Followup: School district response to Cooper legal challenge

June 4, 2009 at 11:03 am | In Pigeon Point, West Seattle news, West Seattle school closure, West Seattle schools | 12 Comments

As reported here earlier this week, there’s a key hearing next week in the legal challenge to the impending closure of Cooper Elementary School in Pigeon Point: The closure opponents have made a motion for “summary judgment” (read it here) and this week, Seattle Public Schools filed its document opposing the motion. The district provided us with a copy; you can read the entire 27-page document here. One of the main points of contention in the legal challenge is that there was not a formal “closure hearing” at and for Cooper, because the district considered it a “program” instead of a school; the district’s rebuttal to that includes:

Appellants claim that not treating a programmatic change as a school closure resulted in impacted persons not getting notice or the opportunity to be heard. What Appellants fail to acknowledge to the Court is that they all actually provided testimony at public hearings and School Board meetings related to the decisions they are challenging.

Appellants had not only ample notice and opportunity to be heard, they were actually heard. However, the elected School Board, after consideration of thousands of pages of documents and the input of hundred of citizens, made a choice that the Appellants dislike. That is not the proper basis for a legal challenge, particularly when considering the substantial deference that must be afforded to the School Board in making administrative and policy decisions.

…With respect to the recommendation to close the Genesee Hill building for instructional purposes, a site-specific hearing was held at the Genesee Hill building on December 16, 2008. … Numerous speakers at this hearing identified themselves as being affiliated with Cooper. … In fact, all three of the Appellants in this case, Shelly Williams, Charity Dumas, and Joy Anderson actually provided testimony at the December 16, 2008 hearing.

Their challenge also takes on board votes to change policies enabling both the relatively rapid adoption of the school-closure proposal last January and enabling Cooper to be considered for closure; the district’s document contends “legislative bodies like the School Board are always free to amend their own polic(i)es and procedures …” The hearing is scheduled for 10:30 am Friday, June 12, before Judge Greg Canova in King County Superior Court. Meantime, Cooper is having a “closing celebration” at the school at 2 pm this Sunday.

12 Comments

  1. FYI, Judge Canova is a West Seattle resident… don’t know what elementary school his kids went to. One is in high school now, the other is in college.

    Comment by hopey — 11:22 am June 4, 2009 #

  2. Thank you! I haven’t ever gotten around to crossreferencing ALL public officials at the judicial level – TR

    Comment by WSB — 11:28 am June 4, 2009 #

  3. I figured the info might be helpful to those pleading their case before him. :)

    Comment by hopey — 11:47 am June 4, 2009 #

  4. It should not matter where his kids went to school. As a judge his own personal experiences should be irrelevant.

    Comment by cori — 1:12 pm June 4, 2009 #

  5. Yes, but a wise West Seattlite with the richness of his experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than an East-Sider who hasn’t lived that life.

    Comment by KBear — 1:57 pm June 4, 2009 #

  6. It’s time to give it up and let the students move on to their planned locations. Reversing the decision now will throw hundreds of children into unknown territory. Kids are comforted at the end the school year knowing where they will be in the fall. The adults need to remember who is affected the most here. Six to eleven-year olds.

    Comment by neighborly — 4:04 pm June 4, 2009 #

  7. I second Neighborly. The decision ha been made. Let’s move on.

    Comment by KR — 4:26 pm June 4, 2009 #

  8. While I understand the “time to move on” argument, when you really think about it, that is what the district is counting on each and every one of us to do no matter how STUPID their decisions. Sometimes a little “push-back” is a good thing…I’m tired of being told to “get over it”.

    Comment by zero-to-life in West Seattle — 4:55 pm June 4, 2009 #

  9. No, really: MOVE ON. Do you think it was the school board’s first choice to close schools? They were elected to do a tough and thankless job, and when people don’t want to pay higher taxes, and they refuse to consider a state income tax instead of a ridiculous sales tax, something’s got to give. It sucks for the parents and kids whose school is being closed, but if you were on the school board, you probably would have reached the same conclusion. Now you’re just wasting the school district’s money in attorney fees, and eventually that might lead to more school closures. Get over it, and move on.

    Comment by KBear — 8:55 pm June 4, 2009 #

  10. Dear those who think we should “Move On”

    I am so sick and tired of all of you sanctimonious…”people” telling us to move on.. Wait until it happens to you (or your children) Wait you have been legally wronged, falsely arrested, and you know you are right, and people tell you, oh, “suck it up, stop wasting the Court’s time.” When a person/ entity BREAKS THE LAW, we have a right as citizens of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA to seek restitution. I’m not an idiot whiner,or malcontent- I am a graduate of an Ivy League College and a taxpaying (3 houses in Seattle) citizen, and for you to tell me I have no right to seek restitution because the District broke the law and disenfranchised 300 innocent children, wow, I hope I NEVER run into any of you in a dark alley. Are you serious? Crazy, or just stupid? This is why our veterans died in all of these wars (my dad is a POW of the Korean War, 28 months in a cage,) so don’t get him started on the fact he sacrificed for your right to express and defend yourselves. We are well within our rights to challenge the law. The District was arrogant and stupid, and yes, prejudicial in its closure of Cooper, and I’m not sorry that they now have to spend their resources to go to court. Half of the kids in West Seattle will be sitting in freezing portables thanks to this egregious decision. We should recall the board and FIRE Goodloe -Johnson, yeah, I said it. Their 5 year plan is tantamount to burning down Rome. There will be nothing left of Seattle Schools when they are done. Maybe you all should retake US history, because this is exactly that complacent, “the system knows best” attitude that empowered the NAZI party. Or maybe your attitudes and thought processes are a result in being educated in the Seattle Public schools. I’m so sorry for you. Sheesh, give me a break, you people are pathetic.

    Comment by JoyA — 1:56 pm June 10, 2009 #

  11. Um, aren’t the Pathfinder kids in a freezing building (never mind portables)? Where is the data to support your claims that ” Half of the kids in West Seattle will be sitting in freezing portables?”

    Comment by Bluberry — 7:16 pm June 11, 2009 #

  12. For crying out loud.
    The comment that it will be upsetting to the Cooper kids who have been ALREADY assigned to new schools makes me want to scream ..Holy Cow! What will happen to them in their ENTIRE life if the adults in their charge don’t stand up and speak out for them now??
    Moving the Cooper kids out is wrong period. Hey ,Pathfinder as far as justice is concerned you have a chance to save your soul and say “We an’t gonna do this egregious thing and push the Cooper kids out”Say no and stand up to some real Native American Ethics .

    I recall a parent of a Pathfinder kinder kid bravely saying at a meeting held at Pathfinder”I do not want to move our school, if it means pushing another group of kids out”

    Hey! We cheered for you!
    Where do you stand now?

    Comment by El Halfbreed — 7:46 pm June 11, 2009 #

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