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Tukwila School Board stands by transfer of Foster High vice principal

The Tukwila School Board has determined it's in the "best interests of the district" to transfer a Foster High vice principal, Daryl Wright, to a teaching position at Cascade View Elementary.

The Tukwila School District notified Wright of the board's decision in a letter Friday, following an executive session by the board Thursday evening at which it considered his appeal of the transfer.

Mark Wahlstrom, the board's president, said in a statement that the board generally doesn't comment on the "confidential, personnel matters of its employees."

The decision to transfer Wright was made by interim Superintendent Mellody Matthes and not the board. However, transferred administrators can meet informally with the board to review such decisions.

Wright spoke to the board on July 9, following statements from present and former school district employees in support of him.

The July 9 board meeting was the first for the district's new superintendent, Nancy Coogan.

"Following review, and with the support of the superintendent, the board has determined that it is in the best interests of the district to transfer Mr. Wright out of the position as assistant principal at Foster High School," the statement indicated.

Friday's letter to Wright didn't give a specific reason for his transfer to Cascade View, which was addressed in his transfer letter from Matthes dated May 31.

"In light of the District's staffing needs and your expressed desire, background and preparation, this assignment will be effective for the 2013-2014 school year," the letter stated.

The letter continued, "Your new assignment will be an exceptional fit for your expressed desires to work with and make a difference to the District's most diverse community and student body."

The transfer letter was received on June 3 by Wright's attorney Joan Mell. Wright had asked that the district send all communications to him through her.

When she received the transfer letter is important, Mell said, because under its own policy, the district is required to notify administrators such as Wright by June 1 that they are being transferred.

The district addressed the timing issue in its letter to Wright, indicating that the notice was received "well in advance of the statutory deadline of June 15."

The transfer letter was mailed on May 29 to Mell and Wright, according to the district, and the mail carrier attempted to deliver the letter to Mell's office on May 31 but was unsuccessful. The carrier left a "door tag" that delivery of the package was attempted.

Mell said in an interview Friday that she and her staff were in the office on May 31.

The district also indicated that Mell may have received an email copy of the letter on June 1, which it was trying to confirm.

"Based on this information, we believe that under the law the notice may be presumed to have been delivered by June 1," the district's letter indicated.

But Mell maintains she and Wright weren't notified in time to meet the June 1 deadline. And she maintains that Wright's transfer is retaliatory.

Wright is one of nine plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the Tukwila School District that outlines issues of racial discrimination experienced by faculty and staff members within the district.

"We will ask a court to set aside the decision because it was retaliatory and it was procedurally flawed," she said in an interview.

Mell indicated the hope is that a judge will hear Wright's case before the start of school and will set aside the transfer. The district indicated earlier this month that it wouldn't fill the Foster position until the School Board made its decision.

Mell said Wright will "report for duty" at Cascade View if his transfer isn't set aside.

Wahlstrom said Friday the board appreciates the comments made at the July 9 meeting and the time staff members and the community took to do so.

Wright commented in his statement to the board that cultural competency matters, a belief that the School Board shares, Wahlstrom said.

"Dr. Coogan is uniquely qualified to create climate changes in the district and we believe that the district, under her guidance, will come together for the good of all children in Tukwila," he said.

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