is a really big deal to me, that you recognize CPPP as worthy.

Thank you.
Posted by CascadeMama on February 12, 2014 at 11:21 PM · Report this
19
Hoe shit. How are can anybody claim they didn't know one of their buildings underwent a quarter million in renovations?!
Posted by squirrely girl on February 13, 2014 at 6:33 AM · Report this
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21
Couldn't even get through all these comments I became so upset. This article, as well as several other recent presentations of this issue by other sources have lacked in sufficient research. A note to the Stranger: please research the complexities of issues before presenting a biased, ill-informed perspective. I may need to drop my commitment to this news publication based on their lack of media ethics.

And, to the responders making gross, incorrect statements about the program moving in. Please note that SPS would likely have needed this site regardless of who occupies it. Wilson-Pacific has a diverse range of programs and the building is slated to be demolished in early 2015. In addition, Cascade PPP is a public school, like all public schools it offers both part and full time enrollment options. These students receive equitable learning opportunities by having their diverse needs met under alternative learning opportunities. Because of the significant parent involvement, many parents self-identify as homeschooler. But, because tax dollars do pay for the students' education and children are enrolled in public school it is against policy for the school itself to call its students homeschooled. They are SPS students in a K-12 alternative program. Please note, why is it even necessary to question and insult students and families in a different program? I am saddened by the plight of the NWC and again, wish them the best in their future location.
Posted by SPSparent1 on February 13, 2014 at 7:03 AM · Report this
22
I think it's worth pointing out that this article does NOT paint CPP in a negative light. This is NOT an article about which program is more worthy to exist. This is an article that shows a terrible lack of strategic planning, communication, and facilities management by SPS in regards to a partner organization that they've worked with for over 28 years.

As a NWC Parent, I truly understand the frustration of the CPP parents. I've read every correspondence between your principal and SPS. I realize that you've been fighting an uphill battle for years for a place that is suitable for your program. Your program deserves better. You deserve to have closure, ultimately ending in a suitable and permanent home. Every NWC Parent that I've talked to feels the same way.

But I implore you to not make this into an argument between our two groups. As Rik pointed out above, SPS has grossly mishandled this situation. SPS needs to be held accountable and should acknowledge that this decision was made without exploring all of the options. I know that SPS has basically said "There are no other options." There are ALWAYS options, sometimes people need to work a bit harder to uncover those options. THIS is what the NWC Community is advocating for.

Again, I commend the CPP Parents for advocating for their children. (As the parent of two special needs kids, I'll be fiercely advocating for them my entire life.) I'm willing to advocate for YOUR children and I'd hope you'd be willing to advocate for mine.

The parents of both programs should be working together to hold SPS accountable. At the very least, our communities should refrain from feeling like it's "one versus the other".

Posted by CCourtade on February 13, 2014 at 9:13 AM · Report this
23
Very good points, CCourtade.

The bad guys here are SPS. Not either group of parents, and certainly not either group of very special kids.
Posted by NWC-Parent on February 13, 2014 at 9:51 AM · Report this
24
The Summit community at the Jane Addams building also made improvements over 20+ years, to the library, playgrounds, auditorium, ( added a black box theatre) and arts facilities.
Lot of good it did them.
Posted by Noturmomma on February 13, 2014 at 10:32 AM · Report this
25
I don't think any parent at NWC or the Cascade program are against each other. We all have children that have the right to an education in this state, as protected by our state's constitution. That right is integral to the formation of NW Center and its founders' fight to get House Bill 90 passed, to provide for equal education of developmentally and physically disabled children, and atypically developing children. It's a fight the Center is continuing, as exemplified in this article.

I might add that Seattle Public Schools has failed to appropriately maintain Wilson-Pacific School, aka Indian Heritage High School, where the Cascade program is currently housed. Some of my college students hosted an event there while the UW's student union was closed for renovation, and frankly, I was horrified at the state of the facilities. The damn kitchen is condemned, for crying out loud!

Additionally, SPS has failed to come up with an appropriate action plan and reforms for its special education services, a failure that could lose $11 million on federal funding. So, really, it's in SPS' best interest to help find a facilities for NW Center AND Cascade that meets the needs of north-end families, since the district currently can't adequately provide those services.

The kids in both of these programs deserve to be in places that meet their needs and continue to provide vital services to Seattle parents. I want to see and support the district work with the families in both programs (my daughter attends both public school and NW Center) so that all of our children receive the education they are constitutionally mandated to receive.
Posted by cmcoop on February 13, 2014 at 12:50 PM · Report this
26
I am a NWC parent and I want to strongly encourage folks from both CPP and NWC to focus on the real culprit in this mess: The Seattle Public School District. the District effectively threw both programs under the bus when they failed to 1) give adequate warning to NWC that the District needed the building (while internally they clearly were planning to take it back) and 2) making CPP look like the fall guy for displacing kids with disabilities (who wants that role?). What a different place we would all be in if the District had simply reached out early in the process to NWC.

I also want the CPP parents to know the NWC parent group has consistently from its first strategy meeting a month ago made it a conscious point to NOT frame this as an us vs. them situation in a race for limited resources. The NWC parent group has reached out to CPP principal Sterk asking to meet with CPP parents and to schedule a tour of the school to better understand CPP and its needs (see letter below sent 2-weeks ago- updated with more current info). I encourage all CPP parents to go to the District's website and watch the testimony of the NWC parents at the last SSD Board meeting and to a one, they all called on the District to find homes for both worthy programs and spoke about CPP with nothing but respect. One last point, CPP is referred to as a "Home School Program" on the District's website and at Board member Carr's constituent meeting, she referred to it as a homeschool program. NWC has learned that this is not the preferred name for CPP and we have tried to incorporate this language into our daily usage.

Hi Principal Sterk
Thanks so very much for our conversation about the difficult issues surrounding the space requirements for both Cascade Parent Partnerships and NW Center’s Kids Center I am most appreciative of your openness and willing to work together to find a win-win solution for both of these worthy programs. Please pass along to the parents in your program the following information about our (NWC Kids Program) parent group and what your folks can do to drive home the message to the Seattle School District that it is wrong to pit two wonderful educational organizations against each in a fight other over limited resources. District actions like these – if allowed to continue – will ultimately undermine our often over-lapping communities, and most importantly, our kids.
NWC Kids Program Facts
• For many of the 28-years that NWC has inhabited the Queen Anne Elementary Building, the SSD maintained a 4-month termination clause within its multi-year lease structure. NWC has repeatedly pushed for extensions and has been able –through much lobbying – to extend it to 6-months. Throughout this long relationship, the District and NWC have maintained a close partnership as NWC provides many services on behalf of the District. NWC was never simply a tenant.

• The administration of NWC, aware of the changing demographics and District requests for building levys - repeatedly and responsibly enquired of the District whether or not they would need the building back and to please include NWC in any decision-making about the building as any decision would affect so many families. The answer was a resounding “NO, we are not planning to use the building.”

• No one – no one – at Northwest Center was made aware that the SSD was looking to move the CPP homeschool program into Queen Anne and re-occupy the space. Apparently, the SSD, SSD Board, and others were having this conversation but it was never brought to NWC’s attention. Some have said that the District did not have a responsibility to tell NWC about the planned move until it was finalized. This argument is barely worth addressing: should the District not have told CPP that it had a site picked out until it was finalized? Common courtesy alone – much less common sense – tells you that you need to give complex programs such as NWC AND CPP as much notice as possible that they might be moving.

• In October of 2013, NAIOP – a building industry trade group – donated $250,000 worth of materials and thousands of hours of labor to upgrade the Queen Anne Program. Had NWC known that it was going to be evicted, they would have either used the materials and labor on another program (school to work or others) or asked the group to wait until a new location could be found and “saved” those donated hours and materials for use then.

• Like Cascade Parent Partnerships, NWC’s Kids Program serves many kids and their families with special needs (40%). Many of these kids have no other place to go either because of their unique cognitive disabilities – or in some cases – fragile medical conditions.
What you can do
• Email, call, and write Superintendent Banda and the SSD Board members asking them to sit down at the table with NWC, CPP, and City officials to find a solution that doesn’t involve the dissolution of either program.
• Email, call, and write members of the Seattle City Council with the same message. Several members of the City Council are aware of the issue and are working to find a solution. Your messages of support will ensure their continued focus on the issue
• Emphasize with both groups that it is simply wrong to pit one worthy program against another for limited resources.
• Spread the word that both parent groups want to work together and won’t be pitted against each other – a win-win solution is the only acceptable outcome.
On behalf of the Northwest Center’s Kids Program ad-hoc parent support group, thank you.
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Posted by Interested parent on February 13, 2014 at 1:22 PM · Report this
27
No, no parents I know of at Cascade are against NW Center or pitted against the parents. Some of us have been very bothered by some of the underlying classism; after all, our poor little community doesn't have fundraisers, and lawyers and council members and legislators in our pockets, and the media on our board, and the ability to make a full-court press to advocate for our program, and a monthly tuition supporting our program on par with some of the take-home salaries of households of those attending Cascade. I mean, we've been stuck in two different campuses over the year that were badly neglected and even dangerous, and we aren't able to advocate the way that moneyed people are, and that sucks. The news even reported on our bad conditions a few years ago; nothing came of it.

But to be clear, my comments take issue with this article, not with NW Center or the parents there. The information offered as "proof" that the district knew about the repairs and that it was a motivating factor for its decision simply shows that they were aware of the POSSIBILITY that NAIOP was CONSIDERING it for a volunteer project, and that if it went through the TENANTS aka NW Center would benefit from it for possibly a few years before the building was needed. There is a lot of twisting of words and concepts going on in this article, and also some blaming on the district of some frankly poor business practices (i.e. not having a jump plan in place that would allow for the 6 month termination option to not overly disrupt the program, and putting money into a rental without an ironclad lease).

I said it before and I'll say it again, if there is another building option for Cascade that would meet our needs, we would gladly take it.

For those stating they'd like to advocate for that for our building, here are some of the requirements:
1. Handicap accessible
2. Accessible by public transportation, since many of our population relies on public transportation
3. North or Centrally located; most of our families (particularly those relying on public transportation) are located in N Seattle
4. Adequate classroom space
5. A campus that would meet our security needs without disrupting another's (one of the big reasons we can't share space with another active school)
6. Space for families to be on campus

Those are a few of the requirements but not all of them.

p.s. It would be a homeschooler's wet dream to share a space with a museum...haha! Nordic Heritage Museum...can we share space?? hahaha...too bad the location isn't easily accessible.
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Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 15, 2014 at 12:52 AM · Report this
28
Honestly, I'm no fan of the district; they haven't been kind to my family over the years. I agree that there are some failings going on here.

Aside from hating to see slant and twist in a piece of journalism, though, the reason I'm even bothering to point those things out are because they are irrelevant. Which sounds weird, I know, but it's true. What was or was not wink-wink promised is irrelevant; the legal documents delineate the relationship and the legality of what's happening is above board. What was or was not known or said may draw up some pathos, but it is irrelevant. We need to focus on moving forward.

Because what is relevant is knowing first of all, if it's even possible to stop the clock. You really should know, if you guys possess all those emails, that Cascade isn't the only program that could have been put there, and that they are still seeking space for schools and programs within the district. It's very possible that they school district has no other choice but to take back its property. It's very possible that even if Cascade is found a different suitable location, they will still take back the property because they need the space.

So what can we do to advocate or help NW Center with if the 6 months is iron clad? What if the district is out of time and there's no way to stop the clock? We need to consider that possibility, because the worst thing would be for the NW school to shut down entirely or even temporarily.

Maybe finding Cascade another building will delay the move, so that option should be explored, don't get me wrong. Maybe whatever other program or school situation SPS would move into the QA building can be somewhere temporarily and that would give NW Center the time it says it needs to move if Cascade can be found another permanent location. I personally feel icky about using a building under these circumstances. I feel very frustrated by this whole situation. But that's something else we need to figure out. Will that actually stop the clock and will it give NW Center time to move? If so, what are some good options for Cascade that the district COULD consider?

I very much agree that we need to work together and advocate for our children, because this is one tragic situation. I don't know all the ins and outs and who's to blame and in which ways and where things could have gone differently; but what's done is done and what's happened has happened. My concern isn't emails from two years ago, my concern is where do we go from here? How can we save these vulnerable populations and programs?

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Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 15, 2014 at 2:04 AM · Report this
29
SPS has a long history of doing crap like this and we see they are no different under Banda. Summit is another example. Regardless of the legality of taking the building back, there's a moral and ethical issue of stranding families with no other place to go. Why or how could anyone defend this?
Posted by whatevercathy on February 15, 2014 at 1:50 PM · Report this
30
Indeed...if SPS does not take that building back, it's possible that they will face a moral and ethical issue of stranding families with no other place to go. Certainly, the population that is slated to use that building may have no other options, and 64 students with some form of disability may suddenly have no place to call home, since the decrepit building in North Seattle that they currently call home is partially condemned and slated for demolition next fall/spring. I'm not sure how anyone could defend that, either.

What seems to really be the sticking point is the suddenness of it. After all, NW Center has repeatedly stated they are happy to move on, they just need more time to do it. That's the part that isn't great, and it is hard to find cause to defend that. The tough thing is, SPS is out of room, time, and options. It has to serve the students under its care, and already schools are overcrowded. :( I continue to hold out hope that this can be overcome one way or another that is a win-win for all involved. I really hope a solution can be found.
Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 15, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Report this
rtm 31
Hey - remember when Megan Seling concern trolled parents who send their kids to private schools? What is her take on this? Isn't it great that parents who work with the district in good faith get screwed over on a regular basis! Awesome! As a parent who helped move a non-profit renting from the district twice in 3 years, it's a relief to find space in a building where the rug can't be pulled out from under you on six months notice.
Posted by rtm on February 16, 2014 at 11:01 AM · Report this
32
How does the SPS decision to sell off school buildings a few years back figure into all this?
Posted by Upchuck on February 16, 2014 at 11:54 AM · Report this
Clara T 33
It's absurd that NWC was evicted with 6 months notice. There are two possibilities:

1) Seattle Public Schools knew well ahead of time that they needed that building and didn't bother to tell NWC until the legally binding last minute. In that case they are fucking assholes.

2) Seattle Public School didn't know they'd need that building until the last minute. In that case they are fucking incompetent.

Posted by Clara T on February 16, 2014 at 2:31 PM · Report this
collectivism_sucks 34
This shit is what made me into a libertarian: parents got together and decided, as a COMMUNITY, to take care of their kids after GOVERNMENT refused to, and now GOVERNMENT wants to take their school away even when the government school either won't or can't take care of their kids.

This is government bullying communities, as it always does.
Posted by collectivism_sucks on February 16, 2014 at 2:42 PM · Report this
35
I love The Stranger and the Slog but this story is painfully underwritten. I say this as someone who writes the most-widely read public education blog in this city.

Let's first say that ONLY Seattle Schools could get in a situation where the district pits two programs that serve high-need students. It's mind-boggling to see it get to this point (and the district KNEW it was coming).

I would have to see all these e-mails and see a timeline to be sure who knew what when.

It IS entirely possible that the district kind of knew that the building was going to undergo some renovation but that NW Center did NOT file the appropriate documentation. In fact, at a Work Session last week on capital work, the head of Capital Programs said that sometimes principals allow work to be done by parent volunteers and the district never hears about it (and this, of course, is not right but sometimes done by schools out of desperation because the district does NOT keep up on maintenance - there's a $500M backlog).

We have one group that is a long-term leasee that is serving kids that SPS is legally required to serve. They seem to be doing a great job. We also have an SPS school that is serving a couple of different groups - homeschooled children and high need children and those can overlap - and they are trying to serve more children but need a permanent home.

One thing to know, sadly, about our district - they DO listen to the squeaky and most popular wheel. But these are parents who have high need kids and are probably less-likely to be able to advocate for their kids. Ditto on the immigrant student population and Native American student population. And yes, those two groups have ALSO been kicked around the district, locationwise.

Both want a central location. Most all-city programs want that but guess what? (And this is to answer @32's question.)

THere is near-zero space left in the the district. Truly. The SPS population has grown by about 1,000 over the last three years and continues. Nearly every school is stuffed AND using portables. The district has purchased about 200 portables in the last couple of years and is buying more.

All those "closed" buildings? Back in use and for just four of them, it took $50M. The BEX capital levy that the citizens of Seattle so generously passed a year ago for nearly $700M? Not near enough to help all the building needs.

I hate to tell you but our district - with its many, many great schools, programs, teachers, principals and students - is NOT a well-run district. The cultural of the bureaucracy at headquarters really HURTS our district. And yet, nothing changes and this is precisely why you see this kind of bullshit happening.

If I had to give my two cents on what to do, I'd say leave NW Center Kids where it is. That building is very small and Cascade will outgrow it. BUT the district has to do better than put Cascade into another interim building.
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Posted by westello on February 16, 2014 at 2:50 PM · Report this
36
I agree with Westello. The comment war between two groups in this thread doesn't really allow anyone who isn't intimately involved in this issue any understanding of it, and the underlying article is not only biased but insufficient.
Posted by sarah70 on February 16, 2014 at 6:51 PM · Report this
37
My two cents are that Danielle sure could brush up on her "people first" language...these days "people with disabilities" is considered more respectful than "disabled people."
http://www.thearc.org/page.aspx?pid=2523
Posted by abomb on February 16, 2014 at 8:01 PM · Report this
38
I agree with Westello as well.
Posted by MaidenVoyage on February 16, 2014 at 10:49 PM · Report this
39
The article holds up this quote from DeDecker as showing that SPS had earlier plans to terminate the lease:

To doubly confirm our discussion last week, you think we may need to take back North Queen Anne when their lease is up in 2015 (or sooner)?


That's not really evidence at all. That's a property manager in the district inquiring into what K-12's future plans are for the property she's leasing out on behalf of the district.

We'd need to see what Johnson or Wolf's reply to find out what the answer is. That, and the content of "our discussion last week". Then we can know if Curnutte's right about "a clear decision" having already been made.

Also, the message implies their lease was going to be up in 2015 anyway? So this was only sprung one year early?

So these renovations cost $250,000. How does that compare to their lease payments? Is there a possibility SPS can simply deduct a portion of that from their rent? The way SPS spends, 250,000k is chicken feed.
Posted by Lack Thereof on February 17, 2014 at 12:24 AM · Report this
40
The recent school closures and building sales by the School District have taken a couple of options off the table.

The Allen building was sold to the Phinney Neighborhood Association and the University Heights building was sold to a community group.

None of the other closures or building sales, such as the sale of the MLK building, were north of downtown and therefore wouldn't provide alternatives for NWC or CPPP.

It is worth noting that NWC aren't the only ones getting treated harshly. The District is also taking back the Cedar Park building from the artist community that has been there for over thirty years. The District is taking the Pinehurst building from the school that has been there for thirty years.

There is another leased school building north of the Ship Canal, the Webster building is leased to the Nordic Heritage Museum. The Webster playground was sold, but the District still owns the building.

There is a leased building in Lake City, but it has no playground and has been redesigned for use as an office building.

The District also owns the land under Oak Tree, but that isn't readily available for use as a school.

The District has the John Marshall building and the Lincoln High School building, but they already have plans for those sites.

The only building north of the Ship Canal without definitive plans is the Thornton Creek building. The District plans to construct another school on the property and move Thornton Creek into the new building. That will leave the current building un-occupied. That building, however, won't become available for years.

Every other school building and district property north of the Ship Canal is occupied by a school. Most of them, in fact, are overcrowded.

Seattle Public Schools is one of the top property owners in the state. The District's real estate portfolio is worth hundreds of millions of dollars - perhaps close to a billion. There are over 100 schools - many of them large properties on prime real estate - plus the land under shopping centers and the Cleveland Memorial Forest. Yet no one - no one - would want the District to manage their real estate for them. The inexpert management of school district property has been nearly criminal. Bad planning around school openings and closures (schools closed then quickly re-opened), bad maintenance increasing costs, overspending on projects (Garfield, Roosevelt), bad environmental practices, bad community engagement, bad everything.

When will someone take the management of this real estate seriously? When will it be stripped out of the hands of the school district and turned over to responsible professionals?
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Posted by Charlie Mas on February 17, 2014 at 5:51 AM · Report this
41
This comment thread makes me hate everyone but the Stranger, actually. Folks flocked to this article and comment thread so quickly and verbosely with talking points clutched firmly in hand that I can only assume some underlying organized campaign(s) are at work.

A pox on all you astroturfers' houses.
Posted by whee-hoo on February 17, 2014 at 6:44 AM · Report this
42
I disagree with westello only because she comes on here bragging about being so popular.

also, she says, "The cultural of the bureaucracy at headquarters really HURTS our district."

cultural what? what does that even mean?
Posted by mina3 on February 17, 2014 at 10:28 AM · Report this

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