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Seattle School Board Casts Confusing Vote On Teach For America Hire

Ann Dornfeld

The Seattle School Board has voted on the hire of a Teach for America teacher at Franklin High School. But as KUOW's Ann Dornfeld reports, there's confusion over whether the board voted in favor of the hire or against it.


One thing is for certain: the vote was split on whether to hire the Teach for America teacher. TFA teachers are mostly recent college grads who haven't earned full teaching certificates.

Board member Sharon Peaslee questioned whether the TFA teacher's limited training has prepared him to to work with the special education students who could be in his classes.

Peaslee: "There's just no way that a teacher with five weeks of training over the summer has the level of training or knowledge or understanding of the law to be able to do that."

Board member Harium Martin–Morris disagreed.

Martin–Morris: "I don't want us to get down into the rabbit hole of this being any different from any other new teacher coming into our classroom, particularly around the area of special ed and how they're prepared."

Board members Martin–Morris, Sherry Carr and Michael DeBell voted in favor of the hire. Sharon Peaslee, Marty McClaren and Betty Patu abstained. The recorder announced that with three ayes and three abstentions, the measure had not passed. But board member Michael DeBell countered that abstentions are not 'no' votes.

DeBell: "So we have a quorum of members present, and we have three votes to affirm the motion. I believe it does pass."

The board moved on and was wrapping up the meeting when district General Counsel Ron English stepped up to the podium. He said board rules require a motion be passed by a majority of the members present. But only three of the six board members present had voted to approve the TFA hire.

English: "So I do not know as I stand here whether or not the motion passed or failed."

English said he'd research the matter in Robert's Rules of Order and let the board know how it had voted.

I'm Ann Dornfeld, KUOW News.

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