The following is a press statement released yesterday from the More4Mann Coalition. It concerns a public hearing today, Dec. 12th, at 3 PM. Readers of this blog are encouraged to attend as supporters and witnesses.
According to the press release, organizers expect that they will encounter a talking-to, not a genuine hearing. Have the district officials already made up their minds to approach their so-called “community partners” with coercive discipline instead of genuine dialogue? Have they already decided to expel these activists from district buildings without due process?
If that’s the road they choose to go down, all I can say is that they will have chosen to treat parents, teachers, and community activists the way their schools all too often treat Black students. And that would simply highlight the importance of the More4Mann coalition’s original demands, the demands that folks were arrested while trying to make. It would also highlight the need to resume the culturally responsive programming that the coalition was doing in the Horace Mann building before they were interrupted by the arrests.
In any case, this whole situation is far from over.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE! / FROM: THE MORE 4 MANN COALITION
SEATTLE PUBLIC SCHOOLS
CONVENES KANGAROO “HEARING”
AGAINST THE MORE 4 MANN ARRESTEES of Historic Africatown
Seattle Public Schools appears to continue doing everything it can to pretend that African Americans in Seattle don’t exist.
For several years now, a broad coalition of Seattle’s African American community and its supporters have been (alongside the Federal Justice Department) calling out this School District for its over-50-year-long record of absolute failure to serve the educational needs of its African American constituents. The More 4 Mann coalition even mobilized volunteers, free of charge, to activate an impressive array of programs in the public Horace Mann School Building, which the District had not used since 2009.
This August, the District claimed that it wanted to embrace and enter into partnership with this pro public education grassroots civil initiative, and engaged the More 4 Mann Coalition in several months of dialogue. The District and the Coalition convened a community task force that issued a progressive set of recommendations in favor of African American inclusion and involvement, both intellectual and manual, in the renovation of the Horace Mann Building, as well as in the curriculum and programming to be provided in that building when its renovation is complete. The task force also recommended a series of mitigating measures to prevent any complete displacement of the Africatown community from that historical address, either during OR after renovation. The District then signed a letter of its intent to adhere to these task force recommendations.
Apparently, an old guard faction within the District then proceeded to reassert power, countermand the pragmatism of the Superintendent from LA, and to dictate his next actual moves as well as those of the Seattle Police. Electricity to the building was unilaterally shut off on November 9th, which interrupted many of our programs. Those programs which managed to continue were then also interrupted on November 19th, when Seattle Police raided the building without eviction notice or search warrant, unilaterally arresting three programmers (including a task force member) and one member of the general public who happened to be visiting the building at the time.
While under arrest, these four were all handed an “Exclusion” flier by a representative of the District, which claims that they are forbidden to attend any School District meeting or set foot on any District property for one year, but that they may appeal this decision to an internal hearing process under “Board procedure F44.01”. This is clearly an attempt to prevent the More 4 Mann Coalition from presenting public grievances to our government, especially as it came only six days after another SPS “Admonishment” flier, which threatened to exclude a More 4 Mann task force member from School Board meetings if he made any more public criticisms of the District´s powerful and influential, but apparently incompetent General Counsel Ron English.
Naturally, our coalition and its attorney have appealed these SPS fliers and demanded a public hearing. The District agreed to set this hearing for3 PM tomorrow, Thursday December 12th, at the John Stanford Building.
However, the District has just informed us this evening, the night before the hearing, that not only have they already, in effect, rendered their decision as to its outcome, but that…
THE PERSON WHO WILL RENDER THIIS HEARING’S DECISION IS THE SAME PERSON WHO AUTHORED AND SIGNED THE SPS FLIERS THAT WE ARE APPEALING!
While we cannot consider this to be a legitimate hearing under such conditions, we shall still attend it to show our respect for civil procedure as community volunteers behind the School District’s stated mission of education and opportunities for all.
We therefore encourage all members of the press and the public at large to show up and witness this kangaroo court in action:
Tomorrow, December 12th, 2013, 3PM
Safety and Secuity conference room on the first floor of the
Seattle Public Schools
John Stanford Center for Educational Excellence
2445 3rd Avenue South