(EDITOR’S NOTE: When this school year began, we covered the first meetings of both the West Seattle High School and Chief Sealth International High School PTSAs; now that it’s ending, we are circling back to cover their final meetings. Here’s our WSHS PTSA report from last week; ahead, our report on Sealth’s final meeting, Tuesday night.)
(Incoming and outgoing CSIHS PTSA presidents: Ted Reed, Amy Daly-Donovan)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
Not only did the final Chief Sealth International High School PTSA meeting of 2011-2012 look back and ahead, it also included a presentation of information that no one in attendance could ever have hoped to use – what teens need to know about the law.
PRINCIPAL’S FIRST-EVER YEAR-END UPDATE: First-year principal Chris Kinsey said he believes Sealth is “on the tipping point of going from good to great … in the coming years we are going to transform what it means to be an urban high school.” A crowded one, at that – enrollment for next year is now projected at 1342, a hundred more than the start of last year, and four portable classrooms will be arriving before next year begins. (9th-grade language arts and history teachers will work in them, according to Kinsey.)
Kinsey said they are funded and staffed for the projected enrollment; if more students are enrolled by the official count date of October 1st, they will add staff. He says the year could start with 35 to 37 students in each class, before adjustments are made to reduce that to 32, which is the contractual maximum.
Separate from enrollment issues, Kinsey said he hopes to move the school in a “cutting-edge direction.” There will be additional early-release dates for teachers to “have some focus time on professional development,” he said, adding that the schedule will be released within the next week or so. Next year they will use Link Crew, the program with upperclassmen mentoring freshmen (it debuted at West Seattle High School this year).
He acknowledged that the fact Sealth didn’t get the city Families and Education Levy grant for support services (as reported here last week, WSHS did – along with three other schools, from among 10 that applied) means “some things will be done a little differently” regarding after-school offerings; “we’re working on some community-based organizations, and looking at some grants through (the state).” He says they were encouraged to those granted this year got 7 years of funding; they will reapply next year for what would be 6 years of funding.
NEW ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL: Andra Maughan, who’s coming from WSHS (here’s our May report on her move), was introduced, and told the group she’s “happy to come aboard.” She’s just finishing her administrative studies, and says she is excited to “learn from you all and from the team here at Sealth.”
NEW IB COORDINATOR: International Baccalaureate program coordinator Laura Robb is leaving, so a new coordinator has been chosen from the current staff, Kinsey said in response to a question; he would not identify her but someone in the room said “ask your kids – they know.” An attendee said Robb promised she would be here to read students’ “extended essays” in September – Kinsey couldn’t confirm that, but said he’s sure that if she said it, she’ll be there.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS: President Amy Daly-Donovan, at her final meeting in that role, reviewed PTSA goals set at the start of the year, and whether they were met:
*Membership goal was 300 – they’re ending at 304, including 10 percent from the school’s staff, which is “far and above” other area schools, according to Daly-Donovan
*Revenue goal for annual fund was $5,000 – so far, they are up to about $11,000
*Meeting attendance: Averaged 50+, with each meeting including students
*Providing interpretation services for families speaking Spanish or Somali, including translation of auto-calls and headset translation for PTSA meeting attendance
*Unified fundraising strategy – with the 3rd annual Seahawk Spirit Auction raising money for multiple programs; the auction brought in about $36,000 split between PTSA, Performing Arts, and Athletics
*Coordinated a series of college-readiness workshops
*2nd annual Backpack Challenge has brought in donations (and matches) equivalent to backpacks for 43 kids in need
*More than 20 PTSA grants funded during the year, from an iPad for an autism classroom to World Water Week
LEADERSHIP TEAM HONORED: Daly-Donovan gave a shoutout to more than half a dozen people for the roles they filled, from coordinating the CSIHS clothing bank to representing the PTSA on the BLT (Building Leadership Team) to taking meeting notes (you can see them all here): Sandy Sanford, Nancy Swenson, Kelli Horn, Ted Reed, Nancy McHenry Dirks, Alison Enochs, Pam Lang, Leslie Menstell, Elliot Toler-Scott, Fionnuala O’Sullivan, Cheryl Swab, and for the auction, Menstell, Beth Britt, and Liz Strongman. After that, Daly-Donovan in turn was honored with flowers and applause. She said her two years as president have been “fun.”
NEW OFFICERS: President Ted Reed, vice president Pam Lang, treasurer Nancy Swenson, approved by acclamation.
Then came the information that all on hand certainly hoped would never be necessary for their students/children (aside from a potential prevention/deterrent effect!):
STUDENTS AND THE LAW: The 2nd half of the meeting featured a presentation by criminal-defense lawyers Geoffrey Burg and Patricia Fulton, who said their goal was to educate people before laws were broken. They had already given the presentation to CSIHS students, whom, Burg quipped, had asked “some fairly sophisticated questions.” The goal of Burg’s presentation: “Know the consequences before you act.” He started by mythbusting:
Myth:”I’ll just tell police the whole story and it will be OK.” Reality: “Talking to the police may not be the best thing to do. Never lie! Remain silent.”
Myth: “I’m under 18, so my case will be in juvi court. It’s no big deal.” Reality: Not all cases are in juvi and ALL cases are a BIG deal.
Myth: “No one will know about it because I wasn’t convicted.” Reality: All cases filed in court are public records and easily available to the public, often on the internet.
He discussed the two levels of crimes- misdemeanor and felony. Outcomes: Guilty (plea or trial); plea bargaining; dismissals. Types of court: “General crimes” are in juvenile court, but traffic crimes all go to adult court, assuming the child is 16 or older. Certain very serious crimes could go to adult court if juvenile court is “declined.”
Common crimes for which juveniles are arrested: Alcohol & drugs, criminal traffic, shoplifting/theft, and assault. This is where Fulton took over. She talked about “minor in possession” and “minor in consumption” (of alcohol) charges that might be brought against kids. Some Eastside cities in particular take them very seriously, she noted. These are “gross misdemeanors,” which could lead to sentences up to 364 days. They also could lose their driver’s license for up to a year, even if the offense didn’t involve their car. Furnishing alcohol to minors also is a crime – unless the minor is their child and consumes the alcohol in their presence.
If police show up and say they’d like to come in – but don’t have a warrant – you have the right to refuse to allow them in, and you can say something like “I’d like to talk to my lawyer first.” That’s also what they advise you tell your children to say if a police officer asks them questions – provided there are not circumstances of immediate danger.
Minor DUIs: If you’re under 21 and you have a blood-alcohol content of .02 to .79, you might be charged with this misdemeanor. There may be license consequences, and insurance too. If the underage driver’s blood-alcohol content is at least .08 – or if they are found to be impaired, whatever the level – they could be charged with a full-size DUI. That brings mandatory jail time, license loss, and an interlock (breath-testing) device on your car for at least a year.
Reckless driving: The definition is fairly vague, she noted, and it doesn’t necessarily involving speeding, might even involving “embracing” while driving. It’s a gross misdemeanor – and it could carry immigration consequences for non-US citizens.
Regarding marijuana: It is still technically illegal, she pointed out, under both federal and local law. She mentioned having a young client who was actually charged in federal court with possessing a small amount of marijuana. Anything over 40 grams in Seattle is a felony; or, any amount for sale or delivery is a felony. Possessing paraphernalia is a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of possessing marijuana or paraphernalia, you must serve at least a day in jail. There are student-loan eligibility consequences for drug-crime history.
Fake ID: That’s a crime.
Theft: Shoplifting also comes under this term, which is broken into “three different degrees based on the value of what is stolen,” she said. Third degree, less than $750; second degree, $750-$5,000; first degree, $5,000 (second and first degree are both felonies).
Assault: Wide definition – she said she had seen someone charged with it for throwing water on someone. Domestic violence are most common – meaning that the two people involved have a family or dating relationship (roommates are included). “The courts take domestic-violence cases very very seriously and so does law enforcement,” she said, mentioning the “mandatory arrest” policy. The officers have no choice but to arrest them and take them to jail if there is probable causes, she said – and there they will remain until brought in front of a judge (which could span an entire weekend, she noted).
Any type of crime, she summarized, should be assumed to be public record. If you deal with police, respectfully insist on exercising your rights. That includes what she said is very important – the right to remain silent. There may be good reasons that they will be exonerated, but those are easier to explain later when they have the help of a lawyer, she said. Even if a lawyer is not available at 2 in the morning – these two said bluntly they’re not on call around the clock – a public defender is on call and available 24/7. The teen needs to say “I need to speak with a lawyer.” NOT their parent – they do NOT necessarily have the right to talk with their parent. And if they do talk with a parent, the lawyers suggested, keep in mind – “anything your child tells you, you can be called to testify about … anything your child tells the lawyer, they cannot be called to testify about.
‘WATCH THE WEBSITE’: Those were the parting words for those in attendance – if there are updates over the summer, you’ll find them here.