Archive for October, 2010
Written by reporter Zoe Fraley
State Supreme Court justices had questions for both sides when listening to oral arguments in the case of Perry Mills v. Western Washington University Thursday, Oct. 28, but didn’t appear to favor either side.
The case revolves around whether the Washington constitution requires faculty disciplinary hearings to be open to the public, stemming from a 2006 hearing for Mills that was closed to the public and press.
Mills, a tenured theater professor, was suspended for two quarters without pay in 2006 after allegedly making a variety of abusive remarks to students and faculty. He argued that his disciplinary hearing should have been open. In May 2009, the state’s Division 1 Court of Appeals ruled that Mills wasn’t afforded all his rights to an open disciplinary hearing.
On Thursday, justices asked WWU’s attorney Derek Edwards about exactly who would be protected by a closed meeting if the person being disciplined wanted the meeting open, as Mills did. Edwards said a closed meeting allows for a more candid discussion, and it included federally protected education records.
Mills’ attorney, James Lobsenz, alleged the meeting was kept closed to protect a faculty member whom Mills had accused of embezzling student fees. Edwards said the allegations of embezzlement were investigated and found false.
Justices asked both sides what the implications would be if the court found that the constitution required faculty disciplinary hearings to be open to the public and press. Edwards said that false allegations then could be made in open hearings, where now they are closed and transcripts are released if misconduct is substantiated.
Lobsenz said having hearings open would make it harder for people to lie, because more people would be present to deny false statements.
The court did not give a date for when it would render an opinion on the case.
Students at Sumas Elementary will get to help decide how to spend a $25,000 grant from the state.
The school was one of five selected across the state to receive a $25,000 Apple Award Construction Achievement Grant.
“We’re thrilled,” said school principal Kathy Winslow. “$25,000 is a windfall that just doesn’t’ come your way that often.”
The state-funded award, which started in 2004, was created to honor and reward elementary school students who have shown significant improvement on state standardized testing.
Schools were selected based on several criteria, including improvement on state assessments from spring 2009 to spring 2010, school size and location. The percentage of Sumas Elementary students passing the spring 2010 Mesaurements of Student Progress was higher than the percentage passing the spring 2009 Washington Assessment of Student Learning in several areas. The largest increase was in fourth-grade math – about 38 percent passed in 2009 compared to about 79 percent in 2010.
The grant must be spent on capital construction projects on the school grounds or on other public property. The student-selected project must also be approved by district officials and the state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Past projects include new playground equipment, a greenhouse and a traverse wall.
Winslow said there will be many discussions about how to spend the money, although a commonly-suggested idea from staff is to upgrade the outside gym, which is also used as a playshed for recess.
Lynden-area families interested in learning more about the Winter Ride Bus are invited to an information meeting on Thursday, Nov. 4.
Students in grades 5 through 12 from Lynden-area schools, including Lynden Christian, Ebenezer Christian and Lynden public schools, can take a chaperoned bus to the Mt. Baker Ski Area for at least six Saturdays, starting January 8.
Costs for the bus this year are $120 for all six Saturdays, or $25 for a single trip. Mt. Baker Ski Area lift ticket and lesson costs are in addition to the bus fees. The bus leaves at 7 a.m. from Lynden High School and returns about 5 p.m.
Fifth-graders can ride for free at the ski area, however they are required to be accompanied by an adult on the bus. Adults are required to pay for their bus ride.
The information meeting starts at 7 p.m. at Isom Elementary School, 8461 Benson Road. For more information, click here.
The Ferndale FFA Sales Team recently placed 4th in the nation at the “Sales Career Development Event” at the National FFA Competition in Indianapolis.
The team included students Lias Nye, Ellie Boldt, Aja Vanus and Jennifer Goodin, plus alternate Allison Hand. Nye also placed 7th nationally.
Nye, Boldt and Vanus all received “Gold” placings in the Sales C.D.E. Goodin received a Silver placing.
The final Bellingham School District Fitness Friday is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 29 at Shuksan Middle School. The run/walk with Superintendent Greg Baker starts at 7 a.m.
From the Bellingham School District:
Run or walk with Superintendent Greg Baker on Bellingham Public Schools’ Fitness Fridays to show your support for children’s health and wellness. Fitness Fridays are part of Dr. Baker’s Entry Plan to get to know the Bellingham community. The first runs took place at Carl Cozier Elementary, Fairhaven Middle School and Bellingham and Squalicum High Schools.
The final Fitness Friday event will be at 7 a.m. Friday, Oct. 29, Shuksan Middle School. Students, staff, parents and any interested community members are free to join Dr. Baker for this jog.
Just a reminder: if you hear Western Washington University’s steam whistle, or get an email/text message about an earthquake, it’s all part of an emergency preparedness drill. There will likely be scanner traffic during this time.
The drill should be from about 8:30 to 11 a.m. “Big Ole” is scheduled to go off about 10:45 a.m.
WWU’s news release is below the jump.
Western Washington University student groups are giving victims of sexual assault a chance to talk about their experiences in a supportive environment on Wednesday night, Oct. 27.
The event, “Survivor Speak Out: Journey of Healing,” will feature three people sharing their experiences with sexual assault, followed by an opportunity for audience members to share their experiences by speaking or writing them down.
Victims of sexual assault, and their friends, are encouraged to attend the free event. The event, sponsored by the Associated Students’ Sexual Awareness and Women’s centers, starts at 7 p.m. in room 303 of the Academic Instruction Center on WWU’s campus.
High school marching bands from Whatcom and Skagit counties are coming together Tuesday, Oct. 26, for a two-hour show at Civic Stadium.
Bands scheduled to perform: Bellingham High School Red Raider Marching Ensemble, Burlington-Edison Marching Tigers, Ferndale High School Golden Eagles Marching Ensemble, Sehome High School Mariners Band and the Squalicum High School Storm Band.
The event, which is free and open to everyone, starts at 6 p.m. It is being hosted by the Bellingham High band.