Magnolia lawyer suggests going to court over Ballard High

Updated: The lawyer and Magnolia parent featured in the KING 5 story, Margaret Cerrato-Blue, contacted us and said her comment about possible legal action was referring to the grandfathering rules, not the boundaries themselves.

“My statement was one had I made to my son, and what I meant by it was that if they force him and his senior class to leave BHS, we will do all we can to keep him there, even if it means going to court,” she wrote in an email.

James Wagar, who represents the Magnolia group lobbying for Ballard High School, said he invites parents of students living between 80th and 85th “to consider working with us in Magnolia to jointly endorse map scenarios that work for both communities.”

This issue may be moot, however. The two remaining options — which are not yet final — keep Magnolia and the area between 80th and 85th inside the Ballard High boundary.

Earlier: Even though most scenarios keep Magnolia inside Ballard High School’s boundary — and shift some Ballard students out of it — a Magnolia lawyer and parent is taking no chances.

In a story that aired on KING 5 last night, Magnolia residents who have kids at Ballard High raised concerns about one scenario that would shift their neighborhood to the new Lincoln High School in Wallingford — a trek of an hour or more by metro bus.

One parent who is also an attorney, Margaret Cerrato-Blue told KING 5 that Magnolia parents have yet to receive any formal notification from the district, which she believes is a violation of due process.

“If we have to go to court, you will stay at Ballard because it’s the legal and right thing for them to do,” she said, referring to the grandfathering rules that could force her son to leave BHS (updated.)

The school district says it has been in constant contact with parents.

While Magnolia continues its push to stay in Ballard High — here’s their petition — some Ballard parents face the more likely possibility of seeing their kids moved out of the high school in their own neighborhood.

As we’ve reported, one scenario would draw the boundary at 80th St., moving those kids to Ingraham High up at Bitter Lake — which is also a long trek on a metro bus. Another scenario would move the Ballard neighborhood of West Woodland to Lincoln High — even kids who live a block away from Ballard High.

“When I pull out of my street and hang two turns, I can see the high school,” said Kurt Schlosser, who lives just north of 80th St., in a report on KING 5 earlier this week about Ballard parents. “My son will roll his bike out of the garage, pedal once and roll his way to Ballard High. There is nowhere else for him to go.”

Ballard parents also have a petition right here.

Most agree that the boundary debacle stems from the city’s lack of a high school in either Magnolia or Queen Anne, two neighborhoods with a combined population of about 44,000 people. The omission is intensified by Seattle’s population growth and traffic woes.

“Just give them a school,” explained a Seattle Times editorial back in 2008. “This idea isn’t new. It just has been ignored.”

This is a critical point in the school district’s decision-making process. The task force is hard at work incorporating the latest round of feedback leading up to a Jan. 10th working session with the board. Then on January 17th, the board is expected to vote on the final boundary map.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

39 thoughts to “Magnolia lawyer suggests going to court over Ballard High”

  1. Seriously? A lawsuit? Wasn’t it a Magnolia parent who filed the lawsuit in the early 2000s that brought us these incredibly segregated schools and ended busing?

  2. This is the City’s fault for allowing density to increase in Ballard, knowing full well that the school district didn’t have the funds or space for more students in the neighborhood. Even after students are moved to Lincoln and/or Ingraham, Ballard HS will still be overcapacity. A new school in Magnolia (or Downtown) could take as long as it takes to bring light rail to Ballard, and maybe longer, as there are currently no funds (levies nor impact fees) that would pay for the project. It’s time to rethink how we direct growth across Seattle. Blame the City for outright ignoring the capacity crisis in our schools.

  3. I don’t really see the big deal with overcrowded schools. My school was so crowded that I didn’t even get my own desk, but I still grew up to be city attorney.

  4. I understand the concern of all families involved. It’s unfortunate that is is turning into a fight between neighborhoods. We need to join forces and fight the city. Our schools are overcrowded and underfunded. This isn’t just in the affluent neighborhoods of Ballard/Magonlia, where parents can afford to hire personal lawyers. Who’s fighting for the kids who’s parents can’t afford mighty lawyers? These kids have had to take city buses an hour or more to get to their underfunded high schools. It also seems ridiculous to displace kids from their neighborhood school a five minute commute away to a non-neighborhood school and hour and a half away on a city bus with a transfer.

  5. I understand the concern of all families involved. It’s unfortunate that is is turning into a fight between neighborhoods. We need to join forces and fight the city. Our schools are overcrowded and underfunded. This isn’t just in the affluent neighborhoods of Ballard/Magonlia, where parents can afford to hire personal lawyers. Who’s fighting for the kids who’s parents can’t afford mighty lawyers? These kids have had to take city buses an hour or more to get to their underfunded high schools. It also seems ridiculous to displace kids from their neighborhood school a five minute commute away to a non-neighborhood school and hour and a half away on a city bus with a transfer. Compromise and coming together is the only way to figure out the fate of our kids. The city has got to step up.

  6. I think if we exposed some kids to at least some minimal adversity they might finally develop some life skills. Doesn’t help it’s a city full of people who freak out when ever their precious little snowflake doesn’t get exactly what they want!

    A long bus ride, give them a freaking book.

  7. I think it’s premature to blame increased density for the overcrowding in the schools. Most of the units being built are small apartments and condominiums, and I doubt that very many of them are occupied by high school age children.

    Didn’t Queen Anne have a high school in olden times? What about Magnolia? Why were they closed, and why not replace them?

  8. @Not Looking for a Fight. Children can certainly live in apartments and condos, especially when prices are high. I knew a family of 5 in a two bedroom back in New York.

    But to answer your question, the district is already replacing the old Queen Anne High School by re-opening Lincoln. This will alleviate some crowding at Ballard and Roosevelt by redirecting Wallingford and Queen Anne students. But Ballard will STILL be overcrowded and there are no immediate funds or plans for another High School. Also, to be clear, this is a city wide issue, not just Ballard. Garfield is possibly the most overcrowded.

  9. “Wasn’t it a Magnolia parent who filed the lawsuit in the early 2000s that brought us these incredibly segregated schools and ended busing?”

    You want to bring back busing yet don’t want your snowflakes going to a more diverse school?

    Something smells fishy.

  10. If I remember correctly, Seattle once had a Lincoln High School, a Queen Anne High School AND a Ballard High School all opened at the same time. During that period Seattle’s population was much smaller than today. Now with probably double the population of the sixties and seventies our families are supposed to get along with just Ballard and – sometime, maybe – Lincoln.
    Your city council needs to quit worrying so much about bums and druggies under the freeway and pay more attention to the ABCs of city government – A standing for education!

  11. As a parent who bought in Ballard so our child could go to neighborhood schools, it is more than a little disturbing to hear that he may be forbidden to attend BHS and sent 5 miles away to Ingraham. We live walking distance from BHS and our child has attended neighborhood schools his whole life. Magnolia parents are saying it would take about an hour by metro for their kids to get to Lincoln. It would take about the same amount of time and a transfer on Aurora for Ballard kids to get to Ingraham.

    And yes, Queen Anne did have a high school, which Magnolia kids attended, but it was sold for condos.

    Why is it that Ballard kids should separated from their peers because of poor planning and shortsightedness on the part of SPS? It makes no sense.

    Please sign the petition to keep Ballard kids together in their neighborhood schools.

  12. According to the King County Metro Trip Planner, the Magnolia group’s argument that it would be a great hardship to get to Lincoln as compared to Ballard is simply not accurate.

    Magnolia to Ballard HS: 31 mins, 1 transfer at 15th and Emerson
    Magnolia to Lincoln HS: 27 mins, 0 transfers

  13. The issue is not that it takes longer, but neither those in Ballard not Magnolia want to expose their children to diversity.

  14. The issue for Ballard parents is that they want their kids to stay in the neighborhood school. That’s all. Some Ballard students to Ingram others to Lincoln while otber neighborhoods are bused in. We live two blocks from BHS and some scenarios have our neighborhood being bused to Lincoln. Just doesn’t make sense.

  15. I have to call BS on BallardTrueColors. In what way would attending Ballard be less diverse than sending students to Lincoln? With an attendance area primarily from Wallingford and Queen Anne, Lincoln is going to be the whitest school in the district.

  16. I set up and attended the meeting with KING 5. The story took Margaret’s remarks out of context.

    Her primary issue is grandfathering for existing BHS students.

    The Student Assignment Plan in place at the time all current BHS students enrolled, provides for a “continuing assignment” and “grandfathering” of existing students. The boundary map making process does not and cannot retroactively change the SAP – doing that would be a separate undertaking altogether.

    While we appreciate the coverage by KING 5. The notion that anyone is presently focused on legal action is overblown sensationalism.

    If it bleeds, (blood or legal fees), it leads.

    Our group, Magnolia4BHS supports boundary maps that have students living between NW 80th and 85th attending Ballard as well as Magnolia students.

    If anyone cares to reach us, please message us via our Facebook page:

  17. Notice the following quote from the article about and the KING 5 story (with emphasis added):

    “If we have to go to court, you will STAY at Ballard because it’s the legal and right thing for them to do.”

    This comment is focused on grandfathering for an existing student. While related to the boundary map making process, grandfathering is a separate policy matter altogether.

  18. Back in 2000, I was the President of Parents Involved in Community Schools. Our little group of dedicated parents (middle class, kind, tolerant, open-minded and not rich!) and pro-bono attorneys successfully stopped the SSD from using the racial tiebreaker. It took several years and lots of hard work to make this happen. We just wanted our 14 year olds to be able to attend the high school closest to their home. Out of this legal success, the District gave much needed attention to Ingraham High School which is popular once again. The Center School was created as well. Seattle Public Schools are becoming more diverse every year with all of our new international immigrants who are coming to Seattle for all the high tech jobs. Everyone should just calm down. Your kids will be going to popular Ballard High School or the brand new Lincoln High School. Keep it in perspective. It could be so much worse—trust me.

  19. Those were my remarks that were taken out of context. I can certainly understand how they came across, so I hope this clarifies things.

    As James Wagar stated, I was addressing only the grandfathering issue, and I was also speaking at the time only about my son, who will be a senior at BHS in 2019. I am also a lawyer. Neither I nor any Magnolia parents I know have hired a lawyer to address these issues. I at least cannot afford to do that.

    It is shocking to me, and I believe it would not be legally valid, for SPS to remove students already attending BHS and send them to Lincoln. Regardless of which boundary is chosen, no student at BHS from any affected neighborhood should be forced to leave their teachers, coaches, sports teams, academic pathways and more, during a very crucial time in their lives. These kids will be preparing for college, careers. The SPS cannot uproot them and risk seriously undermining that. It can gradually populate Lincoln, starting with 9th grade and students who choose to leave BHS. This is how other school districts have done this elsewhere in the U.S.

    I also mentioned due process to King 5. The SPS should have done their work in time to individually notify affected students and families prior to beginning at BHS. They could have done this, but they have not. They cannot, because they still don’t know who will be affected. If they decide soon, they can then notify current 7 th graders that they will be starting high school at Lincoln in 2019.

    As well, worse than overcrowding, which so far has had NO impact on my children’s time at BHS , BHS, and its teachers, varsity sports, three-year Biotech program, etc, would be seriously impacted by the loss of hundreds and hundreds of students all at once in 2018, in 10th-12th grades, and by the addition of the same number in upper classes all at once.

    I have asked the SPS General Counsel and the Board to commit to grandfathering the students at BHS. As James Wagar pointed out, the SPS student assignment plan (SAP) guarantees this, but for some reason the Task Force is ignoring this. It is causing a lot of stress and insecurity for students and parents like me. Believe me, I have no desire to resort to legal action. It should not be necessary, it would cause me, other parents and the SPS to spend precious time and resources we don’t have, But we still don’t have a commitment on grandfathering.

    Finally, yes, years ago a Magnolia family sued the SPS and BHS over bussing in 2005 or around then. I believe that lawsuit was wrong but I mention it to say that the state and federal policy of integrating schools is an entirely different legal issue (and justified in my opinion, but SPS lost). Also, back then, this was a long established policy so students knew for years before high school that they may not be able to attend BHS, and BHS was not removing students in the middle of their high school careers to send them to another school.

    I hope this helps clarify things. And please know we truly want to find a solution for Ballard and Magnolia together, and we also want to work with the SPS on the grandfathering rather than against them. I believe the Board and the GC want to and will do the right thing on that issue, I’m just hoping they will do it soon because all of our kids need to be secure in knowing they can stay at the place that at least for my son is like his second home.

  20. If I remember correctly, Seattle once had a Lincoln High School, a Queen Anne High School AND a Ballard High School all opened at the same time. During that period Seattle’s population was much smaller than today.

    The overall population of Seattle was lower then, but the population of HS-aged children in NW Seattle was higher.

  21. Kathleen Brose,

    Whether it was your intention or not, you made a significant contribution to the perpetuation of this country’s ugly history of racial segregation. There are only two possibilities here–either you support racial segregation, or you car so little the goal of desegregation that a few extra minutes on your child’s commute to school trumps it. Either way, that’s grotesque. Today’s reminder that white supremacy in this country has many faces, and a lot of them don’t wear hoods.

  22. So. I grew up in Magnolia, and in childhood, high school was an Unknown. I transfered from Blaine to Whitman for 8th grade, a great transition outside of sheltered insulated small-town school with No Electives. But as soon as I started 8th, I had to face reality that high school wasn’t gonna be BHS bc the 9th grade entry year was Already Full. Had to go to Ingraham, 40min by Yellow school bus. 10th grade applied for transfer to BHS, got in for 11th grade. BEST DECISION I MADE ACADEMICALLY. AND GEOGRAPHICALLY. It was a quick 2 buses, the 19 to 15th/Prospect, then the 15 (Now the D Line). For students who take metro, BHS IS THE BEST CHOICE. Now I’m 28years old, No Regrets concerning my high school choices. Don’t screw over Magnolia kids. As there are land developers buying out WW2 bungalow properties to build high density lofts and condos, maybe SPS could buy out the Junkiest Condemned Lots in Crown Hill, 6-18 acres, and build Modular Long-term Triple-Wide classroom structures. Call it BHS @ Crown Hill. It may not be perfect, but maybe even 2 or 3 lots. And there’s an old Foster Care group home building by the Norweigian Cemetery that could be renovated into a temporary high school space. Plenty of churches that could be bought out, BGC on 20th and the Ballard Community Center, Loyal Heights CC, Blue Ridge Country Club, how about a group effort of utilising those daytime spaces that are available? It’s a lot better of an idea than Walling—where?

  23. The Student Assignment Plan requires BOARD APPROVAL in order to move students from one school to another. It does not preclude moving students.

    For new elementary schools, the preference has been to allow the elementary school to grow slowly. However new secondary schools have been opened by geo-splitting students, in order to create that comprehensive experience. Students were moved to open Jane Addams Middle School, Meany Middle School and Eagle Staff Middle School. The board approved a plan to open Lincoln by geo-splitting students years ago.

    The open question has been which students are geo-split. The General Counsel can re-examine this question. However, it has been answered many times. They can move students, they just have to have a plan for moving the students.

    Please take a look at Northshore. Northshore opened a new high school this year and they did an incredible job, particularly with planning and communication. The new high school opened with all 4 grades. That said, all students were very award that they would graduate from a different school when they entered high school.

    Once again, SPS has dramatically failed with their planning process. That said, students will be moved from Ballard, Roosevelt and Garfield in order to open the new school.

    1. Kellie,

      You are right, the planning process has not been done correctly.

      You are also right that the SPS procedures provide that Board approval is required for grandfathering, which is why I have been in direct contact with the GC and the Board over this issue rather than with the Task Force, which is not authorized to make such decisions.

      The 2017-18 Student Assignment Plan (SAP), however, and the prior SAPs to which the current and rising 9 th grade BHS students have been subject guarantees grandfathering in two provisions. Each SAP is approved by the Board each year. Those provisions are stated in the first section of the current SAP. Because of the lack of advance notice (which due process requires in this case), I believe the Board will honor the current SAP provisions for all high schoolers and not force students to leave. Based on my analysis of this issue, I also believe the WA and United States Constitutions would preclude removal of any students against their will. I have shared my analysis with the Board and have also discussed it with the GC, so they are aware and have been listening.

      I also believe we are making progress on this issue, based in part on a statement by the Superintendent in his 12/1/2017 Friday Memo to the Board in which he stated on p. 7 that “We will be proposing that Lincoln begin with 9th and 10th graders only,” and “11th and 12th grade students in the new Lincoln boundary in the 2019-20 school year will be grandfathered in their existing high schools.” This is very encouraging, although for the reasons set forth above and in my prior comment, we believe all students in 2019 will need to be grandfathered in their existing schools.

      On p. 1 he also that the Board had requested (presumably when they formed the Task Force) that HS HS boundaries be determined two years in advance. So they are already behind.

      Finally, I was encouraged by a statement by a Board member (Susan Peters, who is no longer on the Board) in in a Board meeting in mid-November on the subject of grandfathering. She said the Board has attempted at all times to do what is in the best interests of the children.


      We have made progress on the hrs

  24. @ Margaret,

    The issue at hand is the comprehensive nature of a high school. To open Lincoln as 9th grade only would not be comprehensive in any way.

    The reason for the 9-10 at Lincoln is simply because the planning principal has requested to start as a 9-10 as her preference.

    To start high school as 9th grade only, would be to deny the 9th graders anything resembling a comprehensive experience. When Northshore opened, again Northshore is a model of good management, it started with all 4 grades.

    Good luck with your advocacy.

    1. Kellie,

      Thank you. I completely agree on the comprehensiveness. I also think one option would be to allow 10th grade BHS students affected by the boundary change the choice to stay at BHS or to move. There would likely be a number of students wishing to move, although of course it might not be a large enough number. As well, if Lincoln were to offer HC and other academic pathways for both 9 th and 10th graders, as well as a language programs not offered at other high schools, I believe 10th graders from multiple attendance areas might choose to apply.

      But because not allowing grandfathering risks profoundly affecting the lives of each student, a cost that likely far outweighs any benefit to the SPS here, there are laws in place to protect students when a state agency such as the SPS takes such action. These protections all derive from the 5th and 14th Amendments of the US Constitution. They include the WA state Administrative Procedures Act, the Open Public Meetings Act, common law and state rules governing when the state can apply new rules retroactively, notice and comment rules, rules requiring that only the SPS Board can authorize certain actions, and multiple other statutes and rules. All of these rules are based on the premise that the people govern, not public agencies. They are public servants. We pay them, they work for us and, most importantly here, they work for our students. They of course must be able to do their jobs, and so the rules don’t allow us to interfere in all cases.

      The WA State Legislature summed up the reasons underlying a few of these rules (open public meetings, disclosures to the public) in the first part of the open public meetings act:

      “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give public servanrs the right decide what is good for the people to know and what is good for them not to know. The people insist on remaining informed so they may regain control over the instruments they have created.”

      In this case, what all of this means in part is that the preferences of the Lincoln planning principal or the Task Force do not control. As well, simply because other districts may not have grandfathered in all cases does not make it right or mean its legal.

      I believe the SPS Board and GC in this case want to be sure to do it the right way and the legal way. And my goal. as well as of other patents working with me, is to be able to work with them to enable them to do this.

      I appreciate your feedback because we can only effectively work on a solution to this issue unless we know all the viewpoints and considerations surrounding it.

  25. @Kellie,

    While it is not an official part of the Magnolia4BHS platform, many in our group believe Lincoln should not be a comprehensive high school and some of us are individually lobbying the school board to consider alternatives.

    I personally agree with you that if Lincoln will be a comprehensive high school, opening it with all four grades like Northshore would be preferable to a 9-10 roll-up as the planning principal prefers or just 9th graders as Margaret has suggested in deference to grandfathering.

    The issue then becomes attracting the students.

    If the process related to Lincoln, boundaries, HC pathways, and grandfathering thus far is any indication, I question whether SPS could successfully pull off something similar to the Northshore scenario you describe.



  26. I understand the principles of the open meeting act. I love that Washington State has the most aggressive of these laws.

    That said, the decision that Lincoln would be a comprehensive high school was made a part of the decision to reopen the school in 2012. All of the meetings around the BEX IV and the 2013 Growth Boundaries plan were open meetings and well documented. You may want to get those documents.

    Frankly, opening Lincoln should have been made as part of the Supreme Court case involving the tie breaker, in 2002 or as part of the NSAP in 2008 but it took much longer than that. I was part of the group of advocates that got the school reopened in the first place. Believe it or not, only $20M was allocated in the BEX levy for Lincoln because the district had serious doubts that it would really be needed as a high school. The decision was only made when there was incontrovertible evidence that Ballard-Roosevelt-Garfield triangle simple did not provide enough capacity for that many square miles in Seattle. The premise for that decision was to provide a new school to alleviate the impact of growth of those three schools. I sincerely doubt there is any ability to change course on that topic.

    As for doing this the right way … the plan was decided in 2013 for a 2019 opening. There was six years to plan. The fact that the can was kicked down the road is the real problem. I am eternally grateful for Rick Burke. SPS original timeline had the boundaries decided a year from now. Rick got that pushed up.

    The closure in the early 80s of Lincoln and Queen Anne High Schools was pure political folly. The two schools were geographically connected and the joint closure left a school desert that covered the entire Queen Anne and Magnolia areas. This school desert has caused assignment plan havoc for decades.

  27. “Today’s reminder that white supremacy in this country has many faces, and a lot of them don’t wear hoods.”

    Really? First time I heard about this issue was from Asian American friends living in Magnolia. Are you going to whitesplain to them how they are white supremacists?

    Carfeul, your intersectionalist bs is showing.

  28. Build Magnolia and Queen Anne a high school before spending another penny on the drug addicts and criminals illegally camping all over and victimizing our productive, law-abiding, and tax-paying majority citizens. Don’t tell me there isn’t money with all the direct and hidden tax increases we’re paying.

  29. Why is racial diversity in and of itself a good thing? I have never seen a single piece of empirical evidence for this, only the contrary. If you have any empirical evidence please post it.


    If you’re interested in actually learning about the huge body of scholarly work demonstrating the harms of segregation and the value of integration, I recommend the second chapter of Elizabeth Anderson’s book, _The Imperative of Integration_. It’s the best summary and review of the available evidence of which I am aware.


    Here’s an article by a major legal scholar detailing and demonstrating the horrific consequences of Parents Involved for the cause or racial segregation. This isn’t a subject of controversy–if you support segregation of the races, and think Plessy v Ferguson was correct and Brown v Board of Edcuation was an error, you should be a big fan of Parents Involved. I don’t know whether Kathleen Brose is actually a segregationist, or if she just doesn’t care about racial equality if it means her child had a slightly longer commute, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter. She deserves a place in American History next to Roger Taney, George Wallace, Bull Connor, and Orval Faubus in the story of American Racism.

  31. Darrel E,
    I have looked into Elizabeth Anderson and this person is a philosopher, not a scientist. The core premise that races are or would be equal if not for segregation is not supported empirically. Her view of justice is Marxist equality also.

    If you would like a more scientific perspective I would recommend Robert Putnam’s E Pluribus Unum.

    “In areas of greater
    diversity, our respondents demonstrate:
    • Lower confidence in local government, local leaders and the local news
    • Lower political efficacy – that is, confidence in their own influence.18
    • Lower frequency of registering to vote, but more interest and knowledge
    about politics and more participation in protest marches and social reform
    • Less expectation that others will cooperate to solve dilemmas of collective
    action (e.g., voluntary conservation to ease a water or energy shortage).20
    • Less likelihood of working on a community project.21
    • Lower likelihood of giving to charity or volunteering.22
    • Fewer close friends and confidants.23
    • Less happiness and lower perceived quality of life.24
    • More time spent watching television and more agreement that ‘television
    is my most important form of entertainment’.25”

    Note that this is not a binary correlation but a continuous correlation. See the original paper.

    Also if you take the hdi and ethnic fractionalization numbers from Wikipedia it gives a nice correlation. I would posit the negative effects of diversity are evidenced around the world outside the scope of only the US or American history.

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