West Seattle High School‘s new principal Brian Vance was already scheduled to talk with the WSHS PTSA at its meeting last night, long before the situation last Thursday involving a “threatening statement” made by a student (WSB coverage here), but that became Topic A.
The principal told the PTSA that the student who made the threat is not currently in school; rumors had circulated that he had only been suspended for a day, but Vance said that’s not true. To help address concerns about the situation and how parents were informed, he walked the group through procedures/policies as best as he could, given federal law and district policies regarding a student’s right to privacy.
With that in mind, he said his first responsibility was to get a handle on what had happened, while saying he understands that information travels quickly these days and that’s why he tried to get out a note to parents as soon as the school staff had the matter under control. He admitted that his first note, sent after 7 pm last Thursday night, was short, but it was intended to tell parents that the matter is being handled. Acknowledging that the anxiety around these situations means that people are seeking a much information as possible, he said that the opportunity to get additional information out – which came in a followup note to families early Friday (our report last week had the text of both notes) – comes as the required procedures unfold, but, he realizes that additional information might not be enough to calm everyone.
Currently, Vance said, Seattle Public Schools‘ security team is continuing to evaluate the situation and once they make recommendations to the school, WSHS will move forward on whatever those recommendations are.
An attendee brought up “restorative justice” at that point.
Vance said that while it might not apply to this case, the staff has been trained in it, and he is willing to apply it where merited. He gave a short description of it as an alternative to suspensions and expulsions, a way to give students, administrators, and staffers a way to work through difficult issues.
That led to a discussion of bullying (which had been the subject of much unofficial discussion related to the threat incident). Vance said his staff watches for it, and also noted that the district has a new program enabling staff and parents to report cyberbullying. More details to come.
Near meeting’s end, Vance – a longtime West Seattle resident who led other Seattle Public Schools before his appointment as WSHS principal this year – was asked about his vision for the school. He said that he wants WSHS to be a place where students can come to and know that they’ll learn in a safe and positive
Also at the PTSA meeting:
VOLUNTEERING: The group wanted to get the message out that if parents haven’t yet filled out their yearly volunteering forms, please drop them off at the office. If you have, but haven’t heard back yet – that’s because the person working on data entry is working hard to catch up.
Next WSHS PTSA meeting is November 8, 7 pm, in the school library.