We filed a formal discrimination complaint against LWSD on March 31st. On May 2nd, LWSD ruled against our complaint and denied our request for information disclosure and a public apology (see LWSD’s response below ). On May 10th, we filed an appeal with the district superintendent, Dr. Jon Holm, and the district board. Below is our appeal letter.
Dear Superintendent Holm and LWSD board,
We filed the below discrimination complaint against LWSD on March 31. On May 2nd, Mr. Richard Patterson sent us his response on behalf of the district (see attached). We are not satisfied with the response and are filing a formal appeal against Mr. Patterson’s decision.
Ground of our appeal:
1) Mr. Patterson’s investigation was flawed. He stated that Director Sue Anne Sullivan sent us a letter on March 23rd. We never communicated with Ms. Sullivan on the matter, not to mention receiving any communication from her. We are now questioning how thorough Mr. Patterson’s investigation was. Did he conduct the investigation himself? Did he talk to people who initially complained about Mrs. Nicholson? Did he talk to parents who complained about the school and district’s decision?
2) Mr. Patterson denied our complaints about the district withholding information. Yet he failed to provide supporting evidence. On the other hand, we have evidence that parents’ requests for information were not met. In Superintendent Holm’s 3/1 email, he stated that“I have asked Associate Superintendent, Matt Gillingham, to review the situation and provide a response to your questions. Given the time to evaluate the situation, you can expect to hear from Mr. Gillingham early next week.” Yet, no one received the requested information from Mr. Gillingham. Several parents filed PRA requests, yet none received any requested information back. One PRA request was filed as early as 2/18. If the district did not withhold information from the Chinese American community, please show the proof.
3) Mr. Patterson claimed that for our community members to get information, they should submit PRA requests. Is there a written district policy supporting this practice? If not, what is the district’s proof that all other community members are treated the same way and are requested to submit PRA requests in order to obtain information from the district?
4) Mr. Patterson denied our complaints about Chinese culture being singled out. However, he failed to answer why Mr. Eaton wearing a turban posing for photos was OK, why teachers wearing Hawaii Hula outfits waving goodbye to students was OK, yet Mrs. Nicholson wearing a Chinese traditional outfit while teaching Chinese tradition was not allowed?
5) Mr. Patterson claimed that our demand for a public apology was not a proper remedy under 5010. We would like to ask the district to clarify if the district still considers Ms. Nicholson wearing a Chinese traditional outfit while teaching Chinese tradition “cultural appropriation” and if the district still thinks that Ms. Nicholson should apologize. If the district now thinks the Blackwell Chinese New Year incident should not be labelled as “cultural appropriation” and Ms. Nicholson’s apology was unwarranted, we can work with the district and school to seek a mutually agreeable solution to heal the community wound and move forward.
WA Asians For Equality
LWSD’s response to the discrimination complaint: