Formal complaint spearheaded by VFA
By Ruth Bayang
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
A Seattle school principal will not return for the 2018-19 school year.
Oksana Britsova, the principal at Seattle World School (SWS), was the focus of a formal letter of complaint written by James Hong, executive director of the Vietnamese Friendship Association (VFA).
He said Britsova has taken advantage of the students’ vulnerability and targeted them based on their race, religion, national origin, or immigration status.
On June 5, Britsova released a statement: “After much reflection, I have decided not to return to Seattle World School for the 2018-19 school year. My leave begins immediately.”
Since May 12, 2018, numerous community members reported to the VFA that Britsova threatened and bullied students, creating an unsafe and unwelcome school environment by harassing and intimidating students and violating professional boundaries.
Hong said the Seattle School District and the City of Seattle needs to ensure that all refugees and immigrants are welcome, and that “we must end acts of racism, violence, and threats towards all.”
Britsova is no stranger to controversy.
In 2014, she was placed on administrative leave while she was principal at Center School. A student brought a Molotov cocktail to class and Britsova was put on paid leave because of questions about whether she followed school safety rules.
The students told Britsova about the threat, but it is not clear whether she reported it to police. The district said its review of the incident prompted a review of safety protocols for principals, but no policy changes were made.
Britsova returned to work a week later.
In the Trump era
Hong said student concerns and fears are especially heightened in a time when refugees and immigrants are actively being targeted, harassed, attacked, and deported.
“This fear is particularly poignant in light of the Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ recent testimony before the House Education and Workforce Committee that it is up to individual schools to decide whether to call U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement if they suspect their students are undocumented,” said Hong.
The letter goes on to say, “In an era of #metoo, #blacklivesmatter, and #neveragain, it’s clear that our city and nation demand students and families live and learn free from abuse and threats to their safety.”
Ruth can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.