AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 1 By Scott & Theresa Schaefer After a slow, tense start where attendees argued over the format of the event, Highline High School’s Listening Session Thursday night (June 15) attempted to begin to address issues highlighted by a recent incident with the Spirit Rock (if you’re not familiar with this issue, read our previous coverage here). Over 100 were at the meeting, which started at 6 p.m. and ran for well over an hour at the school cafeteria. Three King County Sheriff’s officers were also on hand just outside the room. The meeting opened with a speech from Principal Vicki Fisher, followed by one from Highline Public Schools Superintendent Susan Enfield, with the majority of the session facilitated by school Counselor Owen Sallee. In response to complaints from attendees that they did not like the format, a quick compromise was reached – change the process to allow a spokesperson to speak about each group’s concerns and suggestions, gathered over a 15-20 minute table discussion. Tables consisted of groups of individuals ranging from students, community members, parents and staff facilitators. No Burien City Councilmembers were observed at the event, but we believe one candidate was present. Highline School Board President Bernie Dorsey was present, along with many district staffers. Many students and family members stated that the incident involving the Spirit Rock was simply the latest in an ongoing climate of division, bullying and disrespect at the school. Following are excerpts from some of the people who spoke (in chronological order; press the ‘Play’ button to hear audio):

TEACHERS’ POLITICAL BELIEFS One spokesperson made a point of explaining that his table group represented people from “both sides of the issue,” and said that teachers shouldn’t be allowed to express their political beliefs in school:
[embed]http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/wp-content/images/TeacherBias.mp3[/embed]  
‘CULTURE OF DISRESPECT’ A common theme was that this incident was not really about politics, it’s more about a “culture of disrespect” between students, and perceived ongoing acts of racism and bigotry:
[embed]http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/wp-content/images/SonOfBaldwin.mp3[/embed]  
NOT ‘JUST ABOUT THE ROCK’ Anti-bullying education also emerged as a possible solution, to help define the line between what is free speech and what is hate speech – and that this issue is not just “about the rock”:
[embed]http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/wp-content/images/NotAboutTheRock.mp3[/embed]  
DEATH THREATS Another issue raised by a spokesperson was from a parent whose student had been essentially “shut down” when sharing a concern that his friend had received death threats in response to his support of the painting over of the Gay Pride symbols on the Spirit Rock:
[embed]http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/wp-content/images/HHSMeeting-DeathThreat.mp3[/embed] At one table, a credible source shared a story about how – shortly after Trump was elected in November – some Highline students began passing out homemade ‘Deportation Notices’ to Hispanics at the school. It is unknown whether these students were reprimanded or not (the district retains a policy of not discussing discipline). Below are photos and raw audio recorded at the event by Scott Schaefer (NOTE: audio runs 55:10, and has been edited for time, with pauses shortened; click the ‘Play’ button to listen): [embed]http://jonlehman.synology.me:8666/BtownBlog/wp-content/images/HHSListeningMeeting061517.mp3[/embed]   AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 2 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 3 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 4 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 5 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 6 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 7 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 8 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 9 AUDIO/PHOTOS: 'It's not about the rock' at tense Highline High listening session 10]]>