On November 14, teachers, school leaders and families were informed that Summit plans to close Rainier, one of its high schools in San Jose, at the end of this school year.
We are devastated by the lack of transparency about this decision and the lack of empathy in terms of the emotional impact this has had on teachers, students and families. Rainier staff and faculty were not made aware of this decision until the night of November 13. As a result, we were not able to adequately support students who were emotionally impacted by this announcement. In addition, due to the short notice, many families felt blindsided and were unable to attend the Q&A session the following day to advocate for their children
This decision to close Rainier should have been communicated and worked on by families, staff, teachers and students. Teachers and administration should have been included in creating the most supportive environment in informing the community of the closing of Rainier.
This is an absolute failure of Summit’s organizational leadership to adequately serve our communities.
Unite Summit is working on a plan to guarantee the students, families, teachers and staff of Rainier are supported through this difficult time. We want a school for every child, a job for every teacher and adequate supports to help families through this transition. We also want teachers to be a powerful voice in creating a plan to help these schools and students. We expect that there will be open and honest reflection on how this happened to our community and how can we prevent this happening in the future. We continue to push for Summit to recognize the union as a way to prevent situations like this from repeating in the future. As a union, we have worked hard to create positive relationships with our authorizers. Had Summit felt pressure from the ESUHSD board, as they mentioned to Rainier staff, they could have worked with Unite Summit and the Rainier community to protect our school’s future. It is a failure of home office leadership that led to this outcome. Nobody else — not the District, not our union, and not our students and their families — caused Rainier to close.
As we create a plan of action to best meet the needs of the community, please expect more information next week about how you can support the Rainier community. If you have feedback, ideas or suggested supports, please contact Unite Summit at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are seeking more details about how the decision to close Rainier was made and how that decision will impact students, families, and teachers, please read the below FAQ.
We stand with Rainier.
- What is happening to Rainier as a school site?
Rainier is scheduled to close at the end of the 2019-2020 school year. There has been some misleading messaging around this decision that has caused some to conclude that this is a planned merger between Rainier and Tahoma. That is not the case. According to Summit’s own FAQ, Summit is forcing Rainier to relinquish its charter, and Rainier closing at the end of this school year.
- Who made this decision?
Summit Home Office. It is our understanding that in the spring of 2019, Summit and KIPP presented East Side Union High School District (ESUHSD) with the idea to put Summit on the Oak Grove campus and KIPP on the Mt. Pleasant campus. ESUHSD did not create this plan. Based on Unite Summit’s communications with district board members, we have no reason to believe that East Side would not have renewed Rainier’s charter in 2021. Site administrators and teachers from Rainier and Tahoma were not consulted at any point in the planning process behind this proposal.
- When was the community notified of this decision?
SPS site administrators, including those at Rainier and Tahoma, were told of this decision on the evening of Thursday, Nov. 14. Site administrators immediately notified Rainier staff that evening. At 9:00PM Thursday night, Superintendent Anson Jackson emailed Rainier parents and Summit faculty (minus the Expeditions team, which did not receive an email notification until Friday morning). Rainier students were notified at an All-School Meeting on Friday morning.
- Was there any warning or advance notice given to Rainier community members?
Rainier teachers learned from their admin in October that Diane was threatening to close their school in part due to the “mindset problem” of teachers. Diane provided no further data, context, or benchmarks for a potential closure and did not disclose that Summit had been negotiating with KIPP and East Side about facilities for months. On November 6, almost the entire Rainier faculty sent Diane a letter asking if she was planning on closing Rainier. She never replied.
- Is there a transition plan?
No. Many unanswered questions remain due to the fact that SPS leadership did not present a transition plan for Rainier community members as part of their announcement into the upcoming school closure. We will be working hard over the next weeks to develop a transition plan and to hold SPS accountable to doing the least harm to our students in a very difficult situation.
- What is happening to Rainier students?
Summit’s FAQ document says “Tahoma welcomes Rainier students” – however, Tahoma’s current charter includes an enrollment cap of 405, and there has been no indication that Summit submitted plans to change this enrollment cap to accommodate Rainier students. We will be pushing for an official guarantee that we can actually provide space at Tahoma for all Rainier students who want to transfer. We will also be pushing for Summit to provide transportation for Rainier students who would need transportation assistance in order to change schools.
- What is happening to Rainier teachers?
According to SPS, “All Rainier employees have the opportunity to apply to transfer to another Summit school.” They have not been offered the guarantee of a job at Tahoma or at any other Summit campus. Effectively, this is a layoff where teachers are being asked to reapply for a job with the organization with no guarantee that a position will be available.
- What can I do to support the Rainier community?
Over the next week, Unite Summit representatives at each school will be letting faculty know how they can support Rainier.