How Low Can You Go in a School Board Race? Dale Estey Supporter Files Public Disclosure Request for School Emails Regarding Opponent's Children


Can I just say - I LOVE that the previous story about Dale Estey was tagged "savage love" in the url? I saw that and clicked on it expecting (hoping for?) something totally different.
"Communications between a parent and their children's teachers should be private."

I see yet another email to my 34th reps and Jamie Pedersen in my future, asking for another law to be written and introduced to committee...
Really pretty fucked.

But why doesn't FERPA apply here?
In the 1990 (I think) Texas governor's race between Clayton Williams and Ann Richards, a story broke about how Williams' son had gone to rehab for a drug problem. It was a major story, and completely legitimate. Not because the kid's drug problem was relevant, but because one of the main theme's of Williams' candidacy had been a plan to crack down on drug-using teens by sending them to military-style boot camps to (quoting his TV ads) "teach 'em the joys of bustin' rocks." The rank hypocrisy of using hard labor camps for ordinary people's kids and 28 days at a private hospital for Williams' own troubled child was stark and politically damaging.

Similarly, I can see how a parent's communications with her kids' teachers could be very relevant to their fitness to serve as a school board member. What if she was contemptuous and foul-mouthed towards the teachers? What if she made unreasonable demands for special treatment of her own child? What if she asked for her child to be moved to a class with fewer minority students in it?

The class of e-mails in question do relate to something private: the education of the candidate's child. But they also relate to something public and highly relevant: how the candidate values and interacts with teachers, principals and the school system when their own interests (rather than the interests of the public at large) are at stake. Accordingly, I think the absolutist tone of Goldy's outrage is misplaced.
I think FERPA does apply. Nothing here indicates that Bryant actually received any emails. Anyone check on that? Or is this just a knee jerk repost of a blogger's accusations?
@4 So you condone public disclosure request fishing expeditions of school communications regarding candidates' children, just in case you might find something relevant? Well, why stop with politicians? Why not do the same for journalists? Hell, I've got a child in school, and I write about education issues, so are you saying my daughter is fair game? Then why stop with journalists? Why not commenters? I hope you don't have a child in the public schools, because I'm pretty sure I could track down your identity and PDR the fuck out of you.

I would say that Bryant describing the emails as "highly combative" is a claim that Bryant is aware of the contents of the emails.

But don't let facts get in your way, you know?
@7 It says Bryant was the PTA president. She references emails between Peters and the PTA. Perhaps she actually received some combative emails directly from Peters? Still no confirmation she got any emails via the PRR.

But you are right, I should be careful. I am also relying on a blog post for my information. Never really a safe bet.
Goldy wrote:

" thing I never ever do is go after the juvenile children of a candidate."

Then, Goldy wrote:

"...But children are **almost** always off limits"

**Emphasis mine

Really, Goldy? So which is it? Is there something wrong with you that you could be ambiguous about going after people's children? I'll remind people to keep theirs away from you.
The more left wing the politician, the more goldy believes what he writes. Got it?

Doesn't matter if she's president of the PTA. She shouldn't know about the emails in the first place, and she shouldn't know anything about their tone to be able to claim that they're "combative" regardless of whether or not she has ever had any emails herself from Peters.
@9 Children are always off limits - unless you're the GOP going after Obama's children and wife, which they do REGULARLY, just like they used to go after Chelsea Clinton. Then it's almost always off limits.

However, I think the recent Steubenville/Maryville rapists are a good example of when the gloves come off. Technically the boys might still be considered children, but when they commit an adult act of rape, all bets are off, no matter which politician they are related to.
So it's off limits to report on a candidate for school board sending combative emails to school personnel. Who'da thunkit.

@Goldy: I bet if you had a copy of a combative email Dale Estey sent to a school administrator or teacher you'd have it posted on Slog in less than a heartbeat. And is there any basis for your allegation that this was a "fishing expedition"? Finally, "I'm pretty sure I could track down your identity and PDR the fuck out of you" is uncomfortably close to the SPD treatment Dominic has been complaining about for the past several weeks. Take your meds.

How does anyone know they're combative?
Should be assume that because your post here is combative that you've probably written combative letters and emails to public figures, and probably even threatened them?
"Should we assume," not "should be assume."
I'd add - combative in what way? What can be deemed as combative by some might simply be considered direct by others. Furthermore, depending on the issue at hand - abuse? inappropriate touching? staff misdeeds? - a more direct approach may be needed, and tone is often mistaken in email. It all sounds very subjective. Regardless, if the issue is between the parent and the teacher - which may or may not include the principal- it has no place in a school board race. Shame on whoever is feeding information - or misinformation - to the person requesting the disclosure.
As a parent - this makes my blood boil. Advocating for one's children can be very stressful. Administrators and teachers don't always get it right and sometimes they have to be pushed to open their minds. What are you supposed to do, let your kids swing in the wind? "Combative"? What the hell does that mean? If there are threats, say threats. Otherwise, it should be off limits.
All of this guilt by association, real or imagined, is tiresome. Stop being so screechy about your endorsed candidate, Goldy. It's a turn-off.
@4 No one who would publicly shame a child or family just to win an argument should serve on the school board. There are procedures and children have rights. Sending out flying monkeys to go after your enemies for you in this way doesn't make it any better.
So it's safe to presume that when Kate Martin was running for the Seattle School board and that story surfaced about a bad teacher, her insistance on how it be handled, and how that had police escorting her off school ground, you guys didn't cover that or file any disclosure requests to try to find out what the backstory was ?…

I'm not endorsing what they did, but was it a fishing expedition request or was the candidate tipped off by one of the parties about something ?
Kind of makes you think the public records act in this state actually goes too far, huh?
@21, no, no it doesn't.
How low will Sue Peters' supporters go to win an election? That's the real question.

First Melissa Westbrook writes a one-sided hit piece against a parent without even asking that parent for her version of events. That's not journalism. That's rumors and innuendo.

And, oh! the outrage about a public records request for school district personnel's email. Meanwhile, Melissa's blog is famous for having posted Susan Enfield's emails, and her fellow activists have been making requests for all sorts of school emails. More on that in a minute.

Second, Goldy jumps on the bandwagon and claims to know that the purported request was done for political purposes. Where's the evidence for that? Did anyone wonder just why someone might be curious about how another parent is treating school staff? Did anyone wonder when this request was made and under what circumstances? Could it just be internal school drama?

So if you don't know, Sue Peters went on a personal crusade to have the school's principal fired. She was not successful. She did not rally the school community behind her. But she forged on. Part of the campaign against the principal involved, guess what, public records requests for all of the principal's emails! Oh my! I guess if you had a kid at that school and ever wrote to the principal, the bloggers have your email, folks. Or maybe, the rules as work as designed and the state protects kids' privacy and doesn't give them out. Why bother taking the time to look into that before writing a hit piece, though? Whatever it takes to win a campaign, I suppose.

So, yea, there has been some drama at this school in recent years. That is because Sue Peters is a divisive and polarizing presence who does not work well with others. Is this really the sort of person you want on the school board? I sure don't.

Bama-this is APP North-the emails could NEVER have requested a child be moved to a class with fewer minorities. There's exactly 1 black kid in the entire elementary school...
@23: That principal, Rina Geoghegan, is one of the biggest assholes in the entire district, and Sue Peters earned my support forever for standing up to her. Of all the people to defend, you picked one of the worst.
As the blogger is question, I make it my business to do everything I can to get it right.

FERPA does apply and the child(ren)'s names should have been redacted. That said, Seattle Schools sometimes doesn't get it right (earlier this year, they did not redact a Special Ed student's name and some detailing info from a committee meeting report).

Bryant did receive the e-mails from the public disclosure request and yes, she had her own e-mails from the PTA.

@11, you hit a key point. Bryant should NOT have known about e-mails between a teacher/parent or principal/parent. That means staff people told her and that is very unprofessional and likely illegal. No principal or staff member should be talking to any parent - PTA president or not - about e-mails sent from a parent.

Bryant sent out an campaign e-mail to support Dale Estey where she launches into attacks on Peters and details the e-mails as "highly combative." She also makes other allegations about Peters and her child. She later sent an apology (apparently there was blowback from those she sent the e-mail to) where she says she got "passionate" but stands by what she says.

My belief is that it was a fishing expedition by Bryant, who is on a steering committee for Dale Estey's campaign and has co-hosted fundraisers for her.

I don't believe Dale Estey asked for this but she knew it happened and when asked for a comment, remained silent.

So she's running a "positive" campaign but the PAC supporting her sent deceptive hit flyers against Peters during the primary (and they now have amassed nearly $100K to use for the General election).

And now another supporter uses dirty tactics to push Dale Estey. And Dale Estey has remained silent both times when she could say something to the effect, "I hope my supporters would support my positive campaign."

She has not. You are known by whom you associate with and I feel this shows a lack of integrity on Dale Estey's part. That or she'll let her supporters do or say anything to get elected. But I guess that's politics.

"As the blogger is question, I make it my business to do everything I can to get it right."

Wouldn't that include reaching out to the person you are about to defame and getting their side of the story? I think you're already admitted on your blog that you didn't do that. Hmmmm.
@20--big difference between an incident that would appear on a police report and asking for private e-mails likely involving information about a minor. Whatever the e-mails may have been.

@23--having been on the PTA board at two northside schools, I agree with others that "combative" can easily mean just not going along with everything the main PTA folks want, no matter how nicely the dissention is phrased.
Do I want a "divisive and polarizing presence" on the school board? Well, it's better than a mindless suck-up. However, you offer no evidence of divisiveness, only of someone willing to question authority and push for needed change. Sounds to me like a good school board member!

As the parent who posted those gosh darn Enfield emails, I say they cast a public employee in a very bad light (thanks to the "sunshine" laws in our State). And the emails between her predecessor Goodloe-Johnson with a wanna-be district vendor NWEA about appointment to their board while she was "considering" using their MAP test? Oh SNAP!

NotVoting, your protests are lame. Bryant's request is clearly on the Public Records log well into the primary. She did not request a specific topic like "Teach for America" or NWEA MAP or Silas Potter, she asked for Peter's emails with her child's teacher between certain dates, and Peters with the discredited principal Rina Geoghagen between another range of dates. That's fishing.

As for FERPA, a now-gutted law poorly protecting educational records, it prohibits release of educational records with personally-identifiable information to anyone without a "legitimate educational interest". (I doubt Bryant's interest was educational in nature.) Redaction would be necessary, but given that the child's and parent's name are evident in the nature of the request itself, the records should be considered unredactable; case law calls for withholding the records.

The Public Records Act states a person's "right to privacy" is invaded or violated if disclosure 1) is not of legitimate concern to the public, and 2) would be highly offensive to a reasonable person. From the sounds of public reaction to Bryant's hijinks, there are many reasonable people out there.

Those spreading innuendo and defaming anyone's character is Bryant and her friends.
Candidate's children are off - limits. Plain and simple.

Records indicate that Jean Bryant and a group of parents met with Estey's high profile consultant- Christian Sinderman in August. Estey's SECOND consultant - ARGO Strategies- arranged the meeting.

What gives?
Once again we see that the biggest negative for Suzanne Dale-Estey's campaign are her supporters.
Instead of relying on blog posts by people with agendas take the time to go and meet each candidate and listen to them in person. Then make an informed decision based on what you find out. If you like Sue better after that, vote her. If you like Suzanne better, vote for her. Both candidates have over zealous supporters (see the posts above), but both candidates are not defined by those misguided souls.
@33 - I did just that. I went to a community meeting and heard what they had to say and frankly I was disappointed with both of them. I have friends who know both of the candidates, and those friends have given me their opinions. It pissed me off that both candidates were slinging mud in their 3 minutes to speak, instead of actually addressing some of the many burning school district issues. Frankly, I thought Estey was the better (more positive, less attacking) speaker, but having also done some research, I decided I was more convinced by Peters' track record than Estey's bland statements. Plus, Peters was au fait with details on the issues; Estey spoke in headlines.
Anything published on the SaveSeattleSchools blog about the District IV race is suspect. The bloggers have made their allegiance clear, as is their right. I will choose to get to know the candidates and vote on values versus campaign rhetoric.
Looking at Estey's PAC, it seems she has all the major charter school players contributing. And she says she's going to remain independent of their influence? Sounds like the churchislators in Utah who say they make their own decisions even as the LDS church pulls their puppet strings....not fucking likely.
Estey's PAC is now funded at $100K and her latest contributors include Nick Hanauer, Democrats for Education Reform and Tim Ceis. Hanauer threw $1M into YES on I 1240 and Democrats for Education reform and Tim Ceis heavily pushed I 1240.

Was Estey AWARE of Jean Bryant's actions? I'm not finding Estey trustworthy.