The Seattle City Council has passed an ordinance creating a whistleblower-protection program for Seattle Public Schools. As Councilmember Sally Clark put it when the measure was approved Tuesday (May 31), Council Bill 117177 is one way the city can better help Seattle schools be successful.
An independent whistleblower protection program would put the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission (SEEC) in charge of violations reported by public school employees. According to Clark, the city’s SEEC is a “great model for an ethics commission.” Extending city oversight to Seattle Public Schools would create a venue outside the school district for employees to report violations.
In the new program, the SEEC will receive and investigate complaints of ethics violations in schools with the help of a newly appointed ethics investigator. The $125,000 cost of the new program will be paid by Seattle Public Schools.
The whistleblower protection program was created in what interim Superintendent Susan Enfield earlier called an effort to “rebuild the public trust” of Seattle Public Schools. The effort grew in part from the recent dismissal of Seattle school Superintendent Maria Goodloe-Johnson. Before Goodloe-Johnson's departure, stories in The Seattle Times outlined a situation in which the district had warnings about the conduct of a program manager but failed to respond.