Cleveland high school teachers resign to protest principal’s departure, call for reinstatement

More than a month after the popular Cleveland high school principal was fired from his position for disclosing changes to district practices related to COVID-19, teachers are resigning in protest and calling for his reinstatement .

“Because of Katherine Brown’s treatment, I’m leaving the district,” Page Wilson, a Cleveland teacher, told the Seattle school board at a Wednesday evening meeting. “My resignation may have no consequences for you, but it is a huge consequence for the Cleveland community.”

Two teachers – Wilson and Claude Laud – told board members that they had resigned because of the way the district handled Brown’s demotion as principal. Another employee, athletic director John Hughes, said he was retiring early because of Brown’s dismissal.

Loud told the board that he believes about 30 Cleveland employees are resigning because of Brown’s departure. Cleveland employed. about 54 teachers According to the Office of the State Superintendent, in the 2020-21 school year.

On Thursday, Seattle school spokesman Tim Robinson would not say how many Cleveland employees are resigning, and asked a reporter to file a public records request seeking information. Robinson would not say when the request would be completed.

About a dozen teachers, students, and community members spoke in support of Brown’s reinstatement at the board meeting; Most wore T-shirts with Brown’s name and picture on him. Brown has worked at the school for 18 years.

Superintendent Brent Jones said he is not currently considering giving Brown back his job, which he has a right to do.

“I am always open to opportunities … the door never closes,” he said in an interview. “I want the best for Cleveland — primarily the best for Cleveland students — and we’ll make it work.”

Loud, the teacher, told the board that “transparency is paramount to gaining trust with the community. We need leaders like Katherine Brown who uphold these values. The burnout is tremendous right now. Ms. Brown Sustainability in the midst of widespread systemic instability.” provide a reliable basis for

Brown’s attorney has said Brown was stripped of his position because he informed families about the district’s plan to roll back COVID contact tracing in Seattle schools. Brown was told not to tell the families about the plan.

“I’m really sad because Katherine Brown cared about my life more than you guys,” Seattle parent Sabrena Burr told the board. “How we do things makes a difference, and what we did to Cleveland is wrong, and I beg you, Dr. Jones – do the right thing and get some restorative justice; bring some healing.”

After an investigation, district officials decided to terminate Brown’s main contract, effective June 30. They have also demoted her to a lower role, planning to reassign her to a different school, and recommending a five-day suspension.

Last month, Jones announced plans to replace Brown with Marnie Campbell, the principal of Robert Eagle Staff Middle School. The move was sharply criticized by students and community members because of Campbell’s role in handling the alleged sexual abuse incident in 2005, which resulted in the district’s lawsuit in 2015.

Cleveland students staged a walkout in May to protest the decision and call for Brown’s reinstatement. At the walkout, Campbell told the District that she would not take the Cleveland position. The District is currently searching for the next leader of Cleveland.

Students and teachers have asked to meet with Jones. On Wednesday he said he was ready.

“There’s always an opportunity to spend time identifying and looking at our issues [them] From a deeper level,” Jones said. “Once we do that, we have to find opportunities for reconciliation.”

Board members Leslie Harris and Lisa Rivera-Smith both voiced support for “firm justice” in Cleveland.

“This is a community that is hurting,” Harris said. “Whether you agree with the decisions made or not… there is a need to come together and make peace and we need to have our say on that.”

It’s hard to feel hopeful for the next school year, not knowing who will be Cleveland’s next leader, said Dana Louis, incoming senior and president of Cleveland’s new Associated Student Body.

“These past few days have felt confusing, not knowing the level of support that will be coming next year,” Louis said. “We need a principal who will bring us back together and we need to restore what has been taken away from us.”

Since early spring, before the district checks in, Brown has been on medical leave. Brown’s attorney, Shannon McMinney, said that once she is cleared to return to work by a physician, the district will hold a meeting with Brown to respond to the district’s allegations and investigation.

Cleveland science teacher Francis Lynn said Brown’s decision to tell families about the district’s plan to cut contact tracing was courageous.

“The only logical replacement for Principal Katherine Brown is Principal Katherine Brown,” Lynn said. “After I finished my first full year at Cleveland High School, Katherine came up to me and congratulated me and said, ‘We’re glad you’re back here, you’re here.’ I hope to return the favor – Principal Brown, here you are.”

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