Tag Archives: student assignment plan

Follow-up: Foreign language materials about Student Assignment Plan are available

(Ed. note — This is a follow-up post to last Saturday’s “Opinion: School assignment plan lost in translation.”)

by Flo Beaumon

After my article was posted on the Beacon Hill Blog, I heard that a fellow Beacon Hill International School parent had seen translated materials about the Student Assignment Plan. I contacted her, and she said she had handed them out at one of the community information meetings, and they’d had interpreters, too. She referred me to Bernardo Ruiz, who is the Family and Community Engagement Manager. I wrote to him and heard back the next day, a thorough answer. To make a long story short, he said, “The following link will take you to the website where these translations have been posted and are available: http://www.seattleschools.org/area/newassign/resources.html.”

I looked, and backtracked to see how one would get there. I found that someone would first go to the New Student Assignment button, which is big and bright on the home page. That would take them to a page entirely in English. They would need to know somehow that “Learn More”, which is one of 15 generic-looking small buttons, would lead to the translations. Very most likely, one would come to the conclusion, as did I, that the info is not available. I suggested to Mr. Ruiz that they not hide the translations under pages of nothing but English and an undescriptive label, and then I asked him if he’d please tell the District office where to tell callers to find it.

He wrote back right away, saying that he’d talk to the English Language Learner Department about posting these materials more accessibly in their website. And he said, “Also, I will talk to our Customer Service Department to ensure that we provide accurate information to our families and stakeholders.”

Where was this guy when I was looking for him?

(Do you have an opinion about a Beacon Hill issue? We are always interested in opinion posts from the community. Send us your thoughts at blog@beaconhill.seattle.wa.us.)

Opinion: School assignment plan lost in translation

by Flo Beaumon

BHIS students welcomed the community in many languages at last years Opening Ceremony. Photo by Bridget Christian.
BHIS students welcomed the community in many languages at last year's Opening Ceremony. Photo by Bridget Christian.
My son is a first grader at Beacon Hill International School.  It’s a dream come true for us, and we felt very lucky that though it was not our reference area school (we live 1.8 miles north of the school), after a month on the waiting list he got in.  We were doubly happy that our son’s little brother will be able to join his big brother at BHIS in a few years.

Or so we thought.  

Though I had heard rumblings about a change in the school assignment system, I had no information about it until I saw a posting on Madrona Moms last spring.  The new Student Assignment Plan, evidently years in development, quietly eliminated the sibling priority for enrollment.  The plan to make the schools neighborhood schools would break up thousands of SPS families into two different elementary schools, or would force families to pull their older child out of his or her school to be able to attend the neighborhood school with the incoming kindergartener.

We have been trying to get the word out at our school.  It’s greatly complicated by the diversity of languages at students’ homes.  Only about half of the students’ families speak English at home.   My husband got letters to the school board translated into Mandarin and Spanish, and families from those cultures signed them.  Our school’s principal pointed out that over the years many Beacon Hill Elementary School families from outside the reference area chose the school because of its strong support for English language learners.  

In June, the School Board voted to approve the new Student Assignment Plan.  But, due entirely to the growing outcry by parents, they addressed the question of grandfathering in younger siblings of currently enrolled students by promising to consider a transition plan this fall, after the new boundaries are released and voted on. 
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