On January 4th, 2019, an article titled, “I’m A Seattle Teacher: School Safety isn’t taken seriously enough,” was published in the Seattle Times. The author? Garfield’s own Jerry Neufeld-Kaiser, known by students as Mr.NK.
In this article, NK expresses his frustrations with the way the district has regarded the safety of everyone in the building. The saying, “there are two sides to every story” is relevant to almost every situation in the world. But with the way times have changed, people have adapted to go with the first thing they hear. So when a piece on school safety comes out in a legitimate newspaper by a real teacher, many questions are sure to arise.
“I tried getting the district and the school board to pay attention to this, because they haven’t,” Mr. NK said. “They didn’t take me seriously, and they’re clearly unprepared, and that concerns me. So going to the newspaper was my way to make a stink in public.”
Mr. NK’s strategy worked-Well sort of. It did get some of the publicity he wanted, but he still has yet to see what he really sought out to gain.
“Throughout this whole situation there has been zero progress made, and I mean zero,” Mr.NK said. “I mean we did have a nice conversation with our admin team on how worrisome this situation is and how confused we are, but we’ve gotten no help or ideas from downtown and it’s frustrating.”
But what does NK want to see? There’s a lot of things going on at every school, especially one in the heart of Seattle, so the change NK finds necessary is still unknown.
“To be honest, I’m completely uninformed about school safety and security,” said Mr. NK. “But there’s a million schools in this country, and I know some have figured out things that work. I just want our leaders to take this seriously and figure out what makes sense.”
The very same leaders that Mr. NK has called out are the same ones he’s hoping will do the right thing, before something tragic could happens. “The fear last year when that student threatened to shoot up the school was palpable and ugly,” Mr. NK said. “I remember people saying they were scared to just be in the building. God forbid that from happening, it would haunt me forever.”
But while one side expresses extreme concern, another says things aren’t always as they seem.
“I think that a lot of the time everybody believes in transparency,” said long time police officer Bennie Radford. “Transparency is a dangerous thing. If you let people know what you’re doing, they’ll know what you’re doing. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”
But Mr.Radford believes that everything isn’t as simple as it seems, and there are factors that can be seen that play into the situation.
“Times have changed. Everybody is complacent now,” Officer Radford said. “When I was coming up, if something happened around us we were spooked and stayed away for at least a week or two until things died down. But now things have to happen directly to us in order for us to take things seriously.”
But the attitude of people isn’t the only thing that has changed with time. “We used to have two officers, me and another, and would go from school to school patrolling making sure everything was fine,” said Officer Radford. “Now it’s just me by myself, we don’t have the manpower nor strength. Some people don’t even want us in the building.”
Although officer Radford has preached that things aren’t always as they seem, NK, and him do see eye to eye on one thing.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Officer Radford said. “Now I’m not going to tell you what, but if I could make those changes I would.” But even with a short wish list of things he’d do, he sticks with his word. “Garfield’s at a point where I like it. It’s secure and I’m going to leave it at that.”
There will always be more than one side to a story. That’s just how things work. In this particular story, it’s up to the Garfield community, built of wonderful students and administrators to decide where they stand. Do you feel safe? Or do you think more should be happening? Whatever the case, you might want to do some digging for yourself. After all, it is your safety we’re talking about.