An internal Seattle Public Schools investigation released Friday portrayed former John Marshall Alternative School principal Joseph Drake...
An internal Seattle Public Schools investigation released Friday portrayed former John Marshall Alternative School principal Joseph Drake as an intimidating leader whose behavior went unchecked by his district supervisors.
The district settled last week with Drake, 66, paying him more than $200,000 to resign effective at the end of the summer. Drake has been on paid administrative leave since August 2007, when an outside consultant blamed problems at John Marshall on Drake’s leadership style.
The district’s subsequent October investigation found that:
• Drake authorized teachers to work thousands of dollars’ worth of overtime. In 2004-05, Drake paid five teachers a total of $47,000 in overtime pay. One teacher alone received $21,623 for 537 hours of extra work.
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South Lake High School, a comparable school in the South End, spent less than $3,000 on overtime in the same year.
• Drake did not evaluate teachers and was often absent from the school. At one point, the district caught him hiring underqualified teachers to teach special-education students.
• John Marshall staff members were divided in their opinions about Drake’s leadership style. A small number of staff members, the report said, “had nothing but positives to share about Dr. Drake.”
• Many members of the school and district staff found Drake intimidating and bullying. The report described an early 2005 meeting at district headquarters about John Marshall. Drake arrived late, the report said, then “began a campaign of profane, intimidating, and bullying behavior, using the ‘F’ word several times.”
When a top district official asked him to stop, he told her to “go to hell” and that he would say “whatever the (expletive)” he wanted to, the report said.
Another district employee who was at the meeting approached Drake’s supervisor, Ammon McWashington, about Drake’s behavior at the meeting, and McWashington told the employee that Drake was “old school.”
A letter to Drake after the investigation cited the report’s findings as reason to terminate Drake. Over the next several months, Drake negotiated a settlement with the district and agreed to resign. As part of his settlement, he will write a report for the district about reducing gang violence.
Drake’s attorney was out of his office and did not return messages Friday.
The 19-page report also said that McWashington ignored complaints about Drake from students and staff.
One Marshall teacher grew concerned about Drake’s leadership and, in September 2005, began writing letters to district and union officials.
Her certified letters and e-mails went unanswered by McWashington and former Chief Academic Officer Steve Wilson over the next six months.
A district spokesman would say only that the investigation “made it clear that it was in the best interest of the district and Mr. Drake to dissolve the relationship.”
Emily Heffter: 206-464-8246 or firstname.lastname@example.org