Seattle Public Schools Close Programs

For almost 25 years, The Wells  Middle College High School has been a joint effort of the UW and the Seattle Public Schools, giving disenfranchised students a different, personalized and highly successful education through a curriculum based on social justice and a critical pedagogy.

Rogelio Rigor

Rogelio Rigor

Apparently the social justice message at Wells was a major issue. After twenty years  at Middle College the schools  co-founding educator Rogelio (Roger) Rigor was suddenly pushed out of his job. Rogelio is the eighth Middle College teacher removed by the district or displaced by the district.  Rigor said the story spun by those in power is that Middle College is still here and its social justice curriculum in place. But really the essence of the school is gone.

“This term ‘social justice’ is being spewed about as if it’s really the kind of social justice we truly need,” he warned, “I will argue that…[SPS] are taking off the edges of what it truly means.”

Now, as they seem often to do, the Seattle Public Schools are closing or interfering with one more outstanding program, apparently only because “they” know better than the parents and the teachers,

Here’s another good source:

This is the most recent article about the changes at Wells:




Proposed NBI regarding Middle College High School, Dec. 7, 2015


Whereas, Middle College High School (MCHS) has been serving and inspiring underserved students, students of color, and disenfranchised students a different and personalized education through its curriculum based on social justice and a critical pedagogy for almost 25 years; and


Whereas, six teachers of color have been administratively displaced or removed from their MCHS teaching positions; and


Whereas, the closing of MCHS at High Point has resulted in three of these staff displacements and affected 50 -100 students and family members; and


Whereas, the recent placing on paid administrative leave of two staff members at MCHS at Ida B. Wells site without notice has affected another 50 -100 students and family members; and


Whereas, some staff were removed from some positions while in the process of updating/acquiring endorsements per SPS-Human Resources authorization; and


Whereas, these actions violate SPS Board Policy No. 0030 “Ensuring Educational and Racial Equity”, which states:


  1. Equitable Access—The district shall provide every student with equitable access to a high quality curriculum, support, facilities and other educational resources, even when this means differentiating resource allocation;
  2. Racial Equity Analysis—The district shall review existing policies, programs,   professional development and procedures to ensure the promotion of racial equity, and all applicable new policies, programs and procedures will be developed using a racial equity analysis tool;
  3. Workforce Equity—The district shall actively work to have the teacher and administrator workforce be balanced and reflect the diversity of the student body. The district shall recruit, employ, support and retain a workforce that includes racial, gender, and linguistic diversity, as well as culturally competent administrative, instructional and support personnel…
  4. Multiple Pathways to Success—The district shall provide multiple pathways

to success in order to meet the needs of the diverse student body, and shall

actively encourage, support and expect high academic achievement for all





Now BE IT RESOLVED, the SEA shall draft and send a letter to Superintendent Nyland and School Board members by December 18, 2015, to express our concerns about the ongoing toxic situation at Middle College High School. In particular, the letter should:

  • Demand that SPS provide all records of the use of the SPS Racial Equity Analysis Tool, as applied to the decision to close MCHS / High Point. This tool is supposed to be used when making significant decisions, per School Board policy 0030;
  • State that SEA expects High Point to be reopened, or an equivalent site in West Seattle, preferably at SSCC;
  • State that SEA’s position is that the historical focus of the MCHS program and curriculum on social justice and critical pedagogy at all sites must be maintained. We believe failure to do so would contradict the focus on equity agreed to by both SEA and the district during the recent contract negotiations;
  • Demand that staff who were displaced be given the opportunity to return to their old positions, and be given the opportunity, per agreement with SPS, to finish updating their training to achieve necessary qualifications in their non-endorsed areas; and
  • State that the displacement of experienced teachers of color calls into question the district’s commitment to recruit and retain a DIVERSE teaching core as in this case and is an example of structural racism that must be combated at all levels.


Now BE IT RESOLVED, the SEA will distribute an agreed upon flyer at the next Representative Assembly, for Association Representatives to take back to their buildings and distribute. The purpose of the flyer is to educate members about the value of the MCHS mission and the district’s steps to dismantle the program at MCHS.

On Thu, Jan 21, 2016 at 5:17 PM, Jonathan Warren <> wrote:


I’ve received over 20 other emails today saying essentially the same thing. Three of these were from relatives of students

who attended Wells and have been pushed out in what everyone who has emailed sees as a shameless attempt to

snuff out the Middle College. It makes sense what you say about Goodloe-Johnson – if memory serves she was the super who

forced out the outstanding Director of Race and Equity at the time, Caprice Hollins. For me what is so unforgivable is the underhanded way that

they are proceeding: no public discussion, seemingly against the wishes of the school board (at least this is what others have said), and no consultation with

UW administration. Instead they attempt to sully the reputations of good people and excellent teachers like Ms. Thompson. It is hard for me to advise

what UW should do with respect to the future of the Middle College but it seems irresponsible for our

institution not to officially and publicly voice displeasure with how individuals like Cindy Nash have behaved on our campus. At least in this respect,

we are not powerless.

Kind regards,



Jonathan Warren

Associate Professor

Jackson School of International Studies

University of Washington

Seattle, WA 98195

On Jan 21, 2016, at 10:37 AM, Wayne Au <> wrote:

I can corroborate. I was one of the founding faculty of the Middle College
at South Seattle Community College (which was also shut down by the
district relatively recently – in the form of the closing of Middle
College at High Point), and was a Middle College teacher at the time that
Ida B. Wells was founded by one of my good friends, MaryEllen Cardella.
I¹ve known Paulette for years, as well as the other teachers and staff
that have been removed from Ida B. Wells for various official reasons.

All of my sources confirm everything you have said. SPS has never really
taken alternative education seriously, and so they have either openly
attacked programs like this, or unofficially let them whither on the vine
– a process that started in earnest under former superintendent
Goodloe-Johnson, carried out with gusto by current superintendent Nyland,
and enacted willingly by current principal Cindy Nash.

For all intents and purposes the Middle College programs in SPS, once
sites for teaching for social justice with the some of the most
underserved youth in Seattle, are now dead. Personally I would recommend
that UW Seattle cease its partnership with SPS and just close Ida B. Wells
at this point. It is no longer the program that UW Seattle entered into a
partnership with SPS with originally, and SPS has been making major
decisions about Ida B. Wells without ANY discussion with UW Seattle


Wayne Au

Associate Professor
School of Educational Studies
University of Washington Bothell
Chair, UW Bothell Diversity Council
Editor, Rethinking Schools (

On 1/20/16, 3:34 PM, “AAUP on behalf of Jonathan Warren”
< on behalf of>

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I recently learned that the Seattle Public Schools – or at least persons
working for the SPS – have been working to undermine the integrity of the
Wells Middle College which is housed at UW – Seattle. For those of you
unfamiliar with the Wells Middle College, it is a small school
(approximately 20 students and 2 teachers) that prioritizes lower-income
students who would probably otherwise drop out of high school. By having
it housed here on campus, it helps to demystify university settings and
connect students with UW faculty and students. Moreover, it offers a
critical, liberal arts type education that is common in elite,
independent schools but rare within our public school system. I have
hosted teachers from other parts of the state, California, and professors
in Brazil who have come specifically to study the Wells Middle College
with the intent of replicating aspects of it in their communities. And so
I was shocked to learn that SPS is proposing to turn over its funding and
operations to a non-profit entity that has a teaching philosophy more in
line with Booker T. Washington than Ida B. Wells. Simultaneously, and
equally upsetting, they have purged its teachers. One of the teachers
removed, Ms. Paulette Thompson, is one of the best teachers and most
honorable people that I have ever met. And yet, if what I have learned is
accurate, they have impugned her character and treated her like a
criminal – having two guards block her entrance to the school unannounced
rather than informing her in advance that she should not come to class. I
trust that if some of this is true that our administration is working
hard behind the scenes to rectify this situation. But if anyone can
corroborate, nuance, correct, or add to this story in a constructive
manner, I¹d be most grateful.

Yours sincerely,

Jonathan Warren
Associate Professor
Jackson School of International Studies
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195

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