West Seattle High School principal Bruce Bivins leaving

No official statement from the district so far but we have just been forwarded this letter from West Seattle High School principal Bruce Bivins, announcing he’s leaving:

It is with bittersweet emotions that I am writing to let you know that I have accepted a small school principal position Roosevelt High School in Los Angeles collaborating in a joint venture with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools.

When I came to West Seattle in 2007, I quickly realized that there was an amazing community of support for our school. West Seattle High School is and will continue to be the school of choice for the West Seattle community. My family and I have enjoyed being a part of this community, and I have enjoyed serving this school. I am proud of the work we have done together, and absent of this truly personal and extraordinary opportunity, I would have been happy as principal continuing for many years to come.

To all of West Seattle High School families, I offer a special word of thanks and appreciation. It has been my honor to serve you and I am proud of what we have accomplished and persevered through together over these past three years. Our school is a special place because of all of you and I cannot thank you enough for your dedication to achievement, and your determination to do what is best for our students.

It is never a good time to leave one great job for another but I relish the challenges at the Partnership and I will always love my time spent here in Seattle. Over these remaining 6 weeks, let’s work together in defining the strengths and assets you will need in your next leader.


Bruce Bivins
West Seattle High School

More info as we get it. The WSHS parent who provided us with this letter says the district phone system called families with the message as well.

22 Replies to "West Seattle High School principal Bruce Bivins leaving"

  • dale May 11, 2010 (10:25 pm)

    Okay, true confession my boys did not go to school at West Seattle but I did meet Mr. Bevin’s just afer he started working and was very impressed by him. He will be missed I’m sure.

  • Maddad May 12, 2010 (9:01 am)

    …Or not so much, dale. As parents of a Madison 8th grader, we’ve been looking into high schools a lot this year. West Seattle High under Bivins has a reputation as the lesser of the two Westside high schools. Self-motivated achievers can do well at both, but while Sealth has purportedly a bit more of a “gang presence”, it also…rumor has it…does a better job of getting it’s legions of slackers, “ghetto”(their words not mine)wannabes, and immature misbehavers interested in its academic offerings, and not letting them steal the show from teachers who want to teach instead of manage behavior, and kids who want to learn…really the great unspoken truth of modern public schools. I definitely hear a lot of “I wouldn’t send my kid to either of those schools”, but private school isn’t an option for us, nor do we want to become one of the growing number of West Seattle parents sending their kids to Vashon. I was less than impressed with Bivins’ “Why Wesside?” presentation, and his departure seems like an excellent opportunity to dramatically improve our local high school! Thoughts?

  • SealthParent May 12, 2010 (10:03 am)

    Agreed Maddad; was not (am not) impressed with WSHS, nor it’s leadership. LOVE John Boyd at Sealth, and we have been very happy there (eldest is a Junior this year.) My friends at SPD agree with me that there are fewer problems at Sealth than at WSHS in terms of gang/youth violence. Now if only SPS will allow our middle son to attend there, as our address was “reassigned” to the “neighborhood” school that is twice as far away from our home as Sealth is!

  • Star55 May 12, 2010 (10:37 am)

    Now is a great time for parents and the community to work together in helping to select a new principal.

  • WSHS Community member May 12, 2010 (3:26 pm)

    Principal Bivins brought a lot of positives and some continuity to WSHS. I am sad to hear the the Seattle School District is losing another good principal. WSHS has been through too many years of poor leadership, continually changing leadership, changes in school day structure and uninvolved parents. I agree with Star55, let’s work together to help select a new principal that can continue to help build and strenghthen our community high schools successes and achievements that Principal Bivins started. There is no reason WSHS AND Sealth can’t both be excellent schools.

  • Milo May 12, 2010 (3:52 pm)

    What does “SealthParent” know about West Seattle that I don’t? I have 2 brothers, 2 sons and 1 daughter and we all graduated from West Seattle. I’ve never heard of any gang presence, or other problems from anyone.
    It’s not the schools job to raise our kids, that’s our job. I want the school to provide a quality education opportunity, for all to learn, and learning environment that is within the boundaries of the Seattle School District. That’s their job.
    In my experience (my last son is a graduating Senior) while Mr. Bivens has been principal has been very satisfactory, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.
    Look around you plenty of your friends are probably graduates of West Seattle, including your County Executive.

  • Seahawk May 12, 2010 (4:30 pm)

    I am sure glad to know that West Seattle High School is “the school of choice for the West Seattle community”. I guess someone forgot to tell the 933 students who attend Chief Sealth International High School that information. Or maybe they know something that Mr. Bivins does not.

  • me on 28th Ave SW May 12, 2010 (4:53 pm)

    Currently have students at both schools, like both schools for different reasons. My family’s experience summarized through my students:


    *more classroom disruptions/poor behavior

    *energized teaching staff

    *district publicity for school bordering on “cult of personality” status

    *staff does excellent job of presenting opportunities (scholarships, internships, career ideas etc) to students of all different levels

    *often perceived as the “underdog”

    *history of administrative decisions made unilaterally by principal

    *many different opportunities for a kid to fit in

    *possible unintentional segregation of students due to IB program

    *racially and economically diverse


    *very strong history and alumni involvement

    *beautiful campus

    *seems to have more drug and alcohol usage (or perhaps it is more noticeable?)

    *seems to be a bit in flux with the hybrid period schedule

    *strong PTA, possibly more parental involvement

    *my student here seems to have many more projects and homework, although both students took “honors” classes

    I know more about Sealth than WS due to the time my children have been there. The one thing I am certain of; any student could fail or succeed at either school. If, as a parent, you are concerned enough to be reading this blog and researching the schools, your child has the advantage right there. Parental involvement is the key.

  • Pickles May 12, 2010 (8:38 pm)

    I am sorry to see Mr Bivins leave WSHS. I found him to be a very hardworking & caring Principal when my son attended there. I can’t blame him for wanting to move on, take on new challenges and enjoy the weather somewhere else! All the best to you Mr. Bivin’s!

  • Maryb May 12, 2010 (9:34 pm)

    I don’t want to turn this into a who likes which principal and why thread, but I have to say I disagree with “me on 28th Ave SW” on “history of administrative decisions made unilaterally by principal” in regards to Chief Sealth. It takes a bold and true leader to support or make a decision that you believe is right when isn’t necessarily popular. I am betting the you are referring to Mr. Boyd supporting the School Board’s decision to consolidate Denny/Sealth onto one site, if they School Board dedicated more money to improving CSHS and/or his decision to change who was the marching band director. If you have attended a single game or parade, it is pretty clear that he made the right choice on the latter. And if you have taken a look at what is happening on Thistle, there is no doubt that the new and improved CSHS is going to be very impressive. I for one am glad that Mr. Boyd takes a stand when he believes in something. No offense to Mr. Bivins, but it seemed to me like he never got traction because he was not willing to be bold and really push for positive changes. But to each thier own.

  • (required) May 12, 2010 (10:47 pm)

    Kudos, “Maddad.” You bravely and politely wrote a lot of what we all have long been thinking and saying about WSH and its ‘hip’ principal. I wish him well in his next gig — in L.A. Huh.

  • me on 28th Ave SW May 13, 2010 (7:26 am)

    Mary B, and anyone else who is wondering, yes those are what I am referring to. Even when the decisions were made, I knew that some people (Classes of 2012 and later) who were not directly impacted at the time would probably be just fine with them. I am not saying they were necessarily BAD decisions, but that remains to be seen doesn’t it? I know exactly what is going on on Thistle, because I live in the neighborhood. My child is in the band and has been for the past three years, so I feel I have a pretty good idea what is going on there and not everyone is in agreement. Anytime a leader makes a decision without consulting the people it directly effects (like the staff members impacted) effectively alienates his (up to that point) loyal followers and refuses to discuss his decision I am going to question it. To me that is a dictatorship. But on this I think we agree to disagree.

  • Sealth Parent May 13, 2010 (8:31 am)

    In partial response to “Milo”; everyone is entitled to their opinion, mine is “truth” from my perspective. I never said I wanted the school to parent my kids, I just expressed my friends’ and my observations, glad you and your family enjoyed your time at WS. I always wonder about folks who won’t/can’t accept anyone’s opinions that don’t agree with theirs, and resort to veiled “you don’t know what you’re talking about” comments. Like “Me on 28th”, I’m sure there are good things at both schools! Which is great for WS. My feeling is our kids have and will do better at Sealth…

  • AIEC May 13, 2010 (9:56 am)

    me on 28th Ave SW, taking the word of the teacher who was personally upset wtih the decision isn’t a good way to judge how input was gathered. I have no doubt that both teachers in that sceniro had thier say, but ultimately it is the principal’s job to do what he thinks is best. For both of these decisions, we got letters from the Principal explaining why and how he made the decision he did. That is a lot more than you can expect from most, and it was enough for me.

  • me on 28th Ave SW May 13, 2010 (12:02 pm)

    I am not going to presume that I know how or why anyone came to their personal opinions about either school. As I stated above, I like BOTH schools. I do not favor one over the other. They are different. What I PERCEIVE as a strength or a weakness, may be something that doesn’t matter to someone else and that is great. Only you, the parent, knows your own family well enough to decide what is best for YOUR child. Please do not belittle my feelings and I will try to honor yours as well. Good luck to you Principal Bivins.

  • Dan Dempsey May 13, 2010 (1:25 pm)

    I was at WSHS the year Bruce Bivins came.
    The Classroom Disruption law 28A600.020 was routinely ignored by prior Principals and Assistant Principals ….

    As soon as I made Bruce Bivins aware of the law he put a procedure in place so I could use it as needed.

    Now the question is where is the SEA union and the District in regard to supporting teachers in the use of 28A600.020?

    Best of Luck in LA …. Bruce.

  • wsparent May 13, 2010 (9:12 pm)

    I think the New Student Assignment plan has stacked the deck against WSHS – underenrolling it and cutting its budget. Principal Bivens seems to have been a good administrator, but is not a very convincing speaker. WSHS needs a compentent, enthusiastic, and charismatic leader who will listen to the community and take bold action to add acedemic rigor at WSHS. It can be a great school again!! SPS please send us (or hire from outside) your very BEST!! The “north” end elementaries and Madison are very strong schools, WSHS can be, too.

  • Dan Dempsey May 13, 2010 (11:26 pm)

    NSAP (stacked the deck against WSHS) is still under appeal and headed to the WA Supreme Court … no ruling yet from Superior Court … so much for speed.

  • observer May 14, 2010 (6:50 am)

    OMG, there is a lawsuit on that, too? I went to a lot of meetings on NSAP and let me tell you that process took “arbitrary and capricious” to a whole new level! Maybe the students will win one round this time!! Unfair closures, lousy math materials, terrible capacity planning, lopsided attendence areas, how many bad decisions can one district possibly make?

  • Bruce Bivins May 19, 2010 (6:05 pm)

    I appreciate the dialogue, but I wonder how many of the critics truly understand the level of student academic needs and deep complexity of issues that the teachers, counselors, support staff, and administration deal with on a daily basis inside the schoolhouse. As a point of clarification, my use of the words “the school of choice” was not a slam on CSHS but a reminder to those families in the neighborhood that currently choose to send their son or daughter to private schools or Vashon, which currently comprises of approximately 25% of the neighborhood, could choose WSHS instead as a valued and valuable option, as it has been for nearly 100 years. In this day and age, it is easy to find ways to criticize decisions from the balcony, or just take the rumors as truth, or believe the headlines without digging deep into the true stories. I encourage you to sit at the table and take responsibility to get involved, visit classrooms; speak with students directly that you appear fearful of on the street, and get to know the true stories that need to be told. I invite the critics and their criticisms to sit at the table with me on Monday, May 24th from 4:30pm to 6:30pm at the UPTOWN ESPRSSO off California and Edmonds in the junction to have your questions addressed, and your issues brought forth. It is through true dialogue not mud-slinging that we can truly understand problems deeply and co-create innovative solutions that meet the needs of all parties impacted. It is when we learn to work from a common ground with a common vision, that we will learn to work with one another. Be blessed bloggers.

  • wsparent May 20, 2010 (8:03 pm)

    Nice note, Mr. Bivins – great progress under your tenure. However, open enrollment is over, the insane new school boundaries have been drawn, budgets cut, and you have announced you are moving on. This is a tough job, made even worse by budget cuts and the district’s dismissive and even abusive treatment of WSHS. The district needs to appoint the most qualified and capable leader ASAP to follow in your footsteps – we’ll see if they care about WSHS or just appoint a “care taker”.

    btw, the “why Westside” thing has got to go! Nobody calls it “Westside” and my 8th grader was so put off by it, that alone almost convinced her to go to Sealth. Best wishes to you and your successor at this good and improving school.

  • WSaunt May 23, 2010 (8:52 pm)

    My nephew attends WHS. One Saturday morning we spotted Mr.Bivins at a local coffee shop. I’m 62 years old and old fashioned. But I must say I was quite impressed with Bivins’ unique display of full body tattoos. I think you will do just fine in LA, Mr. Bivins. My nephew looks up to you and thinks you are a fine role model.

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