Rainier View Elementary principal ousted after years of complaints

Apr 2, 2024, 3:54 PM

rainier view elementary...

Display sign for calender events at Rainier View Elementary School (Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Schools)

(Photo courtesy of Seattle Public Schools)

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has officially removed the Rainier View Elementary School principal from her post after years of reported complaints.

According to The Seattle Times, Anitra Pinchback-Jones has been transferred to the district’s central office for a temporary assignment.

“(Jones) will be working with the deputy superintendent of academics until further notice. She will not have any duties at Rainier View during this time,” Chief of Staff for SPS, Bev Raymond, wrote in a letter to families of Rainier View Elementary School, acquired by KIRO Newsradio.

More on Wash. principals departing schools: Two Northshore elementary principals on leave after alleged cocaine use

“This temporary change does not indicate that SPS has confirmed any wrongdoing by Principal Jones,” the letter continued. “The change is meant to foster peace in the school community. Our aim is to ensure that any concerns at Rainier View can be reviewed objectively without distractions.”

The removal came after waves of complaints from educators and parents, both alleging religious discrimination and accusations of unfair discipline toward students of color. Educators under Jones’ leadership claimed there was discrimination against English learners, violations of students’ individualized education plans and a fear of retaliation from Jones if any faculty spoke out.

Parents, staff describe ‘traumatic’ work environment

Parents and staff have described the work environment as “oppressive” and “traumatic.” A letter from the Southeast Seattle Schools Fundraising Alliance, acquired by The Seattle Times, alleged students were made to walk in the hallways in silence, couldn’t wear coats when going from the school building to portable classrooms and could only use the bathroom during recess.

Of the students at Rainier View Elementary School 37% are African American, 28% Asian, 16% Hispanic, 10% two or more races and 9% white, according to U.S. News.

Jones has received several accolades during her tenure as principal, including a Foster Award and the Washington Milken Educator Award in 2018. According to the Council of Great City Schools, Rainier View placed in the top 1% for students of color in the country at the time of Jones’ Washington Milken Educator Award.

Jo Lute-Ervin takes over as principal

Jo Lute-Ervin will take over as principal this week in a substitute capacity, guiding students, families and staff into spring break.

More from Seattle Public Schools: SPS union reaches tentative contract on first day of school

“(Lute-Ervin) comes to Rainier View with more than 30 years’ experience in education,” Raymond wrote. “Her experience includes time as a classroom teacher at Rainer View Elementary and as principal for Kimball Elementary.

“I know changes such as these can be disruptive,” Raymond continued. “I am confident that this change will provide Rainier View with the support to maintain daily school operations.”

Rainier View Elementary is holding three family meetings on Tuesday so families of students can share thoughts and concerns. SPS Superintendent Brent Jones, Ph.D., will be in attendance. The first meeting happened at 8 a.m. Tuesday, with two more meetings following at 3 and 6 p.m.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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