School district messes up, blames Mirror | Q&A with Mr. Federal Way

Q: Mr. Federal Way, did you hear that a Federal Way Public Schools’ board member called the Mirror out during a meeting Tuesday for announcing the board meeting was moved to a new time and venue this week? What happened?

Q: Mr. Federal Way, did you hear that a Federal Way Public Schools’ board member called the Mirror out during a meeting Tuesday for announcing the board meeting was moved to a new time and venue this week? What happened?

A: Mr. Federal Way is glad you asked because Mr. Federal Way is concerned about board Director Claire Wilson’s comments too.

As Mr. Federal Way goes through the chain of events that led to Wilson’s inappropriate comments, keep in mind a seemingly obvious role of a newspaper: to communicate information to the public.

That said, on Monday as Mirror staff went to the district’s website to review the board agenda for Tuesday evening’s meeting, staff discovered that the board meeting was not scheduled for its regular time or place on Tuesday evening.

The district posted an official notice on its website on July 18: “This notice is to officially inform patrons of the Federal Way Public School District No. 210 and news media that the board of education will meet on July 22, as previously announced, for the school board meeting. However, this meeting will be held at 10 a.m. and will take place at the Federal Way City Hall at 33325 Eighth Ave. S., Federal Way,” by Superintendent Sally McLean.

The Mirror was surprised the district did not communicate this information to the newspaper. The board was required by state law, RCW 42.30.080, to deliver a written notice to the Mirror about the meeting change.

You see, last month the Mirror submitted a written request to the district to be notified of special meetings after the board held an unexpected meeting to interview candidates for a vacant position.

The district also made a mistake and communicated the wrong information about when the board would select a candidate.

So this time around, Mirror staff reached out to district staff to find out why the newspaper wasn’t notified about the meeting change. Their excuse: staff forgot to notify the newspaper.

In response, the Mirror posted a breaking news story online on Monday evening, notifying residents of the meeting change. We wanted to ensure residents got the message so late in the game.

But strangely, Wilson pointed her finger at the Mirror during the meeting on Tuesday, saying, she was “alarmed yesterday at 5 o’clock to see breaking news that our meeting was suddenly at 10 o’clock here in the city chambers.”

She noted the district has held July meetings in the morning for years. Yet, she also said those meetings have typically been held at the district offices.

So the Mirror’s website posting directed people to the new location at City Hall.

“I want to make sure we’ve got those open lines of communication but I also sometimes worry when the information that’s communicated isn’t necessarily accurate,” Wilson continued.

Mirror staff were there to report on the televised meeting but could not respond.

So the district thought the message was important enough to post an official notice about it, but ranted at the Mirror for posting the same information? Mr. Federal Way thinks this is a gross hypocrisy.

And there was no inaccuracy in the information the Mirror posted, as the newspaper used the information we received from the district.

Also, messages posted as breaking news don’t necessarily have to meet the-sky-is-falling criteria. Sometimes the newspaper categorizes a message as “breaking news” when we want residents to prominently see an important notice or, in this case, a last-minute message.

It appears our theory worked as Wilson saw the message, loud and clear.

Perhaps Mr. Federal Way has already belabored the obvious — the school district messed up, again. Officials have dug the hole of miscommunication even deeper and are using scapegoating as infill.

Mr. Federal Way also thinks district officials need to stop complaining about trivial things and get working on things that matter most, say, hiring a new superintendent or passing the budget.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, I have some issues I would like to raise with the Federal Way school district but I don’t have time to attend a board meeting. How should I raise these concerns?

A: Why is Mr. Federal Way not surprised you have issues with the school district? See above question and answer.

Well, a great way to let your issues be known in public would be to raise them during a school board meeting during a public comment period, however you’re only allotted three minutes.

You may also write a letter to the editor, which would be published in the Mirror’s opinion section on a weekly basis. But a more direct way could be recently-appointed school board member Hiroshi Eto’s new Facebook page:

Mr. Federal Way likes the way Mr. Eto has been handling his short time on the board and his advocacy for better communication. Perhaps his fellow elected leaders could learn something from him.

Q: Mr. Federal Way, are you going to the Kiwanis Club’s salmon bake fundraiser on July 25?

A: None of your business.



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