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Seattle School District Invites City To Hear Whistleblower Complaints

Phyllis Fletcher
03/17/2011

The Seattle School District announced a tentative deal Thursday with the City of Seattle. If it goes through, whistleblowers at the school district would take their complaints to city officials. KUOW's Phyllis Fletcher reports.

TRANSCRIPT

The new interim superintendent made the announcement at school district headquarters with the mayor and other school and city officials beside her.

The superintendent is Susan Enfield. She's been superintendent for two weeks. Since then, she's gotten emails from staff members who said they had felt afraid to blow the whistle on other district employees. They had been afraid of retaliation.

Enfield: "You have to change that through experience. So the more that we can show people that they will not experience any of that, the faster that we'll move towards becoming the open, transparent culture that we want to be here in Seattle Public Schools."

Enfield became interim superintendent when the school board fired its last superintendent and financial chief. It was all in the wake of a financial scandal exposed by the state auditor and The Seattle Times: A manager in the district funneled $1.8 million of district money to himself and his associates.

Investigators said a culture of intimidation made people afraid to report things the auditor later called evidence of fraud.

Executives from the city and the district say details still have to be worked out. But once the deal is done, district employees can blow the whistle by taking their complaints and any evidence to the City of Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

The president of the Seattle School Board says he hopes the deal goes through next month. I'm Phyllis Fletcher, KUOW News.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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