Students Sue Their School, a College Stuns a Candidate, and the Fight for On-Time Ferries

Plus an effort to expand health coverage in South King County.

1. Bellevue High School students and a parent are suing the Bellevue School District and Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA) for alleged negligence and a violation of civil rights. In a complaint filed on Nov. 1, Antonio Hill and Eron Kross, along with Isaiah Ifanse and his mother Jennifer Ifanse, claim investigators with the WIAA racially profiled African-American students on Bellevue High School’s football team in 2015 and beyond during an investigation into whether the team broke WIAA rules.

The school district, they claim, did nothing to stop it.

In 2015, Bellevue School Board members asked the WIAA to launch an investigation into the Bellevue High School football program. WIAA hired two investigators but instead of investigating under Appendix 11 of the WIAA’s handbook, which ensures rules of due process, the appendix was removed. According to the lawsuit, which was filed by Marianne K. Jones on behalf of the students, the district allowed the investigation because they thought Appendix 11 would be applied.

Yet, when it wasn’t, the school district “could have and should have terminated the investigation by the WIAA and done their own investigation. However, BSD did not take ownership for their miscommunication with the WIAA and simply let the investigation continue, without due process, without the WIAA procedures they had agreed to, and eventually without protection in place for the students and now plaintiffs,” according to the suit. Bellevue Reporter

2. After an emotionally charged weeklong investigation into the academic credentials of Mercer Island City Council candidate Joy Langley, the Mercer Island Reporter obtained a media statement from Cornell University last Wednesday that the school does not have a record of Langley’s degree. Langley, who wrote in her candidate statement that she earned a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Cornell, told The Reporter that her degree could not be independently verified through avenues like the National Student Clearinghouse because she chose to keep her student records private.

“After receiving numerous inquiries and speaking directly with Ms. Langley, Cornell University re-examined its digital and paper archives, at the university and college level, and can confirm that we have no record of a person named Joy Langley or Joy Esther Langley attending or graduating from this institution,” John Carberry, Cornell’s senior director of media relations, wrote in an email. “We can also confirm that the Office of the University Registrar has never received a request to make private any records related to Ms. Langley.”

Langley said on the morning of Nov. 1 that she had decided to seal her records and protect her information because a fellow student had stalked her while she attended Cornell.

“I think that in this environment where there are women who are emboldened to come forward, I think this is an important time to come forward with that. My records were sealed. I should not be in the National Student Clearinghouse. I opted out because it was a very scary time for me,” she said. “That’s the reason why the records are sealed so tightly, that’s the reason why I’m not entirely eager to crack them open again. And that’s the reason why the university has had such a hard time extricating them. … I have been on the phone with the registrar. I have faxed over my diploma to them. I really do hope this just puts things to rest.”

The Reporter notified Langley about Carberry’s statement on the evening of Nov. 1. She said she was “very confused” and “shocked,” and would continue searching for her records. Carberry would not answer any follow up questions. Mercer-Island Reporter

3. A health care enrollment center opened on Nov. 1 in Federal Way to serve residents in South King County. The center, at 1640 South 318th Place, Suite B, is staffed with navigators who are certified to help people find the insurance plans they are eligible for under the Affordable Care Act.

“In this humble space between a burger joint and chiropractor, health care rhetoric meets the real world,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said at the opening of the enrollment center.

Enrollment for 2018 coverage opened Wednesday and runs through Jan. 15. Those who qualify for Washington Apple Health, also called Medicaid, can sign up at any time. The Federal Way location was selected because data shows there are more uninsured adults in the south end than elsewhere in the county.

“While the uninsured rate in King County for adults is 6.7 percent, which nationally is very good,” Constantine said, “the uninsured rate here in South King County is 15 percent. That’s why south county is a focus for us.”

Cities with non-enrollment rates above the county average are Des Moines (18.1 percent), Burien (15.7 percent), Federal Way (15.7 percent), Tukwila (15.3 percent), SeaTac (11.8 percent), Auburn (10.3 percent) and Kent (8.8 percent).

The new enrollment center is one of two in the state. Tukwila Reporter

4. After a difficult summer of ferry travel, the Vashon-Maury Island Chamber of Commerce and a small number of committed islanders are collecting data and crafting their message, planning to reach out to elected officials at the county and state levels about ferry service on the triangle route.

The chamber recently conducted a survey of its members to help determine the impact of ferry service on island businesses, and many indicated they felt the pains of the last summer’s troublesome ferry travel. Chamber Executive Director Jim Marsh said he plans to partner with Kathy Abascal, who is working with a several others to take islanders’ concerns to Olympia.

“What we are afraid of is if it takes two hours to get here or two hours to leave, if it becomes an unpleasant trip, people are not going to come here,” Marsh said. “We want people to realize ferries are a vital part of our economy.”

Earlier this year, Abascal and her sister, Holly Shull Vogel, gathered 1,700 signatures on a petition that called for independent oversight of the ferry system before any service cuts are implemented on the triangle route. Islander Dustin Prestridge has joined the effort. The plan all along has been to seek help from legislators, Abascal said, noting that those involved are still in the planning stages.

“We know we are going to Olympia,” she said. “We are trying to figure out the most effective way to proceed to get the dialogue going.” Vashon Maury-Island Beachcomber

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