grass valley elementary

Profiles January-February 2023

Feb. 3, 2023
Seattle district sues social media companies over youth mental health crisis

The Seattle school district has sued several social media entities in an effort to “hold social media companies accountable for the harm they have wreaked on the social, emotional, and mental health of students.

The district announced in January that it has filed a complaint in U.S. District Court against the companies operating TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, and YouTube.

The evidence is clear, the lawsuit asserts, that social media companies “have designed their platforms to maximize the time youth spend using them and addict youth to their platforms.”

More than 90% of youth use social media, the district says, and most primarily use five platforms: YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook.

“It has become increasingly clear that many children are burdened by mental health challenges,” says Superintendent Brent Jones. “Our students – and young people everywhere – face unprecedented, learning and life struggles that are amplified by the negative impacts of increased screen time, unfiltered content, and potentially addictive properties of social media. We are confident and hopeful that this complaint is the first step toward reversing this trend for our students, children throughout Washington state, and the entire country.”

The lawsuit aims to hold social media companies accountable for their actions and set youth mental health trends back on the right trajectory.

 As explained, “Our first and greatest priority is the health and well-being of our students,” Seattle School Board President Brandon Hersey says. “Clearly, this includes the social and emotional harm that they suffer because of the negative impacts of social media. By taking aim at the social media companies, we are sending a clear message that it is time for them to prioritize the health of children over the revenues they make from advertising.”

New York state tells schools to stop using Native American references in team names, logos and mascots

The New York State Department of Education has ordered all public schools in the state to stop using Native American references in team names, logos and mascots by the end of the 2022-23 school year.

The state's directive to districts characterized the use of Native American-themed imagery in schools as discriminatory.

"School districts that continue to utilize Native American team names, logos, and/or imagery without current approval from a recognized tribe must immediately come into compliance," Senior Deputy Education Commissioner James Baldwin said in a memo.

Consequences for violating the directive include "the removal of school officers and the withholding of state aid," the memo read.

The only circumstances in which schools will be allowed to continue using Native imagery is if they get permission from the affected tribe, the state says.

Indictment follows ouster of Loudoun County (Va.) superintendent

The former superintendent of the Loudoun County (Va.) district has been indicted by a grand jury investigating how the school system handled sexual assaults.

The Washington Post reports that Scott Ziegler is facing misdemeanor counts of false publication, using his position to retaliate or threaten to retaliate against an employee and falsely firing the same employee.

Ziegler was fired in December after the grand jury issued a damning report about the district's handling of two sexual assaults. Byard has been placed on leave.

Ziegler vowed to fight the charges against him.

“I am disappointed that an Attorney General-controlled, secret, and one-sided process — which never once sought my testimony — has made such false and irresponsible accusations,” Ziegler said.

The 91-page grand jury report labeled Loudoun officials as incompetent and called the ex-superintendent a liar. The jury investigated a pair of sexual assaults committed by a male student in May and October 2021 at Stone Bridge and Broad Run high schools. The second assault occurred after the student was transferred to the new high school.

 Oakland (Calif.) board rescinds plan to close five elementary schools

After months of protest by parents, teachers and students, the Oakland (Calif.) school board has voted to reverse a decision to close or consolidate several schools.

The Oaklandside reports that the district will keep open five elementary schools that had been slated for closure this year.

Brookfield Elementary, Carl B. Munck Elementary, Grass Valley Elementary, Horace Mann Elementary, and Korematsu Discovery Academy will stay open, and Hillcrest K-8, which would have lost its middle school grades, will remain intact.

The board vote does not change the fate of either of the schools that were closed last year, Parker K-8 and Community Day School, or a third school, La Escuelita, which had its middle school shuttered.

The board’s decision last year to close schools sparked an immense backlash that included protests, walkouts and a one-day teachers’ strike.

About the Author

Mike Kennedy | Senior Editor

Mike Kennedy has been writing about education for American School & University since 1999. He also has reported on schools and other topics for The Chicago Tribune, The Kansas City Star, The Kansas City Times and City News Bureau of Chicago. He is a graduate of Michigan State University.

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